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Interview with Rep. Stacey Plasket (D-VI): Next Hearing To Focus On Pressure On Former Vice President Pence; Trump Lawyer Warned John Eastman To Back Off Plans To Overturn Election; Primary Results Put Trump's Grip On GOP Into Focus; Buffalo Shooting Suspect Facing Multiple Federal Hate Crimes Charges; Two Southern California Police Officers Killed In Line Of Duty. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 15, 2022 - 15:30   ET



RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There was an argument to be made that not making that referral takes the politics out of it and it allows Merrick Garland to do his job without the pressure.

But then there's also a counter argument that says the committee needs to be forceful in their belief that there was a crime committed here to try and put Garland in a position to take action.

This is really one of dominated conversations of the committee at least behind closed doors at this point -- Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Ryan Nobles with some crucial new reporting. Thank you, Ryan.

With me now Democratic Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett. She's a former Trump impeachment manager. Thank you for being with me. Let's start here with the video of this tour led by GOP Congressman Barry Loudermilk.

With the video, the chairman released this letter saying: That individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourist, including hallways, staircases and security points.

Loudermilk said nothing about this was suspicious. What do you see here? Do you think it was a recon tour?

REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): Well, whether it was a reconnaissance tour or not, what I think is most disturbing is a member of Congress, is that one of my colleagues who saw what happened on January 6, knew he was with a substantial group of individuals who were taking pictures of the facility, of the campus and did not of his own volition try and come forward and say, hey, these are some people, I don't know if they did anything wrong, but we just had an assault on our Capitol and maybe you should look at them.

Maybe Justice Department, maybe FBI, these are individuals that you should look at this and here are their names and their phone numbers. That would be the normal course of someone who cared about this

institution, cared about the safety of their colleagues and cared about an attempted overthrow of the government.

The fact that not only did he not share that information, but he was disingenuous when he said he was visiting with a family with small children, which we learn is not entirely the same -- the case as it was. Leads into question all his statements thus far.

BLACKWELL: All right, the vice chair of the committee Liz Cheney, she has now teased out what the next hearing, tomorrow will be about. And she played a clip of the testimony from Eric Herschmann, whose a Trump White House attorney.

This is about some conversation with John Eastman who wrote the memo about what Vice President Pence should have done on January 6 from their perspective. Let's watch.


ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: He started to ask me about something dealing with Georgia, preserving something potentially for appeal, and I said to him are you out of your f'ing mind?

He said I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: Orderly transition. Eventually he said orderly transition. I said good, John, now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life. Get a great f'ing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it.


BLACKWELL: It's a single clip but what do you hear? What's the value here for the American people, for the community in what we're hearing from Herschmann?

PLASKETT: Well, I think what they -- I'm hopeful that the American public will get out of this, those independents, those individuals who are sitting on the fence about what happened on January 6th, is that they are hearing in clear terms, in stark reality evidence the individuals who worked for Donald Trump.

Who worked for President Trump. Who were part of his inner circle. Who they themselves say that this was incomprehensible what happened, that the president knew that what he was purporting in terms of losing -- winning the election was a lie.

And that the actions of January 6th were in the estimation of many of the individuals, particularly the one you showed just now, criminal activity and that there was criminal implications for them.

As someone who worked at the Justice Department, worked for the Deputy Attorney General during a Republican administration, I have to tell you that they have to be watching all of this.

They have to be thinking about all of this and they need to make the right decision about what they're going to do. I agree with the chairman that the evidence speaks for itself and that the use of the committee to force the hand of the Justice Department should be absolutely unnecessary.

And that the committee is doing an incredible job of sharing information with the American public and with the Justice Department. The Justice Department could simply subpoena all this information from the committee and make the case themselves.


BLACKWELL: So, you believe and you said that it's unnecessary to, your characterization, force the hand, but of course, the DOJ will decide on its own independent of a referral.

But you agree with Chairman Thompson who says that there will not be -- you believe there should not be any referral for former President Trump or anyone else, a criminal referral, to DOJ as part of this investigation?

PLASKETT: Well, Victor, be clear. I didn't say should not. I said is unnecessary

BLACKWELL: I'm asking.

PLASKETT: It is unnecessary. I think it's unnecessary for them to have to do that because I believe that the Justice Department is keenly watching this.

They have access to all of this information should they request it, if they have not already. I'm unaware of that.

And that there is of course, sufficient evidence to infer that criminal activity took place and it is their job to do the investigation, the indictment of individuals, to see there is probable cause of criminal activity taking place, and to then make the case in a criminal court of law.

Which has a standard different than is necessary by the January 6th Committee to find beyond a reasonable doubt that individuals did, in fact, commit sedition, treason, an attempted coup, criminal intent, attempted assault, attempted assassination, attempted murder of elected officials in this country.

BLACKWELL: Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett, representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, thank you very much.

PLASKETT: Thank you so much, Victor.

BLACKWELL: An election denier in Nevada is one step closer of being in charge of elections in the state. Details next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: Donald Trump's grip on the GOP was evident in several critical battle ground states last night. We got a glimpse how much he could sway the midterms this November.

CNN political Director David Chalian is here to break it all down for us. So, David, good to see you. Let's start with South Carolina. Split decision there. What do we need to know?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, a split decision in terms of the Trump endorsement tracker. But it really is a win-win for Donald Trump. Here's why.

Take a look in this congressional district -- the 7th Congressional district -- Tom Rice, one of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, Victor, so a clear target of the former president, he comes up with a big loss here.

He only got 24.7 percent of the vote. Russell Fry, the Trump backed candidate, 51 percent of the vote.

Now that indicates conservative Republican primary voters in South Carolina, if you go to as far as to impeaching Donald Trump, well, you are no longer welcome to be the representative there.

Take a look in the 1st Congressional district down here in the Charleston area. Nancy Mace, she wins this race, 53.1 percent of the vote. Now she did not have Donald Trump's endorsement.

Katie Arrington did. But Nancy Mace did not go as far as voted to impeach Donald Trump. She said some critical things in the aftermath of January 6. She actually voted to certify the 2020 election as legitimate.

Yes, he endorsed against her. But what else did she do? She spent the entirety of this race trying to affiliate herself with Donald Trump. She went up to Trump Tower, filmed the video in front of it.

So, Trump either gets his revenge getting somebody who impeached him out, or he gets his revenge because he makes someone, he's not supporting sort of grovel for his support as well. So, a win/win for Donald Trump in South Carolina.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to Nevada now. Good night for people backing the big lie there.

CHALIAN: Well, I'm going to go a little further down the ballot to the Secretary of State primary in Nevada. Take a look. This is the Republican primary. Jim Marchant, 38 percent of the vote, he's the winner.

This is the Republican nominee to be Secretary of State in a critical battlegrounds state, Nevada, to have oversight over the elections there and he is an election denier from 2020.

So, this is the real world still modern day, not looking back to January 6th, but today and going forward potential threat to sort of our democracy, to the foundations of free and fair elections. He is no the Republican nominee in Nevada.

Also, I just want to show you in Nevada in the Senate race there, one of the key contests of the cycle, Victor, if I can get to it. You'll see here Adam Laxalt, who had the support of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, he's the big winner in the Republican nomination.

He'll go up against Catherine Cortez Masto, one of the vulnerable incumbent Democrats. The entire control of the U.S. Senate could come down to this race.

BLACKWELL: All right, partial race there. Take us to Texas and this special election victory for the GOP.

CHALIAN: Yes, I think this race is important to pay attention to. It's down here in the Brownsville area of Texas, down in the Rio Grande Valley. Mia Flores, a Republican, wins this race. It's a special election.

This was a Democratic held seat. This district is one that Joe Biden won by 4 points in 2020. The Democratic Congressman left Congress to become a lobbyist. The special election now produces a flip for Republicans.

Nancy Pelosi's Democratic majority in the House just shrunk by one seat in advance of this tough midterm cycle.

The thing that's key to watch here, Victor, is, you know, we talk about it all the time. Republicans have been making inroads specifically with Latino voters.

A very heavily Latino district here. And this is a warning sign to Democrats. That in a Biden district, heavily Latino, Republic were able to make gains here.


Now, come November these lines have been redrawn, this district is likely to be much more Democratic. But for the moment a warning sign for Democrats about their relationship with Latino voters given this economy -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Something to watch. David Chalian watching it all for us. Thank you very much, David.

Two California police officers were killed in an ambush while trying to protect a family. We have details of this ahead.



BLACKWELL: Federal authorities say the 18-year-old charged in last month's racist attack at a Buffalo supermarket had planned that massacre for years. Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the suspect now faces multiple federal hate crime charges.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now from Buffalo. Brynn, the Attorney General met with survivors, the victims' families. What did he say?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Victor, he said he wanted to go meet with them personally to tell them that these federal charges were going to be coming down.

The announcement, 26 federal charges now against that 18-year-old shooter allegedly responsible for the attack that happened in the Tops grocery store here behind me. Ten people were killed.

I know you remember it well as you were here for such a long period of time. Much of those charges are hate crime related, some are gun related as well.

But the criminal complaint that was filed, the affidavit, it has so much detail of what investigators have found in this past month against this shooter.

Basically saying, like you mentioned, Victor, he had planned this, had thought about this for several years prior to the attack last month and really got serious about it allegedly earlier this year.

But was doing recognizance of this area, which we knew about. But even visited the store just 2 1/2 hours before that attack was carried out. You know, going in, seeing how many people in the black community, because that's what he was targeting allegedly -- who he was targeting.

How many were inside, the ages, where the security guard was located. Remember, that was one of the victims in this case. So, so much information detailed, and I want you to hear more from the Attorney General about filing these charges.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hate fueled acts of violence terrorized not only the individuals who are all attacked but entire communities. Hate brings immediate devastation and it inflicts lasting fear. At the Justice Department, we view confronting hate crimes as both our legal and our moral obligation.


GINGRAS: Obviously, it is so very important for the Attorney General. Keep in mind, Victor, now these 26 federal charges are on top of state charges that this 18-year-old is already facing.

But now, the death penalty is on the table, when the Attorney General was asked if that's really going to be considered, what's going to happen with that, he didn't commit to an answer just yet.

Saying it's going to take time to go through the process, but said of course, the victims' families as well as the survivors in this are going to have some weigh-in on that decision -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Brynn Gingras for us with the latest in Buffalo, thank you, Brynn. A city in southern California is in mourning today. Two police

officers were killed in the line of duty. The mayor of El Monte says that they were trying to protect a family.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is with us now. So, the mayor said that these two were essentially ambushed. Tell us more.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is what the mayor is saying. We are also learning not the names of the officers yet but we do know, Victor, one had at least 22 years with the department. The other is what they have described as a rookie, less than a year on the job.

Investigators are keeping the information of this case close to the vest, but they did share with us when they entered this motel room after responding to a call for a potential stabbing when they encountered the suspect, an officer-involved shooting occurred.

And later, another officer-involved shooting occurred on the parking lot. So, it appears there are at least two scenes. And everything that transpired has left this community devastated.


CAPT. BEN LOWRY, ACTING CHIEF OF POLICE, EL MONTE POLICE: These two heroes paid the ultimate sacrifice. Today, they were murdered by a coward.

JESSICA ANCONA, EL MONTE MAYOR: Heartbroken doesn't begin to express the loss that we feel with the news that two of our El Monte police officers were shot today in the line of duty.

As our officers do on a daily basis, they were acting as the first line of defense for our community members when they were essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe.


BROADDUS: Investigators also telling us both of the officers were married with children. People have been leaving flowers outside of the police station in honor of those officers -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Adrienne Broaddus, thank you.

We're watching the markets in the final minutes of trading now after the Federal Reserve made the biggest hike in interest rates in a decade -- or decades. More than ten years.



BLACKWELL: FDA vaccine advisors just voted in favor of authorizing Pfizer's COVID vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years old. A committee member, Dr. Paul Offit, said that children will need a three-dose series to be sufficiently protected. [16:00:00]

At the top of the hour, the panel also approved Moderna for children 6 months through 5 years of age. Now on Saturday, the CDC advisers are scheduled to vote on whether to recommend these vaccines in that age group.

And if CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the recommendation, the children can be vaccinated.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.