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Trump Lawyer Tells Committee Lindsey Graham Pledged To Champion Voter Fraud Claims: "Just Give Me Five Dead Voters"; January 6 Committee: Former Acting Defense Secretary Under President Trump Testified He Didn't Try To Reach Trump On Day Of Capitol Insurrection; Santos Tweeted In July 2021: "9/11 Claimed My Mother's Life," But Later Reflected On Her 2016 Death. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 29, 2022 - 21:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Brazilian soccer legend Pele has passed away at the age of 82. He died from complications relating to colon cancer.

Pele transformed the world of football, as it's known outside the United States, the only player in history, to win three World Cups, and play in four, and the youngest player ever, to score, in the World Cup, at age 17. He'll forever be remembered, in his native, Brazil, as a national treasure. And he'll be remembered, around the world, as the King of Soccer, perhaps the greatest ever, to play the game.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over now to Alisyn Camerota, for CNN TONIGHT.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: OK, Pam. Thanks so much. Great to see you.

Good evening, everyone. This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Alisyn Camerota.

There are new intriguing details, from the January 6th committee transcripts, tonight.

You'll hear how Senator Lindsey Graham vowed to champion Donald Trump's election lies, if only the White House could find him, quote, "Five dead voters." We'll explain.

You'll also hear what Donald Trump thought about the appearance of the January 6th rioters. Spoiler alert! They were not his type!

And you'll hear about the texts that Don Jr. sent to Mark Meadows, the day after his father lost the election. There was basically a roadmap, for how to unconstitutionally keep Trump in office. Don Jr. says, he cannot remember who sent him that text. But see, if you recognize some of the unique language, in that text, as a clue.

And, as predicted, there are new developments, tonight, and new lies, from Congressman-elect George Santos. You know the one. He's the guy, who lied about his high school. He lied about going to college. He lied about working on Wall Street. He lied about being Jewish. Tonight, more of his lies are being exposed, and you'll hear him in his own words, lie about his own mother's death.

But first, let's start with the newly-released portions, of the January 6th transcripts. Let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray.

Sara, what have you learned?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we are getting more insight, into the interview that Donald Trump Jr. gave to congressional investigators. It's, of course, interesting, because he's the former President's son.

And, you mentioned, there was this text message that he sent to Mark Meadows, sort of laid out a plan, for Donald Trump, to stay in power that was pretty similar to what played out.

So, congressional investigators ask him, "Why did you send this text to Meadows?"

And, Don Jr. says, "Look, this looks like a copy and paste job. I wasn't the real author." But he said, "Perhaps in reading it, it was the sophisticated, you know, and detailed, about things I don't necessarily, know too much about, it sounded plausible, and I wanted to make sure that we were looking into the issues brought up in the text."

And this was a text that Don Jr. had sent Mark Meadows, on November 5th. And in part of the text, at the time, it said "We have operational control, Total leverage" "Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now." There's more of that there, very similar to what actually played out.

And again, CNN reported on this earlier, when we reported on the Meadows texts, Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer said essentially the same thing that he said in that deposition that "Look, Donald Trump, Jr. was not the author of this text," and all of a sudden they don't remember where it came from.

CAMEROTA: I don't think Donald Trump Jr. was the author of it. Because the "We have operational control, Total leverage" "Moral High Ground," that grandiose language? I don't know. It kind of rings a bell. But we'll get into that with our guests.

Meanwhile, we're also getting new details, about how Melania Trump was feeling, after the 2020 election. What's the latest on that?

MURRAY: Yes, she was pretty unimpressed. This was according to the interview that these congressional investigators did, with Stephanie Grisham, who was of course, a top aide, to Melania Trump, while they were in the White House.

And Stephanie Grisham told investigators that Melania Trump was really sort of disenfranchised, with the people, around her husband, at that point. She felt like he wasn't getting good advice.

Here's part of what Stephanie Grisham said. "There didn't seem to be anybody pushing back. And that was one of her concerns, at least push back, at least look at another side. And it didn't seem at that time that anybody - Mark Meadows included - who would have offered him other advice. She really was always the pragmatic, more realistic, 'give us the worst case scenario' type of person, and nobody did that for him."

And Grisham said that Melania Trump had sort of soured on Donald Trump Jr.'s advice, Kimberly Guilfoyle's advice. Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani, were other folks that she was very skeptical of. So, she sort of felt, again, according to Stephanie Grisham, like her husband, at that time, was not getting good advice, and not getting the kind of pushback, he should have gotten.

CAMEROTA: I mean that has proven to be true!


CAMEROTA: Sara, thank you very much.

MURRAY: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Joining me now, we have former Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman; also Ramesh Ponnuru, Editor of the National Review; and former Senator, Doug Jones.

Gentlemen, great to have you here.

I mean, I don't mean to be flippant. But this language, the grandiose language in this text that Don Jr. sent to Mark Meadows? It does ring a bell, Doug.


I mean, when somebody says, quote, "We have operational control, Total leverage," "Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now," "State Assemblies can step in and vote to put forward the electoral slate," "Republicans control 28 states Democrats 22 states... Once again Trump wins," I don't know if that was an inebriated Rudy Giuliani or Steve Bannon. But that's - was a roadmap, for what they ended up trying to do.

DOUG JONES, (D) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Yes, there's no question about that. And the really interesting thing about that, to me, Alisyn, is that it clearly shows that on that day, Donald Trump Jr. thought his father lost the election.

They are already making plans. You don't hear anything in there about voter fraud, the fact that either of these lawsuits may be successful, because they've got great evidence. He clearly thought the election was done. It was over. And it hadn't even been called yet.

But, again, I'm with you. I don't think that's his language, which I think is really kind of a sad state of affairs, when you got to copy and paste, and plagiarize something, to try to pretend to be smarter than you are. But that's just the way it is, these days.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And Ramesh, I mean, obviously, through sheer force of will and, I guess, trickery, they thought "Oh, this will work. This is what we'll do."


JONES: No question.

PONNURU: The thing about it, of course, it wasn't actually plausible. And it wouldn't have been to anybody with a kind of rudimentary understanding of the U.S. Constitution, and the electoral process.

But when Donald Trump Jr., testified that he wasn't especially conversant with all of that? I think that's one of the most plausible things that he's ever said. And so, maybe it did seem plausible to him.

But one of the things that, really sticks out, in this is, when Melania Trump complains about the bad advice Trump was getting.

Well, Trump had the advisers he wanted. He was listening to the people he wanted to listen to. There was no shortage of people, even in the White House, who would have told him that this made no sense, and was unconstitutional.

As the January 6th committee has pointed out, lots of people had serious reservations, about all of this, even close to the President. But they're not the ones he wanted to listen to, because they weren't the ones telling him what he wanted to hear.

CAMEROTA: Nick, one of the things that the January 6th committee has done so effectively, is just illuminate all of this. We had heard bits and pieces, obviously. And in every single hearing, we had heard different hair-raising things. But the fact that they've now - they all have - they have it in black and white, it's in all these transcripts, they laid it all out.

And just this, I mean, this started the day after the election. The day after the election, they started making their plans, for how to unconstitutionally keep him in office.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Oh, no question about it. I mean, I think what happened here was that Rudy Giuliani, or John Eastman, or some of the other crazies, got to Don Jr., and basically used Don Jr., to get to Donald Trump.

I mean, this was pretty much the continuing saga that occurred, from the election, on through January 6th, where you had people trying to get to Donald Trump. You had the people, in the White House Counsel's office, trying to keep away, Sidney Powell, trying to keep away General Flynn. But they all seem to get through somehow.

And I think this is probably one of those first breaches, in the system, where others provided Don Jr., with the roadmap, of what they thought Donald Trump should do. And this was their first effort, to get in front of him, their crazy ideas. And it obviously worked. I mean, they just kept pounding away, until they convinced Donald Trump that this was the way to go.

CAMEROTA: And now there are--

PONNURU: You know what? It wasn't even just--

CAMEROTA: Yes, keep going, Ramesh.

PONNURU: It wasn't even just from the election onward. It was before the election as well, right?


PONNURU: I mean, a number of things that the Trump administration and political operation did made sense only in the context of an attempt to delegitimize the election, in advance, and make it possible, to contest it, right?

That's why they - we had Republican efforts, to not allow the counting of mailed-in ballots, until after Election Day. It was to create this illusion that Trump was ahead, because of Election Day votes, and that something sinister was happening, when the mail-in votes, erased his leads.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And Donald Trump also planted the seeds that if he didn't win, there had to obviously be some sort of fraud. I mean, he, before the election, he started planting those seeds as well.

Senator, there's also something very illuminating, in these transcripts, about what Lindsey Graham - Senator Lindsey Graham was doing behind-the-scenes.

And so, Christina Bobb testifies to Senator Graham saying, well "Get me your information... just give me five dead voters, Give me, you know, an example of illegals voting. Just give me a small snapshot that I can take and champion."

I mean, what I hear here, but I'm interested in your thoughts, is this is Lindsey Graham playing them. I mean, this is Lindsey Graham, saying "I'm happy to go out, and talk about how dead people voted. Just, if you could just give me a few examples," and knowing, I think, he knew that those would never come.


JONES: Yes. I do think, Alisyn that it's Senator Graham's standpoint of saying, "Look, I'll get out there for you. But I'm not going to do it, just based on no facts, no representation - just only your word and representation. Give me anything."

And I know that politicians do that, lawyers do that, all the time, where they take some facts, something that they can hang their hat on, and they kind of run with it. And they blow it up a little bit. And I think that that's what Senator Graham was going to do. But he was - the subtle message that there is, "If you got nothing, leave me out of this."


JONES: "Because I'm not going to go out there, and I'm not going to walk the plank, and give the American public, information, if I cannot back anything up." "Anything at all," I think, is the operative word, there.

CAMEROTA: That's how I read that.


CAMEROTA: Nick, but then, Christina Bobb did produce something, and sent it over to Senator Graham. And the title of it was "Chairman Graham Dead Votes Memo for Your Consideration."

AKERMAN: Well, look, I think--

CAMEROTA: But strangely, he never - he never did do it. So obviously, it was - there was no there-there.

AKERMAN: Well, he did do part of it. I mean, let's look at what happened afterwards. In early, I guess, it was in December, couple weeks before Donald Trump made that famous January 2nd call, to Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State of Georgia, Lindsey Graham was in there, talking about the same things, with Brad Raffensperger. He was trying to pressure him.

It wasn't the dead voters, this time. It was, the people, who didn't, really sign the absentee ballots, which was another issue, that Donald Trump was harping on that he knew was false, that he also raised on with Brad Raffensperger, after it didn't work, with Lindsey Graham.

So, I don't think Lindsey Graham is necessarily an innocent player, here. I mean, he jumped right in, and called up Brad Raffensperger, and gave him the same pitch that later was repeated, almost verbatim, by Donald Trump. And it's all on tape.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you're right. I mean, I don't mean to absolve Senator Graham of this. I just mean that I hear--


CAMEROTA: --I hear a bit of a duplicity, I guess, happening, where he's telling them one thing that I don't think he ever planned to do, Ramesh.

PONNURU: Yes, I think it was an ambiguous statement, because he's saying, "You need to give me something to work with here." But he's also saying, "It doesn't have to be a lot. You can just give me a sliver of something. And I will start pounding the table about it."

CAMEROTA: Yes. OK. And then no surprise, I alluded to this in the open that Stephanie Grisham testified to what Donald Trump really thought of the rioters.

She says, in this new transcript, "I heard from several people in the West Wing, more on the military aide or Secret Service side, and then a couple of people." "He was sitting in the dining room, and he was just watching it all unfold, and that a couple of his comments - some of his comments were that these people looked very trashy, but also" at "what fighters they were."

You know that, I mean, that's the - that is quintessential Donald Trump, senator!

JONES: I got nothing. It is quintessential Donald Trump. "I don't like these people." And we've - it's been one of the, I think, things that people had known, for a long time.

He doesn't like the people, the very people he tries to get them to vote for him. He dogs them. He dogged Senator Sessions, or his Attorney General, about being from the South, and the University of Alabama, and his accent. I mean, he just doesn't like these folks. But yet, he will use them to his benefit. And, I think, that's a - it's pretty telling.


CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, Ramesh.

PONNURU: Conmen are not known for their respect, and admiration, for their marks, as a general rule.

CAMEROTA: "I don't like them. But they like me! And that's good enough!"

JONES: Right.

CAMEROTA: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much, for all of that.

There's much more from this latest batch of transcripts, including what the Secretary of Defense said, about why he did not speak to Donald Trump - President Trump, during the desperate hours of the Capitol attack.

Plus, the lying Congressman-elect strikes again, this time, lying about his own mother's death.



CAMEROTA: More now, from the new transcripts, released today, by the January 6th Select Committee.

And we're joined tonight, by William Cohen, who served as the Defense Secretary, under President Clinton. He's also a former U.S. Senator and Congressman.

Secretary, I've really been looking forward, to talking to you, tonight, particularly about this next transcript.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR AND CONGRESSMAN, CEO, THE COHEN GROUP: Thank you. CAMEROTA: Excerpt of the transcript, because it's of the acting then- Defense Secretary.


CAMEROTA: And it's what was going on behind-the-scenes, during those awful three hours, three-plus hours, when President Trump was MIA, and the Capitol was being attacked.

So, let me read it to you and get your perspective on this.

COHEN: Sure.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, this is between the Chairwoman Liz Cheney, and Chris Miller, the acting Defense Secretary.

Cheney says, "So, Mr. Miller, did you try to reach President Trump that day?"

He says, "No, I did not."

She says, "And why not?"

He says, "I had all the authorities I needed to perform my duties and responsibilities that day and didn't need any further guidance from the President."

He goes on to say - oh, she's - she asks, "Who were you on the phone with?"

And he says, "I don't know who was on the calls. They were interagency synchronization calls, ma'am. I know Ambassador O'Brien was on there. I want to say I think Pat Cipollone, whatever, the President's attorney might have been - was on there. I don't know more than that."

She says, "So in terms of the authorities that day to call out the Guard, where did those authorities for you come from?"

He says, "Those authorities resided with me, and once Speaker Pelosi and McConnell and the rest of the crew at that call, I'd already done it, but we had a request by that point in from Mayor Bowser, who had the legal authority to request it. But then, of course, the follow-up call where it was quite clear that the political leadership desired" Department of Defense "support."

So, what strikes you from that exchange? And would you have talked to the President that day? Does it surprise you that he didn't feel any need to talk to President Trump?

COHEN: Well, what struck me, two things.

He first said that "I had all the guidance I needed." What was the guidance he had, to begin with? It's very unclear, whether he had any guidance.

Secondly, he cannot turn to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, the Attorney General, and National Security Adviser. His authority comes directly from the President of the United States. And if you read the Executive Order, I wrote it down, 11485 that says that he may act, not to call out the D.C. Guard, upon direction, from the President of the United States.

So, at a minimum, when he's getting calls, from the House leadership, and desperate calls, at a minimum, he needed to call the President of the United States. The Vice President can't give them the authority. Nancy Pelosi can't give it to him. No one else but the President.

So, the question would become is, why did you order the Guard at that point? He didn't have the authority, technically, according to the Executive Order.


CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. Also, the timeline is interesting, and just woefully sad.

Because, at 2 PM, the Capitol goes on lockdown. That's the first breach of the building.

At 4:45 PM, that's when the lawmakers, I believe, Pelosi and Schumer are on the phone, with Miller, and begging for the National Guard, to restore order. And he says, they will.

Not until 5:40 PM, that's when the first National Guardsmen arrive.

So, it's three hours and 40 minutes. Did it have to take that long?

COHEN: I think, under those circumstances, inaction is action.

The fact that he had an obligation, to defend the Constitution, and the country, at a time, when the Capitol was under attack, for him, to be knowingly watching this unfold, on television, and not taking action, for two and a half hours? That is dereliction of duty.

But, to me, it's almost as if silence is complicity, in this case, inaction is action, on the part of the President. He deliberately ignored what was going on, and wanted it to succeed. So, I think, this is as close that you can get to criminal activity, seditious activity. And he ought to be charged accordingly.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what's happening, next week. And that's when the new Congress starts. As you know, Leader Kevin McCarthy is very interested in the Speakership. And you have an interesting suggestion?

COHEN: Right.

CAMEROTA: That you don't think that the House Speaker needs to come from inside the House? So what does that mean?

COHEN: Well, exactly. Alton Frye, who is a friend of mine, and a real scholar, I've known for over 30 years, 35 years, contacted me, and ran an idea by me. And I said, "Let's do something together." And so, we looked at the Constitution, obviously. The Constitution doesn't say that the Speaker of the House has to be elected, doesn't have to come from the membership even.

And so, we know that under the circumstances, McCarthy, who desires to become Speaker, is cutting, or prepared to cut, as many deals as he has to, to get the numbers. There are at least a dozen or more members of Congress, who have indicated they don't want to support him.

So then the question becomes, what does he have to do to get the votes? Santos coming in will be one example. But he needs to pledge some sort of an agenda, to the more extremist elements of the Congress.

If anything the Middle actions showed was, the country wants Congress to work. They want to get away from the fringes. They want to have some kind of bipartisan support, on key issues. They're obviously going to differ, on a multiple levels, and issues, but not the key issues, dealing with our security, our economy, our energy, et cetera.

And so, I think the answer would be appoint someone, recommended by the Democrats, because this is something the Democrats could go to the Republicans, say, "Look, we want to work with you. We're prepared to recommend and support a Republican, who would be someone, who could reach across the aisle," for the next two years, because everything will change in two years.

"For the next two years, can't we work together, to get some things done, before the 2024 elections come?" That's the purpose of it, to say that, "Can't we find a way?" Yes, we can nominate someone that the Democrats can support, and five Republicans, by secret ballot, could also support, and you'd have a Speaker, who could work with both sides.

CAMEROTA: Well, everyone can read your scenario that you've just laid out. Somewhat utopian, I think, though, I'm always optimistic in the "New York Times."

Thanks so much, Secretary Cohen, great to talk to you tonight.

COHEN: Alisyn, thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, listen to this. The Congressman-elect caught fabricating his resume, has yet another lie, under scrutiny, this time, about his own mother's death. We'll talk about that next.



CAMEROTA: New lies tonight, from Republican Congressman-elect, George Santos. And this next one is worse than lying about where he went to college.

CNN's Capitol Hill Reporter, Melanie Zanona, joins us.

Melanie, what now?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. So, this latest claim that's coming under scrutiny, from Santos, is that his mother died, and it had something to do with 9/11.

So, this all came to light, when a pair of conflicting tweets resurfaced.

And Santos, last year, was responding to a tweet that claimed 9/11 was a victimless crime. And he responded by saying "9/11 claimed my mother's life... so I'm blocking so I don't ever have to read this again."

But just five months later, Santos said, "December 23rd this year marks five years I lost my best friend and mentor. Mom, you will live forever in my heart."

So, definitely, some discrepancies here.

Now, of course, there are some first responders, who developed health conditions, and cancer, after 9/11.

We have reached out to Santos, to clarify what role, if any, 9/11 played, in his mother's death. But we have yet to hear back, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, there's also, I don't think, any evidence that his mother worked in the Twin Towers, much less that it caused her cancer. But, in any event, his campaign website also made mention of this.

ZANONA: Yes. Santos has said repeatedly that his mother worked in the World Trade Center, on 9/11, including, as you mentioned, on his campaign website that reads "George's mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer."

So, Santos has previously claimed that his mother was a financial executive. But notably, that claim has disappeared, from his campaign website. It is no longer on there. So, it remains unclear whether Santos' mother actually worked at the World Trade Center, on 9/11.

CAMEROTA: All right. So, what's the latest on all of the legal side of this? There were new investigations, announced, yesterday. What's happening today with them?

ZANONA: Yes. So, there are multiple investigations, both on the federal level, and the local level. These are still in the early stages. But we do know that they are looking into his finances, and whether potentially any financial crimes were committed.

Aside from all the lies that we've been talking about, about his college experience, and his work experience, there are still a lot of questions, about where his income has come from, whether he followed proper protocols, when it comes to his financial disclosure forms, loans that he made, to his own campaign. So really, just a host of questions.


And the Nassau District Attorney's office said in a statement that his string of fabrications and false claims is quote, "Nothing short of stunning." So, really, the legal scrutiny, just heating up, for Santos.


CAMEROTA: OK. Melanie, thank you very much, for all that reporting.

Let's bring back now Ramesh Ponnuru; and former Senator, Doug Jones.

We also welcome Lauren Leader. She's the Co-founder and CEO of All In Together.

Lauren, let me just start with you.

Because, when you start, lying, about atrocities, like the Holocaust, and like 9/11? That's in a different category than patting your resume. And when you're lying about your own mother's death? This is different - this is different than somebody, who's trying to just sort of make himself appear more qualified than he was.

LAUREN LEADER, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, ALL IN TOGETHER: I mean, it's not even in the ballpark of somebody embellishing their resume. I mean, there's literally nothing that we've been able to find, just over the last three days, in his entire life story, or background, that seem to be correct, credible, or even basically truthful.

And some of this was known to New York Democrats, in advance of the election. There is a lot of blame, I think, to go around, when we start taking stock of how this guy got elected, because some of it is just so unbelievably outrageous.

His financial issues are also one part of the picture. It's not just that he - we have lots of questions about how he lent his own campaign, apparently, $600,000 to $700,000, which is, of course, a violation of campaign finance law. There's questions about where that money came from, and how it's possible that he was evicted from his home, just a year before, owing $10,000 in back rent, on an apartment that was apparently $2,500.

I mean, literally, there's nothing about his story that makes sense, adds up, or is credible, in any way. We have to assume at this point that everything he said publicly must be false.

CAMEROTA: It sure seems like it.

Ramesh, why is it, on a larger issue, that Republicans are willing to settle for such deeply-flawed candidates. I mean, some of the candidates are laughable. Some of them are so deeply flawed, like George Santos.

I mean, between Herschel Walker, Doug Mastriano, this guy, George Santos, they can't find any Republicans that are more serious-minded, and sane, and rational, and qualified?

PONNURU: Well, I think that there are some big underlying issues that you raise.

But Santos is a very special case, in that, in a sense, he's a failure on the part of both parties. Because neither party discovered all of this insanity, on his part, all of this pathological lying, until after he had been elected. I mean, if I'm a Democratic campaign strategist, I am rethinking some of the money I spent, on opposition research, not having uncovered this.

And you do have to assume, I think, that had all of this come to light earlier that Santos would not have won the Republican primary, let alone the general election. This is a guy, you can't even - you can't even trust him to, if he swears on his mother's grave, right? I mean, he will say anything for the most fleeting and momentary of advantages.

CAMEROTA: For sure.

LEADER: Alisyn, I got to say--

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.

LEADER: --they knew - they did have this oppo research. So, this is what makes this so interesting. And I completely agree that this is actually political malpractice, on the part of New York Democrats.

And I'm very involved in New York politics. I know a lot of the players. What I was told is that actually his campaign advisers, meaning Zimmerman's, did have some of this information. It was in a briefing book that came from the DNC. One of the issues was that A, they couldn't - they claimed that they could not get Long Island media, to cover it.

But I think the bigger issue is that they believed that his implication - his association with the January 6th riots, he claimed - one of his many claims was that he was at the "Stop the Steal" rally, on the 6th, and that he financed the legal - he covered the legal bills, of some of the protesters, and rioters, who were charged with crimes. So, we'll see if any of those things are true.

But the Democrats on Long Island that were supporting Zimmerman believed that that enough was - that was disqualifying enough. And they focused on that in the campaign, and ignored all of this other stuff that they actually did know, about his background. They apparently didn't check on his degrees. But they knew that his financial dealings were shady. There were questions about his work experience.

So, this has exposed a huge problem, in New York State Democratic politics. He's not the only race that won. This is the worst of it. But Democrats suffered huge losses, across New York, and across Long Island. There's a lot of questions to be asked, among Democrats here too.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's really interesting insight, and really helpful, Lauren.

Also, I just want to say there was a local newspaper that was reporting on him.


CAMEROTA: And it was highlighting it. I mean, shout out to local newspapers, and why we need them, so desperately. But you're right. The January 6th stuff got a lot more attention than all of this other crazy stuff.


And Senator, pathological liar is an actual disorder, in the DSM. I mean, there's many different theories about what causes it. But either way, I don't think you want your U.S. Representative, to suffer from it.

And I know that Kevin McCarthy needs him for, to become speaker. But then, isn't he just a huge liability? I mean, after he gets the vote, to become Speaker, do you want this guy, hanging out, in the House of Representatives?

JONES: Well, not only is he going to hang out. He's going to be an object of the media. Media are going to follow him, every time they get the chance.

And, by the way, just as Lauren said it, a note to the New York Democrats, nothing is disqualifying enough, in today's political world. Nothing, no one issue is disqualifying enough. If you got a lot, go for it. Because you never can tell in tribalism that we've got in the voters, these days, that people will overlook so much, and still vote for folks.

But Kevin McCarthy has got a problem, not just with this guy, but he's got a major problem with George Santos. And I think that it's incumbent upon Republicans to speak out more than they're doing, right now. It seems to me that they'd really need to call for his resignation.

Five years ago, five years ago, this year, I ran against a guy named Roy Moore. And Republicans, when all the issues came out, about Roy Moore, there were actually Republicans saying, "I'm not sure we're going to seat him. I'm not sure he should be elected." Senator Shelby said, "I'm not going to vote for him. I'm going to write in a good Republicans."

Those days are over, Alisyn. We don't see that in the parties, these more - especially, with the Republican Party, where things are, right now. They need the vote. They need the gavel. And McCarthy's in - got a tough spot, right now, because he will lose that seat, I believe, if there's another election.

CAMEROTA: I can't believe that was only five years ago. Did you say that was five years ago, the Roy Moore stuff? I can't believe - it feels like a lifetime ago. I remember reporting on that, so much, virtually every day. And you're right. There was a feeling that this can't stand. And now, something has changed.

JONES: Right.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Ramesh, it's just we've come light years away from that. I mean, and again, to my question, do you agree that for Republicans, there's nothing disqualifying? I mean, he's lying to voters, at this point!

PONNURU: Well, I think, Republican voters, there's a significant number of them, for whom, these sorts of issues can be disqualifying.

That's a reason why, for example, Mastriano didn't get as many votes as Oz, in Pennsylvania. It's a reason why, a lot of these Republicans, who disappointingly didn't win, even while other Republicans were doing well, because voters distinguished between the Republicans, who were reality-based, and the Republicans who were pretending that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

So, I take the Senator's point, about polarization, having increased. But I don't think that we're quite as far gone as that. And, I think, actually, the voters were pretty sensible, in a lot of respects and, are, making some distinctions.

The problem here was not withstanding some local media, I just think most voters were not aware of the - of just how much deception there was, and how abnormal it was, right? I mean, it's one thing to say, "Oh, well, politician will stretch the truth," or pat his resume. But, of course, we're talking about something on a completely different level. And there just wasn't much understanding of that.

CAMEROTA: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's in a different solar system!

Friends, thank you all very much, really a great conversation.

OK, now to this. She's an EMT, who normally responds to emergencies. But what happened when she had her own emergency, and got stuck, during Buffalo's deadly blizzard? Our next guest is going to tell us her story, after this.



CAMEROTA: Buffalo is still trying to dig out, from the deadly blizzard. The Police Commissioner says the search for bodies goes on, and he calls it a grueling and gruesome task. At least 39 people have died, in Erie County alone.

Our next guest was trying to save people. Kari Gianadda is an Advanced EMT. But she too got trapped in the blizzard.

Kari, thanks so much for being here. Your story is incredible.

You, as I understand it, you got an emergency call, on Friday, at 4:30 PM that a stranded motorist was having trouble breathing. And you swung into action. But you couldn't make it there. What happened? KARI GIANADDA, ADVANCED EMT, AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

Yes, the day started off, somewhat fun. We're in Buffalo. We're used to snow. We like it a lot of the time. At least I do.

The visibility was rough, for our first couple calls, and we were able to get through those OK.

For this last call, we made it to our lower east side of Buffalo. And it just was coming down so hard, and so heavy that we did end up getting stuck. We were stuck for about four hours.

CAMEROTA: And what was that like, Kari? I mean, just explain.

GIANADDA: During that time--

CAMEROTA: So, you were in what, an ambulance, or you--


CAMEROTA: What vehicle were you in? And how did you get stuck?

GIANADDA: We were in a Ford Transit ambulance. We got stuck pulling over to check out the man that was supposed to be in the car that we were going to rescue, or get, and check up on.

We did get stuck pulling over. And there was no getting out. It was so fast, and so heavy, the snow. It just weighed down the truck, and we were just spinning tires.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh! So, you were stuck in, basically, just a huge snow bank for--

GIANADDA: Basically.

CAMEROTA: --as we - I think we're seeing pictures.


CAMEROTA: Oh no, we're seeing pictures of when I think you were rescued.

So, you were stuck for four-plus hours. And what was that like, Kari? I mean, did you have heat? Did you have food, water?

GIANADDA: Yes. Luckily, we do come prepared. At least my partner and I, we had food. We had water. We had heat and gas. Our crews, our dispatchers, and our supervisors made sure that we had gas, for the day that we had time to do that.


It was scary. It was getting - the truck was getting cold from the inside out. It was freezing. The windows were frozen. We had no visibility. We couldn't see out. My partner and I do consider ourselves lucky. We were only in the truck for four hours.

We do have other crews that were stuck in their trucks, for upwards of 16 hours, 20 hours. They did have heat. Some didn't have food. Some didn't have water. Our supervisors were trying to get to them. The National Guard was trying to get to them. Buffalo Fire was trying to get to them. And they were just stuck.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh! That's really scary!

GIANADDA: Our hearts were breaking.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I can imagine that. I mean, that you must have - it must have crossed your mind that help wasn't going to be able to get to you?

GIANADDA: It did. I'm not going to lie about that. But we tried to stay calm. I mean, that's what we're here for.

To be honest, what was breaking my heart, specifically, was just knowing that the community that we serve, that we were not able to get to them. We continued to hear calls, going out on our radios, about sick people, the people that we care about, people - why we do what we do.

And, in turn, our community has come forth, and helped us so much, do the things that we couldn't do, at that day. There's been such an outreach, from our community that is so heartwarming, and has really, risen us, from the ashes, once again. Because, Buffalo has seen tragedy before.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes.

GIANADDA: In the terms of maybe the Tops shooting that has happened this year?


GIANADDA: That was really tough, in our community.


GIANADDA: But we can't say enough.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Kari, I think that it is wonderful how much humanity, obviously, we're seeing, and neighbors helping neighbors.

But I also think your story is so valuable. Because we've heard so many stories, of motorists, who were trapped, who were calling 911, and didn't understand why help wasn't coming. The Police, the dispatcher was saying "Help is on its way. Just be patient, help is on the way," and then help couldn't get there. And, of course, it's confusing, and frustrating, and scary, for the passengers.

But you are living proof of, you were trying to get there. EMTs were trying to get there.


CAMEROTA: But the snow was just overpowering and overwhelming.


CAMEROTA: Yes. And so, ultimately, you were saved by the Fire department?

GIANADDA: We were. Luckily, they were passing us. The truck started getting stuck. Even the fire trucks were getting stuck very shortly after we got stuck.

They had happened to be passing by. And we turned and looked, and they were honestly like our angels, at the time, because we didn't expect anyone to come. We were really planning on hunkering down there, for quite a while.

I'm really glad that myself, my partner, and none of our crews - that everyone made it out, OK. I think it's heavy on our hearts, right now, just knowing that we couldn't do much.


GIANADDA: They suspended EMS.


GIANADDA: Pretty shortly after we all got stuck.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Kari, you actually have done a lot. We've heard of so many people being rescued. And you too are an angel. But I really appreciate your sentiment, and I appreciate you sharing your story, with us. It does help us understand, just how bad it was, at the height of the storm. So, thanks so much for being with us.

GIANADDA: We appreciate it. Thank you so much. And again, our community, thank you so much, couldn't have done it without you guys!

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful.

OK. We will check back, of course, with Buffalo, over the next many days.

Next, he is perhaps the most famous athlete in the world. We'll remember Pele, after this.



CAMEROTA: Tonight, the world is remembering one of the greatest athletes of all time. Brazilian soccer legend Pele passed away, earlier, after a battle with colon cancer. He'd been hospitalized, for the last month, with complications. He was 82-years-old.

Players and fans, at a French league match honored him, with a standing ovation. And tributes are pouring in.

Pele electrified crowds, playing in four World Cups, and the only soccer star in history to win three. His first World Cup was at the age of 17, in 1958. And he joined the Santos Futebol Clube, at 15, and went on to score more than 1,200 goals in his professional career.

Pele was a literal national treasure. When European clubs tried to sign him, Brazil declared him a treasure, to keep him from playing elsewhere. And he knew he had a great gift.


PELE, FORMER MINISTER OF SPORTS OF BRAZIL: I feel very comfortable because something I cannot answer was why God gave me this, you know - you know, this gift. This was a gift from God.


CAMEROTA: Pele's funeral will be held on Tuesday.

For more on his legacy, let's bring in Chris Wittyngham, a soccer podcaster and commentator.

Chris, thanks so much for being here.

What - why was he the greatest soccer player? What was it that made him so great?

CHRIS WITTYNGHAM, SOCCER COMMENTATOR, THE DAN LE BATARD SHOW WITH STUGOTZ: Well, I think if you read so much of what has been said about him, in these last few hours, there is this use of language that you just don't hear about other players. I saw one quote that was "There is one player in the world. Who is the best player? I'd refuse to classify Pele as a player." He sort of transcended what had come before him.

And the Brazilians have this term for how they play soccer. It's called "Jogo Bonito," "Played beautifully." And it really kind of began with him. He was able to conjure a way of playing the game that had been not seen before.

And you have to remember that at this time, soccer was not really a sport that was televised, worldwide. And so, every four years, a lot of the world gathered to see what was going on, in other countries. And when you see the yellow and blue, of the Brazil jersey, of the Brazil kit, it just stuck out how incredible this player was.

He, again, announced his arrival in the 1958 World Cup final. If you go back and watch the goals that he scored, they would stand the - they stand the test of time. They look like goals that will be scored now better than some of the goals that are scored now. It's kind of remarkable. Normally, when you see black-and-white footage, it doesn't hold up. But, for this player, it does.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Pele, he was a household name, you know? You didn't have to be a soccer fan, or follow sports, to know Pele. And so, but I'm fascinated by what you're describing, as his kind of ineffable quality. Was it fancy footwork, I mean, just sheer athleticism, like what - why was he so different than everybody else?

WITTYNGHAM: Yes. Soccer is not really a game that's defined by athleticism as such. It's defined, as you say, by that skill, the ability to control, with every part of the body that is not the arm, right?

So, incredible skill with his feet, incredible skill, controlling with his chest, with his head, with his thighs. Any means of controlling the soccer ball, he was well capable of doing so. And so, you see this player that just sort of transcended.

That goal that I mentioned, the 1958 World Cup final, he sort of controls it off his chest, loops it over a defender, and you see almost all the defenders like, "Wait, what just happened? What is going on here?" And that was sort of the quality that he played with.

And like you showed in that packages now, he sort of was aware of it. And most importantly, opponents were aware of it. If you go back, and look at his history, in the 1966 World Cup, in England, he was basically kicked out of the tournament.

Not kicked out, because of a ban, but because opposition were intent on kicking him, because they did not allow him to play the beautiful game. He actually almost threatened to quit ahead of the 1970 World Cup, which Brazil won, because of how violently he was being treated by opponents. Everyone was sort of aware of this unstoppable skill.

CAMEROTA: So, what does his death mean, for Brazil, and the rest of the world?

WITTYNGHAM: Yes. I think, when you talk about Brazil, it's an interesting legacy. It was - this very nearly happened. There was some reports that came out that he was in failing health, just before the World Cup campaign started, and became pretty clear that that World Cup is going to be about playing for Pele, considering his incredible legacy, there.


But this is one of the greatest figures in the history of this sport. And as the globe's biggest sport, it means he is one of the biggest figures, in all of the world. Even here in the United States, he is a figure that transcends because of his time with the New York Cosmos, and the North American Soccer League in the mid-70s.

And it was funny, I was reading about, when he was sold on coming here, it was like, "Don't get championships. Get a country. You can have the entire United States behind you, if you succeed here." And, for a time, he did. And he's just sort of one of these one-word names that sort of means so much.

I'll kind of close by saying that Andy Warhol, the famous painter, who painted him, said that "Normally, I'd talk about 15 minutes of fame. He will have 15 centuries of fame," and that he very much did, and that he very much will.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome! Chris Wittyngham, thank you so much, for giving us all of that great perspective.

WITTYNGHAM: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, another day, another batch of transcripts, laying out the deliberate attempt, to overturn the election. But will we see any accountability, now that we see what was going on behind-the-scenes? Stay with us.


CAMEROTA: The January 6th committee releasing more than 100 interview transcripts. They're trying to get out as many as possible, before Tuesday, when Republicans take over the House.

Every day brings new revelations. So, what will the Department of Justice do with it all?

Let's talk about what we've learned, with former congressman, Charlie Dent; also CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein.