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Cheney's Tough Primary; Judge Rules Against Graham; Lawmakers Visit Taiwan; Anne Heche Dies after Crash; Rushdie Off Ventilator. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 15, 2022 - 09:30   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a big day tomorrow when voters will head to the polls for primaries in two key states. But, of course, all eyes will be on Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney. She's facing fierce opposition from within her own party largely due to her criticism of former President Donald Trump and her vote to impeach him.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten joins us now to break it all down.

Harry, as you know, Cheney's facing Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary, endorsed by the former President Trump. There are lots of different factors, I know, in how this could turn out, but what do the numbers show you?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I mean, look, the bottom line is, Liz Cheney is a heavy underdog. You can see this in my forecast for this primary tomorrow. Harriet Hageman, look at that, 59 percent of the voters forecast, Liz Cheney, just 37 percent of that vote.

Look, primary polls aren't perfect, but when you're leading by 22 points, as Hageman is, you're in pretty good position.

And I think this all gets back to how voters feel about Liz Cheney in Wyoming when she went and, in fact, voted to impeach Donald Trump because look at Liz Cheney's disapproval rating. Before voting to impeach Donald Trump, look at that, her disapproval rating was 26 percent. Not really bad in this highly polarized era. But after voting to impeach Donald Trump, look at that, her disapproval went up to 72 percent, and that is why I think right now she's the heavy underdog going into tomorrow.

GOLODRYGA: And, Harry, there's this idea, notion, that the Democrats could possibly save Cheney if they switched parties into these primaries. I mean how plausible is that?

ENTEN: I don't think it's particularly plausible. Here's the reason why. Look at the party registration stats, right? The vast majority, over 70 percent of Wyoming voters are, in fact, Republicans. Now, I will point out, there have been some Democrats who, in fact,

switched party registration. You can see that back on May 1st, 45,000 of the voters in Wyoming were registered Democrats. Now it's 40,000.

But, the newly registered Republicans make up only 5 percent of all Republicans in the state. So, I don't really think it's quite working out for her.

You know, another kind of metric I'm looking at here is the Wyoming fund-raising because this idea, you know, again, oh, Liz Cheney's getting all this money pumped into her campaign. But, look, I separated out, out of state versus in state. Out of state, Cheney is crushing Hageman, $9.1 million to $1.3 million. But in state, look here, Hageman, in fact, leads, $776,000 to just $339,000. So, to me, all these sort of factors are pointing towards a Hageman victory tomorrow.

GOLODRYGA: So regardless though of what happens tomorrow, we should note that this is not the last that we will hear from Liz Cheney and her political future, right? And she will continue to co-chair the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

Thank you so much, Harry, good to see you.

ENTEN: Nice to see you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, just in to CNN, a U.S. district court judge has ruled against Senator Lindsey Graham and his efforts to avoid testimony in front of a Georgia grand jury. The Fulton County D.A. has subpoenaed him in her investigation into former President Trump's attempts to overturn his election loss in that state.

SCIUTTO: Just moments ago the judge issued a 22 page ruling that reads in part, quote, the court finds that the district attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham's testimony.


Joining us now to speak about all this is Page Pate. He's a criminal defense and constitutional law attorney.

Good to have you on.

I suppose the first question, Page, is, can Senator Graham appeal?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. Senator Graham, I think, has already indicated through his office that they're going to continue to challenge this. If so, they have to seek permission to challenge it in front of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which is here in Atlanta.

GOLODRYGA: And this is coming as Rudy Giuliani has also been ordered by another Atlanta area judge to appear in person I believe this Wednesday before a special grand jury related to the investigation in attempting to overturn election results there in Georgia. He has said that he is not able to attend and cannot travel.

What do you expect the judge to do in response to that?

PATE: Well, I think Judge McBernie (ph) in Fulton County has already suggested to Giuliani that you need to find a way to get down here. I think there's evidence that he's been able to travel to some extent. But regardless, the judge has already considered those arguments and said, you're going to have to testify. If you can't fly, drive. If you can't drive, get on a train. Whatever you need to do to get down here.

But it's important to understand, these are two completely separate challenges. Senator Graham went to federal court and relied on the Constitution in arguing that, hey, you can't call me in to testify because what I would be talking about would be privileged information as part of my legislative duties. That federal judge, Judge May (ph), rejected that argument completely and said you stepped outside of your role when you made these calls to the secretary of state in Georgia.

On the Giuliani side, it's a Fulton County superior court judge. He's not able to rely on the same type of constitutional protection. So you have two different judges in two different courts hearing challenges to the subpoenas and both of them so far have said these witnesses must appear. The only question now is when and what questions will they have to answer.

GOLODRYGA: It is mind-spinning and it's understandable if viewers at home are confused at the number of investigations that are currently ongoing in that state given that we are likely to see an appeal from Senator Graham. How long could that last?

PATE: Well, that's up to the 11th Circuit. They could take it on an emergency basis, which is how Senator Graham filed the initial challenge in federal court. They could hear it very quickly. But it's likely that they would, if they accept the appeal, delay his testimony before the special grand jury and allow both sides to submit written arguments as to why their position is correct.

It's an important issue because if the special grand jury is allowed to ask Senator Graham about questions relating to what he talked about with former President Trump, then that could conceivably get into legislative matters. But it's also critically important because those conversations could be the basis for a conspiracy charge or a RICO charge here in Georgia. So, it's a critical issue.

GOLODRYGA: Let's get back to that Fulton County investigation. Your take on the speed at which Fani Willis' investigation is going at this point because we should note that prior to that raid last week and that search at Mar-a-Lago, this was the investigation that many legal experts said the president should be most concerned about.

PATE: Yes, I agree 100 percent. I think Fani Willis was well ahead of the federal investigation, at least based on what we saw, because her subpoenas have been more out in the public because those witnesses have challenged them in court. We didn't know what the Department of Justice was doing in connection with this classified material until the search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago. Now, either side could pull the trigger first, or not at all. In

Fulton County, because of these challenges to the subpoenas, it's going to take that special grand jury a bit more time to hear from these witnesses. And, remember, it's a special grand jury, so they can't indict anyone. They can only make a recommendation for indictment.

On the federal side, after the raid was conducted, or the search warrant was executed, they now have evidence, arguably, that classified material was held at Mar-a-Lago. Nothing preventing that case from moving forward.

GOLODRYGA: Page Pate, thank you so much for breaking it down for us. We appreciate it.

PATE: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, China's frustration as another U.S. congressional delegation visits Taiwan. This one was unannounced. China claims the visit there undermines peace. We're going to be live coming up.



GOLODRYGA: A bipartisan delegation of American lawmakers is in Taiwan on an unannounced two-day visit sparking renewed outrage from China.

SCIUTTO: Their visit, of course, follows that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, her trip to Taipei, which angered Beijing, triggered Chinese military exercises near Taiwan.

CNN international correspondent Blake Essig, he is live.

Blake, as you know, Pelosi's visit was particularly noticed by China because of her position in government, number three, second in line to the presidency. I wonder, you know, these congressional delegations happen often. They're often bipartisan. Is this one getting particular focus since it followed Pelosi's so nearly?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Bianna, look, China didn't wait long to respond to this most recent visit from U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims and sees as a breakaway province.


Now, earlier this afternoon, China's defense ministry released a statement calling this most recent stop in Taiwan by U.S. lawmakers as an ambush visit and a flagrant violation of the one China policy which acknowledges that the People's Republic of China is the sole, legitimate government in China. The White House maintains that there's been no change to that policy.

Now, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation left Taiwan about two weeks ago, China imposed new trade sanctions and kicked off at least six days of live-fire military exercises surrounding the democratic island.

And what we are seeing the fiery rhetoric and military aggression, all of that has continued as a result of this latest congressional visit. On Chinese social media, the Eastern Theater Command announced it has conducted a new round of joint drills and combat patrols in the air and at sea around Taiwan saying, quote, the exercises are a solemn response to political pays by the U.S. and Taiwan and that they are undermining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.

Now, the post didn't go on to say whether or not these drills have actually finished. A spokesperson for China's embassy in the United States also addressed the visit on Twitter saying, China firmly opposes any kind of official ties between the U.S. and Taiwan and that the U.S. should bear all the consequences, although it seems to be Taiwan bearing a brunt of the consequences today, Jim, Bianna, as Taiwan's ministry of national defense said that they detected 30 Chinese warplanes and five vessels operating in the Taiwan Strait.

GOLODRYGA: And yet Taiwan seems to be welcoming these CODELS that are continuing.

Blake Essig, thank you. We appreciate it.

Well, still ahead, what we know about the condition of author Salman Rushdie after he was stabbed on stage in New York. And Iran is now responding for the first time since that attack.



SCIUTTO: This morning, Hollywood is mourning the death of award winning actress Anne Heche.

GOLODRYGA: Heche, whose career spanned four decades, was taken off life support yesterday. She was critically injured August 5th after her car crashed into a Los Angeles home and later erupted into flames.

CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas has been following the story for us.

So, Chloe, what else do we know? Such a tragic story.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: It definitely is. Good morning to both of you.

So, yesterday, a representative for Anne Heche told me that they had matched Anne Heche with a donor recipient. Anne Heche had wanted to be an organ donor. And this was why for several days she was kept on life support in the effort for the One Legacy Foundation within the hospital in California to be able to have the time to find someone that needed those organs. Now, we don't know which ones were donated, but we do know, as you said, she passed away yesterday evening. She was taken off life support.

And it has been an incredibly tough time for her family and friends. We know that her family was by her side. Her 20-year-old son Homer released the following statement to CNN over the weekend writing, my brother Atlas and I lost our mom. After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is free from pain.

He goes on to say, and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom.

So, there are no details yet as to a potential funeral for her. And then, obviously, the investigation by the Los Angeles County PD is no longer. And, you know, the woman whose home that Anne actually crashed into, a Go Fund Me was started for her that has raised upwards of about $150,000.

But, again, a very tragic ending. But a little bit of light, a little bit of hope, right, that she was able to donate her organs to someone who really needed them.

GOLODRYGA: No doubt. That was clearly something that was very important for her. And we're thinking of her two young sons.

Chloe Melas, thank you.

MELAS: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, in its first official reaction to the stabbing attack on famed writer Salman Rushdie, Iran is now blaming the author and his supporters for the violent incident.

SCIUTTO: Rushdie has now been taken off a ventilator but he does remain hospitalized in critical condition. This after he was stabbed on stage just minutes before he was set to speak in upstate New York on Friday.

CNN's Polo Sandoval, he's in Erie, Pennsylvania, this morning, outside the hospital where Rushdie is being treated.

And, Polo, I wonder if we have any updates on his condition today.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, Jim and Bianna, not long after that attack on Friday he was airlifted about 40 miles west here to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he continues to recover. And his family basically breathing a bit of a sigh of relief now with these positive developments over the weekend, that he was taken off a ventilator, he's able to breathe now on his own, has even been able to speak, and he is now on a path to recovery, albeit a very long, a very difficult one over the weekend.

Rushdie's son releasing a statement saying that his father's severe injuries, they are life changing. We do know that during - that the writer, the 75-year-old writer, suffered injuries to his face, his neck, his chest, his stomach as well. So, certainly, this will be a long recovery process. But, still, his son saying that his father remains with that defiant sense of humor, that that is still intact. So that's certainly a positive development as this investigation continues to press forward.

The New York State Police will be tasked with investigating and confirming whether or not that decade's old Fatwa (ph), that death decree that was issued by Iranian officials, is related to the attack on Friday. Almost immediately, though, western officials, all the way up to the White House, have been strongly condemning this, calling it an attack on freedom of expression, while we heard from Iranian officials just recently with a pretty shocking response suggesting that the attack, that the author basically brought it on himself.



NASSER KANAANI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Regarding the attack on Salman Rushdie, we do not consider anyone other than himself and his supporters worth of blame and even condemnation.


SANDOVAL: Those remarks by a spokesperson from -- or at least by Iran's foreign ministry.

As for the suspect, a 24-year-old New Jersey man. He is still in custody right now, Bianna and Jim. Investigators looking into his past with potential contacts overseas to see exactly what may have compelled him to allegedly carry out this attack. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted second-degree murder and assault.

Jim, Bianna, back to you.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. What a close call.

Palo Sandoval, thanks so much.

Still ahead, there are new revelations this morning about events that led up to the FBI's search of the former president's home. What we are learning and sometimes conflicting defenses from Trump and his team.