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Interview with Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) about January 6th Primetime Hearing; Biden Isolating at White House After Testing Positive for COVID; Several Trump White House officials resigned over January 6th Violence. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2022 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We're glad you're with us.

What a night. The January 6th Committee with quite a hearing last night and news that there will be more come September as they gather an overwhelming amount of evidence about the attack on the Capitol.

Last night's primetime hearing revealed some of the most damning exhibits and testimony yet, illustrating former President Trump's refusal to call off the mob and call off the attack on the Capitol. High-ranking lifelong Republicans, notable members of the former president's staff, detailing how he watched television as the violent assault unfolded.

SCIUTTO: Officials say he never called law enforcement or the Pentagon to put an end to the violence. And while video evidence showed rioters hanging on every word from the then-president, we learned that Trump initially refused to use the word peace when he finally sent a tweet to that mob.

It was the then-Vice President Mike Pence who ultimately called in the National Guard as rioters were chanting to hang him. Previous testimony revealed President Trump thought Pence, quote, "deserved those chants." And last night we learned that members of Mike Pence's security detail called loved ones in the midst of it because they feared they wouldn't make it out of the Capitol safe and alive.

HARLOW: To hear that was just stunning. And last night Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger wrapped up the committee's hearing with this message to the country.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): If January 6th has reminded us of anything, I pray it has reminded us of this. Laws are just words on paper. They mean nothing without public servants dedicated to the rule of law, and who are held accountable by a public that believes oath matters -- oaths matter more than party tribalism or the cheap thrill of scoring political points.

We the people must demand more of our politicians and ourselves. Oaths matter. Character matters. Truth matters. If we do not renew our faith and commitment to these principles, this great experiment of ours, our shining beacon on a hill, will not endure.


SCIUTTO: A stark warning there, and Congressman Adam Kinzinger joins me now.

Thanks for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: You speak about accountability in your closing statement there. You said to our Manu Raju as you left the hearing yesterday that you do believe the former president has criminal exposure.

Do you believe the committee has presented sufficient evidence for the Justice Department to indict the former president?

KINZINGER: Yes, look, again, it's a question for Justice. I think we have proven not basically just in this hearing, we've proven different components of a criminal case against Donald Trump or people around him in every hearing, and I think taken in totality this represents the greatest effort to overturn the will of the people, to conspire against the will of the people, and to conspire against American democracy that we've ever had, frankly, since the civil war. So, yes, I think we've proven that. It's up to Justice now to make a decision.

Look, Jim, I want to be clear. We don't want to become a country that the next administration prosecutes the prior administration. That happens in failed democracies. But this is a different situation. If we become a country that accepts attempts at coups and attempts at overcoming the will of the American people, we can't survive that. We literally cannot survive that. And that in and of itself is a precedent which is unsustainable for this country.

SCIUTTO: We may have the former president announcing another run for the White House in the coming weeks and months. We have election deniers who have won Republican primaries in some states. You said during last night's hearing that the committee will also propose laws, reforms that need to be made to prevent this from happening again.

What specific laws, changes, reforms do you believe are necessary?

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, look, that's a conversation we're engaging in. Look, I think for sure we all agree that there has to be something to the Electoral Count Act.


You know, that's -- if you look at 2024, if you run the same playbook that was run in 2020, you can theoretically see how you can make it succeed in 2024. The most important thing we can do is just put a roadblock up at least in that near term, and then long term I think we have to talk about, you know, what is it -- what does really one vote mean, how did we make sure that people have faith in their vote, and how do we -- you know, without violating the First Amendment, how do you penalize people from undermining this democracy?

And I got to tell you, otherwise, Jim, too, this is a longer conversation, but money and politics. We've become a country where it's billionaires that are running for office and billionaires that are funding runs for office. And we can start to see where at the beginning of what you see in some places like Russia with oligarchs driving the political system.

SCIUTTO: We are four months away from the midterm election, two years and four months away from a presidential election. A lot of discussions of the laws that you've presented. By the way, there is some bipartisan movement toward potential reform of the Electoral Count Act. But for folks watching right now, should they feel confident that the coming elections are any safer from this kind of attempt to steal an election than they were in 2020?

KINZINGER: Probably in 2022, yes. 2024, no. I mean, look, it's -- you know, I like to stand up and be able to be more optimistic. But here's the deal.

America, you deserve way better than what is representing you out here. You deserve way better than frankly two parties that are really just entrenched in what it means to take power, how to take power back, and Republicans, particularly, let me talk to you. You deserve far better than somebody that's going to stand in front of you, knowingly lie to you so they can steal your money from you and tell you lies so that you believe it and they laugh behind your back.

Trust me, they are laughing that they can manipulate you so easily. So you can get mad at people like myself and Liz Cheney for telling you the truth, but the people you should be mad at are those that are lying to you and completely disgracing you and your family. And that's what we have to as Americans stand up and say if our parties aren't going to represent us, we have to do something different. But dang it, it's got to -- it's up to us to take our party back.

SCIUTTO: As you know, bubbles in this country, news and information bubbles, are persistent, and these hearings are either covered differently or not covered at all, frankly, in some right-wing media. And that is seen, it's discernible in some of the polling. A Monmouth poll just recently asked Republicans in June, 2021, and June, 2022, how they would describe January 6th, and a smaller number of Republicans believe today that it was an insurrection than believed then.

Do you believe -- look at that there from 33 percent in June, 2021, to just 13 percent today. Do you believe that these hearings have failed to move the vast majority of voters in your party?

KINZINGER: Well, yes. I mean, probably the vast majority. I've had a lot of anecdotal people call and say -- I had a good friend that said my dad was a super MAGA head -- he hated you, Adam, and loved Donald Trump. He's now all in against Donald Trump because he believes he's been lied to.

But look, Jim, yes, there may be a certain set of voters that will never pay attention. Their kids will. And I'm going to tell you, I truly believe in my heart in five years, maybe not five but definitely 10, you're not going to be able to find a single person that admits to supporting or voting for Donald Trump in this country because they're going to be embarrassed because their kids are going to say you actually supported Donald Trump? Are you kidding me?

And they're going to be like, no, no, we didn't -- it's like trying to find a Nixon supporter a couple of years after he resigned. I got to tell you, your kids -- and to my fellow Republican congressmen, stand up and speak out or your kids will be ashamed of having that last name. And I'm not trying to say that to be mean. That's just fact.

SCIUTTO: The committee made clear that last night's hearing was not the last one, likely to continue into September. What are those hearings -- what should folks at home expect them to focus on?

KINZINGER: So, you know, right now as we kind of foresee it, it will be more like we're going to start this interim report gathering, as we continue to get more information and keep this going. So I think you could see a couple of kinds of things. I don't know this for sure, what it's going to look like yet, would be any new information we get that's relevant, that's importance to put in front of the American people, because we want to make sure you know what we know, or, you know, about the report summarizing the recommendations.

Maybe talking to national security experts about what does this do to America's national defense. You know, one of the things that was kind of missed yesterday in the hearing, by the way, Jim, is National -- Keith Kellogg, for instance, said Donald Trump never requested National Guard. This is what I keep hearing by my friends on the right is what about the National Guard? Donald Trump requested the National Guard.

Tons of people said he didn't. He didn't. Let's just put that out there, too. So those are kinds of things we can see in the future.

SCIUTTO: Yes. One thing the committee has attempted to do last night and in the days before is to corroborate Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony on a number of fronts but including this alleged incident in the presidential SUV with him wanting to go to the Capitol following the rally on the ellipse.


You'll remember in the wake of that testimony that the U.S. Secret Service seemed to imply and others through unnamed sources that there were members including Tony Ornato, who was the president's deputy chief of staff, as you know, who would dispute that testimony. U.S. Secret Service also said at the time that they would be cooperative. Zoe Lofgren said last night that Ornato as well as others have now -- Robert Engle, have lawyered up, and the driver of that SUV. Are you confident they're still going cooperate? KINZINGER: No. I mean, look, it's one thing to through an anonymous

source -- and look, I'll give it to them because after Cassidy testified, on the right they were totally discrediting her or trying to by saying, you know, look, the thing -- we hear this anonymous source that said it wasn't true. Well, now of course that's melted away.

You've had corroboration of her story. She never said she saw it in the first place anyway. She just said she heard it. And now all the sudden you have Secret Service members lawyering up and not coming in and talking to us. So the point is if you're going to invest everything in trying to discredit a very credible witness, you better make sure you can do it. They failed to.

She is unimpeachable, and Cassidy Hutchinson, I got to tell you, she never intended this, she will go down in history like blowing away anybody else that's been part of the January 6th stuff. That's not what she wants, but she's a huge hero.

SCIUTTO: A short time ago you shared some of the messages including voicemail messages that you have received from people threatening you for the work you've done on this committee. You had a very prominent role last night. I don't want you to expose anything that might put you in a bad position, but I think it's important for folks at home to know what happens in that kind of space. Are you still getting threats? Did you get more threats after your comments last night?

KINZINGER: I'm sure I have since last night. I have since I've put that out. I mean -- Jim, look, the number of people that call and threaten my child, who's 6 months old, and that is just, I mean, it takes like pure evil. So don't ever talk to me -- I'm a Christian. You know. Don't ever talk to me about you being a Christian and then threaten to kill a 6-month-old baby. I don't know what kind of evil is in your heart.

I don't know, you know, if that's a party I want nothing to do with that. And so yes, there are some pure evil. I mean, talk to anybody, so, you know, talk to anybody that is in this position. I'm sure you get the same thing. Ladies and gentlemen, a tough man doesn't need to call and threaten a child and a wife of a man.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's false strength. And I have experienced it.

Congressman Kinzinger, be safe.


SCIUTTO: Thank you for your straight talk, and we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

KINZINGER: You bet. Take care.

HARLOW: You know, Jim, it strikes me between what we saw last night, all that evidence presented in the hearing about what President Trump didn't do, what a real lack of leadership is, and then what leadership at all costs means. And I think it's very telling. SCIUTTO: And leadership when you're risking something, right?

HARLOW: That's -- exactly.

SCIUTTO: A lot of the folks who stuck their necks out, they not only risk facing the kinds of threats that are very real, and by the way law enforcement takes seriously, but they're risking their position in their party. They're risking their congressional seats.

HARLOW: Their jobs.

SCIUTTO: We see that with Liz Cheney, their job. Yes.


SCIUTTO: That's political courage.

HARLOW: But how history will judge them really will say it all. So great interview, Jim.


HARLOW: All right. President Biden testing positive for COVID-19, doing well, the White House says. How they're operating now that he's in isolation.

SCIUTTO: And later, my conversation with the chief of the British Secret Foreign Intelligence Service. Hear what he says about Russia's failures in Ukraine. It's scathing assessment.



HARLOW: Today is day one technically of President Biden's isolation after he tested positive yesterday for COVID.

SCIUTTO: We are told by the White House that his symptoms remain mild, and the White House says he is still working, just doing it over the phone and via Zoom.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond live outside the White House with the latest.

Jeremy, they say basically a sore throat, runny nose. What else do we know about his symptoms and his schedule?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, this is day one of at least a five-day isolation period for the president. And that means that over the next five days the president isn't going to be doing any of the things that he had planned on doing. Yesterday, for example, that included that trip to Philadelphia where he was set to have an event on gun crime as well as a fundraiser in Philadelphia.

On Monday he was scheduled to rally political supporters at a rally in Tampa, Florida, and host a law enforcement event in Orlando. Neither of those going forward now clearly as the president remains in isolation. But the White House is doing its best to try and show that President Biden despite those mild symptoms is still at work here at the White House. Isolated in the residence of the White House.

But we've seen several images of him, you can see him there, outside on the balcony of the White House where he told supporters that he was doing well, that he is getting a lot of work done. We also saw President Biden signing into law a piece of legislation, and the White House put out this photo, as well, of the president masked, wearing a KN-95 mask there, and signing this bill into law that's aimed at eliminating tariffs for baby formula to address that baby formula shortage.

We also know that President Biden has been getting well wishes including from world leaders. Amongst them the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who sent a message of sympathy to the president, according to Chinese government officials.


Now we are expecting additional updates today on President Biden's condition. I heard from Dr. Ashish Jha earlier today who said that the president's symptoms remain the same. No change as last night. But we aren't expecting another paper statement from the president's personal physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, as well as a briefing in person from Dr. Jha and the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

HARLOW: OK. Jeremy, thank you very much. Continuing to wish the president good health and quick and full recovery.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Indeed. Let's speak now to CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen for more on the president's diagnosis and what the statistics show.

So, Elizabeth, we know he's been prescribed Paxlovid, Pfizer's antiviral drug, standard particularly for people in this age group. Explain how his age factors in. We spoke to a doctor last hour who made the point that to his advantage the fact that he's slim and active. What do the statistics show?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The statistics show that he really has an excellent chance of making a quick and full recovery because age isn't just an issue, it's health. And as you said, he is in good health. But because of his age, he is going to take Paxlovid. So let's take a look at what this drug is. It's an antiviral. It's for those at high risk of severe COVID-19 or at risk of severe COVID-19, so being his age, being 79, that automatically makes him at risk of severe COVID-19.

It involves taking three pills a day for five days. Studies show that it reduces the risk for hospitalization by nearly 90 percent. But that was done during the Delta wave. We know Omicron is different. Israeli data shows, not surprisingly because we've seen this with vaccines, that it is 67 percent effective at reducing hospitalizations during the Omicron wave in people 65 and over.

But still, that is quite good. So Jeremy mentioned Dr. Ashish Jha at the White House. Let's take a listen to what he had to say about this on CNN earlier today.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Remember the goal of Paxlovid is to keep people out of the hospital, to prevent serious illness. One of the reasons we have been so vocal that Americans, anybody above the age of 50, anybody with chronic diseases, should seriously consider getting Paxlovid, the reason is it is -- it works remarkably well at keeping people from getting seriously ill.


COHEN: Now Dr. Jha mentioned yesterday there is another treatment that people can get, it's a monoclonal antibody that they can get when they have COVID. He said both are good, you know, drugs, both could be used, but for some reason his doctor decided to give him Paxlovid. So Paxlovid people really do quite well on it, as we just saw.

But let's talk about what's really helping. And even more so, perhaps, than Paxlovid, what's really helping the president right now. And that is the fact that he's had four shots, and that the fourth shot was less than four months ago. So look at that second booster, that fourth shot. It was March 30th, and that means that he's getting a lot of protection from that shot because it was quite recently.

So it is the vaccination that is probably doing him really the most good and why it's so important that people over age 50 get that fourth shot. And of course it goes without saying, everyone should be vaccinated. I worry that people are going to say, oh, gee, President Biden got COVID, and he was vaccinated, yes. But he is going to recover easily because he was vaccinated. And with so much COVID all around us, it's never really been more important than ever to be fully vaccinated.


SCIUTTO: Yes. I'm double boosted myself.

COHEN: There you go. Me too.

SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

HARLOW: I want to be double boosted as soon as they allow it. All right. The January 6th Committee highlighted how former President Trump repeatedly ignored pleas from really everyone around him, his family, top lawyers, and aides, to call off the violence on January 6th. Hear how some members of his staff felt about his complete inaction.



HARLOW: In the hours after a mob of angry Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on January 6th, a number of prominent Trump administration officials decided that was it, that was the final straw, they had had enough and they resigned abruptly.

During his testimony Thursday, former deputy National Security adviser Matthew Pottinger explained the moment he knew it was time to leave.


MATTHEW POTTINGER, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I was disturbed and worried to see that the president was attacking Vice President Pence for doing his constitutional duty. So the tweet looked to me like the opposite of what we really needed at that moment which was a de-escalation. And that's why I'd said earlier that it looked like fuel being poured on the fire.

So that was the moment that I decided that I was going to resign, that that would be my last day at the White House. I simply didn't want to be associated with the events that were unfolding on the Capitol.


HARLOW: Joining us now is presidential historian Douglas Brinkley and CNN political commentator and host of "FIRING LINE" on PBS Margaret hoover.

Thank you both so much for being here.

Doug, let me begin with you. I mean, you are a presidential historian, and I wonder how you think history will judge the work of this committee and particularly its members and those who testified who sacrificed so much. For some of them it will likely cost them their job. We just heard Adam Kinzinger detail threats to his 6-month-old baby as a result.

How will history look at them and this work?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Poppy, this has been a slamming indictment against Donald Trump as being an anti- American demagogue.