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Michigan to Hold Key Republican Primary Elections Tomorrow; First Grain Shipments Leave Odessa Port After Months of Russian Blockade; NBC Reports, Jan. 6 Committee to Focus More on Intel and Law Enforcement Failures in Next Month's Public Hearings. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 01, 2022 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: One of her competitors has also spread lies about the 2020 election and is now facing charges for his alleged involvement in the Capitol riot.

Congressman Peter Meijer, one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president, is facing a tough primary challenge as well. He's running against Trump-endorsed candidate John Gibbs, who Democrats are trying to boost in hopes it will be easier to beat such candidates in November.

Joining me now, Margaret Talev, CNN Political Analyst and Managing Editor of Axios, and Laura Barron-Lopez, CNN Political Analyst, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour.

So, Laura, first to you, Trump endorsements, some have been material in a lot of these races, arguably put some candidates over the top of the primary, others he can game it, he can kind of come in when someone is already a leader. Where do things stand? Like what will the test be, I suppose, in these elections tomorrow?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, for me, the big picture in these elections is that, as you mentioned with Tudor Dixon in Michigan, she is someone who has repeated the election lies. We see that in Arizona across the board, whether it's the gubernatorial candidate, the secretary of state candidate or the Senate candidate that is trying to go up against Senator Mark Kelly, the Democratic incumbent. They are all pushing election conspiracies and election lies and some are trying to control the election apparatuses in those states.

And so, clearly, Tuesday, I think, is about whether or not Trump's efforts, whether he's late to some races or early in endorsements in some, will determine how successful his efforts have been to get these election deniers and loyalists, as the Republican nominees.

SCIUTTO: Margaret, where does that stand so far? Because the question that it's one thing to deny the election, which has become for some a litmus test for Republican candidates, it's another thing to be in a position of power where you can influence the next election based on a lie. MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, that's absolutely true. And I think August is going to be a huge test, the biggest sort of collective test so far for the former president. We'll see a lot of that begin to play out tomorrow. And we have several of these Republicans, like Peter Meijer, who you mentioned, like Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington State, who actually voted for impeachment. And their fortunes inside the primaries will rise or fall tomorrow.

It's been interesting because the former president has some mixed success, a lot of success in the primaries so far, but what does that bode for the general election. And you've seen Democrats try very actively, and some people think too activity, perhaps too much of a risk, to try to gin up these contests so that you have extremely Trumpy nominees for the GOP to face off against Democrats. That's great for the Democrats if it works, but really bad for the Democrats if it backfires.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's a really risky strategy, it could certainly backfire. But then it becomes a question as to how do Democrats defend it, right? If you're arguing that these kinds of candidates and these kinds of arguments are fundamental threats to democracy, how can you then support them in actual races? How do they answer that question?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, the DCCC, which has been getting involved, it's the House campaign arm for Democrats, which has been getting involved in the Michigan district we that just talked about, says that they think that this is the best strategy for them to win the race. But a lot of Democrats have been coming under fire recently in the past few weeks. A lot of Democrats in their party, whether they're in the House or Senate, say that this is not a sound strategy and then it's not someone they should pursue moving forward because of the fact that how can they, one hand, be holding these January 6th hearings, arguing that they are legitimate and ongoing threats to democracy, and then trying to boost these candidates.

TALEV: Because it's not just about politics, it is after all about American democracy at the end of the day.

SCIUTTO: Right, it's the argument they've made, right?

Listen, watching the generic ballot as a test of where the parties stand here, clearly, the economic data on inflation and a possible recession, depending on whose definition you accept, regardless, those are not good indicators for Democrats. Where do the parties stand on where they think this race to flip the House will go?

TALEV: Well, I mean, look, for months now, and if you look at the context of history, Democrats have known that they're probably in a losing game. But what we have seen in recent weeks, my colleague, Mike Allen, wrote about this yesterday, called it Biden's success story, is the sort of unlikely transformation of the landscape on multiple fronts, not just infrastructure spending, but now we're seeing the Senate now on the cusp of an unlikely deal that could involve climate, that could involve not just that but protections for Medicare users, prescription drug costs. These are -- these would be massive, massive changes the Democrats have long sought. The question politically is if Biden and the Democrats use their razor thin majority in Congress to enact these changes, will they get credit, and will they get credit in time for November?

SCIUTTO: Yes, when is the day.

Okay, abortion, big picture, you can argue, is on the ballot here.


It is literally on the ballot in Kansas with enormous consequences there. We have a ballot initiative here. Tell us what that is exactly and is there any indication as to which way that goes?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. So, it's an amendment that would remove abortion rights from the state's constitution. So, it's the first post-Roe, you know, amendment or ballot measure since Roe was reversed. And right now, look, Kansas is a red state, so it looks as though it could very well pass. But there is some last-minute efforts, particularly within Kansas suburbs, where Democrats are hoping potentially that could have an impact because the suburban voters are very upset about the fact that Roe was reversed. And it appears that that anger is motivating them. And that's something that Democrats are hoping.

Again, I think we should caution against reading too much into the ultimate result for other swing districts, but Democrats are hoping it could potentially mean something in swing districts and swing states for this cycle that Roe could motivate their base.

SCIUTTO: A lot of their hopes are on suburban women voters who helped them out certainly in 2020. We'll see how that plays out here.

Laura Barron-Lopez, Margaret Talev, thanks so much to both of you.

Still ahead, the first shipment of Ukrainian grain finally passed a months'-long Russian blockade but simultaneously Russia striking the very port city as some of this grain is coming out of. We're going to be on the ground in Ukraine, coming up.



SCIUTTO: The first shipment of Ukrainian grain has now left the Black Sea port of Odessa.

A Russian blockade has trapped millions of tons of grain at Ukraine's ports. But last month, the U.N. and Turkey brokered a deal allowing some exports to resume with ships moving along save corridors in the Black Sea.

CNN Senior Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson joins me now from Ukraine. So, those shipments are moving, at least some of them, but Russia hasn't stopped attacking cities along the Black Sea Coast. You're there. Tell us what you're seeing. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. The M.V. RAZONI that left Odessa today had 26,000 metric tons of corn on board. It should get to Istanbul, where it will have an inspection under this new agreement regime for exporting grain. It should arrive tomorrow. And if all of that goes well, the ship clears its navigational passage safely, that the inspection goes well, then more ships could come out from several of the ports here in Southern Ukraine.

But at the same time that this deal is sort of beginning to get going, Russia in the southeast corner here, in Mykolaiv in particular, where we have been spending the past few days, has really begun to increase noticeably the number of strikes.


ROBERTSON (voice over): With dawn, an end to Mykolaiv's heaviest night of shelling so far, but not to the fear it brings. In the immediate aftermath, fires to be put out. The only fatalities at this residential mansion, multimillionaire businessman Oleksiy Vadaturskyy and his wife, Raisa, were sheltering in the basement when their home took a direct hit. Neighbors still in shock.

MAXIM, RESIDENT OF MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE: I don't know what to do. We hate Russia. It's unbelievable that it can in one moment just destroy everything.

ROBERTSON: Maxim has lived here almost 20 years but maybe no more.

MAXIM: I just don't want to stay here right now.

ROBERTSON: This crater here gives you an idea of just how big the blast was, debris strewn down here and the windows blown out.

Other buildings around here also hit. Those with military links off limits to our cameras. The mayor concerned Russian sympathizers at work.

MAYOR OLEKSANDR SENKEVYCH, MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE: I am sure they have spies two are going around the city, and they say, like I saw the number of machines or the people, military people. They send this information and Russian attack there.

ROBERTSON: And do you think those saboteurs might have helped in the attacks last night?

SENKEVYCH: I'm sure they helped.

ROBERTSON: Within hours, life returning to what passes as normal, pensioners and others in line for drinking water. The city's clean water supply destroyed months ago.

They hit us, and they hit us hard from 1:00 A.M. until morning, Valantina tells us. We are scared. We want to leave. But that's how life is for us now.

Where the mansion was hit and residents are richer, another neighborhood of the dead businessman tells me he can't take it anymore, that he'll leave. Not clear if high-profile businessman Oleksiy Vadaturskyy was an intended target. President Zelenskyy hailed him a hero. His death, and the up-tempo strikes here, chilling the city's otherwise resilient mood.


ROBERTSON (on camera): And the mayor has a very simple message for the people of the city there.


Before the war, there was about 480,000 people lived there, 230,000 remaining. And he said, look, until the shelling stops, and it's been on almost every night since the war began, ramping up now, his message to people is, leave, you need to leave to be safe. And that's something I think we're hearing more of from Ukrainian officials, particularly in the east of the country as well, where there's an up- tempo in the fighting there as well. Jim?

SCIUTTO: No question. And that has a lot of people that have returned in recent weeks and months. Nic Robertson, good to have you there. Keep you and your team safe.

A former high-level Russian official is hospitalized this morning suffering with symptoms of a neurological condition. According to a prominent Russian journalist, Anatoly Chubais in an unstable state after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. According to the CDC, that syndrome is a rare disorder in which the immune system harms the body's nerves. Chubais did not reply to a request from CNN. It's unclear where he currently is in Europe. We are going to watch that story closely.

After the break, we will look at what the January 6th is investigating now and who might be up next to testify at their next hearing.



SCIUTTO: As the January 6th committee plans for new public hearings next month, NBC News is reporting the committee will be using the next round of hearings, quote, to put more of a focus on the intelligence and law enforcement failures, at the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, that left police woefully unprepared for the mob that stormed the Capitol. Those failures will also be a key component of the final report on January 6th.

Joining me now to discuss, Paul Rosenzweig, former deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, former senior counsel for the Whitewater investigation. Good to have you back, sir.

I'm curious, because that focus of the next round looking at law enforcement and intel failures is something that Republican lawmakers have been pushing to make, well, almost the entire focus of this committee, setting aside President Trump's involvement. Is it, in your view, a way for the committee to build bipartisan support in effect by going down that path?

PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY, DHS: Well, it's certainly a way to try and do so. I'm not sure that any effort of theirs would garner Republican support. It's also frankly the good governance part of what the committee needs to do, which is to say that, irrespective of how it started or who started it or what brought the violence to the Capitol, it remains the case that DHS and U.S. Capitol police and D.C. Metro police were not prepared for the events of that day.

And it's appropriate, indeed, I think, essential to do an after-action report and figure out where the gaps were, are we systematically blind to domestic terrorism, for example, or was there a communications failure. We don't know the answers to that. And if we don't want this to happen again, those are good questions to ask.

SCIUTTO: Another question, you have said that revelations the DOJ has been asking questions of witnesses that are specific to Trump, including members of Vice President Pence's team -- former Vice President Pence's team, that that makes it clear he is -- Trump is a subject of the investigation. Do you mean subject of potential criminal charges?

ROSENZWEIG: Well, I'm actually using the term as federal prosecutors do. We divide the world essentially into three groups. There are witnesses, people who have seen a crime and who have no relation to it and have no likely criminal -- no criminal charges against them. There are subjects, those are people whose actions are in the zone of interest, whose actions are potentially subject to criminal charges, but whose actions are still being examined. And then there are targets. Those are people that the federal government has decided to charge. Those are people against whom they think there is compelling evidence of criminality.

I would say that at this juncture, it appears from the outside that the Department of Justice has not determined that President Trump is a target of the investigation, that is somebody likely to be indicted. But it is clear now that he has become an actual subject of the investigation, that is someone whose actions are being questioned, and he's no longer, as he might have been before, just a witness to the criminal acts of January 6th.

SCIUTTO: Quickly before you go, you've also said that Trump's presumed 2020 potential election run may be hastening the DOJ investigation, not deterring it. Why?

ROSENZWEIG: Well, I think Trump has it exactly backwards. He seems to think that if he runs, that will deter prosecution. But in reality, the social piece that, you know, something like Ford's pardon of Nixon brought was partially premised on Nixon's agreement to fade from the political scene, same with Bill Clinton, by remaining on the political scene. I think Trump makes it more likely rather than less likely that if there's evidence of his criminality, the Department of Justice will be compelled to bring the charges. SCIUTTO: Interesting.


Paul Rosenzweig, always good to have you, thanks for joining us.

ROSENZWEIG: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. I did share on Twitter ways you can help the victims of Kentucky flooding. It's worth going there. CNN has great resources for active charities there.

I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.