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More Than 240 Million Face Week of 90 Degree Temperatures or Hotter; Western States Enduring Worst Drought in 1,200 Years; Extreme Drought Depleting Water Sources in Western United States; CDC Director Signs Off on COVID Vaccine for Kids Under 5; President Biden and Questions about His Re-election in 2024. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 18, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening to you. I'm Jessica Dean in Washington. Pamela Brown is back tomorrow.
The top stories, summer doesn't start officially until Tuesday but you wouldn't know it from our weather, with millions of Americans trapped under a huge heat dome.
Also ahead, children as young as 6 months old just days away from getting their COVID vaccines.
Then the human cost of the crypto crash as the industry slashes jobs.
And President Biden takes a tumble on a bike ride in Delaware.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
And on this Saturday evening, we begin with the real-world impact from the worst drought in the American West in 1200 years. Much of the country, though, is scorching. More than 240 million people will face 90-degree temperatures or higher for the next week. And they've felt those blistering conditions in Atlanta today at this Juneteenth celebration. The thermometers there blasting into triple-digit territory, on the Gulf coast and in the northern central plains.
Meanwhile, severe storms in North Carolina knocking out power for a huge part of the state. Nearly 70,000 customers are still without electricity right now, and that's just one of seven states dealing with major outages tonight. And nowhere are the signs of the climate crisis more obvious right now than Yellowstone National Park and along the Yellowstone River. Tonight, there is some good news, though, for the first time in days in that part of the country, the south loop of the park will reopen Wednesday on a limited basis.
But snow mountain runoff only added to the historic flooding disaster. The unprecedented rain causing severe damage to roads, water systems, and more.
Right now let's check in with CNN meteorologist Gene Norman.
Gene, take us through what so many Americans are dealing with this weekend.
GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Jessica. As you mentioned, we can throw out the calendar in the climate crisis. It doesn't matter what day it is, it's supposed to be summer in a couple of days, already feels like that in the south and parts of the northern plains. About 30 million people are under some kind of heat alert, whether it's a heat advisory in orange or an excessive heat warning. Pretty rare up in the Minneapolis area and sections of Minnesota and North Dakota.
Sure, in the south, you'd say, eh, it's supposed to be hot, right? Well, it feels like 109 in Panama City, 108 in Jackson, 108 in Little Rock. In fact Mobile set a record today of 101. And this heat is going to last for another couple of days and it's actually going to get worse. Places that don't expect to see these kind of temperatures, Bismarck feels like it's 105 right now, feels like it's 103 in Omaha, and 100 in Wichita.
Why is all happening? It's because of that heat dome, parked across the middle of the country due to a rise in the jet stream. There are dips to the east and dips to the west, that's where it's cool. But watch what happens, as we move forward in time the heat dome expands. Forget about the dips. Everyone is going to be sweltering in this kind of temperatures. In fact it could be over 100 temperature records either tied or set as we work our way through this week.
These black dots indicate places that could have that, could be several days of it. In fact Chicago, you're up to 100 by Tuesday. Same for St. Louis. Hot-Lanta living up to its name with triple-digit temperatures, not to mention the heat index by the time we get to the end of this week.
So, Jessica, no relief in sight. And if you're cool now, get ready for that to change as the week moves on.
DEAN: That's right, we just see that heat dome expanding.
Gene Norman, thanks so much for that update.
And the climate crisis also means we can expect more devastating wildfires. But the danger from this western drought goes well beyond the mountains and the foothills that grow ever more filled with homes.
CNN's Mike Valerio reports from California, home to nearly $50 billion a year agriculture industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MIKE VALERIO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As scarce water showers shades of gold across browning fields, the predictions are dire.
RICHARD BIANCHI, DIRECTOR OF FARM OPERATIONS, SABOR FARMS: It's scary to think that we may not be able to do this because we don't have the water to do it.
VALERIO: Richard Bianchi is a fourth-generation farmer here in Hollister, California. His fields, farm, and family are now facing the U.S. megadrought, which scientists say is the worst western dry spell in 1,200 years. More than 90 percent of the west is in a drought, and Bianchi's most reliable water source is now shut off.
(On camera): So to be clear, Richard, you're getting no water, zero percent from your best water source?
VALERIO: What are the biggest impacts? How would you explain that to somebody outside of Hollister?
BIANCHI: It's limiting the amount of ground that we can farm. It's limiting the intensity that we can farm.
VALERIO (voice-over): Bianchi has no choice but to pump lower quality groundwater into his fields, and he's not sure how long that will last. Less water limits the crops he can grow, and he tells us that reduces our choices at the grocery store. Economists say less supply pushes prices even higher, more pain on top of sky-high inflation. The drought leaves fields fallow, and scientists say fuels historic infernos.
(On-camera): Climate science connects deepening droughts with dried up earth all around us to longer, more severe wildfire seasons. In fact, the fires in New Mexico started much earlier this year than in years past, and right now, it's only spring.
(Voice-over): Federal officials tell us the nightmare is already here. Up to three- quarters of northern California's farming fields could stay fallow, growing nothing this summer. For Bianchi, whether there is a future for a fifth generation of his family's farmers is now in doubt.
BIANCHI: Are we going to have water in two, three years out of our aquafer? Nobody can say that.
VALERIO: In Hollister, California, I'm Mike Valerio reporting.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
DEAN: And the battle for water is changing ways of life as western states battle for every drop. Leading to some painful choices. In Utah, our chief climate correspondent Bill Weir went to see the very unnatural impact on nature.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE, CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For those who love to chase trout, this stretch of the Green River provides some of the best fly fishing on the planet.
STEPHEN LYTLE, GREEN RIVER FISHING GUIDE: It's phenomenal. I mean you get people from all over the world coming to fish this. There is guides from New Zealand, people come from South America, Eric Clapton has been up here.
WEIR (on camera): Is that right?
LYTLE: Tiger Woods. I mean if you're a fly fisherman, this is one of the places to hit. It's a rainbow. There we go. Chunker.
WEIR: Oh, yes, that's pretty.
(Voice over): A big reason why is Utah's Flaming Gorge Dam because it's one of the few dams able to control the temperature of the gin clear water flowing downstream.
(On camera): Wow, these guys are longer.
(Voice over): Not too hot, not too cold, creating a Goldilocks zone for bugs, trout and people who also flock to the reservoir behind the dam and keep the economy alive. So you would understand if locals get upset at the sight of this.
The Federal Bureau of Reclamation released enough raging water this spring to drop Flaming Gorge Reservoir by up to 12 feet, a desperate move to help things downstream on the Colorado where Lake Powell is down 170 feet and could evaporate into a dead pool with not enough water for hydro power or the 40 million people who drink, farm and ranch this system from Denver to L.A.
LYTLE: There's a lot of people who just get angry, and it's their water, it's their kind of geographic possession. And so they don't like it going down to desert cities that also need it.
WEIR: Because the lower Flaming Gorge gets, the warmer it gets, and no more Goldilocks trout.
LYTLE: And then any effect on the fishery, especially up here, I mean, that's people's livelihoods.
WEIR (on-camera): Yes. Yes.
LYTLE: And so people get pretty upset, at least heated.
WEIR (on camera): I can imagine. Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting, right, isn't that --
LYTLE: Yes. That's the phrase.
WEIR: The phrase.
(Voice over): Long considered rivals of the fishing guides are the rafting guides who love high flow for more exciting rides and more customers.
BRUCE LAVOIE, OARS RAFTING: Sometimes we're on the side of the fishermen and sometimes we're not.
WEIR: But everyone agrees that for the west to survive, the most important two words today are water conservation. (On-camera): I mean I always try to remind myself that these water
molecules are going to end up in a hot tub in Hollywood or watering a putting green in Palm Springs, and we're all part of this system. How do you think people understand that these days?
LAVOIE: So yes, that's great. I don't think we do. I come from Connecticut. I grew up on the East Coast where water law is totally different. Here it's first in line, first in right, it's treated like a mineral.
WEIR (voice-over): Some farmers in Arizona are some of the last in line, forced to let fields go fallow as allocations are cut. And this week, the Bureau of Reclamation warned members of the Senate the need to cut up to four million acre feet in 2023. That's more than 1.3 trillion gallons or almost as much as California is allotted in a year.
LAVOIE: John Wesley Powell who ran this river in 1869, he stated it to the Federal government. There's not enough water to support the way we have developed.
WEIR (on-camera): The first guy down the Colorado tried to warn us that this would happen right now.
LAVOIE: Absolutely. And now it is. Like there's this assumption that it's always going to be there. And I don't think people will change until it changes.
WEIR: Until it's not there.
(Voice over): But as long as there's fun to be had and water to drink, it's easy to ignore the villain's warning in "Mad Max: Fury Road." "Do not become addicted to water, it will take hold of you and you will resent its absence."
Bill Weir, CNN, Vernal, Utah.
DEAN: Bill, thank you.
Let's take a look now at this stunning video from alongside the Yellowstone River as that two-story house just washed away there. The Montana couple that lost their home had been used to high water levels on the river this time of year. But last Sunday night they simply thought the trees were banging into each other along the water. It wasn't until the next day that in came the reality was clear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TJ BRITTON, LOST HOME IN YELLOWSTONE RIVER FLOODING: Something I never in a million years thought was even possible. And it's still unbelievable. And I just -- I spent 16 years of my life there in that place.
VICTORIA BRITTON, LOST HOME IN YELLOWSTONE RIVER FLOODING: In the morning, when we realized what was really going on, it was actually the embankment crumbling, and that's why the house was rumbling and shaking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Our hearts go out to them.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM, and when we come back tonight, the CDC clearing way for vaccines for children as young as 6 months old. Pediatrician Dr. Lisa Gwynn is here with advice for parents.
Plus President Biden pushing forward with his agenda ahead of the midterms. But some Democrats are already thinking about 2024 and whether or not the president should run for reelection.
And later, her career spans decades. And this weekend Chaka Khan helps put a spotlight on Juneteenth, and the push for equality in the black community. She's going to join us later.
DEAN: The White House says President Biden is fine and needed no medical attention after taking a tumble on his bicycle today. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: And you can see the Secret Service launched into action to help him. Biden says his foot got caught if his bike pedal.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has officially signed off on both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years. But not all parents are on board. Fewer than one in five parents with children under 5 plan to get their children vaccinated immediately, that's according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
Dr. Lisa Gwynn is joining me now. She's the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Gwynn, thanks for being here. It's great to have you on. I'm curious if you've heard the same hesitancy from your patients, the families of your patients.
DR. LISA GWYNN, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Yes, we have heard some hesitation from parents. And, you know, we've been fighting this hesitation with kids of all ages. But we're hopeful that as the vaccine is out for longer, the parents will get their children immunized.
DEAN: And you've told us, you know, there are a lot of misconceptions as you're alluding to out there, that are causing parents to hesitate when making this decision whether or not to vaccinate their children. You've sent us the top three misconceptions you've been hearing from parents. Walk us through those and why they're wrong.
GWYNN: So the first misconception is really that children aren't affected by COVID. And in fact that's not the case. Kids do get sick from COVID and many kids end up in the hospital with it. As a matter of fact the Omicron variant has caused more children to be hospitalized than the Delta variant. So it is still a dangerous virus for some children. And so that's why we encourage vaccination to make sure that the kids will be protected against the virus.
DEAN: And then you also said that more time -- that they need more time to evaluate the safety of the vaccine. Is that accurate?
GWYNN: Yes, there are a lot of parents that want to wait to see if there is more safety data out there. But in fact the vaccine has been studied, has gone through rigorous trials and has been removed by the scientific community in the same process that any other vaccine has been evaluated. And so that's often a misconception. The fact of the matter is that the vaccine has been proven to be safe.
And usually if we see any side effects or complications from the vaccine, we see it very early on. And so far the studies have been very, very promising. And so we feel as though it is safe and effective.
DEAN: And then the third misconception you said people have is that people still get COVID even if they're vaccinated, so why bother, that that's another misconception that you hear a lot.
GWYNN: We're hearing that a lot now. And it is true that people can still get COVID from -- even if they're vaccinated. However, it cuts the chance of them being severely ill and hospitalized and it also lowers the risk of death. And so this is why we still encourage all people to get vaccinated, even our little ones.
DEAN: And a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners spoke about the strategy to get these younger children vaccinated. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATSY STINCHFIELD, INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND IMMUNOLOGY EXPERT: I was a bit dismayed with some of the headlines coming out after the VRBPAC decision, emphasizing, quote, "It's up to the parent." This can be misinterpreted to consider this vaccine in young children as optional. We don't get out of pandemics with "it's up to you" type strategies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: And so if "it's up to you" strategies don't work, what kind of messaging do you think will here?
GWYNN: So pediatricians, this is what we do on a day-to-day basis, you know, we talk to parents about all of the vaccinations that we recommend for children. And so we take an approach that we provide the information to the parents regarding the vaccine, regarding the safety, regarding what the vaccine is protecting the child against. And with their medical provider, parents can make that decision for their children.
We never want to force a parent to immunize their child unless they're comfortable with it. But this is what we do in pediatrics, we provide that data and information and reassurance to parents so that they can make the right decision for their child.
DEAN: Right. These are safe and effective. We also know that children ages 5 to 11, that's the most recent group that was eligible for vaccination. According to the CDC, only 29 percent of them, though, have received two doses, and that's significantly lower than any other age group. Is this a bit of a losing battle for pediatricians, for health care workers, with these younger children?
GWYNN: We never consider it a losing battle. Every vaccine in arm is another child that is protected. And so yes, we have a lot of work to do. But we're not going to give up. We want to continue to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated. And we're thrilled that the CDC has recommended now the vaccine for the younger children. And so we're just going to keep pushing forward and recommend that vaccine for everybody.
DEAN: All right. Dr. Lisa Gwynn, thanks so much for joining us tonight, we appreciate it.
GWYNN: Thank you.
DEAN: The next presidential election is still more than two years away. But with control of Congress at stake now, chatter is building over whether President Biden should run for reelection. Historian Julian Zelizer is here to weigh in on that debate.
But first, a quick programming note. You can join some of the biggest stars as they lift their voices for "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom." It's airing live tomorrow night at 8:00 only here on CNN.
DEAN: Even though the midterm elections are still months away, there's already open discussion about what Democrats should do about 2024. Will Joe Biden run again? Should President Joe Biden run again? Last weekend Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez danced around those questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I think if the president has a vision and that's something certainly we're all willing to entertain and examine when the time comes. I believe that the president has been doing a very good job so far. And, you know, should he run again, I think that, I -- you know, I think it's -- we'll take a look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: But writing for "The Atlantic," Mark Leibovich doesn't pull any punches, saying, quote, "Yes, he's fit to be president right now but he's too old for the next election."
CNN's political analyst Julian Zelizer joins me now.
Julian, it's great to see you. You just published an op-ed on CNN.com saying the Democrats should not be so quick to throw President Biden overboard. Walk us through that, tell us why.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's several reasons. One is that President Biden has a pretty significant record of accomplishment from the American Rescue Plan to how he's handled the Russian war, which offers him something pretty formidable to run on despite the times he's in right now.
Second, many presidents have had very tough second years and bad midterms. Ronald Reagan in 1982, Barack Obama in 2010, just as examples. And they go on to win reelection. Third, it's unclear who is better positioned in the Democratic Party than an incumbent president right now. And unless Democrats have a clear answer, I think that's a risk. And finally, in recent times, when presidents haven't run for reelection, Harry Truman in 1952, Lyndon Johnson in 1968, the Republicans won. So it didn't necessarily benefit the party to have the incumbent step down.
DEAN: That historical precedent there. Let's take a look at some CNN polling from earlier this year. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and when asked about the 2024 presidential nominations, 45 percent said Biden, 51 percent said pick someone else, 5 percent had no opinion. What do those numbers tell you?
ZELIZER: Well, the "pick someone else" is problematic, and it should be troubling to the administration. I don't think the administration inevitably takes that and says, we're not going to run again. But rather they need to do I think what AOC was saying, to really start to lay out what the next two years are going to look like. And most important, to figure out what they are going to do to make sure the economy doesn't go into a recession.
If they can handle the economy well and have a vision for 2024, it's very conceivable to see him going on and winning reelection.
[19:30:00] JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: And let's look at the Republican side just
for a second, that same CNN poll finding former President Trump got 49 percent of the vote to be the GOP's nominee in 2024. He is 76, just three years younger than Biden, does he run into these same questions about his age as well?
ZELIZER: Well, he will, and it did come up during his first term already and if it's in the air for one candidate, it will be in the air for both candidates.
Right now, I do think the former President has much more fervent support with his base in many ways, which insulates him from some of these concerns, and Republicans tend to be much more disciplined and united. Democrats fight amongst themselves much more. And so I think that makes it a little harder for Biden on that question than Trump and of course, Biden is in power, so the person in power will receive the greatest criticism.
DEAN: And let's go back to the Democrats and to President Biden for a second. I know, I heard you when you said if they can get the economy going and get a handle on that and position themselves that they have a good chance for 2024.
Do you believe that the looming debate over abortion rights and gun control, some of these key issues can revitalize Biden in the eyes of Democrats?
ZELIZER: Well, it might revitalize Biden or it might re-energize Democratic voters. We saw in 2018, for example, how suburban female voters were really important in mobilizing the vote and voting in those midterms, which hurt the former President and the President's standing and this is a big issue. So we'll see what the Supreme Court does.
But with that in gun rights, I do think it could energize the electorate, not so much energize how they necessarily feel about the President.
DEAN: And of course, you're a historian. Looking back, what does history tell us about what we're seeing play out right now for President Biden and the political circumstances surrounding him?
ZELIZER: Look, the good news is you can recover and there are many examples of Presidents doing that. The bad news is bad economic times, if they continue will hurt the President.
President George HW Bush in 92 where the economy went the wrong way lost to President Bill Clinton. And secondly, if there's a primary challenge, that always hurts the incumbent and incumbents really don't recover from a serious primary challenge.
So there's a lot of risks and challenges that Biden is facing, to get to 2024 and to win.
DEAN: And there's an old political quote that goes something like Democrats want to just fall in love, Republicans just want to fall in line when it comes to presidential nominees. Do you think that holds true heading into 2024? I know we're still years away.
ZELIZER: Yes, look, it's not as true as it used to be. In fact, Trump's ascendancy in 2016 shook some of that conventional wisdom, but it is true that overall, the Republicans have done more in terms of uniting around their candidates around their leadership, where Democrats are a more fractured and divided party. It's just a key characteristic of both parties and it becomes a challenge for Democrats when they need that unity, either in an election or on Capitol Hill.
DEAN: All right, Julian Zelizer, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.
DEAN: Well, still ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM. You might not know it from all the celebrity endorsements, but crypto is getting crushed right now. What's behind the price meltdown? And should you stay away from it?
We're going to ask Jon Sarlin from CNN Business, next.
DEAN: A crypto crash is taking a toll on investors and workers. Over the last six months, cryptocurrencies have plummeted. Take a look at Bitcoin. It has fallen from an all-time high of $69,000.00 to just about $20,000 on Friday, and the companies are laying off workers as well, from 20 percent in crypto lending platform, BlockFi; 18 percent at Coinbase; 10 percent at Gemini Exchange; and 5 percent at crypto.com.
Jon Sarlin is the host of the new business show, nightcap at cnn.com. Jon, good to see you.
We know you've been covering cryptocurrency walk us through what's behind the big drop?
JON SARLIN, CNN BUSINESS HOST "NIGHTCAP": Well, I think you could look at it two different ways. You could look at this specific drop as stemming from the fall of a currency called LUNA and Terra that happened last month that was a so called stable coin. And as that currency collapsed, we've seen how far from being decentralized, the decentralized finance space is, we know that buzzword, it is actually extremely centralized because as one project fails, other projects have become insolvent. We find out that they've been invested in that project.
So right now, we're seeing these kind of dominoes falling in the crypto space, but then you could also step back and look at it from a different way, which is that when you look at the history of speculative bubbles, it can kind of be anything that causes them to fall down because people are really interested in these bubbles, not because of the value that they're providing, but because of the money that seems to be generating from it, right?
And so it can kind of be anything that causes people to realize, "Hey, this thing might not be as stable and as sure investment as I thought it was," and when that happens the dominoes begin to fall.
DEAN: So interesting. And this is also affecting people's livelihoods. We know that some of the cryptocurrencies are having to cut jobs. How intense is that? How severe has that been?
SARLIN: So we're seeing a serious contraction within the industry themselves. On top of that, we're seeing exchanges with -- holding their users' funds saying they're unable to give their funds to their users. These are users' money and they aren't able to access it.
But then we know that human cost of people who have invested in crypto, who have listened to the ads from Matt Damon and LeBron James or the tech titans like Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk who have said crypto is the future. Crypto is this sure thing, and you better get in on this early. Well, a lot of people have invested because of that.
A lot of people around the world have invested in that and there's been great reporting on people in countries with unstable currencies, who saw cryptocurrency, as this place to park their money and get rewards in a stable currency.
Well, it has proven to not be very stable, and in fact, very risky and people around the world are seeing the money that they put into cryptocurrency fall.
DEAN: Yes. And we saw Bill Gates telling the TechCrunch Conference this week that digital asset trend trends like NFT's are quote "A hundred based on the greater fool theory." And yet, as you just pointed out, we see a lot of celebrities, a lot of these tech Titans pushing cryptocurrency. And yet, they have these crypto items have very little regulation. So how risky are these investments? And what kind of risk are people taking on when they invest?
SARLIN: I think we're learning that they are incredibly risky. I mean, that kind of goes without saying.
And when you think about this industry, ask yourself when you hear about cryptocurrency, how much are you hearing people talk about the value of cryptocurrency, as in how much it's worth versus the value that it is providing versus the versus the actual services and applications that people are using for cryptocurrency.
I mean, we've had these last few years where literally billions of dollars have been pouring into this industry. But this, we're finding out really is a problem in search of a solution because after years of this money pouring into cryptocurrency, there still isn't that killer product that gets everyone excited about.
So, the money that's been coming into this space has been speculative and speculative bubbles are quick to burst. DEAN: And so before we let you go, is this still the future? Is
cryptocurrency still the future and Web 3 and all the things -- all the terms that we hear talked about?
SARLIN: Well, there's been a very effective marketing campaign from Big Crypto to make it seem like cryptocurrency is this inevitability, that it's the future of money, that it's the future of technology.
What we've seen over the last year is a pushback from people in the technology space saying, "Hey, this technology isn't actually as useful as billed." We've seen a pushback from people within government experts and regulators who are saying, hey, you know, the real innovation it appears from a lot of these things are that they're unregulated. These are unregulated financial markets and now, we're learning the cost of unregulated financial markets.
DEAN: All right. Jon Sarlin breaking it down for us, a complicated subject, but you make it easy to digest. Thank you so much.
You can check out Jon's new show nightcap at cnn.com.
Still ahead, the former President claims he never called his Vice President a wimp and then proceeds to suggest just that. The apparently ongoing feud on display just days after disturbing evidence revealed by the January 6 Committee.
DEAN: Former President Trump is sounding off on the January 6 Committee lashing out at the House panel. He even criticized his former Vice President Mike Pence before a crowd of conservative activists.
CNN's Kristen Holmes has more from this weekend's Faith and Freedom Conference in Nashville.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, this was the first opportunity that the former President had to respond to those hearings other than on his own social media platform and he really took that opportunity.
He repeated lies about the 2020 election. He attacked the Committee. He accused the Committee of deceptively editing video interviews in order to make him look bad. And I will note that the Chairman of the Committee has said that they will release the full transcripts of those interviews at some time.
But perhaps the most striking attack that the former President made was against his former Vice President Mike Pence. This was a man who served underneath him for four years and who just the day before the committee had laid out just how dangerous of a situation Mike Pence was in on January 6.
Take a listen to just some of what the former President had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp. Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be frankly historic, but just like Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike -- and I say it sadly because I like him -- but Mike did not have the courage to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And Jessica, I want to point one thing out here and that is the crowd that the former President was talking to. Well, of course, there were a number of loyalists in the audience. In fact, everyone we spoke to said that they would support President Trump in some way or another if he was to choose to run in 2024.
This is also a very Pence friendly crowd. This is a conservative Christian conference, one that Pence has spoken on for years and some of those insults that were made by Donald Trump were met with tepid applause.
DEAN: All right, Kristen Holmes, for us in Nashville. Thanks so much.
And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Still ahead, hush money and a sex scandal. The allegations that have the chair of the World Wrestling Entertainment on the ropes, but not quite out of the ring.
DEAN: A comedy sketch for "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" ended with US Capitol Police arresting members of the production team. The crew had been filming a segment with "Triumph: the Insult Comic Dog" when officers charged them with unlawful entry at a House office building.
CBS says the crew was allowed to be there and had set up interviews with Members of Congress, but they stuck around the House building hallways to film some additional footage.
Capitol Police say the seven people arrested could face additional charges.
World Wrestling Entertainment boss, Vince McMahon is stepping back as CEO and Chairman. But as we see from last night, he is still front and center for his in ring persona.
The company's Board now investigating a report that McMahon paid millions of dollars in hush money to a former employee about an alleged affair. McMahon has had control of the company since 1982, turning it into a publicly traded company, global wrestling powerhouse and media conglomerate. The McMahon family also has powerful ties to the political world.
McMahon's wife, Linda was the head of the Small Business Administration during the Trump administration.
Now, as CNN's Jason Carroll reports, McMahon's daughter will step in as the company's interim CEO.
ANNOUNCER: Please welcome chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Larger than life, Vince McMahon, more famous than some of the wrestling stars he helped create.
DAVE MELTZER, JOURNALIST, "WRESTLING OBSERVER": He's the guy. I mean, the WWE is Vince McMahon. You can't separate them.
VINCE MCMAHON, OUTGOING WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT CEO: Wrestlemania.
CARROLL (voice over): Now McMahon forced to step back from his role as Chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE, while the company's Board investigates misconduct claims against him.
His daughter, his interim replacement, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting, McMahon paid a former employee who he allegedly had an affair with $3 million to keep her quiet. According to "The Journal" the Separation Agreement prevents her from discussing her relationship. The investigation also looking at other nondisclosure agreements involving misconduct claims against McMahon and another executive.
MELTZER: What would have been considered "boys will be boys" which wrestling was built on for decades and decades and decades, and by today's standards, it's not quite as much.
CARROLL (voice over): "I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee," McMahon said in a statement and, "I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation whatever they are."
Wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer says it is tough to predict the fallout from the allegations.
MELTZER: Their big defense is that any money that he paid, any hush money that he paid was his own money and it was not company money and I think that's the key to the investigation.
CARROLL (voice over): Over decades, McMahon turned the WWE into a billion dollar entertainment juggernaut, including deals with FOX and NBC. He will still be in charge of creative content while the investigation is underway.
McMahon has weathered past scandals. In 1994, a jury acquitted him of conspiring to distribute steroids to his wrestlers. In the years following, always center stage and always the showman.
In 2007, then reality TV star Donald Trump's shaved McMahon's head in a made for the masses feud, now the wrestling world waiting to see how this latest real world match will end.
DEAN: All right, our thanks to Jason Carroll for that report and the WWE has released a statement saying its Board has retained an independent legal counsel to help review those allegations.
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DEAN: Sir Paul McCartney, the Beatle legend and cultural icon turning 80 today and for people of a certain age that is a harsh reality check. Bruce Springsteen joining him on stage Thursday night belting out a couple of tunes and bridging a couple of generations.
Happy birthday to him.
The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (voice over): Well, Wall Street just wrapped up another rocky week, sparking fears of recession is near.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Higher prices are plaguing President Biden.
BIDEN: I'm using every lever available to me to bring down prices for the American people.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: A massive heat dome bakes parts of the US while in the West, they are seeing the worst drought in 1,200 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's scary to think that we may not be able to do this because we don't have the water to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's this assumption that it's always going to be there, until it's out there.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): these two American fighters may well have been captured by the very Russians that they've been fighting.