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Infrastructure Negotiations Continue; Interview With U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo; Congress Set to Vote on Contempt Charges Against Steve Bannon. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The commission is still figuring out a new place for that statue.

Appreciate your time today on "INSIDE POLITICS." Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow.

Don't go anywhere, busy news day. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, and thanks for joining us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

In just hours, a critical vote on Capitol Hill, and what happens will significantly shape how the investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot moves forward. This vote will decide whether Trump ally Steve Bannon should face criminal contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena.

Two big questions here. If this vote passes and it clears the full House as well, will the Department of Justice move forward with prosecution, and, if that happens, would Bannon change his tune?

All this as former President Trump files a new lawsuit against the January 6 committee and the National Archives. Trump's trying to stop this committee from seeing secret White House records.

We have a legal expert standing by, but, first, CNN's Whitney Wild is here to break down tonight's planned vote concerning anyone.

Whitney, the committee has laid out exactly why they are moving forward with this vote in a matter of hours now. What do they say?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're saying that they have gone back and forth with Steve Bannon enough and now it's time to move forward with this criminal contempt citation for Bannon.

What they think he knows is critically important to how this happened. They think that he was at the very center of this effort to spread this election lie that was -- that ended up erupting at the Stop the Steal rally, which then preceded this violent insurrection January 6. Specifically, the committee is looking from -- for from Bannon a list of around 17 key areas of investigation. And, for example, what they want is him to cough up any communications he may have had with far right extremist groups like the Proud Boys, like the Oath Keepers, many of whom are now facing conspiracy charges.

Further, they want Bannon to produce communications with former President Trump. This is where this concept of executive privilege comes in. He maintains that, because the former president is trying to assert executive privilege, that he doesn't know what he's allowed to say or what he's not allowed to say, so until the courts can weigh in, he's not going to comply with a subpoena.

However, they're -- the committee is saying that's just totally ridiculous for a list of reasons, not the least of which was Steve Bannon wasn't an employee of the White House at the time. And so, theoretically, that executive privilege should not extend from the president to Steve Bannon.

So they lay out a list of reasons why they are not accepting Steve Bannon's argument and basically say, we have gone down this line far enough. Now it's time to throw the book at him. As you mentioned, the next step here is for this vote that's going to happen at the committee tonight at 7:30. Then it will hit the House floor, where it will very likely pass.

Then it goes on to the Department of Justice. They have the final say about what they're going to do here, Ana. But what they're trying to do, because the likelihood that Bannon actually sees the inside of a jail cell is pretty slim, they're trying to get as much leverage as they can to compel his testimony that they think is critical to figuring out how this all happened, Ana.

CABRERA: Whitney Wild, I appreciate that.

Let's bring in Elie Honig, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Elie, first, this Bannon vote, the House about to vote on whether to hold him in contempt of Congress. Walk us through this and the expectations for the timing of this process.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ana, three key decision points.

First of all, the January 6 committee will vote tonight at 7:30, as Whitney just said, on whether to recommend contempt. At that point, it will go to the floor of the House of Representatives, where it will take a majority vote in the House to officially hold Steve Bannon in contempt.

At that point, it goes over to the Justice Department. And that's where the final make-or-break decision will be made. It will presumably be made by the attorney general, by Merrick Garland. This is going to be a legacy-defining decision for Merrick Garland.

Look, he's under political pressure here. Adam Schiff and other members of the committee have been out there essentially saying, we're counting on you, Mr. Attorney General. Joe Biden was asked by our Kaitlan Collins, do you think Bannon should be charged with criminal contempt? And he said straight up, "Yes, I do."

Now, DOJ pushed back on that. But, ultimately, it will be Merrick Garland's decision.

CABRERA: So, remind us about how criminal contempt stacks up in the committee's legal toolbox, because it is rarely used. And what kinds of consequences are there if convicted?

HONIG: Yes, so there is a federal crime for contempt of Congress. If a person receives a subpoena and defies it without a good legal reason, that is a crime.

Now, it's a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are the less serious variety of crimes. Felonies are the more serious crimes. So the maximum penalty here is one year or 12 months behind bars and a $1,000 fine. However, an interesting wrinkle here is, there is a mandatory minimum of one month in prison.

So if Steve Bannon is convicted here, he will be locked up. That's a big if. What do we have to see before we get there? Well, first of all, if prosecutors are going to seek a charge, they have to go to a grand jury, or they likely will go to a grand jury.


Then Steve Bannon will make his defense motions. He will ask a judge to throw the case out. He will say executive privilege. He will say whatever else he might need to say to try to get out of this.

Then, like any other criminal defendant, there will be a trial. The prosecution will have to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And, finally, if Bannon is convicted, he will get to appeal, as any convicted defendant does.

So this really could take months and months to complete this process.

CABRERA: Wow. And what does history tell us about how likely it is that Bannon ends up inside a jail?

HONIG: There is a fascinating and sort of bizarre history behind this law.

The last time the Justice Department prosecuted somebody for contempt of Congress was 38 years ago, 1983, a person named Rita Lavelle who worked at the EPA. Since then, they have not brought charges. In the last decade, there have been four different people held in contempt of Congress. All four times, the Justice Department declined to bring criminal charges.

A big reason for that is the Justice Department has an internal policy recommending against charging an executive branch employee with contempt of Congress. Of course, Steve Bannon was not an executive branch employee at the relevant times. CABRERA: And we're getting word that Bannon's lawyer is trying to

delay tonight's vote and is bringing up this new lawsuit that Trump just filed against the committee and the National Archives. He's trying to prevent the committee from getting records from his presidency by claiming executive privilege.

Right now, we know the records are set to be turned over to Congress next month. The National Archives says it plans to comply, unless the court steps in. Does Trump's lawsuit have legitimate legal standing?

HONIG: It has very little legal merit. I think it's probably not a coincidence that Bannon is looking to delay, because I think that's really what's at play with Trump's motion here.

Trump makes three main arguments. First, he says the subpoena is just an attempt to intimidate and harass. That's really got nothing to it legally. That's just sort of name-calling. There's nothing there.

The next argument Trump makes is that there's no legitimate legislative purpose, meaning the committee can only subpoena documents if they're going to pass new laws or recommend new laws. First of all, that's not legally correct. The committee does have investigative power.

Second of all, they may well recommend new laws. The 9/11 Commission did that. And, finally, Trump argues executive privilege. Now, a former president can have some ability to assert executive privilege. But the problem is the law and precedent are fairly clear that, if there's a conflict, it's really up to the current president.

Joe Biden, we now know officially has made clear to the Archives in this case he's not invoking executive privilege, meaning he wants the Archives to turn these records over to Congress. So I think Donald Trump has a serious uphill battle here legally. But, again, it seems the objective is just to drag feet and delay.

CABRERA: Elie Honig, always great to have you. You make it so much easier for us to understand. Thank you, sir.

HONIG: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: So, the potential legal and political consequences here.

Let's bring in CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, so far, Bannon has remained defiant. But even if he doesn't comply, even if this does get dragged out in court, how important do you think it is this committee move forward with a criminal contempt chart?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's usually important, because what's at stake here is the question of whether a separate branch of government, i.e., the Congress, can hold a president accountable for his actions and his behavior.

And I think the committee is well aware of what they're doing. And Bannon, of course, was the easiest person to hold in contempt at first, because, as Elie pointed out, he wasn't even working in the White House at the time. So, he really has no claim to privilege whatsoever. And they are using it as a way to say, you cannot do this.

Congress' responsibility is oversight over the executive branch. And you can't fool with us anymore. We are serious about this. And this is the message they're sending not only to Bannon, but to the other officials that they are talking to, that they intend to get to the bottom of this and that they are not harassing, as Bannon's lawyer would have you believe, but, in fact, they are fact-finding and trying to get to the bottom of who was responsible for inciting January 6.

CABRERA: And we have now obtained audio of Bob Woodward's July 12 phone interview with the late Colin Powell.

I want you to listen to Powell's take on Republican lawmakers and the insurrection.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: These guys all bad- mouthed him right after the riot in the White House.


POWELL: But two weeks later, they were all back in his camp.

WOODWARD: What did you think of that riot and assault on the Capitol?

POWELL: It was awful. He was going in there to overturn the government.


CABRERA: Gloria, Trump didn't comment on Powell's death yesterday, but he did release a statement today, saying in part -- quote -- "Powell was a classic RINO," Republican in name only, "if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes. But, anyway, may he rest in peace."


Your reaction?

BORGER: Well, I don't even want to dignify that statement about Colin Powell, who was an American hero, who served his country, a true public servant, to Democrats and Republicans, who was lauded yesterday.

And so what Donald Trump said about him, honestly, I don't want to spend a lot of time on.


Well, frankly, I only read a portion of the statement...


CABRERA: ... because so much of his statement was about him.

BORGER: Of course.

CABRERA: He made it about him...

BORGER: Of course.

CABRERA: ... in true Trump fashion.

Gloria Borger, it's good to have you with me. Thank you.

BORGER: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: We have breaking news right now into CNN.

The FBI is at this Washington, D.C., home. We're told this is the home of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. These are live images right now. And you can see the FBI official right on scene.

Now, Deripaska was previously sanctioned by the Trump administration for Russia's 2016 election interference.

Our Shimon Prokupecz is on scene.

Shimon, what are you learning about this?


So, this has been an ongoing investigation for quite some time. Of course, many folks will remember Deripaska his name surfaced during the Mueller investigation. He has close ties to Paul Manafort, who was convicted and also investigated by the Mueller team.

So this all goes back for quite some time, of course, those sanctions that you talk about. This investigation, we're told, has been going on for quite some time. It is out of New York. No one was home at the time, I'm told, when the FBI went to the home. They're conducting a search warrant. It's not entirely clear what they're looking for.

But, certainly, the FBI has been interested in Oleg Deripaska for quite some time. He's been on their radar. He's been investigated by the FBI for quite some time.

Also, the Mueller team, the Mueller -- when Mueller was running his investigation into Russian interference, Oleg Deripaska was also part of that. So all of this could be stemming from way back then, from the Mueller investigation. And we may be seeing some sort of end here by the FBI as they execute these search warrants at his home here in Washington, D.C.

CABRERA: And we will recall that he was sanctioned back in 2018. And among the reasons given was that he was being investigated for money laundering, had been accused of threatening lives of business rivals, illegal wiretapping a government official, taking part in extortion and racketeering.

Want to bring back in Elie Honig and get a legal perspective here. What do you make of this, Elie?

HONIG: ... is out of New York, right, even though it was executed in Washington, D.C. We don't know whether that's the Southern District of New York, my former office, or the Eastern District of New York.

However, both of those offices specialize in large, complex fraud, laundering-type cases. The only other thing we know for sure is that in order to get a search warrant, as a prosecutor, which has happened here, you have to go to a judge, you have to be able to write out in a document your probable cause, meaning you have to be able to explain to a judge, we have good reason, over 50 percent reason, to think that a crime was committed and to think that, when we do this search warrant, we're going to find further evidence of that crime.

So we know that DOJ is fairly far down the road here.

CABRERA: OK, Elie Honig, thank you.

Shimon Prokupecz, if you're still with me, quick follow-up question. Do we know if Deripaska is at that home?

PROKUPECZ: No, he's not at home. There were no arrests. And I'm told that there -- that no one was home at the time. He may not have been at that home. He hasn't been at that home perhaps for quite some time, so, of course, raising some questions why the FBI chose to do this today.

We could be nearing an end of the investigation. We usually see these kinds of activity -- this kind of activity at the end of an investigation. So perhaps we could be at this point. We also don't know exactly what the FBI was looking for, just that they were conducting this search warrant.

Of course, this all is going to go back to Russia in some way perhaps and the sanctions issue, and exactly what the Eastern District of New York has been investigating. We believe this is where this investigation is.

Of course, some of the Mueller investigations were picked up by the Eastern District of New York. So maybe that's perhaps where this all started. And, of course, the reason why Deripaska is so important in all this is because of his close ties to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, that, of course, kind of playing out behind the scenes in all of this.

CABRERA: So much more to learn, obviously. We will let you continue to work your sources. Shimon, thank you.

Thanks again to Elie Honig.

Meantime, the supply chain nightmare, how it impacts you, we're going to talk more about that, shipping containers piling up, gas prices rising, and warnings of a not-so-happy holiday season growing louder. The U.S. commerce secretary joins us next.


Plus, a private school in Florida under fire for asking parents to keep kids home for 30 days if they get vaccinated. Why it makes absolutely no sense -- just ahead.

And $1 million per person, the violent gang that kidnapped 16 Americans in one Canadian in Haiti releasing their demands.

Stay with us.


CABRERA: A crucial day for the Biden agenda, the president hosting two face-to-face meetings with the two factions of his party, hoping to forge a compromise on his Build Back Better agenda.

Already today, he met with Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema in the West Wing. She's one of two key holdouts in the Senate, along with Senator Joe Manchin.


Now, White House officials say progress has been made, even as Senator Manchin stands in the way of certain climate provisions.

Let's bring in CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju.

Manu, what are you learning?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just moments ago, Joe Manchin made clear he is opposed to another key climate provision, this called the carbon tax. That's something that a number of Democrats have pushed as an alternative to the one that he has already proposed, a separate plan that would incentivize coal companies and utilities to use fuels, more cleaning-burning fossil fuels, such as renewable sources of energy, and have a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

Manchin says no to that. And he's also saying no to imposing a carbon tax. However, he is indicating that he is in discussions, deep new discussions with the White House and with others. He talked to Bernie Sanders. Yesterday, he also talked to another congresswoman, Pramila Jayapal, someone who represents the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Now, Manchin, who is having these conversations with the president, also made clear that he believes that the House should move forward on passing that infrastructure plan that passed in August in the Senate, arguing to progressives that he's having these talks in good faith. So, in the meantime, pass this bill. This will be good, he argues, for Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I truly believe that, if we work in good faith, and we understand where we are today and where our country is, and the needs we really have, and then the aspirations that we have further down the road, let's do what we can do together. Let's get that piece of legislation agreed upon, that we can start working the framework of that and putting it together.

That's going to take a little while. But with that being said, and we have the trust of each other, then we should be able to vote immediately on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is a tremendous piece of legislation for the president to take with him to Glasgow.


RAJU: So that one comment he made there, it's going to take a little while, he is suggesting that a deal on that larger social safety net package that would potentially include some climate provisions, that could go beyond October 31.

That is the new deadline that Democratic leaders have set to get that larger package done. In the meantime, he wants that smaller package, that infrastructure bill, passed by the House, but the progressives are saying they're not going to support until Manchin and Sinema, Kyrsten Sinema, get behind that larger deal.

At the moment, they're not behind that larger deal, which is why today's meetings are so critical. Joe Biden this afternoon will meet with House progressives, House moderates, trying to get them on board, and Democrats hope he comes to that meeting with specific proposals of what he ultimately will accept in that larger deal.

Can they get there, a major question? But, at the moment, Senate Democrats are behind closed doors trying to hash out their way forward as well -- Ana.

CABRERA: And it sounds like there is some urgency in all of this.

Manu Raju, thank you.

A key backdrop to those talks is America's economic recovery, which is in serious jeopardy, thanks to major bottlenecks in the global supply chain. Logjams and shortages that worsened this summer have now carried over into the fall and could make for some empty Christmas stockings this winter.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): In this small New Jersey office, a Herculean attempt is under way. It's the unofficial logistics center for Carrera Revell working desperately to get their toys into the U.S. in time for this holiday season.

FRANK TIESSEN, PRESIDENT, CARRERA REVELL: OK, just giving you an update on the container situation in the moment.

President Frank Tiessen is manning the operation.

(on camera): Had you ever worked in logistics before?

TIESSEN: Only peripherally, not directly.

YURKEVICH: Why did you have to get directly involved into logistics?

TIESSEN: Because of the global supply chain challenges that we are facing.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Cargo vessels, order numbers and arrival dates all tracked with precision.

TIESSEN: Pretty much the first thing in the morning is really checking the backlog in the warehouse.

YURKEVICH: Boxes of toys that the well-known slot car maker are stuck in their warehouses in China waiting for a ride.

TIESSEN: We still have about 25, 30 containers which are just missing, which will not be here.

YURKEVICH: That's 30 percent of their holiday product. It's just one of many companies dealing with a supply chain nightmare. With port congestion, containers shipped in May are just arriving to Carrera Revell's U.S. warehouse in Atlanta, five months behind schedule.

ANGELA HIGGS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PBL GLOBAL LOGISTICS: We have seen such a surge in the last 90 days.

YURKEVICH: Angela Higgs runs the freight forwarding company for Carrera Revell, tasked with receiving the toys and getting them out to retailers as quickly as possible.

HIGGS: It's been one delay after another. And we, of course, have been pushing and pushing and pushing, but these delays are inevitable right now.

YURKEVICH: With nearly every us port facing a backlog, the warehouse is using all of them, piecing together a working supply chain.

HIGGS: We're just going everywhere we can. Otherwise, these goods are not going to get to the stores, and I'm not going to have anyone missing out on their toys this season.


YURKEVICH: To try to help with that, President Biden announced two major ports in California will move to operate 24/7.

But, for Tiessen, the problem now moves from the sea to the land.

(on camera): Does that help you guys? TIESSEN: No, it doesn't help. It just doesn't alleviate the problem,

which we then have once the containers off a board. There are not enough trucks, there are not enough freight trains to move the containers in land.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, East Brunswick, New Jersey.


CABRERA: We're joined now by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Madam Secretary, it's good to have you with us.

I want to start with what we just heard from that toy company president. He says this 24/7 port plan doesn't actually address the latest problem, because there aren't enough trucks and trains to move the backlog of those containers. And we're learning cargo owners aren't actually utilizing those overnight hours.

So what is the administration doing on that front?

GINA RAIMONDO, U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Yes, so it's good to be with you. Good afternoon.

The administration is working day and night on this, in partnership with business. I mean, it is important to remember that supply chains are run by private companies, private logistics companies, private -- all private consumer goods companies.

So, fundamentally, they need to work through the logistical issues in their supply chain. What we are doing is working on the infrastructure, working on the ports, having the ports go 24/7, which has been very helpful, not with every issue, but with that issue, making investments, so people can go back to work, getting everyone vaccinated, so they can go back to work.

I mean, fundamentally, what we have here is a demand issue. The economy's doing better. Since the president's been in office, we have created five million jobs. People have money in their pocket. They're spending that money. Demand is through the roof. And supply has to catch up.

So we are doing everything we know how to do. And it's going to take a little time before the bottlenecks work their way out.

CABRERA: And, in fact, we're hearing it could take into next year for that to get sorted.

But here's the thing. If these containers shipped in May are just now getting to the warehouse, so that's five months behind schedule, just looking at basic supply and demand as you outline, this doesn't bode well for consumers. Can we assume more price hikes?

RAIMONDO: I don't think you can necessarily assume more price hikes. I think you -- there are pockets of improvement already. Now, again, I'm not minimizing this. It's hard. It's tough for Americans right now to see prices going higher, goods not getting to them as quickly.

CABRERA: Where are the pockets of improvements?

RAIMONDO: We have seen lumber prices come down. We have seen everything in the house -- all housing supply prices have come down pretty significantly.

You're starting to see some improvements in some of the supply chains. The fact that the ports are going 24/7 is an improvement. So I think it's -- we are seeing improvement, but it's -- clearly, it's not enough, not fast enough.

CABRERA: What's your advice for buying holiday gifts? Is now the time to pull the trigger? Or should people wait?

RAIMONDO: Well, that's up to individuals.

I'm smiling because I'm always hopelessly behind in my own Christmas shopping.

CABRERA: Same here.


RAIMONDO: So, I think starting earlier is better.

CABRERA: But -- and I guess I ask because, as you talk about the supply chain sort of getting worked out and improvements, obviously, if people are going to be paying top dollar right now, if they wait a while, maybe that's advantageous in the hopes of not paying such high prices.

But at the same time, if waiting means your Christmas presents not arriving, that could be a huge problem, right?

RAIMONDO: Yes, I see your point.

So, look, I don't have a crystal ball. And I don't think anyone does. The reality is this. We have never seen anything like this before. Like, we shut the economy down a year ago. Manufacturers told all their employees to go home because of COVID for months, shut down manufacturing operations.

And now we're trying to switch it on again. And, oh, by the way, demand is through the roof because the economy's recovered more quickly. So it will take a little bit of time. There is no magic wand to this.

What I can tell you is that we in the administration are focused like a laser beam on it and trying to make progress on a daily basis.

CABRERA: One more positive sign about the economy is, the market is up because corporate profits are beating expectations. But the average American is getting crushed by inflation, by rising

gas prices, by these shortages. How are you planning to address that disparity?