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Erin Burnett Outfront
Secret Service Staffers: Trump Berated Agents Over Going To Capitol; Sources: Person Who Contacted January 6 Witness Hutchinson About Doing "The Right Thing" Did So On Meadows' Behalf; Ex-Trump Aides: Secret Service Agent Tends To Deny Conversations; WNBA Star Griner Appears In Russian Court As Trial Begins; WNBA Star Griner Appears In Russian Court As Trial Begins; Ukraine Outnumbered And Outgunned By Russian Forces In The East; Cheney Fights For Political Survival, Faces Trump-Backed Candidate. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 01, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump's January 6th outburst. Two Secret Service staffers corroborating parts of Cassidy Hutchinson's damning testimony.
Plus, on trial. WNBA star Brittney Griner appearing in Russian courtroom as prosecutors lay out their case against her. Is there any chance of a fair trial?
And it may be one of the toughest fights of a political career. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney facing off against her Trump- backed challenger and her role on the January 6th Committee front and center.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's tirade, wild new details tonight, seeming to backup part of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to the January 6th Committee. Two Secret Service staffers now saying that for more than a year, stories have been circulating inside the agency about Trump's behavior before and on January 6th, including how an angry Donald Trump demanded to go to the Capitol with his supporters after his speech near the White House.
And when the Secret Service said no and Trump did not get his way, he said to liberated his security detail, saying according to his sources, something similar to, I'm the f'ing president of the United States. You can't tell me what to do -- which aligns with what Hutchison said under oath, that she was told.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now, which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol.
Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel. And when Mr. Ornato had recounted the story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): And was Mr. Engel in the room as Mr. Ornato told you the story?
HUTCHINSON: He was.
CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel correct or disagree with any part of the story from Mr. Ornato?
HUTCHINSON: Mr. Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of this story.
CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel or Mr. Ornato ever after that tell you that what Mr. Ornato had just said was untrue?
HUTCHINSON: Neither Mr. Ornato nor Mr. Engel told me ever that it was untrue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now, while neither source says they heard about Trump trying to grab the steering wheel, they did say this, according to our reporting. Nobody said Trump assaulted him, they said he tried to lunge over the seat -- for what reason, nobody had any idea.
We're also learning new details about the attempts to influence Hutchison's testimony. Multiple sources telling CNN someone on behalf of Mark Meadows contacted Hutchinson before she testified. And that is crucial, because Hutchinson was one of his top aides. We now know that both of the examples of potential witness intimidation presented during the hearing, both were directed at Hutchinson, and what was the message? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): This is a call received by one of our witnesses. Quote: A person let me know you had your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he is thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Hutchinson did do the right thing. She testified under oath, which everyone agrees takes courage. You can't say the same for Donald Trump or his allies who have now launched a smear campaign against her.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live for us on Capitol Hill this evening. Manu, first, what else can you tell us about this call to Hutchinson
that was allegedly done at the behest of her former boss, Mark Meadows?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we are learning that those two episodes that Liz Cheney described in vivid detail in the hearing about the outreach to Hutchinson that suggests potential witness intimidation, both of those did go to Cassidy Hutchinson. They did not reveal the identity of the witness who received that, and we are also learning that this came from intermediary of Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff.
Now -- and one of those messages that Cheney read aloud, she said that he knows you are loyal and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.
Now, what we and our colleagues here at CNN are told is that the person that they are referring to there was Meadows. Meadows expected her to do, quote, the right thing.
Now, Meadows' camp responded to this reporting saying that there was never an attempt to intimidate Hutchinson. They said, according to the spokesperson, Ben Williams (ph), said no one from Meadows camp, himself or otherwise ever sought to intimidate or shape conversations with the committee.
But we do know, Kate, that this committee is still investigating this issue. They asked every witness who comes before them whether or not they have received any efforts to intimidate or tamper with their testimony in anyway and we do also know that the committee is thinking about whether to refer any of this to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. So this still is a major issue they plan to investigate in the weeks ahead.
BURNETT: Yeah, still an open-ended question of what's going to happen with this?
And also, Manu, based on this new reporting about the Secret Service, what does this all mean for Trump aide Tony Ornato who apparently is willing to testify, and is also disputing this testimony from Hutchinson?
RAJU: Yeah, it's unclear exactly what's Ornato will say if he does agree to testify under oath. We've only heard from unnamed officials who say they dispute that he relayed the story to Cassidy Hutchinson to describing his altercation that allegedly occurred on January 6th, but with this reporting does show is that this was an issue that was discussed, by law enforcement, by Secret Service, in the aftermath of January 6th. It was well-known that there was an angry Donald Trump who apparently wanted to go to the Capitol. That is one of the key things that has not been disputed here, it is that Donald Trump wanted to go to the Capitol on January 6th as he knew that his supporters, apparently were armed that day. That's what Cassidy Hutchinson said in her testimony. And one person who could corroborate a lot of these key details, too,
Kate, is Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel at the time who has been subpoenaed by this committee, who are told he's willing to testify in some limited fashion, potentially behind the scenes. And also warned about Trump going to the Capitol, that it could open up to all sorts of potential criminal exposure -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Manu, thank you so much for that.
OUTFRONT with me now is Elie Honig, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service agent, and David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who's covered Donald Trump for more than 30 years.
Elie, so we have these two different Secret Service sources telling a very similar account to what Cassidy Hutchinson testified to about the SUV ride. How does this add to the picture?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Kate, on the narrow question of, did Donald Trump lashed out inside that SUV, it really started out as a contest of credibility between Cassidy Hutchinson on one hand and Tony Ornato on the other. We had Hutchinson testifying under oath that I did not see would happened, but Tony Ornato told me the story about Trump sort of having this tantrum and reaching for -- lunging for the steering wheel inside an SUV.
You had Tony Ornato, not under oath and through his spokespeople, saying no such thing ever happened and she essentially made that up. Well, now we are learning that sits a story that substantially similar, not identical, but quite similar to what Cassidy Hutchinson said has been circulating and well-known inside Secret Service, and that is strong corroboration for Cassidy Hutchinson.
And, Kate, if we zoom out one level, the key aspects of what Hutchinson testified to, that Trump knew that crowd was armed and pointed him towards the Capitol, that he desperately wanted to go to the Capitol, those remained uncontested and strongly corroborated.
BOLDUAN: And, Jonathan, as someone who knows all about the culture of the Secret Service yourself, if something like this did happen, I mean, how quickly would word travel within the agency?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Listen, there is a saying inside the Secret Service that there are no secrets within the Secret Service. To that point, something as explosive as this which fly through the Secret Service pretty quickly.
But, I mean, I think we have to take a quick step back and go, does this surprise anybody? I mean, we all know that the president had the intent on January 6th to go to the U.S. Capitol. Once he was told, did anyone really expect that he wouldn't be angry?
I mean, so, I think that this is just confirming what everyone believes is that, you know, he was very angry on that day that he did not go up and join's supporters, but the point we have to look at is why did he not go? Why did the Secret Service say no? And the reason being is that they did a quick assessment -- a security assessment, could they bring the president up there.
And the determination was no, that the threats were too elevated, that the likelihood was high, that violence would erupt and the consequences were too great, and that's why the Secret Service did not bring the president up to the Capitol on that day.
BOLDUAN: And because we all know that Donald Trump himself, according to this testimony, knew that there were weapons in the crowd. Also did nothing to try to help and assist law enforcement officers that were trying to protect the Capitol at that exact time.
David, another thing the Secret Service sources telling CNN tonight is that agents -- I mean, this is what's not Jonathan is getting to, that agents often shared stories of Trump's anger. And the way it was said, it's saying it was not just plates that Trump would throw.
And let me play for you what we are getting at, what this speaks to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: There was ketchup dripping down the wall and there's a shattered porcelain plate on the floor. The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general's "AP" interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall. He said something to the effect of, he is really ticked off about this, I would stay clear of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I mean, as Jonathan just put it, does this surprise anybody? But I mean, how does this truck with the Donald Trump that you covered for so many years?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Oh, Donald has a fall little childish temper that has no limits. So this all fits perfectly in throwing a plate that apparently had ketchup on it against the wall. Absolutely tracks perfectly with his long history of this.
There was one time when he had a fight with Marla Maples when she was not yet his wife at one of the Atlantic City casinos. And not only was the room trashed, the double door entry to the casino suite was off the hinges, suggesting that she had tried to flee the room. But this is absolutely consistent with Donald's lifelong behavior.
BOLDUAN: You know, Jonathan, all of this, I've been thinking about this for the past couple of days, but especially today with the new reporting coming out. Does this put the Secret Service in a tough spot, especially you have -- you know, if agents come to testify?
WACKROW: Listen, this puts the Secret Service in a very uncomfortable spot. Listen, they don't like to be in the spotlight whatsoever. Their mission is protection and protection of governmental leaders.
So, anytime that the new story becomes about the agency or individual agents, it is -- it is very uncomfortable. But they have to get ahead of this and I think that they're actually doing a good job right now. They have stated that the agents who were in the limo at that day will testify under oath.
So, the issue of whether or not the president lunged and grabbed at a special agent in charge, that will be adjudicated very quickly and hopefully, we can move beyond that, but there are still questions that remain as to, you know, why if the Secret Service knew that there was this threaten environment, that individuals within the crowd had weapons and they were marching towards the Capitol, I think we need to flush out a little bit more as to what was the communication to the Capitol Police, because if we knew that the threat environment was so destabilized that we cannot bring the president, why weren't additional resources bolstered at the U.S. Capitol prior to it being breached an hour or so later?
BOLDUAN: That's an important point, so people don't miss the forest for the trees with all the details that is coming out here. I think it's a great point, Jonathan.
And, Elie, there are multiple sources now saying that one of the people who may have been trying to influence Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony did so in the behest of her former boss Mark Meadows. Manu Raju was kind of laying out that reporting for us.
Could that mean trouble for Meadows?
HONIG: Well, first of all, Kate, in my prosecutorial view, those communications made to Cassidy Hutchinson absolutely crossed the line. I believe they are chargeable as witness tampering.
Now, by the way, it's important to notice, the intent doesn't just have to be to intimidate. If your intent is to influence in any way the testimony, to just tweak it a little bit, that can be witness tampering as well. Now, there's three parties here. There's Cassidy Hutchinson who receive communications, there's the intermediary who we don't know who it is, and now we are reporting that they originated from Mark Meadows.
So, the intermediary clearly can be liable if we can prove that he made these communications, and if you can prove that they started with Mark Meadows, which is harder to do, because he is a step removed, then he could be responsible legally as well.
BOLDUAN: David, you don't know Mark Meadows, but you do know how Donald Trump operates in his kind of pattern of behavior, often using intermediaries to intimidate or influence others. We've heard this from others like -- Michael Cohen has talked about this publicly very often.
How has he been able to get away with this for so long? Even aside from connecting him with any of the intimidation that is suggested here? JOHNSTON: Well, he has been remarkably successful at avoiding
accountability, Kate. Donald uses a lot of different strategies.
When he was in business, he would tear up his calendar at the end of the month. He bragged once, I don't use emails, because judges, you know, they know that's really smart, yeah, because you don't leave a record of wrongdoing. He often operates through intermediaries. And it's often, as Elie pointed out, not necessarily to prevent someone from testifying, but to shape their testimony, to encourage them to frame it in a way that's helpful to him.
And there are numerous well-documented cases of this. The Mueller report cites as many as 15 examples of witness tampering.
We have a thorough record from the early 1990s when Donald basically told one of his closest business associates, a major international cocaine smuggler, hey listen, keep your mouth shut, pal, and we'll take care of you. And even though as a casino owner, he's not supposed to deal with somebody like that, after this guy got out of a very brief prison stint, Donald was there to help him out.
BOLDUAN: It's good to see you all. Thank you very much.
OUTFRONT for us next, two former White House staffers questioning the credibility of Secret Service agent Tony Ornato. So, who is the former top Trump aide?
Plus, the fight to free WNBA star Brittney Griner. What the State Department is not saying as we learn new details about Russia's case against the basketball star.
And we're going to take you to the front lines of Ukraine's grinding war with Russia. To see firsthand what the Ukrainians are up against now.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, two former White House aides to President Trump questioning the credibility of Tony Ornato. He's a Secret Service agent who denies he told Cassidy Hutchinson that Trump lunged for the steering wheel inside the presidential SUV when the Secret Service refused to take him to the Capitol to join the rioters.
So, who is Tony Ornato and how crucial could his testimony now be?
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The president says something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president.
Take me up to the Capitol now.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cassidy Hutchinson's story of then-President Trump lunging at Secret Service agents January 6th spurred a quick denial from the man she says told her the tale -- Tony Ornato.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: According to the Secret Service source, Ornato was saying that this did not happen.
FOREMAN: So who is Tony Ornato? As a high-ranking Secret Service agent, Ornato protected presidents for years. But under Team Trump, he was given leave to be elevated to a new unusual and powerful rule, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for operations.
There, he oversaw thousands of employees and worked so closely with the president that "The Washington Post" had identified him as one of several people tied to the Secret Service facing criticism for appearing to embrace Trump's political agenda.
Some colleagues are also speaking out. A former communications director for Trump, now a CNN commentator, says she warned Ornato of potential problems before this chaotic clash of protesters at the White House in 2020. Only to have Ornato deny the conversation ever occur.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN COMMENTATOR: He is someone I don't -- I know to have been dishonest in the past.
FOREMAN: Ornato also disputed talking about moving Vice President Mike Pence from the Capitol during the January 6th attack, spurring another colleague to tweet: Tony Ornato sure seems to deny conversations he has apparently had. Those of us who worked with Tony know where his loyalties lie.
For now, Trump is defending Ornato and his service.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: These are great people. They've devoted their lives to it.
FOREMAN: And blasting the hearing.
TRUMP: And I think they were very embarrassed by it because it makes them sound terrible.
FOREMAN: But the January 6th Committee, which has spoken with Ornato, does not seem as impressed. From one member --
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Mr. Ornato did not have as clear myth of memories from this period of time as I would say Miss Hutchinson did.
FOREMAN: And from another: There seems to be a major thread here. Tony Ornato likes to lie.
(END VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN (on camera): Of course, CNN has reached out to Ornato for specific reply to all of this. What was received as a response from the Secret Service saying he's willing to sit down under oath and answer questions about this -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: But, Tom, is that going to happen? I mean, will the committee have an opportunity to question him again?
FOREMAN: Well, it's a great question. There's been a lot of Trump allies who say they're ready to come out under oath to be questioned, and somehow they start dodging it and never seems to happen.
What we do know is this: a lot of questions could be cleared up for Donald Trump if Tony Ornato would come forward and do what Hutchinson did. Raise his hand, swear to tell the truth and then do it whether or not Donald Trump likes it -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Tom. Thank you very much.
FOREMAN: Good to see you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Russian courtroom with her freedom and fate on the line. Is the key to her release a prisoner swap with the man known as the merchant of death?
Plus, we're going to take you to the front lines of Russia's invasion where the sounds of war are a constant reminder of the deadly threat drawing closer to thousands tonight.
BOLDUAN: No higher priority, that is what Secretary of State Tony Blinken says tonight about efforts to bring Brittney Griner home. Facing the possibility of ten years in a Russian prison, the WNBA star's trial started today in Moscow. Russian prosecutors laying out the criminal charges against her. Possession of 0.7 grams of cannabis oil.
Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT in Moscow tonight.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Brittney Griner handcuffed as she was led into the courtroom. Cameras were not allowed inside the trial where the WNBA star was read the charges of allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into Russia.
Her lawyer saying Griner is in strong spirits.
ALEXANDER BOYKOV, BRITTNEY GRINER'S LAWYER: She's a bit worried. But she is a tough lady. I think she will manage.
PLEITGEN: What do you think are the chances she can get out? That you can get an acquittal? BOYKOV: I would not comment about it (ph).
PLEITGEN: Brittney Griner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17th. Prosecutors today claiming she was carrying to vaping cartridges with a total of about 0.7 grams of cannabis oil inside them, a crime in Russia they can carry a sentence of up to ten years in a prison colony.
The U.S. considers Brittney Griner as being wrongfully detained. The charge d'affaires of the U.S. embassy was inside the courtroom and called on Russia to release Brittney Griner immediately.
ELIZABETH ROOD, U.S. EMBASSY MOSCOW: Wrongful detention is unacceptable wherever it occurs. The United States government, at the very highest levels, is working very hard to bring Ms. Griner, as well as all wrongfully detained U.S. citizens safely home.
PLEITGEN: Brittney Griner's trial starts as tensions between the U.S. and Russia have reached the boiling point. Not just over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. is also calling for the immediate release of former marine, Paul Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in Russian prison for alleged espionage.
The U.S. called his conviction politically motivated. The Kremlin rejects that and today also said Britney Griner's trial was not political.
DMITRY PESKO, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON: You know, I cannot comment on the action of the Russian court. We don't have the right to do that. And never do. I can only deal with the facts, and the facts say that a prominent athlete was detained in possession of prohibited substances that contain drugs.
PLEITGEN: After about two and a half hours, Brittney Griner's trial was adjourned for another week and she was led away handcuffed again, as her lawyers and U.S. authorities fight to bring the basketball star home as soon as possible.
BOLDUAN: And Fred joins me now from Moscow.
So, Fred, this is expected to be a lengthy trial. So what comes next?
PLEITGEN: Yeah, first of all, you're absolutely right. It is expected to be a lengthy trial. It's unclear how many trial dates there are going to be. But certainly, there could be quite a few more.
What we have learned is that the next trial is going to be on July 7th. And if the prosecution wants to call additional witnesses -- now, it's not clear how many. But just today, trial took about 2 1/2 hours, they called two witnesses so that's a process that could take a while.
I also asked Brittney Griner's lawyer whether or not the defense wants to call witnesses as well and defense won't tell me, not something he would divulge in public, but would say here in Russia, not many defendants at the end get acquitted -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: That's for sure. Thank you, Fred. It's good to see you.
OUTFRONT with me now, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She represents Houston Texas where Brittney Griner grew up and she's been a vocal advocate to get Griner free.
Thanks being there, Congresswoman.
I understand you've been in touch with Brittney's family. Her wife is frustrated and understandably worried. How worried are you that Griner is going to be sentenced in the end to ten years in a Russian prison?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Kate, thanks for having me.
And, first of all, let me, as I always do, have the nation and all of us offer our prayers and concerns for the family. And for the families of those who are wrongfully held around the world that are our citizens and should be released immediately.
I'm very worried. First of all, it is correct that Russia has no legal system. The small amount of drugs that they say she has is an allegation, we don't know whether it's true or not, and it's a very, very small amount. And in the United States, it would not even be considered any kind of crime.
So we know this is a political detention, incarceration. This is punishment, and this is Mr. Putin making himself a pariah around the world for even doing this because she was picked up, if you will, one week after the Olympics where, frankly, Russia did not do well and was charged with doping.
So this is showing a little bit of anger. She is a two-time Olympian, a world renowned basketball player and can you imagine, Kate, that she is given seven years of her life to a basketball team in Russia. So the question would be, why is Brittney Griner held and for that reason, I believe that it is political, that she is a pawn and that there is very little chances of her being acquitted.
BOLDUAN: And there is also now speculation that the only way to get her back is through a prisoner swap and there are reports that Russia might be willing to swap Griner for a man named Victor Boot, an arms dealer dubbed the merchant of death who has been in a U.S. prison for over ten years.
Do you think that is the only option to getting her home?
LEE: Well, I think the American people should understand, first of all, that I've always advocated that our State Department should exert the powers of a sovereign nation when it comes to bringing any of their persons, United States citizens who are foreign prisoners, wherever they are. We have to realize, as well, what is the value that we get from maintaining individuals that have been at least a decade in our prisons that have been tried and convicted and that have made the point? This arms dealer we're speaking about was actually hunted down and
arrested by us in Thailand. That angers Mr. Putin because I think there's a personal relationship between the arms dealer and Mr. Putin.
So I do think that a swap, a prison swap that would include this individual, that seems to have this relationship and a special concern by Putin to be an individual that could actually bring both Brittney Griner and Paul home. And that's important, because it is so important to have a sovereign nation exert its sovereignty. And Russia, and Russia's leadership and Putin are really acting like the Gestapos of World War II that thought nothing of being cruel, inhumane, and without any desire to be part of the world family.
And that is what happens when you take individuals and you treat them so cruelly, in a cage to be transported from where she is is not the way to handle any human being. And I think we need to do the swap as quickly as possible.
BOLDUAN: I want to play for you some of CNN's exclusive interview with Brittney Griner's wife. Let me play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERELLE GRINER, WIFE OF WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER: The most beneficial thing I've been told is that, you know, you meet with President Biden. You know, he has that power. He is the person, you know, that ultimately will make that decision for BG to come home so while everybody else tells me they care, I want him to tell me he cares.
(9END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Why do you think they haven't gotten a face to face with the president yet?
LEE: Well, I know that everyone has seen President Biden as the chief comforter. There is no doubt of his passion, along with Dr. Jill and their compassion. I am advocating for a encounter, a conversation, a meeting with the Griner family, and with her wife. I think it will be a tremendous step forward in saying to the nation what we believe about our prisoners, U.S. citizens that have been taken as prisoners.
BOLDUAN: But if it's no higher priority, why hasn't it happened yet?
LEE: Well, let me just say this, I'm not going to give up on it not happening. I believe that the president, if you will, is someone who hears our voices. He hears our voices and in hearing our voices, he is going to act.
And by acting, we're going to see this occurring and I think there have been a lot of things that have happened as you well know from mass murders of children, of the Supreme Court going awry with decisions, the war in Ukraine.
But I'm not going to make any excuse. I'm just going to say that the State Department is working. They know the importance of their work, but they also know the importance of President Biden comforting these families, and I'm just going to personally ask the president of the United States to visit with or to call the Griner family, call Cherelle, her wife, and ensure the family, along with the other hostages, Paul's family, that this is very important.
It happened with Trevor Reed's family. I know that they are strongly supporting getting these prisoners home, getting Brittney home, getting Paul home. Trevor came down to a rally that we had in Houston and was he loved by all and he told how horrible the conditions were.
And so, I believe that he will clearly listen to all of these voices and make sure that we, that he acts. I do believe that's going to happen.
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you for coming in tonight.
LEE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, as Russia tightens grip on eastern Ukraine, we're in the trenches with what Ukrainian forces are facing right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If, when the Russians decide to move through and take this territory, it is unlikely these soldiers will ever see them up close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Plus, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney with a message for voters as she fights to save her house seat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are now embracing a cult of personality and I won't be part of that.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, a series of missile attacks killing at least 21 people, including a 12-year-old boy in Ukraine, another 40 people were injured. The strikes, hitting a residential building and recreation center in the southern city of Odesa.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy describes this as the latest example of what he calls Russian terror.
Still, Russia is on the verge of seizing control of another key city this evening.
Phil Black is OUTFRONT.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These Ukrainian fighters know it won't be long now. The Russians are getting closer, firing heavy ammunitions into this dense forest everyday.
Vladimir shows us where much bigger rounds have fallen close to their camp, incoming fire booms steadily nearby. As Mykhailo proudly shows us, the advance the antitank weapons provided by western allies. They were hugely effective earlier in the war, but they're not the weapons Ukraine needs most for this fight in the east.
You can hear, Mykhailo says, every one of our heavy shots, they make 10 or 20. It's because we lack artillery. Outgunned by the Russians, outnumbered too.
Of course, they're coming, Maksym says, and there are many more of them than us.
The fight is positioned in this forest a short distance from Russian lines, are all volunteers who signed up when the war started. For weeks, they've been waiting, ready to carry out one job -- to attack any Russian convoys trying their luck at a nearby road.
If, when, the Russians decide to move through and take this territory, it is unlikely these soldiers will ever see them, not up close, they will just feel more of the same. Heavy weapons, artillery, the rocket fire, the big heavy weapons Russia was using to drive Ukrainian forces back steadily, slowly, across this region.
Russia's big weapons don't just fall in the forest. Sloviansk, a key city in the Donbas, now within easy range. Here, Russia artillery destroyed a local business. Six people outside a supermarket were injured when cluster bombs dropped around them.
Bomblets also scattered around this apartment complex, killing a man and a pet, terrifying many more people.
Valentina says the explosions blue debris over her bed. Every night. she tries to block out the noise of war with a pillow.
In Bakhmut, southeast of Sloviansk, explosions even greater in number and power, tearing apart peoples' homes as they huddle beneath them in basements.
The Russian advance in Bakhmut is only a short drive from this road, almost every home still has someone living in it, almost every home has felt Russian firepower. But the people here, are still reluctant to leave.
Marina feels she has nowhere to go, with the strain of staying is unbearable. She says, we don't have gas, we don't have power, we don't have water, but we only want the shooting to stop.
In the Donbas, Russia's unmatched artillery is an unstoppable force, with (INAUDIBLE) and no concern of civilian suffering.
It is steadily overpowering Ukraine's defenses.
BLACK (on camera): As Russian forces advance, Kate, more and more people find themselves living within range of that Russian artillery. And the message to them, the increasingly urgent message, is get out now while you still can, because there is an increasing sense, a grinding inevitability of just how unequal this fight is, and the fact that perhaps Russia can be slowed down but its goal of seizing this whole region cannot be stopped -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, Phil, thanks for being there. Really appreciate it.
OUTFRONT for us next, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney puts her legacy on the line as she fights for political survival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I will never violate my oath of office and if you're looking for somebody who will, you need to vote for somebody else on this stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Plus, President Biden vowing to preserve every woman's right to a medication that could soon be banned in some places.
BOLDUAN: Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney defending her record and fighting for political survival now as she faces a primary challenge back by Donald Trump. On the debate stage in Wyoming last night, the vice chair of the January 6th committee warned of dangerous consequences if her party continues pushing Trump's election lies.
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CHENEY: We are now embracing a cult of personality. And I won't be -- I won't be a part of that. If we embrace the lies of Donald Trump, if we tell the people of Wyoming something that is not true, we will soon find ourselves without the structure and the basis and framework of our constitutional republic. So, I'm asking for your vote and I'm asking you to understand that I will never violate my oath of office. And if you're looking for somebody who will, you need to vote for somebody else on this stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Despite that warning, most of Cheney's opponents on that stage still question the 2020 election result and promoted outright lies of massive voter fraud.
OUTFRONT now is Joe McGinley, Wyoming Republican committeeman from Natrona County. He's a supporter of Congresswoman Cheney.
Thanks for being here, Joe.
So, Cheney is very clearly facing a very tough primary. There's such a stark difference between her and her opponent on the stage last night and former President Trump and his allies' intent on seeing her lose. How do you describe how tough this primary challenge is that she's facing?
JOE MCGINLEY, REP. LIZ CHENEY SUPPORTER: Yeah, thanks, Kate, for having me.
You know, the debates were wonderful last night. It was wonderful to hear from all the candidates. It was great to hear their perspective.
Yes, this is going to be a tough race. You know, President Trump endorsed another candidate, which by default is going to make this challenging.
However, Representative Cheney did a wonderful job. She stuck to what's important, that's the Constitution, that's our Republican values. I think she really stole the show last night. She was the most composed and really highlighted what a leader looks like.
BOLDUAN: I'm wondering how you think this lands with voters. Do you think she has a chance?
MCGINLEY: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm supporting Representative Cheney. Here in Natrona County, in Casper, if you drive around towns, there's Cheney signs everywhere, much more than people probably were expecting. And it's wonderful to see.
I mean, you're seeing all types of people come out to support Representative Cheney because of what she represents and how she's representing the Wyoming people.
BOLDUAN: But most of her opponents on the debate stage last night, I mean, they promoted conspiracy theories and lies about massive voter fraud in 2020, including even referencing claims that have been debunked from a film called "2,000 Mules". I want to play for everyone, I know you saw it last night, some of what was said from the stage.
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HARRIET HAGEMAN, CANDIDATE, WYOMING GOP PRIMARY FOR U.S. HOUSE: We have serious questions about the 2020 election. The "2,000 Mules" movie is something I think we have great concern about in terms of the use of the drop boxes.
ANTHONY BOUCHARD, CANDIDATE, WYOMING GOP PRIMARY FOR U.S. HOUSE: What about Facebook using the system to steer people? We know for a fact all the major internets do that.
There is fraud happening. And we know it.
ROBYN BELINSKEY, CANDIDATE, WYOMING GOP PRIMARY FOR U.S. HOUSE: There was a definite setup for the whole 2020 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: You wonder, it's clearly landing with some voters, or they wouldn't be saying it. I mean, do you think they on the stage believe this, or do you think they just believe they can't win in a Republican Party in Wyoming without saying that right now?
MCGINLEY: Yeah, I think some are taking the easy way out here. You know, the theory that the election was stolen has been disproven now numerous times. Some of the candidates were hinting on the fact that maybe they don't believe it was stolen, but the perception of some individuals is that something went wrong in that election.
And they're capitalizing that. They're capitalizing on fear. They're really taking advantage of individuals in that situation. It's really unfortunate to see people who want to leave the party, who want to represent us take conspiracy theories and use that to get votes. It really is disappointing.
BOLDUAN: You've also been attacked and punished really for criticizing the state's party, even accused of trying to undermine the party's values. What does it -- Liz Cheney has spoken about what it's been like for her. But what's this been like for you?
MCGINLEY: You know, I don't -- I don't know if you can undermine their values at this point. It's -- you know, I really don't take it personally. You know, they're trying to silence me. They're trying to intimidate me, just like they're doing with other individuals, and it won't work.
I'm going to speak on behalf of what I believe is right, and so will others. You're seeing with Representative Cheney. They tried censoring several individuals within the party. All it does is show how petty their actions are, and really -- it holds no value. I mean, it really doesn't mean anything.
BOLDUAN: Joe McGinley, thanks for coming in. I really appreciate it.
OUTFRONT next --
MCGINLEY: Thank you. Have a good evening.
BOLDUAN: You too.
Biden's promise to protect the rights of women who may need to travel to other states for abortion services. We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Biden pledging to protect access to abortion pills and telling Democratic governors in the virtual meeting tonight the fight for abortion access is not over.
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JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If states try to block a woman from getting medication, the FDA has already approved and has been available for more than 20 years, my administration will act and protect that woman's right to that medication.
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BOLDUAN: The president also said his administration will act to protect the, quote, bedrock rights of women traveling to other states for abortion services.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: If extremist governors try to block a woman from traveling to her state that prohibits her from seeking medical help she needs to a state that provides that care, the federal government will act to protect her bedrock rights through the attorney general's office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: President Biden still wants the Senate to codify abortion rights, but acknowledge today, the Senate math is not in his favor, saying he lacks the votes right now in the Senate to change the filibuster rules and also saying to the group of governors the party needs to win more seats in the Senate in the midterms to get a bill to his desk.
A programming note for all of you before we go tonight, on Monday, please don't miss CNN's Fourth of July concert special, "The Fourth in America", with fireworks from across the country. That starts on Monday night at 7:00 Eastern.
Thank you so much for joining us this evening. I'm Kate Bolduan.
"AC360" starts now.