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Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is Interviewed about Gun Legislation; Griner Testifies in Russia; Labeling GOP as Extremists; Torrential Rain Slams Missouri; Firefighters Battle Oak Fire. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 27, 2022 - 09:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You say you've lost confidence in the inspector general's ability to lead that probe, particularly after he failed to inform Congress for months that messages had not been shared. I wonder, do you have an explanation at this point as to why there was that delay?

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): This is not the first incident with this inspector general. And we are asking him to step aside because I have lost confidence in him. He is required by law to report to Congress and agencies any significant happening. And I would say the deletion of all of these text messages from Secret Service right after January 6th is a significant incident.

We only found out about it through the press. And once we found out about it, we inquired from him and then he told us that he was aware and had been aware since right after January 6th that these messages had been deleted.

There's been other incidents where he has not followed through. We are not asking him to resign. We are asking him to relieve himself of his responsibilities over January 6th information and specifically the incident where he did not report to Congress. We hope to retrieve those deletions. We feel that we need a -- someone we can trust that will report directly to the American people and to Congress as they should.

We have asked SIGI (ph), which is the oversight board of the inspector generals, to appoint an acting IG for just the January 6th proceedings and what happened to these deletions and help us to retrieve them. We feel that since he couldn't report them, then he's not going to be able to retrieve them.

SCIUTTO: Just minutes from now you will hold a hearing to examine the responsibility that firearm manufacturers have with gun violence in this country, specifically the manufacturers of AR-15 weapons, which have featured so prominently in mass shootings we have seen in this country.

What is the goal of today's hearing? MALONEY: Well, the report was to look at the role of gun manufacturers

in the soaring amount of deaths in our country. The last statistics were for 2020, and that was 45,000 Americans murdered by guns. Also, a report came out that the number one killer of children in our country now is guns, not automobile accidents. It's alarming at the mass shootings. And we stand alone in the world with the amount of violence we face. If guns made us safer, we'd be the safest nation on earth. We're far from it. We are among -- we are the most dangerous.

Our report showed that - and we looked at five different manufacturers that over ten years they are reaping in record profits, over $1 billion in revenues.

It's an important report. It showed that the gun manufacturers have done nothing to help in this epidemic we're facing. In fact they are aggressively marketing, particularly to young men, really focusing on insecurities. And one ad, I'll read it to you, says, consider your man card reissued when you get this AR-15. And it's young people that are buying these guns. And, regrettably, many of them are participating in mass shootings.


MALONEY: We also found, and probably the most important part, Jim, is that they are playing no role in monitoring or keeping records of anything that's happening.


MALONEY: Most industries monitor deaths, and we need to require that they do that in the future.

SCIUTTO: Let me -- so often we see efforts like this run into GOP opposition and some Democratic opposition. Do you have the votes to move forward with something that fixes this in your view?

MALONEY: I think that we have to respond to this crisis in our country. A lot of the resistance comes to Second Amendment items that people fear that government is going to take away their guns. This is not in any way running into the Second Amendment. This is record keeping, which every major industry does now. Drug companies track deaths of their drugs. Any manufacturer reports deaths or problems with their items they produce. And certainly cars have become safer because the industry always studies every accident and studies ways to make it safer in the future. We need the same type of cooperation from the gun manufacturers.

It's not the answer we need to ban assault weapons in my opinion, we need to move forward with more gun safety regulations, but this is something that does not conflict with the Second Amendment. So, I feel that it is doable, it is passable in both the House and the Senate.


And one thing's for sure, if you don't try, you're not going to achieve it. I feel it's an important step forward in holding manufacturers accountable for their actions, their ads, and their sales.

SCIUTTO: We'll be watching closely.

Congresswoman Maloney, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

MALONEY: Thank you. Thank you so much.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, this morning, Brittney Griner taking the stand in a Russian courtroom. What she said and what this means for her trial and getting her back home to the U.S. That's up next.



GOLODRYGA: Right now, WNBA star Brittney Griner is testifying in a Russian courtroom. She's detailing what happened back in February when authorities say they found cannabis oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin and CNN's Kylie Atwood is at the State Department.

So, Fred, we just got word that she said her rights were not read to her when she was detained at that airport on February 17th. What more has she said today?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's been a lot and we've had - we've been able to listen to some of the audio from the courtroom. And you're absolutely right, she did say that no rights were read to her. But she also said that she was presented a bunch of documents at various occasions at the time that she was originally being questioned at the airport, but really -- she really didn't understand what was in those and actually had to use Google Translate on some of those documents to even remotely understand what they were about. So she signed a bunch of things that were essentially not explained to her.

And she also detailed some of what exactly happened and how it came to the fact that those two cartridges that the Russians say that they found in her luggage were actually found on her. She said she packed in an extreme rush to get back to Russia because she didn't want to let the team that she plays for in Russia, Ekaterinburg, down. She said she was extremely tired. It had been a long and tiresome flight but she was determined to make it back to her team and that she packed in a rush.

She did say that she was aware of the fact that obviously narcotics are very much illegal to bring into Russia and she says she has absolutely no idea how those cartridges got into her luggage. She also said that she's been tested, obviously, for things like drugs many, many times, being a professional athlete, and had never had any sort of issues. She says she only uses the medicinal cannabis in the off season because obviously in the season it's absolutely not aloud. She said it was issued to her, a permit to buy that, in the United States, in Phoenix, a state-issued permit.

So, essentially what we're seeing here, Bianna, I think this is very important, is that, obviously, she understands, and her defense understands, that the odds are very much stacked against her. But the defense that she's trying to make, she's saying, look, this was an honest mistake. She's had witnesses testify on her behalf that she's a high character individual who's done a lot for basketball, not just around the world, but specifically in Russia by playing for Ekaterinburg. And also that while, obviously, bringing narcotics into Russia is illegal, this was something that was used for pain relief, and certainly not for recreational use. It's a very, very elaborate strategy on the part of the defense.

One of the things, of course, that you know very well, and that we always have to point out, is that leniency is certainly not something that can be expected from Russian courts, Brianna.

GOLODRYGA: No. And it's interesting that she said that while she was taking this cannabis for medicinal purposes, as you said earlier, she inadvertently packed it while she was in a rush going to the airport, knowing that she probably would be detained if she knowingly packed this.

Kylie, what more do we know about the State Department and their efforts to bring her home? There is a lot of pressure on this administration to do so.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so the Biden administration continues to say that they are working aggressively to get Brittney Griner home. But they aren't really detailed in terms of what that looks like.

Yesterday, I asked the State Department Spokesperson Ned Price about their engagement with Russia. He said there is engagement between the U.S. and Russia on the case of Brittney Griner and on the case of Paul Whelan, who's another American who's still wrongfully detained in Russia, but he wouldn't characterize what that engagement looks like.

And that is really the key here, Brianna, because when you talk to U.S. officials, there's widespread recognition that this situation, Brittney Griner getting released here to the United States, isn't necessarily -- isn't likely, excuse me, to be resolved through the Russian judicial system. It is a system where there's a 99 percent conviction rate, they are very clear-eyed about that.

So, U.S. officials are watching incredibly closely as this trial continues to go on as we learn a bit more details about Brittney Griner, how this ended up in her bag, what she is saying about how she didn't intend to break any Russian law. But what they're watching even more closely is for the conclusion of this trial. And that is because there is a recognition that they're not going to be able to pull off any sort of potential prisoner swap, if that is the route that they end up going down, or some sort of other negotiation to get her home until this trial is likely concluded, until there is a sentence, until this is over. So, Brittney Griner's lawyers have said that they expect that to come

in early August. So we are watching for that. But there has not been a sentence yet, and that's what we'll be watching for. We know that what she has done is punishable with up to ten years in prison.


GOLODRYGA: Yes, a prisoner swap, we should remind viewers, is how Trevor Reed managed to come back home to the U.S.


Fred Pleitgen and Kylie Atwood, thank you.

SCIUTTO: With the prospect of losing control of Congress, some Democrats want the party to switch up its messaging ahead of the midterms. Why they think labeling Republicans as extremists could limit their losses.


GOLODRYGA: New CNN reporting this morning that multiple Democrats are urging party leaders to start labeling Republicans as extremists in an effort to head off potential damaging losses in the midterms.

SCIUTTO: They believe reframing the stakes around what could happen if the GOP takes control of Congress will push more Democrats to turn up to vote in November.


CNN's Isaac Dovere joins us now live from Washington.

So, Isaac, extremists, how, in what sense?

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, they're talking about a federal ban on abortion that a number of Republicans have talked about. They're talking about more abortion restrictions on the state level. They're talking about efforts that could be done to undermine democracy in elections going into the 2024 presidential race. And they're talking about things like stopping more gun control measures, what they say is endangering children in schools from more mass shootings. All these things they warn are part of what the Republicans would do if in power. And they feel like not enough has been done to tell voters, whether those are disaffected and disenchanted Democrats, or wavering independents, or even Republicans who are uncomfortable with the Trumpist move of the party, to get them to see what the stakes of a midterm election would be.

GOLODRYGA: What, if anything, more do they want the Biden administration to do on this front? Should they be more vocal about it in their opinion?

DOVERE: Well, look, they would like to see the president do more. And, in fact, on Monday, the president had been scheduled to be in Florida at a rally to start laying some of this out. A White House adviser telling me that, of course, Covid kept him from being there, but that will be part of what he is doing going forward here.

Yet what a lot of Democratic leaders say to me is, they don't expect that Joe Biden, who is more of a get-along guy, to be the partisan flamethrower, as one of them put it to me. They do think that what this is mostly going to be about is highlighting what other Republicans have been saying and just pushing the Republicans into positions to be clear about where they stand on all these controversial issues.

SCIUTTO: Seeing a lot of votes trying to get them to do that in the meantime.

Isaac Dovere, thanks so much.

DOVERE: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, firefighters are making more progress trying to contain the wildfire raging near Yosemite National Park. What's helping and what's still working against them. That's up next.



SCIUTTO: Extreme weather made worse by the climate crisis ravaging parts of the U.S. In St. Louis, record-breaking rainfall caused widespread flooding. Some areas got nearly a foot of rain. First responders performed hundreds of rescues for people stranded by those floodwaters.

GOLODRYGA: That horrific image there.

Meteorologist Chad Myers is here with the latest on the forecast.

Chad, any relief in sight? Where is the system heading now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It did rain a little bit in St. Louis, Bianna, overnight, but really the system is moving into eastern parts of Kentucky. Also, the western parts of West Virginia and even southern Ohio could see some heavy rain showers around Cincinnati, Louisville right now, Evansville. So, it's spreading itself out. That's some good news.

Because what we had yesterday, these eight and 10 and even some 12- inch rainfall totals are a lot worse than what we have today. These are the totals from overnight and today. There's just a lot more rain with the last system.

Now, we still have a flood watch. And we're not going to get as much rain. We're not going to get 12 inches of rain anywhere across the eastern part of the country. But what we're putting this into are some very hilly areas. We're putting them into valleys and creeks and streams where the water is going to hit on the top of these mountains here, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and they're going to get down into the valleys and possibly make the flash flooding. Down in the bottom of the valley is where people live. That's part of

the problem here is that that water can go up very, very quickly, and it very well may be after dark. Make sure if you live in any of these areas that you can get some warning if this potential flood risk happens because it's here and also in parts of Colorado.

There will also be very heavy rainfall in parts of Colorado. We'll take that for sure. Had hail yesterday, though, in Aurora. That wasn't good. Also heavy rainfall across parts of Pueblo. And we'll take some showers down here. Maybe even get a little bit of rain into Lake Mead. Won't fill it up, but it will help.

GOLODRYGA: Important message for those residents to pay attention to their local news reports.

Chad Myers, thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

GOLODRYGA: Well, increased humidity and lower temperatures are helping firefighters in California battle the Oak Fire. Officials say the blaze has scorched more than 18,000 acres since it started on Friday. Cal Fire, the state fire management agency, says containment remains, though, at just 26 percent.

SCIUTTO: CNN correspondent Adrienne Broaddus, she is at the scene.

Adrienne, so that's -- it's a bit more under control than it was yesterday. What are firefighters facing today?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big challenge today, Jim, is the smoke. If you look, it's easy to notice. It is filling this area of Mariposa County.

Take a walk with me. I want to show you what was once someone's home. We're going to walk over this way.

In the front here you see the frame of what was once a table. You see some unidentifiable items, as well as grilling equipment and the shell of a vehicle. This fire, the Oak Fire, now 26 percent contained, more than 18,000 acres burned.

I spoke with residents in this neighborhood who say the sound of the helicopters for them is not a nuisance. Instead, it's comforting because that means they know firefighters are still working.

Listen in.


BEA KELL, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: We're glad we still have the support here. The big one across the street, dipping in the pond. We have two ponds here at Lush Meadow (ph), community ponds, and they're dipping in the water and coming to (INAUDIBLE) and dropping on the fire behind the ridge. So, we've been lucky because we've had, you know, fast response. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: All day we saw those helicopters filling up at the pond across the street from that woman's home. They're using that water to dump it on parts of the Oak Fire.

Another big challenge that they are facing today, extremely steep and the rugged terrain.

Jim and Bianna.


SCIUTTO: Someone's home there up in flames.

Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much.

A quick programming note.