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Panel to Detail Trump's Pressure on Justice Department; Georgia Grand Jury, House Committee Probing Fake Electors; More than 1,000 Killed by Deadliest Afghan Quake in Decades; U.S. Senators Hope for More Republican Support on Gun Bill; EU Leaders Preparing to Decide on Ukraine's Candidacy; Putin Boasts of Growing Trade with BRICs Partners; Russia May Be Preparing New Attacks on Kharkiv. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired June 23, 2022 - 04:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and around the world. I'm Lynda Kinkade live from the CNN center in Atlanta. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The committee is also have received scores of new information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the unvarnished footage in what's behind the scenes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deadliest quake in more than two decades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundreds of people killed. It's impossible to verify.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds across the city were killed in missile strikes that did this kind of damage to whole apartment blocks. Remains of the missiles are still scattered in the rubble here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the Fed we understand the hardship that high inflation is causing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what is worse than high inflation and low unemployment? It's high inflation and a recession with millions of people out of work.


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Linda Kinkade.

KINKADE: It's Thursday, June 23rd, 4:00 a.m. here in Atlanta and also in Washington where the White House committee is investigating the U.S. Capitol riot which will begin its fifth hearing in just a few hours. Today's focus the former president's pressure campaign on federal officials to overturn the 2020 election. Three former Trump Justice Department officials will testify. But were also learning that the select committee will delay is next round of hearings into July to sort through new evidence.

And one of the things they're looking at is a British filmmaker's footage documenting the final weeks of the Trump presidency. It's called "Unprecedented" and it will be released this summer by Discovery+ which is owned by the same country as CNN.



IVANKA TRUMP: My father -- he's very honest and he is who he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes everything that he is doing it right.

TRUMP: I think I treat people well unless they don't treat me well, in which case you've got a war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we talk for a moment about January 6?



KINKADE: Alyssa Farah Griffin who served as the director of strategic communications in the Trump White House says the documentary footage will be crucial evidence for the committee.


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This documentary surprised a lot of people who worked in the former White House, myself included. So, I was the White House communications director until December 4th when I resigned. I had no knowledge that this was being filmed and traditionally any of this would have gone through my office for approval. My understanding as I caught up to speed on it is that it actually came from Jared Kushner who thought that it would be a good idea and encouraged members of the family and the former president to participate in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You knew nothing about it?

GRIFFIN: No, knew nothing about it. So, I think that this was something that was probably very close hold, a select group knew about it. And you know, the point you made this is the unvarnished footage in what's behind the scenes, the kind of B roll, the outtakes, that's going to be incredibly valuable. And I do think it helps kind of capture mindset.

The clip that was played, you know, where the former president is saying, you know, if you disagree with someone it's war, that kind of helps paint a picture of where the man was in those final months leading up to the insurrection.


KINKADE: Well, a key Trump supporter who spoke at the rally before the January 6 riot says he will testify before the house committee but only if it's in public. The panel announced subpoenas last month for Congressman Mo Brooks and four other Republicans. On Tuesday, he lost the runoff election to be the party Senate candidate in Alabama.

And Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is one of only two Republicans on the January 6 committee. He's expected to lead the question of Justice Department officials today and he says the scope of the panel's investigation is much larger than just the Capitol riots.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): When January 6 happened, I think a lot of people's focus became that day and the violence, and that was important, it was a terrible day. But what a lot of people forget is all the pressure points leading up to January 6. By the way, nothing has changed to prevent anything like that from happening again. So, we saw the pressure on the vice president.


We saw the pressure Tuesday very emotionally on these state leaders. And now we'll talk about the Department of Justice.

A lot of this information is known. A lot isn't. And we're going to show what happened as the president was doing his best to basically put the Department of Justice stamp on his lies and conspiracies to embolden people. So, I would encourage folks to tune in and see yet another prong of what the president, the former president, tried to do to take away no matter who you voted for, to take away your vote.


KINKADE: Well, when Donald Trump lost key swing states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the 2020 election, his team came up with a plan, present a slate of alternative electors who would vote to keep him in office despite Joe Biden's victory. Well, now some of those fake electors will have to answer for their actions. CNN's Katelyn Polantz explains.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: New reporting Wednesday of a fresh round of subpoenas in the Justice Department's probe into fake electors used by Donald Trump in 2020. So, what we are learning is that federal investigators have issued a subpoena to the Georgia Republican Party chair. His name is David Shafer, and he is a top person not just in the party but was an elector for Trump in 2020 when the electors for Trump were not needed. They gathered to try to supplant Biden's win in that state. So, he served in that group. But he also was a key central person in touch with the Trump campaign as the electors in Georgia were trying to convene.

So, in addition to Shafer getting a subpoena, we're also now learning that other electors, fake elector in battleground states that Trump lost, so they were needed, that others have received subpoenas as well, that is in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Georgia. So, this ongoing federal probe is existing in at least three states and this is a significant expansion of a probe that we have known about for some time already. Previously our understanding was that there were fewer states that the Justice Department was at least actively known to be looking in.

And also, that they were looking at lower level people among Republicans. People who had been set to be electors for Trump and then dropped out. This ratchets that up, it goes closer to the heart of the people who gathered after the election to try and become electors for Donald Trump and send certificates that were fakes to the federal government.

But one of the things that's important to remember about this is that this isn't just about what happened in battleground states. This is also a probe that looks into the Trump campaign itself. All of these inquiries are not just asking for information about the electors, but also about people that are top level staffers and lawyers in the Trump campaign, people like Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Justin Clark. Those are all lawyers that were working with the campaign and with Donald Trump himself after the election.

And we're hearing a lot about fake electors this week while the Justice Department has been looking at them. We also know that the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, has been looking at them and the House Select Committee earlier this week in their last public hearing did bring forth information that Donald Trump and the Trump campaign were orchestrating these electors coming together in various states just like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.


KINKADE: Well, be sure to tune into our coverage of the entire hearing, plus in-depth analysis. That starts at 2:00 this afternoon in New York and Washington, 7:00 in the evening in London.

Well, Afghan officials say more than 1,000 people have died from an earthquake that hit early Wednesday morning. That number is expected to rise as recovery efforts progress. The epicenter of the 5.9 magnitude quake was southwest Of Khost near the country's border with Pakistan. Emergency relief has been deployed from multiple agencies but the United Nations says $50 million in aid is needed immediately for rescue and recovery efforts. And that number is also likely to increase.

Well, CNN's Vedika Sud joins me now from Delhi with the latest. And Vedika, obviously, the death toll is going to rise, already we know 1,000 people have been killed. But tens of thousands of people desperately need aid right now. VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Lynda, let me start with what we

know. We know that is the deadliest earthquake to hit the region in two decades. We also know, like you said, that the death toll is going to go up. This is something that Afghanistan supreme leader also said Wednesday and officials on ground have been reiterating this which is a deep concern given that these are remote areas, Lynda. It's very difficult to access them at this point.

We also do know that Giyan -- and this from the U.N. office that we know of this. The Giyan district in one of the worst affected provinces in the area has been deeply impacted.


70 percent of the housing in this district is actually nothing but rubble now. Homes have been destroyed, people are being pulled out from the rubble with bare hands of locals and officials in that area. Now, a senior representative of the U.N. in Afghanistan has spoken about their efforts in the region. Let's just listen in.


SAM MORT, CHIEF OF COMMUNICATIONS, UNICEF AFGHANISTAN: UNICEF is well supplied in the country and we can get aid to those who are affected. But this will be a long term effort. It's one thing to bring water and first aid and tents and food into an area. It is another thing to rebuild homes and rebuild communities and give people back their livelihoods.


SUD: What we don't know, Lynda, is the extent of damage, that might just take days or weeks given that we're talking about very remote areas in a mountainous region. And we do know that the casualty figures will be going above 1,000 and that is the biggest scare because it might just take days to notify and count at this point -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Vedika Sud for us in New Delhi. Thanks so much for that update.

Well, aid groups on the ground providing help to the victims of the earthquake. If you would like to help them, please head over to

Well, new developments now out of Texas one month after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde that killed 19 students and two teachers. The Uvalde School District superintendent has announced that the Police Chief Pete Arredondo has been placed on administrative leave while investigations into the massacre continue. Arredondo's decision making on the day of the shooting has sparked anger and frustration over the police response.

And in the wake of that massacre, the U.S. Senate is now on the verge of passing the most significant gun safety legislation in decades. The vote on the final passage is expected by week's end. Already though some Republican leaders in the House are planning to oppose the bill and plan to urge their members to vote no. It comes as the lead Republican negotiator on the bill is dismissing criticism he has faced from the NRA.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): If we're going to have a debate about policy, I'm all for that. But I'm not going to engage in a game of name calling. We worked with the NRA to listened to their concerns, but in the end, I think that they simply -- they have a membership and a business model that will not allow them to support any legislation.


KINKADE: Well, Senators say the bill which includes money for mental health, school safety and crisis intervention programs, will save lives. And they're hoping to gain more support.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): What we're trying to prove to Republicans is that the political sky doesn't fall when you support these common sense gun safety measures. Most of the things that I support are, you know, backed up by 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent of Americans. And my hope is that the 14, 15, 16 Republicans who end up supporting this will go back to their states and, yeah sure, maybe they'll take a little bit of grief from the NRA. But I think that they will see much more political benefit from voters who maybe had never thought about supporting them who now are going to be a little more willing to back them up.


KINKADE: Well, the next hurdle comes later today when a vote to overcome the filibuster is expected to take place.

Well, Ukraine is hoping to get a step closer to joining the European Union, but first it has to get the word from Brussels where a major summit is set to begin. That's still ahead.

Plus, President Putin says that he has a backup plan to cushion the impact of international sanctions. The Russian president's idea of achieving that is finding new trade partners.



KINKADE: Welcome back. European Union leaders are converging in Brussels this hour to decide if Ukraine should get a green light to start the process of joining the group. Their summit will determine if Ukraine will have a candidate status. But full membership would still be years away. A senior EU official says all current members are expected to get behind Ukraine's candidacy, but on the eve of the summit, President Zelenskyy still embarked on some lobbying of European leaders. Well, President Vladimir Putin says Russia has a plan B to keep its

trade going under the severe economic sanctions. He says Moscow is shifting trade to the so-called BRIC countries which include China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Mr. Putin made the remarks at a virtual summit of the group Wednesday. He said Russia's trade with BRIC members soared 38 percent in the first quarter this year, but most of that period covers the time before the invasion of Ukraine.

Well, our reporters are standing by to cover all aspects of these stories. Ivan Watson joins us from Hong Kong. But first I want to go to our Nic Robertson who is in Brussels for the latest summit of EU members. Good to have you both with us. So, Nic, Ukraine's president has spoken to almost a dozen European leaders as they condition Ukraine for EU membership, but this is certainly going to be a long process.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is. But this is an important step, a decisive moment for the European Union is how Charles Michel, the European Council President framed it as he went into the meeting this morning. He said it was going to be a geopolitical decision for the leaders. Now, it does appear as if the leaders are lined up behind the decision. You know, you can't sort of rule any last minute wrinkles out for the discussion.

But the difficult and longer process is matching the EU's -- the EU standards to Ukraine.


So, rather the other way around. Ukraine has a very heavy lift in terms of judicial reforms, economic reform, reforms across every sort of sector of, you know, government purview to line itself up with the European Union and it is in the middle of war at the moment.

But if it does get as expect -- the candidate status -- this will provide it with additional funds on top of the support that the EU nations are given to Ukraine for weapons, on top of the support for humanitarian aid. You know, we've just heard in the last hour or so from the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz talking about a Marshal Plan for the sort of economic rebuilding and recovery of Ukraine. So, it's another indicator of support, but it is going to be a long process.

And in integration process, you have to take into account the views of all the different European Union leaders. How fast is their individual nations -- how fast are their individual nations willing be to sort of move along this path to, you know, to bring Ukraine into the EU. The French president has said that there'll be no fast track process here for Ukraine.

So, there are things to be matched. The production of Ukrainian still for example has been a huge export for Ukraine, but if it becomes part of the European Union and is producing and selling more and more readily its steel into the European Union, what's the knock-on effect for the European Union's steel producers. These are some of the details that over the coming years we would expect to hear the European Union discuss. But a decision moment today as Charles Michel framed it.

KINKADE: Yes, it certainly is a key steps as you say, Nic. I want to go to Ivan Watson in Hong Kong. Because President Putin, Ivan, is saying that he is redirecting trade to what he calls reliable international partners, that is countries who seem to have no problem with Russia invading Ukraine and killing thousands of civilians.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. At this virtual summit with these five countries, you're not going to hear any condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In fact, the Chinese president who is hosting the virtual summit, he called Ukraine a wake-up call the crisis there and kind of hinted at the line that Beijing has been promoting in defense of its ally and friend Russia that the war was provoked by NATO expansion rather than by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So, you're not going to hear condemnation of the Ukraine war and Russia's role in it, instead there is resounding condemnation coming from the Russian and Chinese leaders of U.S.-led sanctions against Russia. Take a listen to what the Chinese president had to say.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): This has been proved time and again that sanctions are a boomerang and double edged sword to politicize, instrumentalize and weaponize the global economy and to willfully impose sanctions by taking advantage of one's dominant status in the international, financial and monetary systems will only end up hurting one's own interests as well as those of others. And inflict suffering on people around the world.


WATSON: Now, the Russian president is eager to tout alternative markets for Russian exports, oil, gas, coal that have largely been cut off to Europe -- Russia's traditional markets -- and there has been some success here, Lynda.

The Russian exports of crude oil to China broke record in May. India has been purchasing Russian energy at a discount. But the prices of those energy exports are higher right now. So, part of this is an exploration of ways to essentially evade Western sanctions, come up with other alternative financial instruments. You are not going to see all these countries lining up side by side though. Brazil did condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the U.N. General Assembly vote and India has its own bilateral tensions with China that have exploded to deadly results on the Himalayan borders in years gone by -- Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, Ivan Watson for us in Hong Kong, Nic Robertson in Brussels. Thanks to you both.

Well meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, Russian forces are gaining more ground in grinding battles in the east of the country. Ukraine said a short time ago that Russia had taken two more settlements south of the city Luhansk near Severodonetsk. And that puts Russian forces closer to a key highway. Ukraine says that it is among Russia's top objectives to seize. [04:25:00]

Ukraine says it is still holding on in Severodonetsk despite barrages of Russian artillery and airstrikes. Ukrainian defenders are concentrated in a chemical plant where hundreds of civilians are holed up as well.

Meanwhile, three foreign fighters sentenced to death by pro-Russian separatists are preparing their appeal. That's according to state owned Russian news agency TASS. The two Britons and a Moroccan are accused of being mercenaries for Ukraine.

And Ukrainian officials are increasingly concerned that Russia will make a renewed push to take Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv. Russian forces were driven out of the area several weeks ago, but as our Sam Kiley reports, Ukraine's military believes that they're not done trying.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prayers on return to her bombed out home.

OLENA, KHARKIV RESIDENT (through translator): I hope and believe with all my heart that light will conquer darkness, that peace will triumph over evil.

KILEY (voice-over): It's a distant prospect because here, Ukrainians say that Russian forces are massing for new assault on their hometown. She fled the last Russian attacks in April when this area, Saltivka, bore the brunt.

KILEY: Thousands of people were driven from their homes in this northeastern suburb of Kharkiv. Hundreds across the city were killed in missile strikes that did this kind of damage to whole apartment blocks. The remains of some of those missiles are still scattered in the rubble here. And it still smells of death.

KILEY (voice-over): Kharkiv is under constant and intensified shelling, ending a lull after Russian forces were driven back several weeks ago. This college dorm was hit on a day when 15 people were killed in and around the city.

On the frontline, it's easy to see why Russia calls one of its rocket systems Grad. It means hail.

Many Ukrainian fighters raise private funds to buy civilian drones. It spots a Russian soldier who hears the tiny aircraft, he shows potentially fatal curiosity. Less than 100 yards sometime separates the enemies on the outskirts of Kharkiv's north. Ukrainian forces call conventional trench warfare like this the meat grinder.

Loki has been fighting in those same dugouts.

LOKI, UKRAINIAN MILITARY MEMBER: The main disadvantage and everyone knows it, and it's the only one that I will tell is the numbers, the raw numbers. There are just too many of their forces and stuff.

KILEY: Ukrainian intelligence officers forecast for Kharkiv is a new threat of hail.

ANDRII MOGYLA, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES: On this picture, you actually can see well-hidden vehicles, and they are placing them almost on the forest. We have firing positions of two self-propelled artillery, and the fire and control unit right here.

They actually tell us that they are going to prepare another invasion of Kharkiv.

KILEY: Do you have an estimate when that might happen?

MOGYLA: I can't be 100 percent sure, but I am kind of confident. So in nearest a week, I would say.

KILEY (voice-over): This is proving to be a long war. Prayer often the last line of defense.

Sam Kiley, CNN, in Saltivka, Kharkiv.


KINKADE: We have some news just into CNN, the former leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to solitary confinement in prison. The 77-year-old was toppled in a military coup early last year and faces at least 20 criminal charges. She denies wrongdoing and is being held under house arrest. A spokesperson for Myanmar's military says that the move is in line with the country's laws ahead of Suu Kyi's upcoming trial.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. The White House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot returns with another live hearing today. But are they changing anyone's mind? Reaction from Georgia voters just ahead.

Plus, dangerous heat is now blanketing much of the U.S. CNN's Derek Van Dam tells us when there might be some relief.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right, Lynda. The South is sweltering once again, 20 million Americans under heat alert with over 50 record high temperatures through the weekend. I'll show you how hot it's going to get coming up after the break.