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Two Former Pence Advisers to Testify at Hearing Today; Committee Releases Video of Tour After Capitol Police Clear Loudermilk; Stocks Tumble on Recession Fears. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Both of whom advised Pence that he did not have the authority to subvert the election.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And in a written statement, those obtained exclusively by CNN, Luttig intends to provide a sharp condemnation of Trump, saying in part, quote, no American ought to turn away from January 6, 2021 until all of America comes to grips of what befell our country that day, and we decide what we want for our democracy from this day forward. We'll have much more on that in just a moment.
Plus, new details surrounding emails between Trump Lawyer John Eastman and Ginni Thomas, who is, of course, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and The New York Times now reporting this morning that justices got into a heated fight over to whether to take up a case on the 2020 presidential election.
HARLOW: So, let's begin our coverage this hour with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju. He is on Capitol Hill. Talk to us more about what will happen today in this hearing.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's going to all focus on the pressure on Mike Pence to take that unconstitutional action on January 6, 2021 to overturn the electoral certified votes of the states here on January 6, something, of course, that he rejected doing, but going to the genesis of how this theory first came about, looking at Trump's attorney, John Eastman, who is a prominent supporter of this and directly tie Donald Trump's words to the violence that occurred on January 6 as words about Mike Pence into exactly what happened here in the Capitol.
Now, two people will be testifying who are very close to Mike Pence. We expect to hear from Greg Jacob, who is a former counsel for Mike Pence, as well as Judge Michael Luttig, who is a former judge, also an informal adviser of sorts to Pence to understand what the vice president was thinking at the time. We do also expect to see video deposition from his former chief of staff, Pence's former chief of staff, Marc Short, who will be featured prominently in today's hearing
Now, we've gotten a copy of Judge Luttig's opening statement that he does plan to deliver to the committee this afternoon, and he makes some very strong comments about Donald Trump, Donald Trump effort to try to cling on to power and push this bogus notion that the vice president could have simply rejected the will of the electorate. He says, had the vice president of the United States obeyed the president of the United States of America, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis.
Now, today's hearing will be led in part by a committee counsel who will be asking questions, as well as Congressman Aguilar, a Democrat, who will be part of the questioning here. But will be end of this week's hearings after today but it's only the beginning of what will still be several more hearings later this month as this committee continues to both promise more and more evidence showing Donald Trump directly responsible for what happened here, and the violence on January 6, including the violence that was directed towards the vice president of the United States.
HARLOW: A very significant afternoon ahead. Manu, thank you very much for that preview.
Also new this morning, The New York Times is reporting that in an email weeks after the 2020 election, Trump ally and Conservative Attorney John Eastman claimed to have known about a, quote, heated fight among Supreme Court justices over whether or not to take up a case, to take up argument about former President Trump's false election claims.
MARQUARDT: CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz joins us now.
Katelyn, in these emails, you have Eastman claiming that he has got insight into the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Alex. So, that is one part of this, but there're other things that we should be talking about with these emails. So, this New York Times reporting today is reporting the story of two attorneys working for Donald Trump and his campaign after the election before January 6, talking about going to the Supreme Court, taking a case to the Supreme Court to try and overturn the election result and also this expectation that knew rally-goers would be coming to D.C. on January 6 potentially in a way that could be intimidating to the Supreme Court.
So, I want to walk through the emails because the language that they are using is very important. So, Eastman, The New York Times says, he is a well-connected former Thomas clerk, so he knows the Supreme Court well. He emails on Christmas Eve 2020 to Trump campaign officials about this approach in court. So, the odds are not based on the legal merits but an assessment of the justices' spines. And I understand there is a heated fight under way.
He then writes, for those willing do their duty on the Supreme Court, we should help them by giving a Wisconsin cert petition to add into the mix. So, that's astonishing on its own because of this insight he appears to say that he has.
And then this other lawyer replies, Kenneth Chesebro. He is also in touch with the Trump campaign saying, the odds of action before January 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be wild chaos on January 6, that this will be wild, idea with something Donald Trump had tweeted about a couple days before these emails were exchanged.
And so we hadn't heard that language before behind the scenes.
We know that the committee does have these emails. Representative Jamie Raskin was on CNN a couple of hours ago. Here is how characterized what they found in this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): He could have been lying about what he knew on the inside. On the other hand, perhaps he had some backchannel connection to the Supreme Court and we want to ferret that out if that is true, to determine whether, you know, the same people who were establishing a backchannel to the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and the domestic violent extremist movement also had a backchannel somehow to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sorry. Who was in Trump world establishing a backchannel to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers?
RASKIN: Well, all of that is to come soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLANTZ: And so we do know now that the House has these emails. We are going to be hearing about John Eastman's emails today and we'll have to see whether these particular ones come up in the public hearings in a couple of hours.
MARQUARDT: As you noted, Eastman, a former clerk for Thomas, and we now know that he was also in touch with Thomas' wife, Ginni, but we don't know too much more about that. Surely, the committee is digging into that.
Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.
HARLOW: Thanks, Katelyn.
Joining us now to discuss, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor himself, knows a thing or two about this, Elie Honig. Great to have you, Elie.
Wow. This New York Times piece, if all this reporting is accuracy, what questions do you have? But how Eastman would know that there was a heated debate among justices in the court whether to grant cert to case if it were brought on this very issue?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, two big issues. First of all, does John Eastman have some sort of backchannel to this sort of information, intel about what is happening in the Supreme Court? He could be lying. Look, his credibility is not great when we look at his actions, writ large here. But if so, then I think it is important that they figure out who is this backchannel. We don't know. We do know that he had emails with Ginni Thomas. We do know that Eastman clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas many years ago. So, what would certainly be where I would start.
But the bigger question is the substance of the emails. This is the first time we've seen a direct link between the strategy to steal the election and the possibility of violence the next day. The email that Katelyn just showed us, they are talking about, if there is chaos, wild chaos, that will help our chances in the Supreme Court. That is a remarkably important connection.
MARQUARDT: And, Elie, you say that because of what we're learning about Eastman, that the January 6 committee needs to recommend changes to the Electoral Count Act. Explain that.
HONIG: Yes. So, the Electoral Count Act is what Donald Trump and John Eastman and others try to exploit here. It is the federal law that tells us how the votes get counted in Congress on January 6. And what they tried to exploit is I don't think it is ambiguous, I think that the law is pretty clear that the vice president's only role is to count the votes and announce the votes. But Eastman's whole theory that led to all this chaos was that, actually, the vice president has authority to just throw out certain electoral votes.
So, it's quite an easy fix. All you need to say is, the vice president's only job is to count and announce the votes. He cannot decide to throw any out.
HARLOW: So, it is the language of the statute?
HONIG: Yes, the statute needs to be fixed. It's important. It's easy. And let's keep in mind, the committee has said in court, our purpose is not necessarily investigative, as legislative.
HARLOW: They did say that in some documents.
HARLOW: Elie, one thing is so important here, Jeffrey Toobin, and we were talking about it yesterday, vis-a-vis the former president, in terms of intent. To prove intent, what did he really believe? But for John Eastman too, intent is critical, no?
HONIG: Yes, it is. And there is a critical line here between -- look, lawyers are allowed to -- and I will tell you firsthand, often do make arguments that are specious, that are reaches, that are shaky, sometimes that are even outrageous. That is not necessarily a crime. Did John Eastman cross the line, however, and I think that we have to look at what was behind the ridiculous legal theory. The witnesses today are going to tell you that legal theory was crazy and I think the argument will be his purpose was to obstruct the congressional counting. That intent could make it criminal.
MARQUARDT: Elie, much of the focus of today's hearing is going to be the pressure that was put on Vice President Mike Pence. We've also heard from the vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, who said that -- who was quoting the president, former President Trump, saying, maybe our supporters have the right idea, maybe that, quote, Pence deserves it. So, how much of the intention today is to demonstrate that there was this overwhelming pressure on Mike Pence and that Trump almost got Pence killed?
HONIG: Yes, Alex. Let's remember, this is the endgame. When you are thinking about the timeline from the election up to January 6, this is all happening at the very end. Trump has lost all the lawsuits, the states have all certified and the last gasp here is the counting of electoral votes.
And so I think what the committee will lay out for us today is this systemic effort sparked by John Eastman, but picked up eagerly by Donald Trump to pressure Mike Pence.
And when Mike Pence stood up and absolutely did the right thing, we saw the results of that, the hang Mike Pence cheers, the model -- gallows that they set up outside the Capitol.
So, look, Donald Trump, his words, I think, speak quite loudly here. And the fact that he reportedly was sympathetic to these cries to get Mike Pence, I think, tells us an awful lot about his state of mind.
HARLOW: Elie Honig, thank you, especially in a day like today, helping us understand it all.
New questions this morning also about a tour of the Capitol that Georgia Congressman Barry Louderdmilk gave to about a dozen people. This happened the day before the insurrection. The January 6 committee has released footage in which one of the men who was on that tour is heard making threats to members of Congress the next day as he marched the Capitol on January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, even you, AOC, we're coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: The committee also released this surveillance video that they say shows the same man taking photos of tunnels, hallways and staircases within the Capitol complex while on that tour with Congressman Loudermilk on the day before the insurrection. That was January 5th. Loudermilk told Fox News that is nothing out of the ordinary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): What they are not showing is what was the guy taking a picture of. There is a golden eagle on the wall right up side that stairwell that is holding two candles. That is why he is taking a picture of. People take pictures of that all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: People take pictures of that all the time.
Let's discuss all this with CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former Senate Sergeant the Arms Terrance Gainer. Terrance, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning.
MARQUARDT: I just want to ask you, sir, what do you make of Loudermilk's explanation there that the man was taking pictures like any tourist would?
GAINER: Well, I think that is weak and we don't have a good look at everything that was going on. I feel bad actually that the police department, the Capitol police, was dragged into this political issue about who said what, he said/she said. We don't know what the committee was looking at and we don't precisely know what the Capitol police looked at before the chief released his letter.
Now, generally, an investigation that has been going on by the committee for this length of time, you wouldn't bring someone else into answer a small question when they haven't been part of the overall investigation. All the parties in this thing just need to wait for the evidence to unfold as the committee does that, then people can make their judgment.
HARLOW: Sergeant Gainer, I'm wondering about your take on the U.S. Capitol police statement about all of this, right? As we see the video, we also have their statement. And this is what they write. We do not consider any of the activities that we observed as suspicious
Now, we know that DOJ and the FBI are in charge of the investigation into the breach of the Capitol, but I wonder what you make of, A, Capitol police putting out the statement, is it jumping the gun with an ongoing investigation, and the substance of what I read in the statement.
GAINER: Well, two things you are bringing up. Again, I don't think the Capitol police board should have allowed the Capitol police to be dragged into this. One of their jobs is to keep the politics away from what the Capitol police investigators in uniform and agents do. That is the first thing. And I think that Chief Manger, who is a great guy, a good leader, was trying to walk the line from a specific request of a congressman about a specific issue.
And I will admit, when you look at the tape that's being shown of the individual who is outside along with the tape that is being shown on the inside, that does raise some additional questions, which I hope the committee will lay out so we can all make some judgments.
MARQUARDT: Terry, we only have a couple of seconds left, but I want to ask you what make of these extraordinary images that were obtained by ABC News showing Vice President Mike Pence essentially taking shelter, refuge with his family in a ceremonial office just off the Senate floor. What does that tell you about how close to the danger he was?
GAINER: Well, I think he and his staff and the Secret Service and the Capitol police agents assigned to the vice president in that particular corridor knew quite well then how bad things were getting. So, it does show you just how close they were to the center of power in the Senate and the United States.
MARQUARDT: Yes, just remarkable.
GAINER: It's frightening.
MARQUARDT: His wife closing the curtains there.
Terry Gainer, thank you so much for your time this morning.
GAINER: Thank you.
HARLOW: Also a reminder, CNN's special coverage of today's hearing begins at noon Eastern right here.
Coming up next, we are watching the markets very closely after the Fed's big interest rate hike, the biggest since '94, look at that, the market off 730-plus points. We will speak to a former White House economic adviser about the rapid pace of inflation and why he might not be expecting a recession the next year.
MARQUARDT: And also ahead, leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania all in Kyiv this morning as the E.U. considers Ukraine's application to join the European Union. We'll have details on their meeting with the Ukrainian president coming up.
And new CNN reporting about a divide in the Trump camp about when he should announce a 2024 reelection bid. Stay with us.
HARLOW: Right now, take a look at the Dow, off 730 points after the Fed moved aggressively to try to tame inflation, announcing a key interest rate hike of three quarters of a percentage point. Here is Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: What is becoming more clear is that many factors that we don't control are going to play a very significant role in deciding whether that is possible or not.
There is a path for us to get there. It is not getting easier. It is getting more challenging because of these external forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Jason Furman is an economic policy professor at Harvard, he also served as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.
Jason, it's good to have you on for many reason, you have experience in Democratic administrations, you had been sounding the alarm on inflation a long time ago before when many others were not listening. Jerome Powell says that the Fed has the tools and that we need to resolve it. Do you think that's true or are we hoping, praying here?
JASON FURMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Look, I hope and pray that that is true. I don't have a better plan than the Fed, but I'm also not optimistic that it is going to work. Inflation has gotten very, very high. There are precious few examples where we've brought it down very much painlessly. And it is very, very hard to fine tune something as complex as the American economy at such a difficult time.
HARLOW: Given that we've never been in a scenario like this before, because we've never had a pandemic like this before, coupled with all the external factors that Jerome Powell mentioned yesterday, are we even sure slowing growth in a recession is enough to tamp down inflation at this point?
FURMAN: Yes, poppy, I don't know. Now, I don't know has a bad side to it. It is scary to not know. It has a good side. We might get lucky. And part of how we got here was some policy mistakes, for example, the Fed staying too loose for too long. Part of how we got here was a string of bad luck, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The thing about bad luck is sometimes you can get a string of good luck and our models don't know exactly what's happening now. So, it is not crazy to think this is all going to get better. I'm just genuinely not sure.
HARLOW: I like your glass half full. I'm going to take that for now, right?
Look, you said, Jason, interestingly, you are quoted in The Wall Street Journal a few days ago saying, we fought the last war, right? And I'm not asking you to criticize those who were fighting perhaps the wrong war, but I'm asking for the lesson learned you believe for the next one.
FURMAN: Yes. Poppy, you need to right size things. I think that we did too little in 2009 when I was there. I think they did too much last year both, the Fed and the administration. And you can make errors in both directions. You need to calculate, figure out where you are. That', you know, easier said than done. But you can do it better than we've done is the last couple times.
HARLOW: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board this morning writes about the Fed, the overall message from Powell essentially yesterday still looked more like a central bank slouching toward inflation reality but not yet convinced it has to do all that much to get prices under control. Do you agree with that assessment? FURMAN: I disagree with that. I mean, the Fed just did the biggest move they have done in decades. They are probably going to do another huge move again next month. They are moving very, very far, very quickly, a lot further and quickly than many of their critics were calling for until recently. So, I think they did get behind the curve last year. I think they are catching up very, very quickly. I don't think that they are complacent. They really do want to stamp this inflation out (ph).
HARLOW: I'd like your take as an economist and as someone who has worked in the Obama administration on a number of Democrats both in Congress and officials in the White House pointing the finger at companies, saying price gouging. And we just learned from our Matt Egan the White House is inviting the big oil execs next week to meet. This is after a White House official called their profits, quote, outrageous and President Biden a few weeks said that Exxon is making more money than God.
As an economist, what do you make of this White House argument that corporate greed is making the situation worse? Is there merit to it or is it politics?
FURMAN: Look, I think you can look at individual industrials. The White House has talked about meatpacking, shipping and now it's talking about oil. And you could debate in each one of those industries, was there gouging, what should be done about it. I think that right now, the main thing going on with oil is an increase in the global price of oil. That is the main thing I see. It is President Putin, not the oil companies.
But I don't think that the White House is arguing that greed as a whole is causing inflation. That's why they've said they want the Fed. Their number one policy recommendation is that the Fed need bring down inflation. It really is -- demand is very, very high, supply isn't high enough. When that happens, prices rise. The only way to solve it is more supply or less demand.
HARLOW: You've called some of these proposals, legislative proposals from Democrats against price gouging as a little bit, quote, gimmicky. And I wonder about your take on, for example, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden has said, let's tax excess, his word, excess profits from oil companies, 21 percent.
First of all, I don't know how you determine how excess is, but I wonder if you actually think that that would make a meaningful difference or if that is missing the point here on the inflation point.
FURMAN: Look, at this point, if you want to bring oil prices down, you need to increase oil supply. If you want to increase oil supply, you need to make it easier and more predictable for oil company, oil refiners, to build capacity in this country. Don't think an excess profits tax is the way to encourage, you know, more investment and more supply. So, I think that it is barking at the wrong tree. HARLOW: It sounds like that you are saying that is barking at the wrong tree, but it actually could make it worse.
FURMAN: Depending on how it is designed and what the details are, absolutely. If you punish companies every time that they are in this situation, it will make them not want to expand capacity in the same type of way.
HARLOW: Jason Furman, it's good to have you. Sorry, market is down so much, we have got this little box almost covering your face. We're keeping a close eye on the market and we appreciate you weighing in. Thanks very much, Jason Furman for us. Alex?
MARQUARDT: Dramatic day in the markets, indeed
Now, next, CNN has gotten an exclusive interview with Ukraine's defense minister, and he is saying that the U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, has made him some long-term promises. We'll be right back.
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OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Our partners will never stop. I will stall that.