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Don Lemon Tonight

Things Have Changed Inside The GOP; Pat Cipollone Key To Trump's Secrets; Not An Easy Hill To Climb For Liz Cheney; January 6th Committee Looking Forward To Cipollone's Testimony; Star Witness Contacted By Trump Ally; President Biden Sees The Economy Differently. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 30, 2022 - 22:00   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you so much for hanging out with me, I will be back tomorrow night. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Sara Sidner, hey, thank you very much. I appreciate it.


It's like something out of a gangster movie. A star witness in a dramatic trial, who has damning information about the boss, contacted by someone who may be trying to intimidate them, trying to keep them from telling what they know.

And sources are telling us that is exactly what happened to Cassidy Hutchinson, three sources telling CNN that Hutchinson was one of the witnesses that the Trump world tried to influence. Which tells you a whole lot about what they thought about her testimony, right? The committee is so concerned by security that they kept her identity a secret leading up to the hearing.

And in the wake of her blockbuster testimony, we may be about to learn a whole lot more with a subpoena for Pat Cipollone, who knows what was going on behind those closed doors at the White House, before, during and after January 6. We are also learning more about the links the Trump world maybe willing to go.

Liz Cheney saying two unnamed witnesses told the committee they're heard from people within the former president's orbit, who may have been trying to intimidate them.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Well, what they said to me is that as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that 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, quote, 'a person let me know that you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you are loyal, and you are going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.'


LEMON: Well, we have heard about this kind of behavior before in another hearing, from someone else who knows all too well how Trump team works.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: That's how he speaks. He doesn't give you questions. He doesn't give you orders. He speaks in a code. And I understand the code because I have been around him for a decade.


LEMON: So, contrast charges of witness intimidation, the thuggish and threatening politics, what the kind of politics Liz Cheney talked about in her speech last night when she got applause from a Republican audience for speaking the truth.


CHENEY: The reality that we face today as Republicans as we think about the choice in front of us, we have to choose, because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. At this moment --



LEMON: Interesting huh, how Republicans applauded her then, but tonight, tonight, Liz Cheney defending her work on the January 6th committee, fighting criticism from her Republican rivals.


CHENEY: As I made clear last night, we had to put our oath to the Constitution above party. The Republican Party has a long and storied history of embracing the conservative values that I believe in very strongly, of limited government, low taxes and a strong national defense. But we are now raising a cult of personality. I won't -- I won't be part of that, and I will always stand for the oath and stand for the truth.


LEMON: Liz Cheney talking policy, values at her debate tonight. The other candidates --

I want to turn now to the latest in the January 6th investigation. Here to discuss, John Dean, who was Nixon White House counsel, and Norm Eisen, counsel to the House Democrats during the first Trump impeachment.

Gentlemen, good to see you. Thank you so much.

Let's start with Ambassador Eisen. Ambassador, the Hutchinson testimony this week was explosive. It added a lot to the public's understanding of what happened leading up to and on January 6th. Has there been a shift in momentum for the committee you think? And of rising alarm in Trump world because of all these revelations that are coming out?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Don, thanks for having me back. I think the committee was accelerating even before Cassidy Hutchinson, but she put them into hyper drive. She provided the missing link, many missing links that we have been waiting for, but above all, trying Trump very directly to the violence.

He knew that there were weapons in the crowd, he incited the crowd, he wanted to march with the crowd, and then his hostility that she reported, towards Mike Pence, not sympathetic at all, agreeing and of course that terrible tweet a little after 2 p.m.


So, this was a devastating acceleration, I think, of Donald Trump's criminal liability, ultimately.

LEMON: John, we are learning that former White House chief of staff, Tony Ornato, met twice with the January 6th committee in January and in March. Topics included Trump's knowledge of Pence's whereabouts during the insurrection. His answers to those questions haven't been revealed. What is the committee after when it comes to him?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think they want the truth. And I think they are going to have to go back to him and find out whether he told the story that was reported by Cassidy or not. That's -- they have made that into an issue, her detractors. It's not really a very important story in the bigger picture, but they are playing with it, and I don't think she would have any inclination to create and invent a story like that had she not heard it.

So, he is a really unique Secret Service person who crossed from the service into the White House staff and became sort of the acting head of the Secret Service, very unusual, highly unusual.

LEMON: Well, let's talk about that because some committee members think that he lacks credibility. How do you see this playing out?

DEAN: I think he certainly has lost some credibility because he is not an independent player. He is declared whose team he is on. He was there to make Trump look good at events to help sure that he makes sure that advancing events was made easier. The Secret Service was always cooperative. So, he is a partisan in this, frankly, and so I think that affects his credibility greatly.

LEMON: Ambassador Eisen, you had some instinct, I should say, or maybe some insight about Pat Cipollone because you opposed him during Trump's first impeachment trial. So, you have a good sense of what he is all about. So far, he is not fighting this subpoena. I mean, it looks like he's going to cooperate in some limited way. Why do you think he might cooperate now?

EISEN: Well, Don, he has three options. He can take the route of naked criminal contempt that has landed Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro in the dock. He is a practicing lawyer, he is an officer of the court, he's not going to do that. He can attempt to negotiate a compromise, it happened so often there is a name for it in D.C., the accommodation process. That is where he appears to be going.

He could stall and ultimately litigate. That's the Mark Meadows route. And that risks contempt finding and possible prosecution. So, the only option that really makes sense for him, and I say this also knowing Pat, he is a negotiator. He is an affable individual. We also spent a lot of time with his counsel for this.

Mike Purpura in the impeachment also a negotiator, frequently parleyed with both of them. I think they're going to take the middle route.

LEMON: What do you -- meaning? Explain.

EISEN: Well, right now, they are signaling that a negotiation is going on. That means they are going to talk about things like is the deposition that I have a subpoena, Pat says, is the deposition going to be videotaped? So, I'm on TV? Or is just going to be audio? Or will it just be transcribed so there's only a written record?

Will certain questions be on or off the table? How long will we go? Those kinds of details to try to get to a comfort zone. What he must do is he has to show up, answer the questions, if he has objections, executive or attorney client privilege he has to put those on the record, Don.

And then ultimately, those belong to the United States government those privileges. That means it's up to Joe Biden to decide whether or not Pat answers those questions.

LEMON: John Dean, what happens to I'm a servant of the people, I work for the American public, I'm serving my country in this capacity, I have nothing to hide. I'll answer your questions.

DEAN: The -- that doesn't play with the Trump administration at all. They have fought tooth and nail. They have tried to neuter the Congress every time they've had to be held accountable for anything. Pat Cipollone led that as Norm well knows very effectively. An impeachment proceeding that was really almost and obstruction of Congress and how he got away with it. I don't know. But he did. The statute is run I think on it so it's no longer an issue.

But, Don, one thing I want to add, I think Pat Cipollone has to consider whether or not he's got jeopardy, criminal jeopardy. And whether he is going to have to invoke the fifth amendment on some of these himself.

LEMON: Talk to me more about that? Why do you say that?

[22:09:57] DEAN: We'll, if you listen to what Cassidy told us she said he was warning about conspiracies to obstruct justice, conspiracies to defraud the electoral count, one crime after another, multitudes of crimes. There's no evidence that he withdrew from any of those just because he warned of them. We need that evidence.

LEMON: Norm, Cipollone and former Attorney General Bill Barr have a decades-long relationship. Barr was very, very critical of Trump in taped testimony. Watch this.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff he has, you know, lost contact with -- he has become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.


LEMON: Here's the interesting thing. Cipollone worked for Barr in the H.W., George H.W. Bush administration. They're both conservative Catholics. He doesn't want to ruin his reputation or weaken president for the office. But do you think Barr speaking out makes it easier for Cipollone to do so or it has no effect on it?

EISEN: Well, I think it has an atmospheric effect, Don. And if we could tape record the thoughts in Pat's head, I'm sure he is just as critical. And we've heard extremely critical reports from others of what Pat said in that time in the White House. I think he was fighting to do the right thing.

I have a slightly different view than my friend, John, about his criminal exposure. But ultimately, and I know this from dealing with him he's doing to decide --


LEMON: What's your view?

EISEN: -- what's best for him.

LEMON: What is different about what John said? Why are you different in his criminal exposure?

EISEN: Well, I don't as I look at facts here, I see a White House counsel, the job that John once held and I was a special counsel to the president working in that office who was fighting consistently to try to prevent Donald Trump from attacking and overturning this election in one crazy scheme after another that Pat blocked.

I don't think prosecutors are going to charge that. But what Pat is going to do, Don, he is going to decide what's best for Pat. And the difference between him and Bill Barr is he still has an active law practice. He's trying to do this dance that Republicans do. They don't want to take Donald Trump on directly. And that's what the negotiation is probably about with the committee

now. He doesn't want videotape out there to be played at hearing of him attacking Trump. So audio is better than video. A written transcript is best of all. And those are the kinds of issues that are being negotiated. And I think he will cut a deal.

LEMON: You know, John, what's interesting to me is this is of course in certain Republican circles, right, and conservative media, this is being portrayed as a Democratic witch hunt. I find it surprising that these people have hidden as Democrats their entire lives to come out to wait for this one moment. These are all Republicans by the way. You get my -- I'm being factitious here. They've waited their entire life to come out as Democrats, they've been conservative the whole time pretending, right, and just to go up against this one president. Do you see what I'm saying? It's ridiculous.

DEAN: I do. I do. I do. There are witches, Don. And I think some of them are being flushed out right now. The big witch who was very critical today on his social media outlet was very critical of the committee for subpoenaing Pat Cipollone. I think this was a very raw cord that they hit.

He's a very important witness. He could -- he could end this thing very quickly by coming forward with the truth. I think he has an obligation under the ethics standards that came out post-Watergate to report this information. And I don't understand why he's giving -- being given so much slack that he is.

LEMON: But this entire administration everyone has flouted those ethics standards. There are no ethics when it comes to this administration.

DEAN: And no accountability.

LEMON: Yes, we shall see if there's any to come. Thank you both, gentlemen. I appreciate it.

Up next, the former senior investigator who just left the January 6th committee a week ago, what he thinks the committee wants to ask Pat Cipollone.


CHENEY: I think that this is an instance where the presidency, the American people, where we have been through something we never been through before and where the very real and significant chance that, you know, there -- that there was behavior under way about which Mr. Cipollone expressed significantly concerns and I think he has an obligation to testify.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Only two days after stunning revelations in the January 6th

committee hearing, the vice chair Liz Cheney is back in Wyoming. She is facing off against four of her GOP opponents in a primary debate tonight including Trump-backed Harriet Hageman. Now she and Congresswoman Cheney sparring over the work the January 6th committee is doing.


CHENEY: I think these are really serious issues. And I think absolutely there's -- there's no question that what we saw happen on January 6th was clearly an attempt to delay the count of the electoral votes. Anybody who was there understands the violence that was involved.

I'm frankly stunned that one of my opponents on the stage who is a member of the Wyoming Bar who was sworn an oath as many of us in this stage have to the Constitution would be in a position where she is suggesting that somehow what happened on January 6th was justified, or that somehow what happened that day, the people have the right to ignore the rulings of the courts.


We are, in fact, a nation of laws. And we are a nation of laws only if we defend our constitutional republic. And as I made clear last night, we have to put our oath to the Constitution above party.

The Republican Party has a long and storied history of embracing the conservative values that I believe in very strongly of limited government, low taxes and a strong national defense. But we are now embracing a cult of personality. And I won't -- I won't be part of that and I will always stand for my oath and stand for the truth.

HARRIET HAGEMAN (R), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE, WYOMING: The biggest threat to our republic is the current administration and the corruption our various constitutions, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the other things that have happened over the last couple of years. And what we have is we have a committee in Congress right now that their focusing on something that happened 18 months ago.

They are not focusing on the issues that are important to the people in Wyoming and they're also ignoring the corruption that is absolutely destroying Washington, D.C.

CHENEY: I'd be interested to know whether or not my opponent, Ms. Hageman is willing to say here tonight that the election was not stolen. She knows it wasn't stolen. I think that she can't say that it wasn't stolen because she's completely beholden to Donald Trump. And if she says it wasn't stolen, he will not support her. So, we've got to be honest. We have to be truthful, elected officials in particular. Public servants owe that to the people we represent.

HAGEMAN: And I think that the press and people associated with that, the Democrats who wanted to deflect attention from the failures of the Biden administration, the people who want to deflect attention from all the troubles in this country, they talk about January 6th. But that's not what the people in Wyoming are talking about.


LEMON: Well, Liz Cheney slamming her chief rival for echoing Trump's lies about the election but debunk conspiracy theories are bounded among her opponents tonight. And she is facing an uphill battle to hold her seat in a state Trump won with huge margins in 2020. So, did she do enough tonight? And will voters listen?

CNN's senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson and CNN political commentator Scott Jennings are both here. What could it mean for the GOP if Liz Cheney loses her seat? We'll talk about that, next.



LEMON: Representative Liz Cheney taking on several Republican challenges for her imperiled House seat and defending her work investigating then President Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Joining me to discuss, CNN senior political analyst, Nia-Malika Henderson, and CNN political commentator, Scott Jennings. I'm kidding, Scott. How are you? Good to see both of you.

Let's discuss now. Nia, you know, to a lot of the country Liz Cheney is showing heroism by standing up for democracy and her work on the January 6th committee, but that is not the case in Wyoming, is it?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I mean, this is a state that Donald Trump won 70 percent of the vote there. Her anti-Trumpism and she knew this going in to her anti-Trump stance this could cost her seat. She's got that opponent there who is full -- full on Trump spouting some of his conspiracy theories in that debate there.

Liz Cheney is doing well in terms of raising tons of money but we all know that doesn't necessarily translate to votes. She's essentially, you know, kind of pleaded with Democrats to cross over and help her win this primary in August because she knows that the writing is kind of on the wall for her. We saw this already.


LEMON: But that makes sense, Nia. Why wouldn't they do it? I mean, if they really care they should do it.

HENDERSON: Yes, and they might. They might. But you know, the idea that you going to amass enough Democrats to do that is a little unlikely, maybe. I mean, we'll see.

LEMON: I would say if they are smart and they really want to hold someone with integrity to hold on the that seat, that they should vote for her. Does that make sense to you, Scott? I mean, what do you think? SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's the -- it's

probably the only strategy Cheney can employ in order to try to win this primary. So, I understand why she's doing it. It's funny to me having worked for the Bush-Cheney the idea of Democrats turning to vote for Cheney.


LEMON: I know.


LEMON: We're in the twilight zone right now, Scott.

JENNINGS: I know. I know. I know. And I agree with -- I agree with Nia. I think it's unlikely that enough Democrats would do that but if you're a Democrat and you truly believe that the democracy is on the line, it's hanging by a thread or what have you, then this would be a vote you could cast. I find it a long shot in Wyoming, but certainly it's a strategy. If I were running her campaign I would employ, no doubt.

LEMON: But you know, Nia, there are people, you know, I don't know if it was all Democrats but those who are pro-abortion, right, pro- choice, I should say. They were upset with Liz Cheney because Liz Cheney applauded the Supreme Court decision. I mean, Liz Cheney is conservative.


LEMON: No one should expect her ever to be a Democrat but they should applaud her and at least support her in terms of her integrity of what she doing for the country and democracy.

HENDERSON: I think that's right. I think they are. And that's one of the reasons you see her have that major fund-raising advantage because I imagine she's getting money from all over the country. People who are seeing her bravery and her courage leading this committee and likely costing her - her political future as a Republican in this party as it stands now.


But I just don't think you'll be able to organize enough Democrats, enough independents to cross over in this primary and kind of beat the Trump train at this point in state like Wyoming.

LEMON: If she loses, Nia, what message does that send do you think?

HENDERSON: You know, it's a message we already know, which is that Trump is the head of the Republican Party. He is the dominant, most powerful force in the party right now. And you cannot be anti-Trump and win. We saw that down in South Carolina with the Tom Rice's race. He --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Some of them are losing though.

HENDERSON: What's that?

LEMON: Some of them, some of the anti-Trumpers are winning, I should say.

HENDERSON: Well, not the anti-Trumpers. Sort of the people who are kind of like --

LEMON: The election --

LEMON: -- moving past Trump. But the people who are like vehemently anti-Trump, those folks are not winning in these primaries.

LEMON: Scott, for security reasons the debate was closed to the public but on Wednesday Cheney got rounds of applause at the Reagan Library when she -- when she called out Trump enablers in the GOP. Here it is. Watch.


CHENEY: We're are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic. It has become clear that the efforts Donald Trump oversaw and engaged in were even more chilling and more threatening than we could have imagined. We have to choose because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. At this moment --



LEMON: So, here's my question, Scott. If you are in that crowd, if you are attending an event at the Reagan Library, you are an old school sort of Republican, right, a pre-Trump Republican. I'm wondering, I ask this question last night, if she's preaching to the choir. Because basically, what she is saying is, that the GOP has a bigger and brighter future without Donald Trump leading the party.

JENNINGS: Well, she's laying -- yes, she's laying out a message that by someone in the 2024 presidential primary. I mean, they may not say in those stark of terms, I mean, she may end up the John the Baptist of this thing if Donald Trump ends up losing the nomination.

But somebody and it's probably Mike Pence, right? I mean, he's the one who is probably most likely going to lay out this message that we can have all the policy you want without the, you know, unconstitutional January 6th baggage. I mean, that's basically what Pence is going to argue.

What I'm interested in, Don, is whether Ron DeSantis or some, Nikki Haley and some of the others are going to go as far as what Cheney is doing. I doubt that they will, but at some juncture if you're running against Trump in the primary, then you can't just say I'm 100 percent Donald Trump all the way because then you're not really giving anyone a choice.

And so, the one -- the one candidate that I think is most likely to carry this ball is Pence and if the reports are true that Trump is thinking of jumping into this race early, he'll get his chance early on to define it on those terms. We'll see if it works, I don't know, but certainly, she's laying that ground work for him, I think.

LEMON: Well, she is, listen, she's gained a lot of attention nationally, Scott. Right? She's been in the spotlight. I mean, do you think there's a chance that Liz Cheney might run?

JENNINGS: Sure. I do, actually.


JENNINGS: I don't think she would run as a Republican.


JENNINGS: I mean, I guess she could. But I don't know what the marketplace is. I mean, look, there's -- if you look at the polling right now about half the party wants to do Trump at the moment and the other half is split up among, I don't know, Ron DeSantis and a whole bunch of -- and Mike Pence and a whole bunch of other people.


JENNINGS: And so, whether there's a market for what she is selling, I would find it more likely that people, even if they agree with Cheney would gravitate towards DeSantis or Pence exit point but there's long way to go.

LEMON: Same question, quickly if you will.

HENDERSON: Listen, I think she probably is going to run. I think she will run as a Republican. The market is small. I think Pence probably doesn't have much of a shot because he, you know, he sort of owes his standing to Donald Trump but also rebuked Donald Trump. So, I think that's a hard, you know, kind of lane to navigate.

I think Ron DeSantis embodies Trumpism. You see a lot of those policies he's putting a place down in Florida. So, I think, you know, you see his stock rising, and in some ways, he should send Liz Cheney a bouquet of flowers because she is the one that's really taking it to Donald Trump at this point.

LEMON: Yes. I think that would be fascinating. Liz Cheney.


LEMON: Come on. Bring it on. I'd love to cover that race.

HENDERSON: I think you will.

LEMON: Thank you, both. I appreciate it.

HENDERSON: See you, Don.

LEMON: The January 6 committee putting the pressure on the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. What do they want to know? I'm going to ask a former senior investigator who just left the committee a week ago.



LEMON: The January 6th committee says it is willing to work with Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone after the bombshell testimony from former White House staff Cassidy Hutchinson.

Let's get some insight on what exactly the committee wants to learn from him. Joining me now, John Wood. John Wood is the former senior investigator for the January 6th committee. He also previously served as the U.S. attorney for the western district of Missouri. And we are grateful to have you here. So, good evening. Thanks for joining.

JOHN WOOD (I), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me on.

LEMON: So, you know the investigation better than anyone else. I mean, you only left the committee a week ago and you know what unanswered questions there are. What does the committee need to ask Pat Cipollone, sir?

WOOD: I don't even know where to start on that, so many questions. Now Pat Cipollone did meet in an informal setting with the staff of the committee but there's no record of that. What the committee wants is for Pat Cipollone to go on the record either to a deposition that can be videotaped or a live hearing.

It's really important that the American people hear from Pat Cipollone because he is the one who knew so many things that other people either can't or won't tell us about. People like Mark Meadows are refusing to testify so it's really important that Pat Cipollone testify.


He came off several times in Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony a couple of days ago when she said that, you know, for example, Pat Cipollone said that if the president went to the capitol on January 6th, it would break every law imaginable. We want to -- they want to hear whether Pat Cipollone really said that on January 6th.

LEMON: All right. Speaking of that, because Cassidy Hutchinson said that Cipollone told her, as you said that he would be charged with every crime imaginable if they help Trump get to the capitol on January 6th and that didn't happen, but does Cipollone have any criminal exposure over January 6th?

WOOD: I don't think Pat Cipollone himself has any criminal exposure, quite to the contrary. Everything I know suggests that Pat Cipollone is one of the guys who was trying to stop Donald Trump from doing bad things and was encouraging him to take efforts to try to stop the attack on the capitol. So that's the kind of thing that the committee needs to hear about. Not anything that Pat Cipollone did wrong.

I understand why Pat Cipollone is a little bit reluctant to testify because there's some legitimate privilege issues. But there's some awful a lot of information that he knows that is not covered by the executive privilege. And so, it's really important that the committee hear from him.

LEMON: John, what do you think of this sort of, limited testimony, transcribed testimony? Do you think he should just come out and testify fully instead of, you know, doing it in this limited manner?

WOOD: Yes, I think he should testify at a public hearing. I think that's, you know, committee's best interests and it's in his best interest because then he doesn't have to worry about saying that the committee is taking anything out of context. The American people will hear all of it.

But if he's not willing to do that then he should sit down for a transcribed videotaped deposition where the committee can use it in its report and make video of it available to the American people because he's got a lot of information that the American people need to know about.

LEMON: When you -- you mention that he sat down with the committee before, what did you make of his testimony and did you find him credible?

WOOD: I think he's very credible. I think he's a very good lawyer and I think he's a good person. I think he's an honest man. And if he would testify publicly the American people would know a lot about what happened on January 6th. As I said before, I understand that there's some information that's privileged like perhaps his direct communications with the president where he's providing legal advice. But an awful lot of what he knows is not privileged. So, it's really important that people hear from him.

LEMON: There are still more hearings to go from the committee. I mean, we know the final two hearings will focus on the role domestic extremist groups played in attacking the capitol on January 6th. And it's going to try to fill on the gaps of what Trump is doing as the violence unfolded at the capitol. Are there more bombshells to come, John?

WOOD: I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. Obviously, you know, every hearing so far has new information come out and I would expect that the remaining hearings would be the same. That new information will continue to come out and the American people will continue to see additional pieces to the puzzle.

LEMON: That was a big grin just now when I ask you.

WOOD: Don't read too much into it.

LEMON: I'm sorry, say what?

WOOD: I said don't read too much into my grin. LEMON: OK.

WOOD: I don't know exactly what's going to come out in the additional hearings. But as I said, each hearing has had new information. And so, I think piece by piece the American people will continue to see more of this puzzle.

LEMON: How do you think the committee is doing?

WOOD: I think they are doing a really good job. I know for months people were complaining that they didn't know enough about what was going on with the committee. They weren't hearing from the committee because the investigation was being done behind closed doors but now over the past few weeks, the American people have gotten to see a lot of the results of the work and they are learning a tremendous amount.

So, I applaud both the members and the staff for the professional and bipartisan way they are handling this investigation. I think they are learning a lot of information. And they're not done yet.

LEMON: Do you think Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony was a game changer? Do you think it -- and did it get the public's attention? You can never get everybody's attention but what do you make of that?

WOOD: I think it got a lot of people's attention. I was riveted by it and I already knew some of the substance of her testimony, not all of it. But I still thought it was eye popping testimony. And I also thought she came across as very credible.

Now obviously, the committee will have to continue to talk to other witnesses to see if they corroborate or contradict her testimony and look at all of the evidence. But I thought she came across this very credible and somebody who has no reason to lie.

LEMON: Yes. So, you know, people are wondering why did he leave the committee. There must be something going on. You left the committee because you're running for Senate as an independent in Missouri. You call yourself a lifelong Republican so why run as an independent, John?

WOOD: Yes. I think our country is more divided than it's ever been during my lifetime and nowhere is that more evident than in this Missouri Senate race. On the one hand the Republican Party, my party appears poise to nominate a disgraced former governor who is trying to make a political comeback.


And the alternative if I didn't run would be a Democratic nominee who would vote for Chuck Schumer for majority leader and support the Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi agenda which is out of touch with the views and values of Missouri voters.

So, I thought it was really important that there be an alternative that is a common-sense mainstream conservative along the lines of Ronald Reagan, of former Missouri Senator John Danforth. Because that is what the people of Missouri really want.

LEMON: Listen, I think you are, I think most people are somewhere in the middle, right, of the extremes of both parties. But do you think an independent really has a chance especially the way our system is -- the way it was created and the way it operates? I mean, it is centered on Democrats and Republicans.

WOOD: I absolutely think that. I think I have a very good chance of winning this race. I think this is a unique situation where it's a very Republican and conservative state. But Republican Party looks likely to nominate a former governor who resigned in disgrace and has a tremendous amount of baggage.

And so, I think there's an opportunity for another Republican who is a common-sense conservative to step into the race and get a large number of Republican votes overwhelmingly win the independent votes and even pick up some moderate and conservative Democrats who wants somebody who is winning in the mainstream and not at the two extremes that we're going to see from both parties in this race.

LEMON: Well, John, we're happy that you're here. Best of luck. Come back and let us know your progress. Thank you.

WOOD: I would love to. I'll come on any time, Don.

LEMON: I appreciate it.

The price of filling your tank, filling your grocery cart, going up and up and up. Here is President Biden's response. You'll hear it next, I should say.



LEMON: A key measure of inflation holding steady, and meaning that it remains at a 40-year high. Americans filling the tank or doing grocery shopping know that all too well, yet President Biden wrapping up a NATO summit in Europe trying to downplay it.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I can understand why the American people are frustrated because of inflation, but inflation is higher in almost every other country. Prices at the pump are higher in almost every other country. We're better position to deal with this than anyone, but we have a way to go.


LEMON: That is true. But that's now what Americans want to hear. As a new poll shows that message is not getting through to Americans. Only one in four adults approve of Biden's handling of the economy, and high inflation is forcing more Americans to fall into credit card debt. More now from CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On your worst day, how much debt were you in?

LAVELL NEAL, CUSTOMER: We were about $120,000 in debt with credit cards.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And you finished paying it off when?

NEAL: Officially it was in March of 2022.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: In some ways, Lavell Neal is living a common American summer. The darkest days of the pandemic had a financial silver lining. Government relief checks and staying home made it easier to walk the long road to financial freedom.

NEAL: We were able to take the money -- the extra monies that we were getting and just pour it into paying off our debt.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But the stimulus checks are gone, and life is more or less back to normal. And now inflation not seen in 40 years is gnawing away at the foundations of a life without credit card debt.

NEAL: We put a little extra aside just in case, especially for gas. So, what we do is the monies that we were putting toward our debt, since we're newly out of debt, --


NEAL: -- the money that we were putting aside for that, we do take portions of that for the inflation prices.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But more and more Americans aren't so lucky. Inflation has risen faster than wages for many people, and fed efforts to tamp down on it are in part aimed at slowing wage growth. Lavell got out of debt in part due to the pandemic and in part due to a debt management plan he worked out with GreenPath financial wellness, a national nonprofit credit counseling firm based in the Detroit area.

Omari Hall has spent five years at GreenPath, helping people here achieve financial independence. This moment is a scary one for a lot of people, he says.

OMARI HALL, GREENPATH CREDIT COUNSELING: I can certainly understand how someone might feel that the moment where they felt like there was some relief coming with these -- with these supplemental checks that the government issued versus the sudden tight squeeze of inflation, I can understand how that would make you feel pretty helpless.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The numbers show more families are reaching for the plastic these days. Fed data released earlier this month showed revolving credit, a measure of debt that mostly includes credit cards, reaching record highs in April. Now, that's not necessarily bad, experts say. But Kristen Holt, president and CEO of GreenPath, works with people who are often overwhelmed by credit cards, and she's seeing signs that's coming again.

KRISTEN HOLT, CEO, GREENPATH: People who called us in 2021 on average had about $10,000 in credit card debt. So, people on average calling us this month, it's at $14,000.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's significant. That's a lot of money.

HOLT: Yes, so it's 40 percent higher than it was last year. Like that to me is like, holy cow.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Kristen says in this financial environment, credit card debt is a compounding problem. Today, families who struggled before the pandemic may be struggling again. But Kristen worries the credit crunch could expand into families who thought they had control of their debt.

HOLT: These are not costs that are super easy to cut, you know, just putting less gas in your car will only get you so far.


Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Detroit.


LEMON: Evan, thank you so much for that.

So just how much pressure was Cassidy Hutchinson under when she testified under oath? Sources telling CNN Hutchinson said that she'd been contacted by someone from Trump world about that testimony.



LEMON: New developments tonight in the January 6th investigation. Sources telling CNN Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee she was contacted by someone attempting to influence her testimony. Liz Cheney is weighing in, saying that the Justice Department should look into this.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New information tonight about the January 6th committee's star witness, Cassidy Hutchinson. Sources tell CNN that Hutchinson was one of two examples that vice chair Liz Cheney used to show Trump allies were putting pressure on former staff members to stay loyal to the former president.

CHENEY: Our committee commonly asks witnesses connected to Mr. Trump's administration or campaign whether they've been contacted by any of their former colleagues or anyone else who attempted to influence or impact their testimony.


NOBLES: Witness intimidation among a growing list of potential crimes. The committee believes Trump and his top advisers could be at the center of.