Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Pence Testifies for Five Hours Before Grand Jury on Trumps' Jan. 6th Role; At Least 14 Killed in Ukraine in Series of Russian Missile Strikes; Highlights, Analysis from First Round of NFL Draft. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2023 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- to -- yes.


Because I will say that the argument against the show is totally elitist. The only reason people argue against the show is because these people don't speak the queen's English.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Springer propelled the career of his friend and mentee, Steve Wilkos, who worked as security who break up a lot of those fights, you just saw, before eventually getting a program of his own. In a statement to CNN, Wilkos wrote, other than my father, Jerry was the most influential man in my life. Everything I have today I owe to him.

CNN This Morning continues now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's the first time in modern history a vice president has been compelled to testify about the president he served beside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Pence has likely provided intricate, direct, first-person testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This lasted for five hours. It gives you an indication of the painstaking detail that prosecutors wanted to get into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's keep in mind, there is no other witnesses to these conversations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prosecutors say Teixeira could still be a threat. They say he may still have more classified information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities say he had an arsenal of weapons just feet from his bed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Court documents mention his social media post, If I had my way, I'd kill a ton of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I think he's a danger to the country and a danger to himself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the third day, her civil battery and defamation lawsuit, E. Jean Carroll grilled on her allegations that Donald Trump raped her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most intense moments came when Tacopina asked Carroll repeatedly why she didn't scream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As for why she didn't come forward, quote, I was afraid that Donald Trump would retaliate exactly as he did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Devastation this morning after seven reported tornadoes tore across the south.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't take long to spin up a brief tornado in the panhandle of Florida. They were able to literally topple trees and power lines like they were toothpicks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They followed everyone off the pier due to the lightning. It actually struck one of the men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the first pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers select Bryce Young, Alabama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He became one of the most decorated college quarterbacks ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you worked so hard for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't wait to get to work tomorrow and start building off of that.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, especially to Bryce Young. Audie Cornish is here at the desk with us this morning.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: I'm so glad to have you and Kaitlan, so happy for Alabama.

COLLINS: I know. I'm so happy as well. I can't wait to watch the rest of the rounds to see who gets drafted next, where that's going.

But we start this morning with big headlines coming out of Washington after former President Donald Trump tried but failed to stop his former vice president from testifying. Mike Pence, of course, appeared before a federal grand jury investigating Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. It is the first time in modern history that a vice president has actually been compelled to do so, to testify about the president that he served alongside. Pence is now the highest ranking Trump White House official to testify in Jack Smith's probe. We know that the special counsel wanted to question Pence about conversations he had with Donald Trump leading up to January 6th. Pence rejected Trump's demands to block Joe Biden's victory and, of course, there was that heated phone call the morning of the insurrection. That's when Trump called Pence, quote, a wimp and another vulgar word, according to White House aides who have testified.

Not long after that call, we watched as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol chanting, hang Mike Pence, forcing him to run and escape to a secure underground location. So, the Secret Service agents who were guarding him for months, Pence did refuse to testify in the special counsel's probe until a judge ordered to do so. As we know, he also never talked to the House select January 6 committee.

HARLOW: Joining us now is the former lead vector for the January 6th committee. With us now is Tim Heaphy. Tim, thank you. You have such good perspective on this because, as we said, you were the lawyer for the work that committee was trying to do where Pence did not speak. So, good morning and thanks again.


HARLOW: What makes Pence's testimony in particular so critical to Jack Smith's probe?

HEAPHY: Well, Jack Smith is looking for evidence of the president's intent if he's going bring a criminal charge, he has to prove that President Trump and potentially others corruptly, with specific intent, took steps to disrupt, obstruct, interfere or impede with the joint session.

So, direct conversations between the vice president and the president about the vice president's authority, about the prospect of violence on January 6th, about the entire course of dealing will directly bear upon the president's state of mind. So, it's pretty significant that the vice president is actually testifying.

HARLOW: And so important that this is a firsthand account. This is not Pence's aides who have spoken already to the grand jury. This is the man himself.


But the bar for intent is also high. So, if you were questioning Pence and trying to help the grand jury determine intent, what would you be asking him? What would you have asked him for five hours yesterday?

HEAPHY: We had a really detailed outline of questions we intended to ask the vice president at the select committee. Unfortunately, we didn't get that opportunity. I would have started with January 6th.

Look, he is also a victim. Prosecutors look for victims. That's very important to inform their discretion about whether to bring a charge. I would start with the morning of January 6 with that heated phone call with the president. No one else has testified directly about the conversation. The only accounts we got were second hand.

And then I want to walk the vice president through the day, look at one point, as our evidence showed, he was about 40 feet away from rioters inside the Capitol. That puts a personal perspective on those events. This is not just about the Constitution and electoral certificates. This is about real people who are in real danger.

So, I think Jack Smith will methodically walk him through his day and then he'll probably want to ask about all the things the president did not do, did not call him, did not check on him, he was not involved in any of the phone calls about the deployment of the National Guard or other things that the vice president was doing to secure the Capitol. So, there is more but I would start with the lived experience on January 6th.

HARLOW: What's interesting about Pence as a witness is he just wrote a book on this, on a lot, but this is part of it. And he did disclose some things in that book concerning his conversations, direct conversations with the president on not just the 6th of January, the days, the 4th, the 5th, leading up to it. But don't prosecutors have to go way beyond what Pence discloses in the book to actually meet an intent bar here?

HEAPHY: Sure. Look, I don't think there is going to be any big surprises in terms of what they learn because the vice president has been pretty forthcoming in his book and in some speeches, and we got a lot of second hand accounts about the vice president's position and the fact that he conveyed it to the president. But this is a firsthand account.

So, they'll want to know context. They'll want to get actual words. They'll want more detail than he said to the Federalist Society in his big speech or he has said in his book or subsequent interviews. It's always different and much more reliable to interview a person to get his or her firsthand information and accounts of conversations than a one-sided narrative in a book or in an interview.

HARLOW: And wouldn't you have to get really at Pence's state of mind, did he feel pressured by the president?

HEAPHY: I think the president's words are crucial because the president's state of mind is what the special counsel is diving into. But, absolutely, again, the vice president's perspective, his fear, I think he has said in his book or in an interview that he was frustrated or even angry that the president didn't reach out to him, that he did feel that he and his family were in danger. So, those are real human motions. Again, keep in mind, he's a victim and that really matters in criminal prosecutions.

HARLOW: Finally, do you believe that the timing of Pence's testimony here indicates anything about where Jack Smith is in this probe? Would it indicate he is nearing the end of the probe, this probe?

HEAPHY: Yes, exactly. It's a good question. Typically, you sort of march up the chain of responsibility involvement. And you would get to substantial witnesses like the vice president toward the end. That was how we proceeded at the select committee. We did not subpoena the president until the very end. We didn't ultimately get a decision from the vice president that he was not going to cooperate until the very end. Because you want to sort of build up to that by getting as much information that will inform those interviews. So, it does suggest to me that Jack Smith is going everywhere, where there is potential evidence and he may very well be, since he is hitting these substantial witnesses close to the end.

HARLOW: Okay. We really appreciate your perspective, Timothy Heaphy, especially given all the questions you guys had ready for the former vice president.

HEAPHY: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Have a good weekend. Thanks. Audie?

CORNISH: Breaking overnight, three American soldiers are dead, one is injured, after two military helicopters collided over Alaska. Now, it happened as they were returning from a training flight near Healy, which is about 100 miles south of Fort Wainwright. That's where the Apache helicopters are based as part of the first attack battalion 25th Aviation Regiment.

This is the second deadly military helicopter collision in two months. In late March, two Blackhawk helicopters with the 101st Airborne Division crashed during a training session. That was near Kentucky, near the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Nine soldiers were killed.

COLLINS: Yes, just awful to see, thinking of their families.

Also overnight on the Ukraine front, at least 14 people have been killed in Ukraine, including children after a deadly barrage of Russian missile strikes across the country.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live on the scene in Uman, which is just south of Kyiv. Nic, I k now this is the first strike in or even around Kyiv in a while, I believe, since early March.


What can you tell us about what is happening? I know Ukraine had said that they had intercepted some of these but what else, what are you seeing on the damage on the front?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. The Ukrainian officials intercepted most of those missiles that were fired at Ukraine. Kyiv, first time missiles were fired on that city in 51 days. Here in Uman, some of the missiles, unfortunately, got through. This is a damage, the rescue and recovery. They've been on this site. The missiles hit here about nine hours ago. If you look up there, you can still see the smoke coming out of the apartment building there. A missile just slammed into this building.

We know that on site now and while we've been here we've seen another two bodies carried out. At least 15 people killed here, we understand, three of them children. We talked to an eyewitness, who was one of the first people on the scene here. He said he could hear women and children screaming in the rubble.

I'm just going to walk you through this rescue and recovery operation that's going on here right now. There are fire trucks here that are still putting water on the blaze. And if you follow me across here, David, David is our cameraman, follow me across here, the families here still waiting to find out what's happened to their loved ones.

As you come around here, you just get to see how bad the devastation is. There's a line of firemen. I don't if, David, you can get in to see them behind me, but there is line of firemen scouring the ground there where that digger is trying to pull the rubble out.

This is an apartment building that has 46 different apartments in it. The missile struck here at 5:00 in the morning while people were sleeping. So, most of the victims so far, we understand, were all asleep in their beds. There are dozens injured. And, frankly, we've been talking to the officials here, they still don't have a real accurate figure of how many people they're still searching for.

One of the rescuers we talked a couple of minutes ago told us they still believe there is another couple of children in there that they're trying to find at the moment. And there is a line of relatives I'm looking at over there desperately waiting just beyond that big crane there, desperately waiting for news about their loved ones.

This is a slow and difficult process. Of course, Ukraine and the officials here very, very familiar with these devastating Russian strikes. No matter how many of those missiles they shoot down, a couple still manage to get through and this is the result of it. It's just horrifying for this community.

COLLINS: Yes. You hear 21 of 23 intercepted. But look at the damage of what did get through, what wasn't successfully intercepted. It speaks to, of course, when they say they need defense systems for this.

But, Nic, I think what I was struck, I mean, you were talking about these people, they're waiting to hear what happened to their loved ones. You can't even imagine what they're going through. This is obviously a residential area. It's, what, 200 miles from the frontline of where the fighting actual is?

ROBERTSON: It's a huge distance from the frontline. You're right, about 200 miles. And I'm looking around. I mean, this apartment building here, we're told by officials, 109 people are registered living in here.

But I'm just going to ask David to give us a quick spin around at this neighborhood, and you see how many other buildings are here when we just look around here. This is a dense residential neighborhood we're looking at here. All around, there are buildings, thousands of people, thousands upon thousands of people living here. So, even hundreds of miles from the frontline. And here in this city, Uman, one local resident was telling us they haven't had a missile strike here since March last year. So, for the people in these buildings I'm looking at, they're probably breathing a sigh of relief, for the relatives, desperately waiting. But the reality for all of them it doesn't matter where you are, 100 miles, 200, 300 from the frontline, you just don't know what can happen next.

COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. No sense of safety. Nic, I know you'll be tracking this. We'll with you this morning. Thank you.

CORNISH: This morning, homeowners in the Florida panhandle are waking up to tornado damage after severe storms across the south on Thursday. Now, this is Hosford, where about 12 homes were wiped out, another 20 were damaged. And in the Midwest, flooding is the big concern, as a huge snow pack melts causing the Mississippi River to swell and crest.

We're going to get more from Meteorologist Derek Van Dam in the Weather Center. And, Derek, just to start, obviously, the images are devastating. We're talking about going across this area. What more can you tell us about kind of how this broke down?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. About 50 million Americans under the threat of severe weather today, but 20 million of them find themselves in that bull's eye of our greatest risk across Central Texas.


This Interstate 35 corridor that connects Dallas to Austin, to San Antonio, that's where we have a level three or five.

And I want to highlight the wording here, the main threats. Look at that, large hail, can't rule out a tornado once again, the severe threat in Florida, not as pronounced as what we experienced yesterday. So, we're focusing in on Texas because this chance of hail could be devastating. Storm Prediction Center has a hatched area right over Dallas-Ft. Worth.

And if you recall, it was earlier this week that we saw this monster gorilla hail fall from the sky. And these hazards are on the table today. We get these super cell thunderstorms, they're so powerful in Texas. They have got these powerful updrafts that are a pinnacle of a super cell. Eventually, that hailstorm gets larger and larger and larger. Before gravity wins, ultimately, it gets so large that it falls right back to the ground in the form of devastating hail that can obviously put holes in wind shields and also damage crops and obviously damage -- a threat to personal lives as well.

The other story that we're monitoring, the flooding, this slow motion disaster that continues to creep along the Mississippi River. We have 25 river gauges under major flood stage, 400 miles of flood warnings stretch the Mississippi river with our crest anticipated across the quad cities this weekend. Audie?

CORNISH: Derek, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Nikki Haley facing backlash this morning after she flat out said President Biden probably won't be alive in five years.

COLLINS: Yes, we're going to speak to a person who is criticizing the comments.

Also, late night host James Corden signing off on his show for the last time with a warning for America.

CORNISH: Plus, the Alabama Crimson Tide making history at the NFL draft. An ESPN analyst will help us break down the first round.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The commissioner about to announce the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.


COLLINS: I mean, they squeezed that for all that it was worth. They waited as long as they could. The longstanding tradition of booing to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is alive and well last night's draft as well. The first round kicking off in Kansas City, which is the home, of course, of the Super Bowl champions, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Alabama's Quarterback Bryce Young was picked first by the Carolina Panthers, a huge night for Alabama. Two of his other teammates were also picked in the top 12. I love to see Will Anderson, as the Houston Texans also snagged Ohio State Quarterback C.J. Stroud as the second pick before trading up to grab Will Anderson at number three. A stunner for Kentucky Quarterback Will Levis, he was expected to be locked to go in the top ten. He fell entirely out of the first round.

For more analysis on all of this, let's bring in Ryan Clark, who is an NFL analyst for ESPN as well as a former pro-Bowl Safety and Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers himself. Good morning and thank you for being here.

I think for Levis, I mean, we just say, look at Jalen Hurts going in the second isn't so bad. But when it comes to Bryce Young, I mean, assuming the Panthers are hoping he's going to be their quarterback for the next decade.

RYAN CLARK, ESPN NFL ANALYST: When you pick a guy first overall, you're expecting him to be a hall of famer. You go that high in the draft because you're supposed to change an entire organization's trajectory. In most times, if you get an opportunity to pick first, that means you weren't very good.

Now, the Carolina Panthers were able to trade up into that spot as Chicago moved out of it. But Bryce Young has been a five-star recruit coming out of high school. He is the Heisman Trophy winner at a historic university, like the University of Alabama. And they're going to expect some of the same things when he gets to Charlotte for the Carolina Panthers.

I think he is one of these players that is so ready for this opportunity. His poise is beyond his years. His execution on the field is very Drew Brees-like. And I think he is built to be a leader of an organization. I couldn't be happier for the young man. And I know that the Carolina Panthers definitely got them somebody that can lead this locker room for a decade-and-a-half to come.

HARLOW: That's one of the things Kaitlan was telling me this morning, what a good guy he is off the field. And I think you're talking about a leader. You can't just execute and then be a jerk or get into trouble because that's really hard for your team, you know?

CLARK: No, absolutely. And I think that's part of the process as well, right, understanding what type of family dynamic he comes from, taking different tests and talking to him and getting to know the person. Because when you become the leader of an organization or the face of a franchise, you're going to be put in adverse situations. You're going to be asked questions or asked to do things as leaders of men that most people aren't asked to do outside of sports, and Bryce Young is prepared for that.

CORNISH: Now, you had this career at LSU before you were drafted. Can you talk about what that night is like if it doesn't go your way, right, if you're the athlete kind of waiting and waiting and waiting?

CLARK: Yes. I mean, you know, it's funny, you talk about waiting and waiting and waiting. I was an undrafted free agent. So, seven rounds went and my name was never called or my phone never rang. And so when you look at guys like Will Levis, who was expected to go top ten from Kentucky and you're sitting in the greenroom with all of those eyes on you and cameras constantly in your face, because the entire world, including the networks understand that you were expected to go.


And it's now this entire country who is watching you go through this agony and there is nothing that you can do to change it. It's about getting that chip on your shoulder that that should build.

If you're Will Levis, it's understanding that there has to be a reason that no one called my name in the first 31 picks. And you should spend the rest of your career, the rest of your opportunities not just proving those people wrong, but proving yourself right, proving yourself right for taking this trip with your family, expecting to go in the top ten, proving yourself right for knowing that all of those people made a mistake for not calling your name. It's difficult in this moment but Will Levis should hear his name called today and many other players will and is still a dream come true. It's still an absolute blessing to get an opportunity to play in the NFL. And you have to take it for that, uderstand why you didn't go where you were expecting to and put that work in.

COLLINS: Yes. And Jalen Hurts I think is living proof of that, that I can work out just fine for you as well.

CLARK: Absolutely.

COLLINS: We'll see how it can be a motivating factor. We'll see who is drafted next. Ryan, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

CLARK: Thank you for your time.

HARLOW: Have a good one.

Overnight, James Corden signed off the Late Late Show for the final time for hosting Will Ferrell and Harry Styles appeared as final guests. And there was even a special video from President Biden congratulating Corden. But here's how he decided to close out his show. Watch this.


JAMES CORDEN, HOST, THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN: We started this show. We started with Obama, then Trump, then a global pandemic. And I've watched -- I've watched America change a lot over these past few years. I've watched divisions grow. And I've seen and I've felt a sense of negativity bubbling and at points boil over. And I guess all I really want to say tonight is I implore you to remember what America signifies to the rest of the world.

My entire life has always been a place of optimism and joy. And, yes, it has flaws, so many. But show me a country that doesn't. Show me a person that doesn't. Me, you, all of us, we are all trying to figure this out. We are every single one of us are, a work in progress. And just because somebody disagrees with you, it doesn't make them bad or evil. We are all more the same than we are different.

And there are so many people -- there are so many people who are -- who are trying to stoke those differences. And we have to try as best we can to look for the light.


HARLOW: Look for the light.

CORNISH: That's such a profound statement coming from someone who is supposed to make us laugh. And also I feel like late night desks are where the -- everyone looks at once, right? It's the kind of the remnants of -- like it's not niche television. We're all there and that was just a naked play to come together.

COLLINS: Yes. And he is right about the point of when he started the show, Obama is in office, how he is leaving, what the state of the U.S. politics is. Of course, that's like one of the biggest influences on these late night shows. So, just interesting to see that.

HARLOW: Yes. Good for him.

CORNISH: Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley slamming President Biden's age shortly after he announced his White House bid. We'll have former Senator and close ally of President Biden Doug Jones here to respond. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)