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Bill Barr Becomes Committee's Unlike Star Witness in Second Hearing; Interview with Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO); Committee Members at Odds Over Potential Criminal Referral to DOJ; Interview with Robert Jordon, Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia: Biden Will Meet with Saudi Crown Prince; Police Identify Armed Man Killed During Summer Camp Shooting. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 14, 2022 - 15:30   ET



ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: ... purpose has zero legal impact. Politically maybe it has some affect, but DOJ does not need a formal criminal referral in order to do anything. A criminal referral does not compel DOJ to do anything. Prosecutors get referrals all day long from all different sources. It is up to DOJ and DOJ alone. It's really all about the evidence here.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Important context there. Let's listen now to -- who's turning out to be a star witness for the committee -- this is the former AG Bill Barr.

HONIG: Indeed.


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: I said, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality. If he really believes this stuff. On the other hand, you know, when I went into this and would, you know, tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were. In my opinion then and my opinion now is that the election was not stolen by fraud.


HONIG: Quite a turnaround from Bill Barr. This is guy who spent the vast majority of his time as Attorney General, twisting the facts, twisting the truth to help and protect Donald Trump. And now we hear him say in the starkest of terms, no evidence of fraud, and I told Donald Trump that, and I think that's what the committee is driving at here. They're using Bill Barr who was the Attorney General who would know better than anyone else to establish there was no election fraud on a widespread scale. He would know of everybody, and he told Donald Trump, so Donald Trump knew or should have known.

But I do want to say this, remember, this is a one-sided proceeding. There's no cross-examination of Bill Barr. He was singing a very different tune publicly at the time. He wrote a letter to Donald Trump when he quit saying we're continuing to investigate fraud and praising Donald Trump for quote advancing the rule of law. So, what you see here from Bill Barr, you can take that at face value, but remember, there's no one there to challenge it, and he's been quite inconsistent.

BLACKWELL: So, this hearing that was scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed, at least one member says it's because of technical issues. It will come back, what will you be watching for.

HONIG: Yes, when they have this hearing on DOJ, it's going to be very important. We're going to hear the committee tells us from three top officials at DOJ, Jeffrey Rosen, Richard Donahue, and Steven Engel. And the gist of what they're going to tell is that the White House tried to pressure them to falsely sign on to the big lie of election fraud, even though DOJ found no such thing.

And one of the most important pieces of evidence is going to come from Richard Donahue. He took handwritten notes of a phone that DOJ had with Donald Trump three days before January 6th, and Donahue wrote then in his notes that Donald Trump said this to DOJ: Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me, and the R. (meaning Republican) Congressman.

So, that is an incredibly important piece of evidence. And the fact that Donahue did what lawyers do, took notes as it went. I think it's going to make it quite compelling.

BLACKWELL: All right, look forward to it. Elie, thank you very much.

HONIG: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, with me now in House chamber, when he was there when the Trump incited the rioters, they descended on the Capitol. You'll remember this picture from that day. Congressman Jason Crow comforting fellow Representative Susan Wild. They were trapped there in the midst of the chaos.

Congressman Crow of Colorado joins me now. Also, former Army Ranger, served as an impeachment manager for Donald Trump's first impeachment trial. Thank you for being with me. Let's start here with this apparent disagreement between the chair and vice chair on if there will be criminal referrals at the end of this investigation. I want you to listen to what the vice chair, Republican Liz Cheney told CNN just a couple of months ago.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (W-WY): I think that it is absolutely the case. It's absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing. What a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was unlawful. They did it anyway.


BLACKWELL: Congressman, if the committee has evidence that there have been crimes committed, should they criminally refer former President Trump or anyone else to the DOJ?

REP. JASON CROW (D- CO): Absolutely. Why not? I mean, I firmly believe in rule of law. I believe this is a public safety issue, it's a national security issue, it's a rule of law issue. No man or woman is above the law in the United States of America whether you're a president or a member of Congress or anybody else. So, I firmly believe in that, and frankly, I think it's much ado about nothing, this supposed disagreement. When people show members of a committee having a discussion about something, but that tells me is that it's actually a real committee going through real tough problems.

I mean, this is a bipartisan committee tackling some very challenging and fraught issues, and they're having a discussion about it. I sit on the Armed Services Committee. I have those discussions all the time. I sit on the Intelligence Committee, I have the discussions all the time. I see and hear people saying this is political theater, the result is predetermined.


No, it's not. They're going through a tough process and looking at really challenging things.

BLACKWELL: You say it's much ado about nothing. But when we heard from the chairman, it was unequivocal. He said, no, we will not be referring the president or anyone else. It didn't seem as if there was still a discussion that was happening, although we know this has been something that's been debated for months. It seems as if he's made up at least his mind.

CROW: Well, I haven't talked to either one of them. But, you know, what seems to be the case from my reading of it, is that people hearing different things based on the question, giving different answers and somebody clarifying the answers. So, this is a process that's ongoing is the bottom line, and none of the people, none of the committee members, including the cochairs have ever heard them say what the results are going to be because it's not done yet. So, we have to go through the process.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about if this -- what is being ruled out here from the committee through these hearings, if it's resonating across this country. Here's what we heard from Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney.

He said this: I don't think there's something that we've seen that we didn't know the bottom line about, but the full color of the statements being made by people indicate just how pervasive the view was that there was no credibility whatsoever to the idea that the election was not entirely legal.

Do you think that the committee in their production of this, in how they're laying out the facts and their findings, is changing -- if they're changing minds across the country.

CROW: Yes, there's no doubt that they are, but this isn't just an issue of changing hearts and minds or writing the history books. The United States Congress is an independent branch. We have an obligation to ensure the checks and balances of this country prevail and they carry forward. That's what the process is about.

We are asserting our authority and saying the executive branch was running amuck. This has clearly shown the depths and the breathe of the depravity and the lack of leadership and the failure of leadership under the Trump administration, and we have an obligation to talk about it. We've learned more things in this process that we didn't learn through the impeachment trial and prior oversight. Look at the Bill Barr stuff. You know, what that tells me the true story of the Bill Barr deposition is that he kept his mouth shut when it matters for the country. He kept his mouth shut because he was afraid, either afraid or trying to keep information to himself until he could sell books or whatever he might want to try and do. This is about leadership failure, and it's about people not discharging their oaths to the country, and it's a story that needs to be told.

BLACKWELL: Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, thank you, sir.

The White House is facing criticism over President Biden's upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia. I'm going to speak with the former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom about it next.



BLACKWELL: Some Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expressing concerns over the president's plan to visit Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince next month to reset U.S. diplomacy there citing the kingdom's human rights record. Joining me now is Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He is the author of "Desert Diplomat, Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11." Mr. Ambassador, thank you for being with me. Let's start here, you support the president's trip to Saudi Arabia. Why?

ROBERT JORDAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: Diplomacy is always a good thing, Victor. This is a situation that has gotten almost out of hand. We are almost ships passing in the night here at a time when the world needs a steady hand, a calm hand to assess where our interests lie and where they don't. We're not going to agree with the Saudis. Doesn't mean we shouldn't talk to them.

But there are so many opportunities that we have right now. Look at the Abraham Accords where the United Arab Emirates and others have joined in recognizing Israel. The Saudis, I think, are on the verge of this. But diplomacy is the only way we're going to get over the finish line. This is something that's very much in the security interest of Israel and also in the interest of the United States.

BLACKWELL: You know, of course, a lot of the controversy about this trip is about the president when he was a candidate said that he would make Saudi Arabia a pariah after the U.S. intel community determined that MBS, Mohammed bin Salmon, the Crown Prince was responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. I want to read to you what his fiancee said to CNN about the president's trip. She said: President Biden's decision to meet MBS is horribly upsetting

to me and supporters of freedom and justice everywhere. President Biden, if he meets MBS will have lost his moral compass and greatly heightened my grief.

Your reaction to that, and how much that should influence U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia moving forward?

JORDAN: She makes a persuasive case, but I think it's got to be taken into context. When Jamal Khashoggi was killed, I was one of the harshest critics of MBS. My record on this is quite clear. I have called him individually a pariah in the past. I was on a show with "The Washington Post" with Hatice as well. I have expressed my condolences to her, and I think it's very important for us to continue to remember Jamal Khashoggi who I knew and worked with when I was ambassador.

On At the same time, I think we've got, again, to look at the broader geopolitical situation in the world, the national interests, and I think it is hurtful individually to people like her. It's got to be hurtful to the families of the 9/11 victims, and yet at the same time, we have to move on with what is in the U.S. national interest.

Clearly a complete economic boycott of Saudi Arabia would not work. Bringing down the royal family would not work. What we'd end up with would look a lot more like Libya than it would Switzerland. So, I think we've got very conflicting, difficult choices to make, but this is where I come out. We've got to engage in diplomacy. We need an ambassador over there, we needed an ambassador a year and a half ago, and I'm disappointed that this administration is only now finally getting around to nominating and confirming that ambassador.

BLACKWELL: Mr. Ambassador, it sounds like making Saudi Arabia a pariah was never possible. It was just something he said during the campaign, but it wasn't even realistic considering the oil production and their role geopolitically.


JORDAN: I think it was an ill-considered statement that he probably wishes he hadn't made. But at the same time, I can understand his outrage at that murder and the human rights record that Saudi Arabia has.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about these American pro golfers, because this is a different conversation, right, the role and responsibility of the U.S. president versus professional golfers who were joining this Saudi backed LIV tournament. Some big paydays reportedly for them. Critics are saying they're helping the Saudis sports wash over their human rights record. Do you think that's what is happening here, and do you think these players should participate?

JORDAN: I think it's unfortunate particularly at this time. I think the idea of sports washing probably is a correct designation. I can recall again after Jamal's murder, the Saudis were hosting their Davos in the Desert, their economic conference, and I said that American business leaders should not attend. Many of them did not. The next year and the year after that, they did. So, I think it is something that these people have to make a choice about. I don't think it rises to the level of the U.S. national interest. But I think it is an unfortunate thing, but they have a right to do it unless they're violating some kind of contract with the PGA.

I'm a big golf fan. I went to the PGA in Tulsa and noted the absence of some of the players, but some of them were there. It's -- it is a -- I think it is a calculated move by the Saudi Public Investment Fund to attack what I would consider to be a cultural icon in the United States and the PGA. Maybe they have a better business model, but it's sort of like saying that you want to play for a major league team but you only want to show up for the world series. I don't think that's what the PGA obligations contemplate. So again, I'm not going to pretend to be a pundit on this, but I'm disappointed in what's happening there.

BLACKWELL: All right, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, thank you, sir.

Just weeks after the Uvalde Elementary School massacre, Dallas Police say they shot and killed a gunman at a building hosting a summer camp. We've got details ahead.



BLACKWELL: Police in a suburb near Dallas shot and killed a man at a summer camp on Monday. Police say that a 42-year-old man walked into a fieldhouse in Duncanville and fired a gun into the room where campers were. About 250 children were at this camp. They hid in classrooms and bathrooms when the shooting started. The good news here is no children were injured. CNN's Josh Campbell is with us now. What more can you tell us?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, just a frightening situation here in Texas yesterday in the Dallas suburb of Duncanville. Police say that around 8:45 a.m., they began receiving 911 calls of shots fired by an armed man at this indoor summer camp. Now authorities arrived within a span of about two minutes and began searching that building for that shooter. We know from authorities that the suspect arrived, went through the main lobby, encountered one of the camp employees. There was some type of discussion before he opened fire. The assistant police chief described what happened next.


ASST. CHIEF MATTHEW STOGNER, DUNCANVILLE POLICE: The suspect went to a classroom, was unable to get inside, and did fire one round inside the classroom where there were children inside. Officers arrived on scene, observed him in the gymnasium and confronted him. The suspect and the officers then exchanged fire. To where he was put down on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMPBELL: That suspect shot and killed by police. We're learning new

details about that shooter. Authorities say he was a 42-year-old resident of the Dallas area. Still a lot of questions about what the motive was, whether the suspect had any type of affiliation with the summer camp. I spoke a short time ago with an official with the Texas Rangers who say that they have launched an investigation at the request of local police to try to piece that together. But as their work continues, authorities here really applauding the work of law enforcement, their rapid response and also the camp counselors who when they heard those gunshots, they knew there was a threat. They quickly moved to rush those children to safety.

Of course, you compare what happened here yesterday with what happened in Uvalde, Texas, three weeks ago today, where there are still questions about the police response there. Questions about why authorities were treating that as a barricade type situation rather than an active shooter and thanks to the gate work of our colleagues at the "Texas Tribune," questions about who was in charge. Whether there was an on scene commander. Again, a lot of questions there. You compare that to here in the Dallas area, you see a rapid response by police, that likely saving lives -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, no children -- no one injured here in Duncanville. Josh Campbell, thank you.

Any moment now, FDA vaccine advisers will vote on whether to recommend expanding Moderna's Emergency Use Authorization to include children as young as 6. More on that ahead.



BLACKWELL: Are you sitting down? Sit down. K-pop superstars BTS have taken a break.

Oh, we're going to miss these lyrics.


The band that broke a Beatles record with three number one albums in a single year, announced today that it's going on hiatus so members can pursue solo projects. Just when I was going to buy tickets to the concert. The group has garnered international stardom with fans who call themself the BTS army.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.