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DOJ Asking Questions About Trump's Actions Around January 6; Today, Fed Expected to Make Aggressive Rate Hike; Americans' Views on Democracy Largely Unchanged After January 6 Hearings. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 27, 2022 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Someone's home there up in flames. Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much.

A quick programming note, the new episode United Shades of America, W. Kamau Bell looks at how years of drought and extreme heat waves are leading to just terrible wildfires to the point of that report just there. That is Sunday at 10:00 P.M. eastern and pacific only on CNN.

Top of the hour now, I'm Jim Sciutto.


We are following several major stories this morning, new reports that the Justice Department is directly looking into former President Trump's actions around the January 6th insurrection. According to The Washington post, prosecutors have asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump led in December of 2020 and January of 2021, his pressure campaign on Pence to overturn the election and what instructions Trump gave his lawyers and advisers about fake electors and sending electors back to the states.

In addition, Justice Department investigators in April received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump administration, including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

SCIUTTO: This comes as Attorney General Merrick Garland is leaving the door open to an unprecedented step, possibly, at least leaving the door open, prosecuting Trump. He says no one is above the law.

Plus, the Federal Reserve is meeting today. Experts predict it could raise -- make its second significant rate hike in just six weeks.

GOLODYGRA: But, first, let's bring in CNN's Kara Scannell for more on the reports that the DOJ is asking questions about Trump's actions around the January 6th insurrection. What more are we learning, Kara?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. And what we're learning is that, from The Washington Post reporting, that they've asked a number of questions about Trump's role. The Department of Justice and interviews with a number of witnesses have focused on particular meetings that Trump was in, Trump's involvement in the pressure campaign against Mike Pence, as well as his role and his knowledge of this fake elector scheme.

I mean, this comes as DOJ has already interviewed some key people in Pence's orbit, two of his aides, Marc Short and Greg Jacob. Those interviews before the grand jury occurred last week, a couple of weeks back for Jacob. And that's a really significant step. And it comes as Garland, the attorney general, Merrick Garland, told NBC's Lester Holt that in this investigation, no one is off limits. Take a listen.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6th for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another accountable.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: So, if Donald Trump were to become a candidate for president again, that would not change your schedule or how you move forward or don't move forward?

GARLAND: I'll say again that we will hold accountable anyone who was criminally responsible.


SCANNELL: CNN learned this morning that other White House officials in the Trump administration have been contacted by the Department of Justice. And according to one former Trump official, they are incline cooperate. So, this indicates that the Department of Justice is very much looking inside the White House, any activities of former President Trump.

Among the scope of this investigation, as you heard there from Garland, it's quite wide ranging. One of the areas that they're focused on is this fake elector scheme. They've sent subpoenas to people in all seven battleground states.

The New York Times had published reporting last night where they obtained some emails involved in the scheme. I want to read one from a Phoenix lawyer that was sent to someone in the Trump Campaign. He writes, we would just be sending in fake electoral votes to Pence so that someone in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes and start arguing that the fake votes should be counted.

So, there you see people within this whole Trump effort to bring fake electors and to stop the certification and the transfer of power in the administration. You see right there, they're using this term, fake votes, not something that obviously will have the attention of prosecutors and investigators. Bianna, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Good to have you back, Michael. It's one thing to investigate folks close to Trump, another, of course, to investigate Trump. I wonder, we know he's speaking -- we know the investigators are speaking to people in his circle. What would they have to hear in that testimony to make the former president somehow criminally vulnerable here? What would they have to testify to to put him in jeopardy legally?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Yes. Well, good morning, I'm glad to be with you both. They are really going to need to find the link or the bridge between Trump and the actors. So, can they find some direct command, some direct request, something where Trump said, look, I want you to do this, this is how we need to operate. This is a scheme that I'd like to put in place. He may not use the word, scheme, but, you know -- and, again, think about some of the Godfather-type movies and they send things in code, they speak in a coded language.


They're going to need somebody to explain how this was a direct request from the president to show that he was part of the plan, part of the scheme and not somebody who was just sort of listening to advisers and followers and so caught up in the fact that he lost that he couldn't see anything in front of him. So, it's a little more than that.

I think the attorney general's comments were -- one thing I've learned when the attorney general speaks, you better listen to every word. And I notice that he says the word carefully, criminally responsible, as opposed to some type of political movement. So, that's what's going to look for.

GOLODRYGA: So, that ups the ante, though. And to answer some of those questions that you say they are pursuing, would they need to speak with the former president himself or perhaps even the former vice president who you believe they actually will speak with sooner rather than later?

MOORE: Yes. I think that they're moving closer to Trump in the circle, and they're talking to -- obviously, when they called in the vice president's former chief of staff and other top aides, that's telling to me.

But I'll say this. We almost have to put a pause on it. I don't think we need to be planning to watch Trump do the shackle shuffle just yet. This tells me also that they may be talking about other people in the meeting. Are they talking about the DOJ lawyer who issued the fake letter? Are they talking about the man who came up with the scheme about postponing the election and how we're going to do this, put pressure on Trump though he didn't anything, like the former Supreme Court clerk?

So, there's some pieces that have to fall into place. They would want to speak to Trump, I'm sure. I think if he goes to talk to them, he needs to probably get him a better lawyer because they should not let him go -- talk to the government at this time and give any type of interview. That's one of the problems when you have targets and grand juries, that they have certain rights that are applicable.

And also too, let's just be real about this. We're talking about investigating and possibly indicting a former president for conduct that occurred while he was president. To say that we don't consider those things is just not accurate. I mean, we know there's this old 1973 DOJ memo out there that talks about can you indict a sitting president. There was another discussion about it in 2000.

So, there are considerations that have to be in place. It's not just every person who ever commits a crime we would prosecute. There are other things that would be looked at as they decide whether they're going to go forward. And part of that will be if they have that information directly linking some instruction from Trump versus -- that this was more of a concoction and a scheme put together by people who just wanted to see him remain in power.

SCIUTTO: Right. Can I ask a very basic question as a lawyer here?

MOORE: Sure.

GOLODRYGA: The thing is a lot of this didn't take place in secret, right? There aren't secret recordings and so on. The former president said it out loud, right? He said Pence has got to do the right thing, right, the election was stolen. Does that -- how much is in the public sphere already as relates to not just political culpability but potential criminal culpability?

MOORE: I think that's a great question and something that's sort of overhanging this investigation. A lot of what you've heard from Trump and the public arena is great context and gives great color to this picture of what was going on. The question will be how much is political speech, how much speech may be protected under the First Amendment, was this just simply trying to motivate people to move?

Remember, when he talked about let's let Congress do it their way, there is a legitimate way both through lawsuits and in the Congress. There's a mechanism by which the election could be decided by the House. And so, you know, was he talking about that? Was he talking about something else? And that's these internal links and connections to him and his instructions to them would be exceedingly helpful and important in the investigation.

GOLODRYGA: Michael Moore, thank you, as always. We appreciate it.

MOORE: Glad to be with you guys.

GOLODRYGA: This just in to CNN, we've just learned that President Biden has tested negative for COVID.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Just a few days after first testing positive.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. Jeremy, how is the president feeling, I suppose the question? How are his symptoms and what does this mean?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to Dr. Kevin O'Connor, President Biden's symptoms have been steadily improving and are now almost completely resolved. But most importantly, President Biden has now twice tested negative for COVID via antigen testing.

According to Dr. O'Connor in a letter that was just released by the White House, President Biden tested negative on an antigen test yesterday and then again this morning, which will now allow him, according to the White House's protocols, to emerge from that isolation period. And, in fact, the White House has just added 11:30 A.M. remarks by President Biden here in the rose garden. So, we will see President Biden emerge from that COVID isolation more than five days now after he tested positive for coronavirus and has been isolated inside the White House residence.


Now, because of the fact that he is emerging after five days, which fits CDC guidelines, the White House also added the requirement of a negative test, which goes beyond CDC guidelines. But President Biden, nonetheless, will still wear a, quote, well-fitting mask for the full ten days since he first tested positive. So, when he is around others, the White House says that President Biden will indeed be wearing a mask.

And, of course, they do know that there is this potential given the fact that he took that Paxlovid antiviral treatment for that rebound in symptoms. And because of that, they say that they will increase the testing cadence for President Biden over the next several days, both to protect him and people around him.

So, again, that is something that we will now have to keep our eye on over the next week, about 8 percent to 10 percent of Paxlovid cases appear to experience that rebound in symptoms where they then begin testing positive once again. And if that happens, we expect that President Biden would need to go back into some form of isolation.

So, we'll keep our eye on that, but, again, President Biden now, merging from isolation, testing negative for COVID, and he will deliver remarks in the rose garden in just over an hour.

SCIUTTO: Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thanks so much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, it is decision day for the Federal Reserve. A key meeting today will determine if and how much the Fed raises interest rates. Experts believe rates could jump three quarters of a percentage point in an effort to tame inflation.

Joining me to talk about all of this is Roberto Perli. He is the head of global policy for Piper Sandler, an investment banking company. And he's also senior staff member on the Federal Reserve board. Thank you so much, Roberto, for joining us.

So, walk us through what goes on in that room as these Federal Reserve officials are making this decision given that you have been there and made -- and took part in this decision in the past as well. ROBERTO PERLI, HEAD OF GLOBAL POLICY RESEARCH, PIPER SANDLER: Well, good morning. What goes on in the room is that all the members and the staff look at all the data available, especially data on inflation, of course, these days, and try to make a decision what's the best thing to do to bring inflation back to roughly 2 percent level that the Fed would like to achieve.

Of course, inflation is higher than that. And so most likely, the decision today will be, well, we have to raise rates again aggressively, most likely 75 basis points, just like last time, in order to have a chance of bringing inflation back to a more reasonable level.

Of course, they will weigh the impact that they will have on inflation with the impact that the same decision will have on the rest of the economy, particular employment and output growth. But I think the decision will be again to be aggressive today.

GOLODRYGA: Walk us through what another interest rate hike, 75 basis points, as you and most experts believe we'll see, means for the average American family in the days and weeks ahead.

PERLI: Well, we're already seeing the impact of not just the rate hikes that the Fed has done so far but also all the future rate hikes that the market expects the Fed to do, which is a lot. We've seen the impact of those on, say, for example, mortgage rates. Mortgage rates went up a lot over the past few months precisely because the market thinks the Fed will be very aggressive. And so we have seen the housing sector slowing pretty significantly. And I think that probably will continue.

Businesses -- the impact of Fed decisions on businesses is a little bit more delayed because businesses borrow usually at variable rates, and those have not increased as much yet as long-term rates. But as the Fed keeps going very quickly, as we just said, the businesses will feel that impact as well, and so that's where a lot of people, including myself, have concerns about the health, the future health of the labor market, business profitability or business health in general diminishes, business will not hire nearly as much as they're hiring today.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. The labor market -- this is what makes it such an unusual economy right now. The labor market quite strong, unemployment at 3.6 percent. And you note correctly that this is a concern for the Fed because they really have two mandates, right, to keep inflation in check and to keep unemployment low. And it's a delicate balance to avoid going into recession as you're trying to keep inflation in check.

Is there a sense in your mind that the Fed may be trying to slow down their efforts, maybe this will be the last rate hike of this level going forward? Because time perhaps could be on their side, they don't need to hit that 2 percent level right away. And recession, as you know, is much more consequential than even inflation, which still is very painful for households.

PERLI: Yes. Look, there can be no doubt, right, that the Fed is trying to balance these two mandates, inflation and unemployment.


But as of today, as you know, as you just said, inflation is very, very high and unemployment is very, very low. And so the focus of the Fed will be 100 percent on bringing down inflation.

As the Fed keeps hiking, then the labor market deteriorates and the Fed will probably slow down in order not to do too much damage to the labor market. But for now, I think inflation is way, way too high and the labor market is still very healthy. So, the Fed will privilege inflation for the foreseeable future here.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. We'll see if inflation has indeed peaked. A key GDP report on the economy for the second quarter due out tomorrow, as well. Roberto Perli, thank you so much.

Well, still will to come this morning, Donald Trump returns to D.C. right as Republicans tell CNN in a new poll that they're looking for someone new. But Trump's first major policy speech since leaving the White House shows that things, at least some things, haven't changed.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I always say I ran the first time and I won. Then I ran a second time and I did much better. We got millions and millions more votes.


SCIUTTO: Plus, as California's largest wildfire this year rages on, I'm going to speak with Democratic Senator Alex Padilla about his calls for President Biden to declare a climate emergency now.

And just a horrific story of child abuse now made even worse. The Turpin children, whose horrific treatment by their own parents, sparked national outrage now say they suffered even more abuse in a foster home. We're going to have their story just ahead.



GOLODRYGA: It appears the January 6th hearings have done very little to change the American public's views on the threat of the attack posed to democracy. That's according to a new CNN poll.

SCIUTTO: But it's worth diving into these numbers a little bit more because sometimes movement happens slowly, that poll despite, the select committee's eight public hearings on the insurrection.

So, Harry, you've been diving into this for a while here. Some numbers show no movement, but others show movement here that's notable.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, it's a little mixed bag. So, if you look at the view that American democracy is under attack, what we see is that if you compare the now numbers, 54 percent, that's true, that's barely any movement from where we were in January, February, earlier this year. You do see some Republicans, fewer believe that than now than before, Democrats up, but most of that movement is within the margin of error.

But take a look here, that Biden legitimately won enough votes for the presidency. Now, this overall number, look at that, 69 percent, that is seven points higher than we were in the first part of this year, and it's the highest number we've seen. Even along Republicans, look here, 35 percent of Republicans believe Biden legitimately won enough votes for the presidency, that is up from 28 percent where we were at this point last year. So, there has been some movement on this question even though there wasn't some movement on the question about democracy.

GOLODRYGA: And so, Harry, as we are hearing the former president at least spark rumors that he may run again in 2024, how are Republicans feeling about the thought of him coming back into office?

ENTEN: You know, again, if we saw movement on that last slide about Biden legitimately winning among Republicans, we see it on these questions too, the choice for 2024 GOP nominee. Right now, look, a different candidate, 55 percent, beating Trump at just 44 percent. That's a turnaround where we were in the first half of this year when it was, in fact, basically split 50 percent to 49 percent. So, it seems to me, looking at this data, perhaps Trump's hold on the Republican Party is slipping at least just a little bit.

GOLODRYGA: Next question would be who would that other candidate be?

ENTEN: That's the -- Ron DeSantis would be my answer.

SCIUTTO: That's why we run the primaries, right?

ENTEN: That's exactly right. That's why people vote.

GOLODRYGA: Harry Enten, thank you.

SCIUTTO: We are joined by former Ohio Governor and CNN Senior Commentator John Kasich. Good to have you, sir. I wonder --


SCIUTTO: -- you speak to a lot of Republicans, officials, voters. Do you see movement among the folks you speak with among Republicans away from Donald Trump?

KASICH: Yes. Jim, I've been saying for a long time that I think it's inevitable that he's fading. And I think he is fading. And one of the things that I noticed is people who are like those Trumpers, very strongly for Trump, if you say anything to them today about Trump, they really don't get into a big defensive mode. I think there has been less support for him among even those hard core people.

But, look, he still is a dominant figure in the Republican Party, and we talk about can somebody beat him in a primary and who's going to beat him in a primary, that's like 1,000 years away. But the fact is whoever can beat him has to have -- has to be somebody who has lots of money and lots of good ideas. Money doesn't do it, ideas don't do it. You have to have both. And when you have both, you've got a fighting chance to be able to beat this guy.

GOLODRYGA: So, let's talk about some of the ideas that he has, because he spoke yesterday in what was supposed to be a policy speech. Here's what he said on the issue of crime. Let's play that for you.


TRUMP: The criminals have been given free rein more than ever before. There's never been a time like this. Our streets are riddled with needles and soaked with the blood of innocent victims.

Drugged out lunatics attacked innocent victims at random, roving mobs of thieves walk into the stores and walk out with whatever merchandise they can carry.

Our country is now a cesspool of crime. We have blood, death and suffering on a scale once unthinkable. We need to return to stop and frisk policies in cities and not shy away from it.



GOLODRYGA: So, clearly, notwithstanding his disregard for law and order on January 6th, what does this message say overall about this issue when it comes to Republican voters and does it resonate with them, specifically using that language?

KASICH: Well, first of all, we should just forget Republican voters and talk about, you know, Americans across the board. There is vulnerability that Democrats have, which is crime across our country, you know, with the shootings and everything else. It's an issue, so is the issue with the border. So, what he did is he hit on these vulnerabilities that the Democrats have.

But at the same time, there wasn't any hope at all in this speech. He's going to fix all this with stop and frisk. If you go through the whole talk, it's one thing to point out the vulnerabilities that the other folks have, but if you don't leave people with some sense of hope -- I didn't hear that yesterday. I heard dark, very dark message about our country. It's not the best of us. And we need to rekindle the spirit of our country. Just winning another election doesn't get that done if people aren't brought together. And I didn't hear anything about hope in his speech yesterday. It's disappointing. It would be expected.

SCIUTTO: Well, reminiscent of his inauguration speech in 2017, American carnage. You do have a number of Republicans at least dipping their toe in the water here. I mean, it is former Vice President Mike Pence seems to be preparing for a run himself. We had Nikki Haley tweeting about, it seemed, the possibilities. Ron DeSantis certainly hasn't taken his name out of the running, as well as others, Mike Pompeo.

Do you see a wide-open GOP presidential primary at some point, and does a fractured GOP give Trump something of an advantage, because that would be a similar phenomenon to 2016 whereas the anti-Trump vote was split in effect.

KASICH: Look, Jim, I want to go back to what I said earlier. I hate to be repetitious here. But if you want to run for president, you've got to have the people that can give you the financial resources to build a team to put in place a structure across the country to win. But you also have to have the ideas. If you go back to 2016, the challenge I had is I didn't have the money that I needed. The ideas were there. The excitement caught on over time. But where I fell short is didn't have enough dough to be able to do all the things I wanted to do.

The same is true in any presidential election. That it takes both ideas and money. Jeb Bush had all the money, but he didn't have the ideas or the energy. Scott Walker started early, looked like he was coming out of the gate. That's why people who look like frontrunners today don't necessarily make it to the finish line.

So, we've got to keep our eye on those people who are generating excitement, they do it through ideas and their ability to personalize and rise above the rest of the group, and at the same time to be able to attract the donors so they have enough money to get their message out and build their organization. I don't know who that's going to be yet. I'm not sure.

SCIUTTO: It's a good point. Because if you look at early polling and all -- several recent presidential cycles, just tear them up, right, two years out because things change.

KASICH: Absolutely right. We're 1,000 years away from 2024.

SCIUTTO: But it won't stop us talking about it. Governor John Kasich, thanks so much.

KASICH: Absolutely. It's interesting. It's what makes politics so good. We never know what's going to happen tomorrow.

GOLODRYGA: No, we don't.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, from record-setting heat waves to wildfires out west, the pressure is on the Biden administration to declare a climate emergency. What or who is standing in the president's way.