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January 6 Committee Member Warns of More Violence After Receiving Threats; Russian Forces Making More Gains in Eastern Ukraine; U.S. Braces for Record-Breaking Heat Wave. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 10:30   ET


DR. YVONNE MALDONADO, PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST, STANFORD MEDICINE: Emphasize the need for this vaccine in children to keep them safe and health and also keep the potential for long COVID away.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, thank you so much.

MALDONADO: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, just a disturbing warning from Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He says, expect political violence until politicians start telling the truth. We'll have more coming up.


SCIUTTO: Ahead of tomorrow's hearing on the January 6th Capitol insurrection, Republican Committee Member Adam Kinzinger is warning about more political violence after sharing this image that he said was a threatening letter sent to him and his family, threatening to execute them.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Threatens to execute me, as well as my wife and five-month-old child. Never seen or had anything like that. It was sent from the local area. I don't -- but now that I have a wife and kids, of course, it is a little different.

There are people that -- there is violence in the future, I'm going to tell you. And until we get a grip on telling the people the truth, we can't expect any differently.


SCIUTTO: All right. Sent from the local area, that's key because police look at that, because they believe it then gives the person the opportunity perhaps to act out. CNN reached out to U.S. Capitol police to see if the agency is investigating the incident. They declined to comment, saying it does not publicly announce investigations on potentially protective measures for members. Joining me now, CNN Senior Political Analyst, presidential adviser to several former presidents, David Gergen. David, good to have you on.

Kinzinger says following receiving this disturbing threat that until we, quote, get a grip on telling people the truth, this threat will continue. This weekend, the Texas GOP endorsed a platform declaring the 2020 election illegitimate, falsely doing so. Should politicians who endorse lies like this, knowing that people have acted on these lies, sometimes with violence, know that they're contributing? Do you believe they should be held responsible for contributing?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I do. I do. I just -- we go from one sort of calamity to another in this area these days. And I have to tell you, Jim, I think when the good folks at the John F. Kennedy Library vote on their next recipients of the profiles in courage awards, they can do no better than to have awards to Adam Kinzinger and to Liz Cheney together. The two Republicans who serve on that committee and have each done so with distinction and with a lot of bravery.

Each one is probably going to lose their job. Kinzinger has already said he's stepping down at the end of this term, Liz Cheney is in deep trouble back home. They're going to pay a price already politically.

But the very idea that they might be just like a justice of the Supreme Court, that they might have somebody trying to gun them down, is just so hideous, but especially in a time when it is so easy to have guns and to play with guns and to threaten with guns, you know, to a certain extent other lawmakers do bear responsibility for the environment in which we find ourselves.

SCIUTTO: And we have a Missouri Senate candidate, Eric Greitens, with a new ad out selling RINO hunting permits, as in Republicans in name only, you see this kind of thing more and more.

GERGEN: Yes, I think so. We don't know how this is all going to end, and so much will depend upon whether the hearings have established enough of a foundation that Americans are sick and tired of it, but also want some punishment meted out and they also want to know where this goes. And they want to know that it has been resolved fairly.

So far, I think the hearings are controversial, but the evidence that they brought in is compelling. Whether that's going to continue to be the case, whether this serves, whether the evidence from the committee serves as a bridge either to criminal prosecution of some sort of people around the president or indeed the president himself, we don't know yet. But, certainly, that's where things are tilting toward that question.

SCIUTTO: It may not, though. And I wonder, you served four presidents, often during times of division in this country. In your experience, how does the threat of political violence today compare?

GERGEN: Well, we haven't seen anything like this since the '60s, and certainly the time when Bobby Kennedy -- when Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and the list goes on, they were all assassinated. We have gone through periods when violence has, you know, come into our politics and it divided us deeply.

But for the last 40, 50 years, I think a lot of us assumed we were coming into a better clearing, that politics would improve over time coming out of the '60s and yet here we are, on the precipice with a very real danger.

Adam kinzinger is a straight shooter. He would not have said this unless he, in fact, faced dire threats and he felt that he faced a dire threat to his family. I know the guy well enough. He's an Air Force veteran. He loves working across the aisle with Chrissie Houlahan, another Democrat who is also an Air Force veteran. They like getting big things done, these veterans coming back, and they understand how violence can erupt and they understand how violence can tear apart societies.


They're true spokesmen for, I think, a serious understanding of where we are.

SCIUTTO: That's a good point. They have seen it where violence breaks countries apart.


SCIUTTO: I do want to ask in a different topic, because -- well, it is related, we're headed towards 2024, Trump may very well run again as the Republican. As for President Biden, there were private questions from Democrats as to whether he should run again. And now, some of those private questions are becoming public. In your view, should the sitting U.S. president stand for the Democratic nomination in 2024?

GERGEN: Well, my view is that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden should step back from these elections because of their age. I think they're both -- say what you might about either Biden or Trump as political leaders, but the fact is that to take office and the most complex office in the world, the most powerful office in the world, one where president makes one mistake in judgment, and there can be calamitous results, I think that someone who is in their 80s is not an appropriate person to be making those kind of decisions over a four- year period.

So, I think that both parties would be well served, I think the country would be well served if they stood up for the idea that, well, we've had our turn, let's turn this over to someone younger, I'm here to help all I can. This is not Biden, can he win, conversation. There's going to be a whole different conversation after the midterms about where Biden stands, how well can the Democrats do in 2024 if he is the standard bearer.

But I do think the age question needs to be looked at, it needs to be explored more fully by medical professionals and by others. But commonsense, most corporations in this country, they ask their CEOs to step down around 66, 67. I don't know of any CEO recently, unless he owns a big company, who has been a CEO in their 80s. SCIUTTO: Yes. And now you have senators serving into their 90s. David Gergen, thanks so much.

GERGEN: Yes, thank you, Jim.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting point from David there on that.

Okay. Ahead, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says this week is one of most critical times in the country's history. We are -- we will take you near the front lines in Eastern Ukraine ahead.



HARLOW: Russian forces are making slow but steady gains as they launch more airstrikes in Eastern Ukraine. Over the weekend, Russian forces increased the shelling on the outskirts of Kharkiv.

SCIUTTO: Notice, all the civilian targets hit again. That is where we find CNN's Sam Kiley.

So, Sam, we've heard a lot of back and forth about movements on the front there, some Russian progress. I wonder what you're seeing, what you're hearing from Ukrainian commanders as well.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here, Jimmy and Poppy, in Kharkiv, the concern is and it has been reinforced by recent satellite imagery and indeed imagery generated by Ukrainian drones is that the Russians are conducting a substantial, what appears to be the -- to Ukrainians, buildup of forces just north of where I'm standing.

Now, I'm joining you from the Institute of Economics at Kharkiv National University that was hit March the 2nd. There has been an increase in the intensity of missile strikes here on the second largest city in the country. But that has been relative to what is in the past, relatively low.

What is really concerning the Ukrainians, and we have seen them digging in, we can't show the images of it, obviously, because it would give the game away to the Russians, but they are digging in and reinforcing very substantially in the north and east of the city. And that is because the Russians have already begun to conduct probing operations try and test the Ukrainian defenses. These are defensive lines set up after the Ukrainians pushed the Russians back from the city. So, city of originally more than 1 million people, Russian speaking, majority, very, very close indeed to the Russian border, about 30 miles or less where I'm standing now.

And every night, more or less on the stroke of 11:00 P.M., we get Iskander-type missiles, long-range surface-to-surface missiles hitting apparently at random across the city. That's just part, the Ukrainians believe, of a softening up process of something that is likely to get a lot more intense over the next week or ten days. Jim, Poppy?

HARLOW: Sam Kiley, goodness to see. And thank you very much for the reporting you and your team continue to do on the ground there.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Stand by for a long war.

Still ahead, more than 100 heat records could be broken this week alone in the eastern U.S. Just ahead, we're going to tell you when you might be able to expect some summer relief.



SCIUTTO: Americans bracing for what is expected to be a record- breaking heat wave this week.

HARLOW: Temperatures likely to hit triple digits in many parts of the country, impacting millions.

Chad Myers is tracking the latest. What are we looking at?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, for today, I have this heat zone here in the upper Midwest. And, really, from Minneapolis, you're in it, or really you are it. 105 will be your feels like temperature today.

Now, it stays warm for a while and there is a slight cool down by the middle of the week but 105 today. It will feel like 91 in Atlanta. When is the last time you heard Minneapolis be warmer than that? But the southern two-thirds of the United States is about to get under a high pressure thing. We're going to call it a heat dome because it really is, just heat is trapped in there by the high pressure over the entire country.

100 records will drop this week, daily high temperature records across the country between Monday and through Friday, even up to 100 something in Chicago, 101 on Tuesday.


That's in the shade and that's not the heat index. So, over 100 degrees probably in Atlanta too, especially with the heat island down to the deep south

A lot of days in a row, and part of the problem with this is that many of the mornings won't cool down very much. And if you don't have air and don't want it on and your morning low only goes down to 85, your house isn't going to cool down. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Goodness. It's going to be a tough one, Chad Myers, thanks for letting us know.

HARLOW: Thank you, Chad. Thanks to all of you for joining us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Our colleague, Dana Bash, she continues our coverage right after a short break.