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Former Deputy White House Counsel Subpoenaed In January 6 Probe; Several Trump-Backed Election Deniers Win In Primary Races; CDC To Update COVID Mitigation Measures This Week Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 15:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: It's the top of the hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota.

And we do begin with breaking news in the federal investigation into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 Presidential Election. A source says that a federal grand jury has subpoenaed Pat Cipollone, Donald Trump's White House Counsel. But now we are learning that the Justice Department is expanding its probe.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is breaking this story. Katelyn, you're learning about another person in the Trump White House who's being subpoenaed?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Alisyn. It's not just any person either. It's really the number two lawyer in the Trump White House at the end of that administration. His name is Patrick Philbin. He was deputy White House counsel, so he was working alongside Pat Cipollone. They both now have been subpoenaed for both documents and testimony in this federal criminal probe being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., the Justice Department and the FBI.

When you take this together, this is aggressive grand jury activity from the Justice Department, from federal prosecutors as they're trying to lock down information about what was happening around the president inside the Trump administration up to and on January 6th.

In addition to them, we also know this grand jury has already spoken to two very top advisors in the Vice President's office as well who were in key meetings with Donald Trump. Those people were Marc Short and Greg Jacob, so that's four different people.

And this story I've been covering and we also have reporting from Pamela Brown on this. And Pam and I have both heard that executive privilege is playing into all of these discussions and could potentially play into this testimony. One thing we learned last week, too, is that the Justice Department is looking into a potential court fight, will they have to try and get access to statements of Donald Trump that right now he is shielding to protect with executive privilege. Alisyn? CAMEROTA: Okay. Katelyn, thank you very much for explaining all of that breaking news and stay with us if you would. We also want to bring in Dave Aronberg, he's the State Attorney for Palm Beach County. Okay. So Dave, tell us what you think of this breaking news. So it's not just Pat Cipollone, it's his number two, Patrick Philbin.

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL: Yes, Alisyn. I think this provides further evidence that the Department of Justice is indeed investigating Donald Trump. I mean, clearly, the federal prosecutors want to learn what Trump said and did around January 6 and that's why they got testimony from Short and Jacob and now the two Pats, if I can call them that, they're seeking that information because they saw what Patrick Cipollone testified to before the January 6 Committee and there are some gaps because he invoked executive privilege and attorney-client privilege.

But the DOJ has a better way of getting through those privilege claims than the January 6 Committee that got a lot more power to do so, plus they've got the benefit of time.

CAMEROTA: But how, Dave? Like how do they break through the executive privilege?

ARONBERG: Well, they're being proactive right now to go to court to try to block executive privilege. They go to a judge. The reason why the January 6 Committee didn't do it is because they knew they were on the clock and Cipollone knew that too. So when Cipollone pushed back, the January 6 Committee was just happy to get what he was going to give them because they know that they're likely to be disbanded after the midterms.

DOJ's investigation is going on regardless of who wins the House in November. And that's why the DOJ is in it for the long haul. They can litigate this and because they don't have to ask anyone else for permission to enforce their subpoenas. They've got more power to compel testimony.

Remember the January 6 Committee had to ask DOJ to enforce its subpoenas. Well, DOJ doesn't have to ask itself. It can just do it.

CAMEROTA: Katelyn, Dave brings up a very good point. So there are these two distinct investigations, as you well know. So there's the House Committee on January 6 and that is subject to political wins. I mean, once - if the control of the House changes, but then there's the Department of Justice. And so you're reporting on the Department of Justice and who they're subpoenaing, what else do we know about their investigation? That one is more shrouded?

POLANTZ: That's right. And we're still learning things every single day about this Justice Department investigation. A lot of it seems to be following just a step behind what is happening on Capitol Hill.


Some of the other things we've seen in recent weeks are searches of people that were very close to Donald Trump after the election. Jeffrey Clark, the person who wanted to make Attorney General to investigate these false claims of election fraud. We also know that John Eastman was searched in this Justice Department investigation.

There's these inquiries into fake electors, subpoenas going out all over the country into different battleground states to try and get information from them, not just about what they were talking to with one another as they were gathering to put their votes toward Donald Trump after the election, but also what their communications were with Trump campaign people.

And so you take this all together and it's several atmospherics about what this investigation might be. Adam Kinzinger was on NEW DAY this morning and here's how he was summing it up as someone watching it from the House Select Committee looking at what the Justice Department is doing now. Here's Kinzinger.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I'll say this is probably bad for former President Trump. I mean, this is - if he goes in front of the grand jury, it shows that this is more than what did John Eastman do, the attorney that basically came up with that crazy scheme to overturn the election and it probably has a very deep interest on what the president did.


POLANTZ: And one of the interesting things here is that the House Select Committee already has these people under oath. We even saw Marc Short and Greg Jacob testified publicly. We saw Pat Cipollone in clips, in depositions in these House Select Committee hearings.

So they're under oath. They've already offered testimony. There are transcripts of what they would say about what happens, what they haven't shared yet and what we'll be waiting to see about whether they will share this with the grand jury. Whether the Justice Department can force them to share it with the grand jury is what they actually heard from Donald Trump on those crucial days that are being investigated now by the Justice Department.

CAMEROTA: Dave, you're nodding, tell us what you think is most significant?

ARONBERG: Well, I think that Trump world wants to testify. When it comes to Mike Pence's people, when it comes to Cipollone, he knows that he doesn't have a real valid claim of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege. I think what you're seeing now, Alisyn, is performance art.

This is something that Cipollone wants out there that, hey, I'm a reluctant witness. I'm going to fight back by invoking privilege, when he knows he doesn't have it, but he wants to show Trump and his supporters that he is not Cassidy Hutchinson and he should not be derided for going in there and telling the truth, because he's a reluctant witness and a true believer. But in the end, he knows what the rules are, he knows what the law is and he will tell the truth. CAMEROTA: Okay. Dave Aronberg, Katelyn Polantz, thank you both for helping us understand the breaking news.

Okay. So for the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, voters made their voices heard on the issue of abortion rights. Nearly 60 percent of Kansans voted to protect the right to abortion in their state constitution. Just moments ago, President Biden celebrated that message and said this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This fight is not over and we saw that last night in Kansas. In the opinion of the people - the opinion of the Dobbs case, the extreme majority of the Supreme Court wrote: "Women," this a quote from that case: "Women are not without electoral or political power." The Court practically dared women in this country to go to the ballot box and restore the right to choose that the Court had just stripped away after 50 years.


CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, Trump-backed election deniers won several Republican primaries, setting the stage for some high stakes elections three months from now.

CNN Political Director David Chalian is with us now. David, there was a huge turnout, I mean, unexpectedly high in Kansas for an offseason primary.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Absolutely, Alisyn. Take a look, if you add this up, the 58 percent, 58.8 percent winning side, that was the no side to make sure that there was not a way sort of a path paved for a near total abortion ban in Kansas and you add up the yes votes, you're over 900,000 total votes. That is approaching the level of the 2018 competitive gubernatorial contests in Kansas and this is an August primary, deep in the summer.

So it was an enormous turnout and it's exactly what Democrats promised after that Supreme Court decision came down that this was going to ignite the electorate in a way and push back against the Supreme Court's ruling, which we've seen, the public polling suggests that that was the case, but this was the first time that we've seen voters show up and have the opportunity to actually make that point.

CAMEROTA: Right, the first test. Okay. So now, elsewhere in the country tell us how did the Trump-endorsed candidates do. Is he still a kingmaker?


CHALIAN: Well, let's look in Arizona. I'll take you through a couple of key contests. The Trump-backed, Kari Lake, is still in this contest with Karrin Taylor Robson, who had former Vice President Mike Pence to support. This is for the Republican nomination for governor in Arizona. It's only about 11,000 votes separating them. We have about 80 percent of the vote in, Alisyn. Kari Lake was riding the Trump endorsement in a total election denier, which was a theme up and down the ballot in Arizona, in the Senate Republican primary there. Blake Masters had Trump's support. He came out ahead. He's going to take on Mark Kelly in this critical Senate race in this battleground state. He also has the backing of Peter Thiel's money there.

And I do want to show you also this critical contest a little further down the ballot for Secretary of State, Mark Finchem, who also had Donald Trump's backing is a complete election denier. He now is the Republican nominee to become Secretary of State in Arizona and have oversight over the elections there.

You asked about Trump, I want to show you one other contest that we tracked last night and that was in Michigan, because Peter Meijer, the Republican from the Grand Rapids area here lost his primary to John Gibbs. Peter Meijer, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in the aftermath of January 6, Alisyn. John Gibbs had Trump's backing and now Peter Meijer lost his job because of that, what he believed was a principal position over party for that position to impeach Donald Trump. He became a target of the former president and the former president's chosen candidate won that primary there.

CAMEROTA: Yes, very interesting. And how about Missouri?

CHALIAN: Well, you remember that - I just drop my microphone, sorry. You remember that last minute endorsement from Trump for the Erics in Missouri. Take a look, because, of course, there were two Erics in Missouri last night. Take a look at that Senate primary here.

Eric Schmitt got 45.7 percent of the vote. He is the Republican nominee. And this is going to remain safely in the Republican hands now. Republicans were very worried that the former governor, the scandal-plagued Eric Greitens was actually surging a few weeks ago in this race, a couple of months ago. And they were worried if he ended up as the nominee, that this may take a solidly red state and actually put it in play for the Democrats. They spent a ton of money to take Greitens out and keeping Trump at bay at the last minute and not giving his endorsement to just Greitens seems to have worked because Greitens plummeted and Eric Schmitt, the Attorney General there, now moves on to become the Senate nominee.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting races, all of them. David Chalian, thank you very much for recapping them.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst Margaret Talev. She's also the Managing Editor of Axios and Director of Defending Democracy Together Bill Kristol. He's also the Editor-at- large of The Bulwark. Great to see both of you.

Bill, I'll just start with you. In terms of the election deniers that won, I mean, some had Trump endorsements - I guess, well, they all did - what does that mean if the election deniers, let's say in Arizona, win secretary of state, and attorney general, and governor and senator? BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: I mean, I think it means that people who don't want - who would like to put the voters' wishes respected in 2024 will have to be Democratic even if they're Republicans, even if they're Republicans who would prefer the Republicans on other policy grounds. We'll see how many of them do vote democratic, but it puts the governor's race in Arizona, as in Pennsylvania, for example, to key swing states right at the center of things.

But it is striking, just listening to even David, if you had said to me three weeks ago we're going to talk about these election deniers winning, I would have said I'm afraid that's the way it's going at the Republican Party. If you'd said to me that equally important story, I would say actually more important story, perhaps at this point, is what happened in a referendum on Kansas - in Kansas, with massive turnout, huge numbers of independents and a lot of Republicans voting no.

And what does that imply for November?

I would have said, really, that's going to be the other big story. But Kansas is bigger. I would say Kansas is the biggest story of yesterday for its implications going forward for this November and more broadly for American politics, where the Republican Party has put itself now many at least parts - many of the Republican Party in a box. That's pretty far where even Republican leaning voters are and will some of those voters deserve Republican candidates in November, that's a huge question, because obviously a referendum is one thing and election between two candidates is another. There are a lot of other things going on in an election between John and Joe as opposed to a referendum.

But to the degree Democrats can make this a living issue in November, if you don't - if you vote for the Republican, there's a real risk of an abortion ban. It's going to be imposed on you at the federal level or at the state level if it's a governor's election or state legislative election. I think this really changes the calculus for November.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting, Bill.


And Margaret, what do you think about that? I mean it's hard to know if this was a Kansas-specific referendum, because it was only about abortion there in Kansas or do you think, as Bill's saying, that it's a bellwether for sort of Democrats' success in November.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, Democrats certainly believe that what Bill is saying is true. Because, of course, Kansas is not the only place where this issue is playing out; abortion has become a completely nationalized issue this year.

And in many of the states, that will be so key both in November for control of the Senate and looking ahead to 2024 in terms of presidential races, you have not only nominees for governor and for Senate who are talking about total bans on abortion, but you also have states that have already gone there, like look at Wisconsin.

And so look at the states that we know that this is most likely to have an impact on - starting now - like the ads are already being cut. It's already happening. The strategy is already being recalibrated: Michigan, the governor's race; Pennsylvania, the governor's race and the Senate race. Wisconsin, Arizona, this could have implications in Georgia.

So in places where there are candidates talking about absolute bans or there are absolute bans already being put into effect or being considered, it will have an impact, but also in other swing states even if you're just talking about restrictions or a climate. There is the potential to make the case that what happens in one state could happen in another state.

And so it's not that this was a total surprise, right? Democrats have been saying for months this could happen. Republicans have been saying, since the Supreme Court ruled, talk about inflation, don't talk about abortion. But it was the first test and it's not just that 18 points spread, it's the images of people waiting for hours in line. It's the fact that there were conservative counties in Kansas that overwhelmingly went for Trump, where there was still a majority oppose to change the constitution. Those are all really important signs that are being parsed today as we speak.

CAMEROTA: Bill, a totally separate topic. It was interesting to hear in New York, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who when asked if she - something to the effective of if she were to support President Biden in 2024, she was non-committal. She then has since walked that back. But we have heard even in our own voter panels, there's a lack of enthusiasm from Democrats on a second Biden term and does any of this stuff from what we saw last night or the abortion or the successes that he's having, gas prices are ticking down, does that change that feeling?

KRISTOL: Yes, I don't think so because - I'll just speak for myself as someone who supported Biden in 2020 and thinks he's doing a better job and he gets credit for it. He's very pleased with his disposing of Zawahiri and his support of Ukraine and reasonably pleased with some of the domestic policy initiatives and so forth.

You still can think, you know what, I hope Joe Biden, I want Joe Biden to be a successful one term president. I think the key here is that we tend to associate one term presidencies with failed presidencies, because people run for reelection and lose and then they're kind of under a cloud when they leave office.

But if Biden chooses to leave, if he says, I've done my job, I'm going to focus for the final two years, I'm finishing the job, and foreign policy, and domestic policy, and the economy, and other areas and I'm going to be a bridge, as he said in the campaign, to a younger generation, maybe to an outside or governor or just a fresh face. I think that's actually a win-win for Democrats.

Now, whether Joe Biden agrees with this, you don't want your president - it's a little hard to tell yourself, you know what, one term is enough, but I'm not sure he agrees, I'm not sure his team agrees. But I do think most democratic voters agree that seems to be the case in the polls and awful lot privately, an awful lot of Democratic members of Congress and top strategists agree.

CAMEROTA: Margaret Talev, Bill Kristol, thank you both.

All right. The CDC is expected to update their COVID mitigation measures this week. What sources are telling CNN and how it will affect you next.

And New York City Mayor Eric Adams is blaming the city's bail laws as one of the driving forces behind the city's rising crime rate. So what he wants to change, that's next.



CAMEROTA: New reporting first on CNN, sources say the CDC will update their COVID mitigation measures this week. So let's get right to CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. So Elizabeth, what's going to be adjusted?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going to be adjusted as some of the mitigation measures that have become sort of just part of our life right now. The reason for this, Alisyn, is that we're in a different place than we used to be, say, even like a year ago. There is lots of Omicron around but we also do have a lot of vaccinated people.

We have a lot of people who have had COVID recently and for all of those, there are treatments in case you get COVID. So for all of those reasons, we have obtained a document from the CDC. CNN has obtained a document that shows some of the mitigation measures that they're going to be changing. We expect an announcement from the CDC in the coming days. So let's take a look at what some of those efforts are.

So for example, the CDC is expected to say, you know what, we're going to remove this six feet social distancing recommendation. We've all seen those little stickers in the store, those could be going away. Also, they're not recommending screening in most circumstances. We've seen screening in schools and other places, that could also at least in many places go away.

Also easing quarantine rules for people who are not up to date on their vaccinations. There are some rules out there about how they should quarantine and that could also go away.


Also, recommending masking for high risk people up to 81 percent of us counties. In other words, if you're high risk, if you're immune compromised, if you have certain underlying conditions, the CDC says, you know what, in 81 percent of the counties in the U.S., we think those people should be masking. That last one, I think, is a really important one to talk about for a minute here. I think what we're going to see is more of an emphasis on who you are, rather than where you live. If you're high risk, you should be doing different things than people who are not high risk. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Yes, it makes sense.


CAMEROTA: I mean, it's not one size fits all anymore.

COHEN: Right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Elizabeth Cohen.

COHEN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on her way back from a controversial trip to Taiwan as China launches military drills around the island. We'll discuss if her trip was worth the risk.