Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Election Officials: Trump's Lies Led to Violent Threats; U.S. Senate Advances Newly Finalized Gun Safety Bill; Uvalde School District Police Chief Faces Harsh Criticism; Afghanistan Quake Kills Up to 280 People; Biden to Call for Gas Tax Holiday Today; High Temperatures Pose Threats Across the U.S. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London. And just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM --


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): The lie hasn't gone away. It's corrupting our Democratic institutions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each of these efforts to overturn the election is independently serious. Each deserves attention.

RUSTY BOWERS (R) ARIZONA STATE HOUSE SPEAKER: I do not want to be a winner by cheating.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why wouldn't you want to find the right answer, brad?

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I had to be faithful to the constitution.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security.

WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: This has turned my life upside down.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Welcome to the show everyone. It is Wednesday, June 22. 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. in Washington where U.S. lawmakers heard dramatic testimony about the Donald Trump pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election. And with that came threats of violence from his supporters against people who refused to go along. Two of the most moving accounts came from Georgia election worker Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman, they were falsely accused by President Trump and some of his aides of fixing the vote for Joe Biden. Both women say the threats and harassments they received after the election made their lives miserable.


RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security. All because a group of people starting with number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.

WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: This has turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don't transfer calls. I don't want anyone knowing my name. I don't want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere at all. I've gained about 60 pounds. I just don't do nothing anymore. I don't want to go anywhere. I second guess everything that I do. It has affected my life in a major way. In every way. All because of lies.


SOARES: Just in case you are wondering, here are some of the unsubstantiated allegations Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani made against the women. Have a listen to this.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman Moss and one other gentleman quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they were vials of heroin or cocaine.

TRUMP: We had at least 18,000 that's on tape, we had them counted very painstakingly. 18,000 voters having to do with Ruby Freeman. She is a vote scammer. A professional vote scammer and hustler.


SOARES: And it wasn't just poll workers, every day people doing their jobs that were targeted by Trump and his aides. The committee also heard from two top Republican election officials about the threats they received for not helping Trump to overturn the election.


RUSTY BOWERS (R) ARIZONA STATE HOUSE SPEAKER: There was one gentleman that had the three bars on his chest and he had a pistol and was threatening of my neighbor. Not with the pistol, but just vocally. When I saw the gun, I knew I had to guess close.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Eventually my wife started getting a texts and hers typically came in as sexualized text which were disgusting. Some people broke into my daughter-in-law's home. And my son has passed and she's a widow and has two kids. And so, we're very concerned about her safety also.



SOARES: Well, the committee heard testimony about the pressure campaign on those state officials, Trump and his attorneys asking them to break the law, overturn the election and keep him in the White House. The most striking example came in a January 2021 phone call from Trump to the head of Georgia's elections.


TRUMP: Why wouldn't you want to find the right answer, Brad, instead of keep saying that the numbers are right? So, look, can you get together tomorrow -- and Brad, we just want the truth. It's simple. Do you think they'll be working after Christmas to keep it going fast? Because, you know, we have that date of the 6th, which is a very important date.


SOARES: The push back against Trump's schemes from state officials in Georgia and Arizona was unequivocal. Remember these three men you are about to hear from are all Republicans.


BOWERS: I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.

GABRIEL STERLING, COO, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: Our job from my point of view was to get the facts out, do our job, tell the truth, follow the Constitution, follow the law and defend the institutions. And the institutions held.

RAFFENSPERGER: You know, we just followed the law and we followed the Constitution. And at the end of the day, President Trump came up short. But I had to be faithful to the Constitution. And that is what I swore an oath to do.


SOARES: And the committee plans to speak with a British filmmaker who was documenting the final weeks of the Trump presidency. A source tells CNN Ivanka Trump told the filmmaker her father should pursue every avenue to challenge the election. And that is in stark contrast to testimony played last week in which she said she believed Attorney General William Barr when he said there was no evidence of fraud. The panel also wants to hear from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Although a source says he feels like he's cooperated now with their investigation. Here's Vice Chair Liz Cheney.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The American people have not yet heard from Mr. Trump's former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here. Indeed, our evidence shows that Mr. Cipollone he and his office tried to do what was right. We think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone he personally. He should appear before this committee and we are working to secure his testimony.


SOARES: The next public hearing is set for Thursday when the committee says it plans to show how Donald Trump tried to use the Justice Department to back his election misinformation.

A primary runoff in Alabama shows the enduring power of Donald Trump's influence in some corners of the country. CNN projects Trump backed Katie Britt will defeat Congressman Mo Brooks to secure the Republican nomination for the Senate. Trump initially endorsed Brooks but changed his mind when brooks urged Republican voters to move past the 2020 election. In deep red Alabama, Britt is now the strong favorite against Democrat Bill Boyd in November.

And in the state of Georgia, CNN is projecting that Democrat Bee Nguyen will win her party's nomination for Secretary of State. That means she'll face off against Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger this November.

Well, a key vote in the U.S. Senate has now advanced a bipartisan gun safety bill. That step pushing the measure forward after a group of Senators released the legislative text. CNN's Jessica Dean has the details from Capitol Hill.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A significant step forward for bipartisan gun legislation in the Senate on Tuesday. We got text of the actual bill and once we got that text, we heard from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who said he supports the legislation. We also heard from Senator Mitt Romney one of ten Republicans who had pledged to support the previous frame work. Now he said that he and had heard that the others also support that bill. So, it does look like it's moving ahead steadily here in the Senate.

Let's go through some of what this bill actually does. It would close the so-called boyfriend loophole. And what that means is that anyone convicted of domestic violence would not be allowed to purchase a gun. Now there would be an ability for people convicted of misdemeanors to get their right back to buy a gun after a period of time and no additional offenses but only in that case.

It's also going to increase funding to mental health centers all across the country. It's going to increase funding for school and community safety. Increase funding for programs within schools to help any student that is in need of that sort of counseling and help. It's going to fund crisis intervention programs in states across the country that could include incentivizing those red flag laws.


And it's also going to enhance background checks for younger gun purchasers. And give more time for authorities to go through their background and also incentivize putting juvenile records into a national database. So, the Democrats hoping that they can get the vote before the July 4th recess. But that's a very short amount of time but they are certainly trying to do that. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying he wants to get it done before that deadline as well. So again, we watch now to see how this plays out and if it can hold the support of enough Republican Senators to help it clear the hurdle in the Senate.

Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: The Senate's progress on gun safety comes nearly a month after a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas killing 19 students and two teachers. Now a new timeline and details about the police response are only heightening really frustration as well as anger. Among those voicing criticism the mayor of Uvalde. Who says he's tired of being kept in the dark about evidence that's being uncovered during the investigation. Have a listen.


DON MCLAUGHLIN, UVALDE MAYOR: So, I'm just as frustrated, maybe not as frustrated as the families that lost their loved ones, but it pisses me off that I can't get you answers or can't get you answers. So, like I said, I don't know any allegiance to anybody. I turned down as mayor when I get through and I don't want to seek political office again. So, I don't owe any of these elected officials not a (BLEEP) thing. And so, I'm telling you know while you're here on the press, that no one seen it. I'm not covering up for anybody.


SOARES: The mayor directed his criticism at the Texas Department of Public Safety and its leader Colonel Steven McCraw on the same day McCraw testified before a Senate Texas committee. It was then McCraw shared new details of how the tragedy unfolded and the police response which he blasted as a failure.


COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We do know this, there is compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.


SOARES: McCraw was also highly critical of the on scene commander in Uvalde School District Police Chief Peter Arredondo for decisions he made on the day of the shooting. The Uvalde City Council has unanimously voted to deny Arredondo, who is a councilman, a leave of absence from future meetings. Some would rather see him removed from office. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You plain speak like we speak, who was in charge? We still don't know. Or at least nobody wants to claim the honor. But it is the consensus of the citizens of Uvalde that Pete Arredondo was in charge that day and his failure do his job resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two of their teachers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do what you have to do but get him out of our faces. And no, he does not deserve an administrative leave with pay by all means because half these families are taking FMLA without pay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hoping that you can get rid of Mr. Arredondo and everybody else that is involved with this, that let us down. Because why are you here? Why did I, you know, vote for you if you are not doing a damn thing? I'm going to make it short and sweet. Do your job, mayor, please.


SOARES: Afghan state media is reporting that up to 280 people have been killed by a massive earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 5.9 magnitude quake hit an area southwest of the city, of course, in the early hours of the morning. A Taliban spokesperson has called on aid groups to, quote, urgently send teams to the impacted areas.

CNN's Vedika Sud joins me now from New Delhi with the latest. And Vedika, what more are you learning this hour about the situation on the ground and critically the casualties?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Isa, let's just start with what we know for sure. We know that 280 people lost their lives to this powerful earthquake. We know more than 600 people have been wounded. Now this quake took place near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border at 1:24 local time. That's when everybody, mostly everybody out there would be asleep.

We've spoken to an expert in water resources and who knows the area well, and he has said that what added to this issue and what's made the casualty figure even higher is the fact that this area was witnessing the Indian monsoon because of which the mud houses were already vulnerable. And the shallow depth of this quake which was about 10 kilometers made the impact even worse.

Now if you look at the videos and images that we have collected and we are putting out at this point, you can see panic amongst the residents of that area. Most of these houses like I mentioned are mud houses. There is very little concrete. You see a lot of rocks, a lot of stones around the area.


And hence this could lead to more people being wounded.

Now the state media has put out the casualty figures and they've also said that they have been speaking to local officials and residents in the area who say that number could definitely go up.

Now, as far as the U.S. Geological Survey, the USGS is concerned, they had issued a yellow alert for this region, which means that there could be casualties but the impact should be quite limited to the region and to that locality. But we're seeing here that the casualty figures have really gone up at this point in time. We know that there are four areas in particular which have been affected and also some neighboring regions.

So as of now rescue efforts are on to make sure that the survivors are moved away from the most impacted areas. And all assistance that can be provided is being provided to them. The WHO has put out a tweet Wednesday saying that the teams are on the spot and that they're trying to provide any medical assistance and any other assistance, immediate assistance that they can on the spot.

SOARES: Just absolutely terrifying of course given the fact, like you said, Vedika, so many people were sleeping, the majority were sleeping. It's 1:00 in the morning. How are officials though, Vedika, responding to this?

SUD: So, we've got a comment coming in from a Taliban spokesperson who has said that there was an emergency meeting held at the presidential palace after which they have decided to make sure that every possible rescue relief effort reaches the affected and impacted areas in the next few hours. We've also heard from the Defense Ministry through a tweet. Where they're sending seven choppers and medical teams are going to be reaching the spot.

We also know from a Taliban spokesperson that they are sending out cash aid for the survivors and victims of this very powerful earthquake that has hit both Pajhwok and of course, like I said, this is close to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Also, there is a tweet from the Pakistan Prime Minister where he has expressed grief over the quake and he has said that every possible medical assistance from Pakistan will also be sent across the border -- Isa.

SOARES: Vedika, do keep us posted on all the developments. A very important story, indeed. Vedika Sud for us there in Delhi. Thanks, Vedika.

Well, after months of high gas prices and mulling over what if anything he can do about it. U.S. President Joe Biden may have made a decision on a possible gas tax holiday. We'll have the details for you ahead.

Plus, the summer heat is creating problems across the United States including some with deadly consequences. We'll have the latest forecast from our weather center.

And then later, crisis averted. Why a botched landing could have been much worse in Miami after a plane's landing gear stopped working. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.



SOARES: U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is set to testify before a Senate committee today just days after the Fed announced the biggest interest rate hike since 1994. Powell is expected to present his twice yearly report on monetary policy to the Senate Banking Committee today and the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday. So, we'll stay on top of that.

A major investment bank warns the odds of the U.S. going into recession are getting worse. Goldman Sachs had been predict predicting a 15 percent chance of a recession over two years. Now they are predicting 30 percent over the next year. The bank also says that it is downgrading its forecast for the gross domestic product, GDP for the rest of the year and 2023. So not a great picture, indeed.

And the U.S. stock market bounced back Tuesday in the first day of trading since if you remember last week's selloff. The Dow closed up 600 points, the S&P and the Nasdaq were up around 2.5 percent and the S&P just shy of that. Last week of course was the market's worst week since the early days of the pandemic in March 2020. If we look at U.S. futures, what a difference a day makes. Red arrows right across the board with really Nasdaq perhaps seeing the biggest losses when it opens later today.

Now, U.S. President Biden is ramping up his efforts to combat high prices at the gas pump. CNN's Phil Mattingly has the details from the White House.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With gas prices soaring across the country, the White House has been working furiously to try to find some kind of policy option to provide some ease to the pain at the pump. Well, President Biden will officially throw his support behind one of those options, an option that White House officials have actually been considering for several months. A federal gas tax holiday, 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax. The president will support suspending it for a period of time according to people briefed on the matter.

Now this is something several Democrats on Capitol Hill have pushed for. This is something internally the administration has debated for several months. But they have not supported it up to this point. There have been concerns about the policy itself, whether or not it would actually reach consumers. Whether or not it would take away invaluable funding from the Highway Trust Fund. However, the president looking around, seeing those very prices that are driving consumers pretty crazy at this point in time deciding to officially support the measure. He was asked about the process leading to this point earlier on Tuesday. Take a listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will have some impact. But it's not going to have an impact on major road construction and major repairs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sounds like you may have made a decision. BIDEN: Well, let me put this way, I'm in the process. I'll have a

decision before the week is out.

MATTINGLY: The president seemed to lean into where he was going to end up in that moment and underscoring that he would make the decision this week. He's going to make the decision on Wednesday. Publicly announce it according to these people.

Again, an administration right now that is looking for anyway that they possibly can to try to bring down gas prices. Here is the rub on this specific issue. Some Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been very cool to the idea. They also don't have Republican support or at least enough Republican support in the U.S. Senate to be able to advance the measure at all. Where does that leave the White House?


Well, clearly grasping for policy issues, clearly grasping for a political message. At least on Wednesday, landing on one message. That is a federal gas tax holiday.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


SOARES: Evacuations are in place for several neighborhoods south of San Francisco after two fires were reported. According to a local fire official, the smaller fire has been contained but the larger fire which covers 25 acres has not. One firefighter has been injured. Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire. Officials say it's likely that high temperatures contributed to that.

Meanwhile extreme conditions in the U.S. Southeast are turning deadly. Georgia is reporting four people were killed from heat-related causes. And in Louisiana, the city of New Orleans is warning its residents to stay indoors during those peak hours. Temperatures there are expected to climb to as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. And Pedram, I remember you and I talking earlier this week, we were talking about some cities, but now the heat seems to be on pretty much very widespread, right?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is, yes, record temperatures across at least parts of a dozen states across the Southern U.S. We'll touch on that here momentarily. I want to show you the Western U.S., because we know that drought conditions here, of course, have been expansive. You noted the heat conditions that are widespread even into the Western United States.

Look at this, the Central Valley region into parts of Northern North California, as warm as 109 degrees here. Of course, the offshore winds across the area sent San Francisco up to about 90 degrees in the past 24 hours. Which certainly exacerbated the fire weather conditions across that region. And notice it remains about 10 degrees above average here over the next several days.

Do want to touch on what is happening across the four corners region because nearly the entirety of the states of Arizona and New Mexico are experiencing drought. But some better news here as far as monsoon moisture is concerned, we are getting some decent amounts of rainfall into areas of New Mexico and Arizona and a lot of these areas still dealing with significant fire issues.

And you notice nearly the entirety of the state of New Mexico underneath flood alerts where portions of northern New Mexico of course, the Black Fire, Hermit's Peak, Calf Canyon Fire, these are the one and two largest fires in state history still burning at this hour. So, getting rainfall on top of this is beneficial, although some of it is going to lead to some flooding with the burn scars across the region.

But how about these records. Notice again widespread around the southern tier of the United States. The concern with the heat advisories -- as Isa noted. We're talking about temps approaching 115 degrees in a few spots when you factor in the humidity. So, a dangerous setup here to usher in the first official few days of the summer season.

And here is what we saw as far as records in the past 24 hours with 100 degree category yet again tying or breaking records across a few areas around portions of the Eastern U.S. Now, when it comes to watching the active pattern, there is a severe weather threat around portions of the Ohio Valley. We're watching this here for some strong storms around say Washington, Pittsburgh that could bring with it some damaging winds and some large hail as well, that's in for the afternoon hours. And the temperatures look as such, 90 in St. Louis, 90 in Chicago and century mark again across portions of the Southern U.S. Atlanta will get very close to it, Isa, with highs right around 100 degrees. So, we're going to watch this carefully here as the week progresses.

SOARES: Yes, staggering. And how long are they supposed to last? Next week is it supposed to ease -- Pedram?

JAVAHERI: It is, it's going to last at least over the weekend and potentially see a little bit of a break going into next week, yes.

SOARES: Stay safe, everyone. Thanks very much, Pedram. Appreciate it.

Hanging on by a thread. Ukraine says its soldiers are struggling to hold the line in the east under relentless Russian assaults. We're live from Kyiv after the break.

Plus, outrage and fear after the Kremlin refuses to rule out the death penalty for two Americans captured in Ukraine.