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Erin Burnett Outfront
January 6 Committee: Bannon Conviction "is a Victory for the Rule of Law"; First on CNN: Secret Service Investigators Scrutinizing Phones of 10 People with Metadata Showing Texts That Were Not Retained; Trump, Pence Hold Dueling Rallies in Arizona; Deadly Heat Wave Melting Roads And Roofs Across the World. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 22, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, guilty, Steve Bannon now looking at jail time after being found guilty of contempt for defying the January 6 Select Committee. The panel today calling today's verdict a victory for the rule of law.
Plus, the ball's in the attorney general's court. The January 6th committee says it has done its job, and it is now up to Merrick Garland to charge Trump. But will he?
And it's Trump versus Pence, as the former president and vice president are holding dueling rallies for two different candidates in the key state of Arizona. So who has the upper hand?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, a victory for the rule of law. That's the words from the top two members of the January 6th Select Committee, after Trump's long-time ally Steve Bannon was found guilty of contempt for refusing to appear before the committee.
Congressman Bennie Thompson and Congresswoman Liz Cheney came out with a warning, they say, for anyone else who tries to obstruct or stonewall their investigation. They write tonight, and I'll read the quote: Just as there must be accountability for all those responsible for the events of January 6th, anyone who obstructs our investigation into these matters should face consequences. No one is above the law.
Now Bannon, I should note, is the first close aide to Trump to be convicted as a result of investigations into the insurrection. He could face months if not a year in jail. After the verdict, Trump's former chief strategist lashed out at the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: I only have one disappointment, and that is the gutless members of that show trial committee, the J6 committee didn't have the guts to come down here and testify in open court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, a lot of tough talk from Bannon, even though of course the whole reality of this is that he did not testify in his own defense, despite vowing just days ago that he would go medieval during the trial. His word.
Now, today's verdict comes less than 24 hours after the committee that he snubbed played a clip of Bannon revealing Trump's plan to subvert the will of the people three days before the election itself.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BANNON: What Trump's going to do is declare victory. Right? He's going to declare victory. That that doesn't mean he's a winner. He's just going to say he's a winner.
The Democrats -- more of our people vote early that count, theirs vote in the mail, so they're going to have a natural disadvantage, and Trump's going to take advantage of that. That's our strategy. He's going to declare himself a winner.
So, when you wake up Wednesday morning, it's going to be a firestorm.
Also, if Trump is losing by 10:00 or 11:00 at night, it's going to be even crazier. Because he will say they stole it. If Biden's winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump is going to do some crazy shit, three days before the election from Steve Bannon.
Well, according to federal prosecutors in Bannon's case, the committee wanted to ask him about his actions before the Capitol riot. It's not just what I just played. He also, of course, reportedly is the one who got Trump to come back to Washington from Mar-a-Lago for the rally itself and he had two conversations with the president on January 5th, a few minutes after one of them ended, he went on his radio show and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Bannon's guilty verdict should send a warning to any Trump aide who refuses to cooperate, and that includes Trump adviser Peter Navarro who is awaiting trial on the same charges Bannon face.
Sara Murray begins our coverage tonight. She is live outside the courthouse in Washington. Sara, you've been at the courthouse every day since this trial began,
and here we are with this guilty verdict. Tell me more about what happened, what ended with this conviction?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yeah, here we are, you know, Steve Bannon promised that this was going to be the misdemeanor from hell. We heard a lot of bluster from him. Instead he's been convicted on two counts and the House Select Committee is doing a victory lap tonight saying this is a victory for the rule of law and also an affirmation for their work.
MURRAY (voice-over): Long-time Trump ally Steve Bannon found guilty today on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress.
BANNON: We may have lost a battle here today, but we're not going to lose this war.
MURRAY: Bannon who smirked as the verdict was handed down, faces at least 30 days behind bars after a jury rejected his defense that the dates of his subpoena weren't set in stone.
The conviction is a major boost for the House Select Committee investigating January 6th, reaffirming its subpoena power as it continues its quest for more information and additional witnesses.
Bannon refused to comply with the committee's subpoena for information about his contact with Trump and comments like this one ahead of the Capitol riot.
BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.
MURRAY: Prosecutor Molly Gaston boiling it down in her closing argument: Bannon didn't show up. He has contempt for our system of government, and he does not think he needs to play by its rules.
She compared his offense to snubbing a parking ticket, a sorely relevant analogy for a Washington, D.C.., jury, and said the former White House chief strategist chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance to the law.
BANNON: I stand with Trump and the Constitution, and I will never back off that, ever.
MURRAY: As for Bannon's last gasp offer to testify publicly before the committee --
BANNON: Give me a date, a time, a room number, a microphone, and a holy bible that I can take oath on. Boom.
MURRAY: Prosecutor Amanda Vaughn called him out saying he and his friend, former President Donald Trump, suddenly decided he's going to comply? Give me a break. Bannon is not above the law. He is not the decider of
the law. He is guilty, she said.
While Bannon promised a fiery case --
BANNON: This is going to be the misdemeanor from hell.
MURRAY: The defense rested without calling a single witness. In a chopping closing argument, Bannon attorney Evan Corcoran was interrupted by objection after objection, highlighting the limited defenses the court allowed Bannon to present. Ultimately, Corcoran claimed there was no magic to Bannon's subpoena date.
In a final bid to inject politics into the case, Corcoran said the powerful tried to silence the opposition. Politics can play no role, he argued. It's important that we are all in this together and Steve Bannon is innocent.
The jury didn't buy it, deliberating less than three hours, but Bannon's team already plotting their appeal.
EVAN CORCORAN, BANNON'S ATTORNEY: This is a bullet proof appeal.
MURRAY: Now it has been pretty clear throughout the week that Bannon's team has been eyeing his possible appeal, whether it is bullet proof, of course, we simply will not know until it goes to the appeals court. What we do know is Steve Bannon has a sentencing date, October 21st -- Erin.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Sara.
So, now, Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor is with me, along with Evan Perez, our senior justice correspondent.
So, let's just start where Sara finished. Bannon's attorney reacts to the guilty verdict, says this is a bullet proof appeal. We heard that sentencing isn't until mid, late fall. How long could this process play out?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, Erin, on the criminal side, as you said, Steve Bannon will be sentenced in October. After that he will go to his appeal. He does have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He does not have a bullet proof appeal. That's an over-the-top thing to say.
He has some appeal issues here because most of the defenses that he wanted to raise were blocked by the judge. In my view the judge was correct. A criminal defendant has very wide latitude to defend himself. However, you don't have unlimited ability to do that. There are some defenses that are simply not legally relevant.
I think the judge got it right here in precluding Steve Bannon from essentially turning this into a political circus. Now, how long does a federal appeal take? Typically, in my experience, anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
So we're really looking at this case being finally over, including the appeal, really sometime late in 2023, and a big question is, will the judge send Steve Bannon into prison before the appeal? A lot of times judges send defendants in when they're sentenced and make them start serving their time, or will a judge let Steve Bannon remain out so he can see how his appeal comes out? And if that's the case, then Steve Bannon could remain out of prison for quite a while now.
BURNETT: So, Evan, there is -- you know, we're talking about the specific, right, this is for contempt of Congress. There is the issue of what Bannon actually did regarding January 6th and trying to overturn the election, right? We just played that sound bite that the committee played last night, right, where he says -- lays out exactly why Trump is going to declare that he won even if he didn't win, and what is the likelihood that Bannon could be indicted again in the DOJ's ongoing criminal investigation with much more serious charges, frankly?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, you raise a good point because, look, this investigation has clearly moved from being about the -- just about the rioters to something that is a lot closer to what Steve Bannon was involved in and what the former president were involved in, which is the greater effort to overturn the election, which is what inspired the rioters, right?
And so, Steve Bannon, we know, was at the Willard Hotel where that was the center of the efforts to try to persuade lawmakers to refuse the certification, and to get the former president to remain in office.
He also, we know, was in touch with the former president in late December right up until the day before January 6th. So at a minimum, he was a witness if not a participant in some of those efforts that the Justice Department now says is the most important investigation that the Justice Department has ever done.
BURNETT: Pretty -- you talk about the profound nature of that, the most important investigation they've ever done.
Elie, here's where we are. Bannon's not the first person in Trump's circle to get charged and convicted of a crime. Not related to January 6th you already have Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn just to name a few of those who have been convicted or pleaded guilty to crimes.
But, of course, Trump has not been charged by the DOJ. So that -- this is where we are on January 6th. After last night, we're not going to hear more, they say, if there's going to be more hearings until September. They've handed it to the DOJ.
Do you think that something more could be coming from Merrick Garland?
HONIG: Well, Erin, it really is remarkable when you lay out the whole array of Donald Trump's advisers, lawyers, political allies who have been at least indicted for their criminal conduct over the years. Now we have Steve Bannon for the second time, by the way. The first
time he was indicted, Donald Trump pardoned him. You have Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Tom Barrack, Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization itself, and yet not Donald Trump.
I think that's what's driving a lot of the questions that have been raised about DOJ and other prosecutors. How can it be that everyone around the most powerful person has been indicted, yet the most powerful person stands there at the center of the carnage entirely untouched?
I think you're exactly right. I think one of the things the committee is trying to do is tee up the evidence and up the pressure on DOJ to make a serious run at Donald Trump. Whether they're going to do that as Evan said remains to be seen. There are signs of a slowly, in my view, ever too slowly expanding investigation. Whether they'll get there perhaps, but in my view, it will be too late if they ever do.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, right, then you start to get into election season and, you know, you're close here, right? You're in that 30 to 60-day window before you're too close.
So, Evan, here's the thing. As they figure out what more they could have that would person tan pertain to what the president did and didn't do, there's been this focus, right, on the secret service and the committee said they want information from them regarding those text messages in part. Now, though, CNN is learning investigators identified potential missing text messages around January 6th on the phones of ten Secret Service personnel.
So there is a criminal investigation underway by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, but does -- is this resolved? I mean, where are we on this?
PEREZ: It is not resolved, and look, you can now hear people both in Capitol Hill and some of the outside critics of the -- including perhaps the inspector general who they have a suspicion that there perhaps is a cover-up that is going on, and so that's part of what is driving this story now for the Secret Service. The question is, are those messages -- we now know that there are -- there is metadata that indicates that at least we know messages were sent and received.
The question is, can they be recovered? We know, you know, I've talked to technical experts who say that it is possible. Again, it will have to be done by technical experts. It possible for some of these phones, we don't know exactly how old these phones are, what exactly the technology is.
PEREZ: But it is possible. And you know, that's going to be key.
The other thing is, you know, to talk to some of these witnesses who at least may have received some of these messages and perhaps, you know, could explain when exactly happened here and what exactly were in these messages, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, Elie, here's the thing, you know, to what Evan's saying. One retired Secret Service agent Jim Helminski went to Twitter and said: Secret Service investigates cyber. To say data was lost is ridiculous. On its face it would appear the agency covering for individuals.
I thought it was significant that he points out, Secret Service investigates cyber. It's part of their remit. So, he's saying that embarrassment wouldn't be the direction he would go.
Does this seem nefarious to you?
HONIG: The answers that we've gotten so far from secret service, Erin, are completely unsatisfactory in my view. This agent makes a great point. Everyone knows Secret Service from protecting the president, but in fact, they're a federal law enforcement body. I used to do cases, cyber cases, fraud cases with Secret Service all the time.
So, A, they know they have an affirmative obligation to save those texts. In a criminal case, you have to turn them over to the defendant. You can get a case dismissed if you don't do that. B, we know they certainly have the technological capacity to do that. It's made worse here because there were two requests from Congress before this migration happened that caused them to lose -- to lose these texts.
And finally, these related to January 5th and 6th. We knew by midday January 6th that these days were going to be crucial and the subject of ongoing investigations. So I think their explanations so far --
And finally, these related to January 5th and 6th. We knew by midday January 6th that these days were going to be crucial and the subject of ongoing investigations. So I think their explanations so far have been completely unconvincing.
BURNETT: Thank you both.
And tonight, on CNN, don't miss a special report from our investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, "Steve Bannon: Divided We Fall". That airs tonight at 9:00.
And next, prosecuting Trump, so the January 6th committee says that they have made their case successfully that Trump broke the law and that it's now up to the Justice Department to make a move, to decide whether to charge the former president.
Plus, I'll speak to former D.C. Officer Michael Fanone who was at the Capitol and assaulted on January 6th. What was his reaction when he heard the chilling Secret Service radio traffic from the insurrection last night?
And tens of millions of Americans suffering through a dangerous heat wave affecting the whole world that is about to get worse. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's fate now in the hands of the Department of Justice and Merrick Garland. A member of the January 6th committee telling CNN today that the committee has done its job, that it is now up to the DOJ to do its job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): We've proven different components of a criminal case against Donald Trump or people around him in every hearing, and I think taken in totality, this represents the greatest effort to overturn the will of the people, to conspire against the will of the people, and to conspire against American democracy that we've ever had, frankly, since the Civil War. So yeah, I think we've proven that. It's up to justice now to make a decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb.
So, Ty, we've talked throughout these hearings. You hear Congressman Kinzinger say, look, similar to we've rested our case. He says that the committee has proven components of criminal acts. Do you think he's right?
TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I think to some extent that he's right. There's certainly -- so there are multiple elements to most criminal acts, insurrection and seditious conspiracy are quite complicated to prove. Certainly, you know, the facts of yesterday and of the last two or three hearings, you know, paint Trump as impassioned about his belief that the election was stolen, willing to tolerate shocking events such as the violence at the Capitol to pursue his efforts to prove that point.
But, you know, criminal cases don't have components. They have elements, and it's a really different context. You know, there's certain things that have to be proved, and I think absent more proof of command and control and coordination with the Proud Boys and the -- you know, other violent actors on the hill, I think it's very difficult to establish that criminal case.
Now, having said, that you know, I think as we've discussed, I do think his meddling in Georgia, his demand of Raffensperger for 11,780 votes, similar demands made to rusty bowers in Arizona, I do think those pose serious criminal problems for the president as does the fund-raising that he did on the stop the steal campaign. But I think --
BURNETT: So I want to ask you about --
COBB: I think the committee -- sure. Go ahead, Erin.
BURNETT: Yeah, what you were saying about the committee, it sounds like what you're saying is they haven't -- in your view, they haven't established that he didn't believe that he won, and they haven't established direct command and control, as in his knowledge, right?
So when we hear that, you know, for a fact he knew they were armed and he told them to march anyway, that doesn't reach the standard to you?
COBB: So the problem with it is that he asked them to march, is he knew a few of them were armed, and he could have known that half of them were armed, but you know, just as his words get parsed in the negative, you know, the absence of, you know, more balance on the committee, you know, limits the public's ability to fully understand what the evidence really establishes, and that includes, you know, his use of the term peacefully multiple times in the same speech, which is -- which is pretty substantial insulation on the charges that they are seeking to do.
Now, I will say this, though, that --
BURNETT: Yeah, go ahead.
COBB: So I was just going to say, Erin, that I do think that the committee has done an excellent job for a purpose that Congress is uniquely suited for, which is to determine that Trump gave aid and comfort to the insurrectionists and that's a disqualifying conduct under section 3 of the 14th amendment, which is Congress is to determine, subject to some form of judicial review as yet undecided, but that's certainly within their -- within their arsenal.
BURNETT: So I want to talk about Georgia because you mentioned it. You mentioned Arizona as well, and Rusty Bowers, but I want to ask you specifically about the Georgia D.A. investigation into Fulton County because I know it's one of the places where you think Trump could face the most liability and criminal liability and indictment. You have been complimentary, Ty, of the district attorney there, Fani Willis. She is an elected Democrat.
Now, the Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney has criticized her now for previously hosting a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate running against one of the targets in her investigation at this time.
The judge's quote was: it's a "what are you thinking" moment, the optics are horrific.
Ty, I know you think highly of her. Is he right to criticize? Does this threaten the investigation?
COBB: So he's absolutely right to criticize her, and she made a huge mistake in judgment, but I don't think that it jeopardize -- it certainly doesn't jeopardize the overall investigation, and there are multiple solutions. I mean, they could carve off, sever that defendant, try him separately. If it's determined that she committed misconduct as to him.
And even if they, you know, viewed the conduct so egregious that they would take her out of the entire fake elector phase of her investigation, that wouldn't complicate her ability to prosecute the president.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Ty, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
COBB: Great, Erin. Nice to be with you.
BURNETT: All right. And next a White House security official testifying, Pence's Secret Service detail feared for their lives.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WHITE HOUSE SECURITY OFFICIAL: I don't like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: A former adviser to pence who was at last night's hearing is my guest tonight.
And Mike Pence taking on Donald Trump, the one-time ticket now backing Republican rivals in that crucial state of Arizona. So whose message is going to win?
BURNETT: Tonight, new video. One of the hero officers who was viciously attacked and injured while protecting the Capitol on January 6th was harassed after last night's hearing.
Here's what former D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone encountered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTER: Why were you there January 6th? You were not even on duty. Why were you there on January 6th?
PROTESTER: Are you trying to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you guys kidding me?
PROTESTER: Are you a real police officer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave me alone, sir.
PROTESTER: Are you disappointed that you're going to -- eight years in jail because of your lies?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Michael Fanone who is now a CNN law enforcement analyst is out front with me now, along with Olivia Troye, former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to former Vice President Pence. She also attended last night's hearing.
Both of you, thanks so much.
And Michael, you know, you risked your life to defend the Capitol and protect others on that day, and now you had this happen. This sort of insulting barrage of harassment that you had, people questioning your actions, asking if you're a real police officer.
I mean, what went through your mind? You're coming out of this hearing last night and this is what you walked into.
MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I mean, I was shocked but not surprised. I mean, first, let me preface this with the vast majority of the interactions that I have with people, especially since speaking out after January 6th, have been tremendously positive and supportive.
So these few individuals represent, you know, a small sliver of those interactions. But they do exist. I don't know what to tell you.
To be honest with you, I think their motivations were more acting as provocateurs looking for some type of physical reaction. As you can see in the video, at one point an individual who intervened on my behalf unfortunately ended up in handcuffs because of the inaction of the U.S. Capitol Police.
BURNETT: It's an incredible thing that that actually happened. And, Olivia, you know, you and Michael had just come out of the hearing. I want to play one of the moments that stood out from the hearing when the select committee released the radio traffic that was from vice president pence's security detail. Here is part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may want to consider getting out and leaving now, copy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will we encounter the people once we make our way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a clear shot if we move quickly. Unknown smoke downstairs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the protesters?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that route compromised?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have (AUDIO DELETED) is secure. However, we will bypass some protesters that are being contained. There is smoke unknown what kind of smoke it is. Copy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear, we're coming out now, all right? Make a way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Olivia, what was your reaction? You're sitting there in the hearing room last night hearing that radio traffic for the first time. OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY & COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR TO
VP MIKE PENCE : It was -- it was very emotional. I was, you know, not only saddened by the fact that that ever even took place but also I was so angry as well, to be honest because I was sitting there thinking -- I mean, here we are, we were hearing it in real time, what they were facing, what they were struggling with, and the fact that this is an elite force that their sole mission is to protect the main leaders of our country and how close it came, and the fact that they were in real-time calculating how they were going to protect themselves and the vice president.
And it -- you know, it sounds like something out of a movie, and it's so surreal to hear that. It should be shocking to every American, but this is -- this was real. It happened.
And I've got to say that in the context of thinking about the fact that Donald Trump was aware of what was happening, he was fully aware of what was going on. He knew the vice president's life was in danger, and he was doing nothing. He was calling no one to help these people that were facing this situation, including people like Michael Fanone, who I give complete credit to and who was hurt.
And I just -- I think -- I hope that Americans are really actually paying attention to the facts of what really happened here that day and how close everything came.
BURNETT: Michael, you know, we all heard you were there in the room, the chilling testimony from a White House security official, anonymous, about what they heard from Pence's detail. This moment just really stood out. Here it is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WHITE HOUSE SECURITY OFFICIAL: The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. There were a lot of -- there was a lot of yelling, a lot of -- a lot of very personal calls over the radio. So it was disturbing. I don't like talking about it, but there were calls to say good-bye to family members, so on, so forth.
It was getting -- for whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought this was about to get very ugly.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Michael, just -- obviously, you were there, you experienced these feelings in a deeply personal and guttural way. Hearing that, that the Secret Service detail for the vice president of the United States were making calls saying good-bye to their loved ones because they thought they were going to die.
Did that surprise you or hit you in any way when you heard it?
FANONE: Personally, no, it did not. Again, like you said, I was there that day. I don't need to hear radio transmissions to be reminded of the significance of the violence that the officers that were there, the agents that were there were experiencing. I can recognize how traumatic that would be for somebody to listen to on the other end of that radio, but again, for me, you know, I was there. I know all too well what those agents were experiencing.
And it should be reminded while they were calculating a plan to evacuate the vice president, which is their law enforcement mission, there were hundreds, hundreds of police officers that were running into that building to participate in the events of the Capitol.
BURNETT: I mean, it's the sobering reality.
You know, Olivia, you were there last night in that room to support Sarah Matthews, the former deputy press secretary testified. Alyssa Farah Griffin told me earlier this week that it would be hard for Trump allies to attack her because she came from the Trump campaign and was a tried and true Republican, but yet they did.
The House Republican' Twitter account, the blue check mark, formal House Republican Twitter count sent out a tweet. The tweet accused Matthews of being just another liar and pawn in Pelosi's witch hunt. That came from the official House Republicans' account, Olivia.
Sure, they deleted it, but that's what they sent out.
TROYE: Yeah, look, I don't care about the fact that they deleted it. The fact is they did it, and I was sitting in the hearing and in real- time I actually saw that tweet come out, and I thought it was disgusting and shameful.
And I think it speaks to sort of their lack of integrity for the oath they took when they took office when you have someone testifying under oath, and yes, a lifelong Republican who has worked, by the way, with these congressional people.
And even more so, I've got to say that as a woman who was there supporting another woman coming forward, knowing that Elise Stefanik is leading the Republican conference right now, I just -- it was on another level so shameful and disgusting, and I think, you know, that speaks to all of these individuals' characters who are cowards, who refuse to really speak the truth about what got us here to begin with and who continue to go down the path of lying about this and continue to create this incredibly dangerous divisive narrative that they continue to champion and lead.
It's shameful and shame on Elise Stefanik who stepped into her role too quickly and too cheerfully and too happily in the face of pushing someone like Liz Cheney, who is, you know, a strong woman, a long-time conservative who is really standing up for the truth right now.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much, Michael, Olivia.
And next, in Arizona that crucial state, there's a showdown between Donald Trump and the former Vice President Mike Pence over the future of the Republican Party. That's where it's playing out and you'll see exactly how.
Plus, the record breaking heat wave that's gripping the United States turning deadly, dozens believed to have been killed and forecasters warn it's about to get worse.
BURNETT: New tonight, Mike Pence and Donald Trump holding dueling rallies in Arizona's Republican primary for governor, in what is now a proxy war between the two men and their visions for the GOP.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A showdown in the desert over the future of the Republican Party. Mike Pence and Donald Trump at odds yet again, this time in the hotly contested GOP primary for Arizona governor. The former president has endorsed Republican candidate Kari Lake.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: She has my complete and total endorsement.
LAH: A former Republican.
KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Registered as a Republican.
LAH: Turned independent, turned Democrat.
LAKE: I registered as a Democrat.
LAH: Turned Republican again.
LAKE: The Republican Party, the party of solutions.
LAH: Her campaign is centered on the lie that Donald Trump beat Joe Biden.
LAKE: We may not be able to save the whole U.S. as long as that illegitimate president is in the White House.
LAH: She spouts far right conspiracies.
LAKE: We had major election fraud, hundreds, 200,000 minimum ballots were trafficked by mules.
LAH: Like Trump -- Lake made her name on television. The former Arizona local news anchor has also borrowed from his playbook, frequently attacking those in her old profession.
LAKE: Fake news, by the way. I got ambushed by CNN outside.
JENNIFER PROFFIT, ARIZONA VOTER: I think Kari Lake has what it takes to get us to where we need to get back on track for our families and gives us hope.
LAH: Lake has a message for a base and only that group. The question is, is that group large enough to win the Republican nomination?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you?
LAH: Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson says it's not.
How do you run against an opponent who is backed by a popular former president?
KARRIN TAYLOR ROBSON (R), ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: If you like Donald Trump's policies and record of limited government, low tax, pro- business environment, and somebody with a track record of success, I'm your candidate. If you want somebody who is a big personality, I think Kari Lake is your candidate.
LAH: Robson's strategy to win the GOP nomination is to consolidate support of traditional conservatives, helped by Pence's Friday rally.
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Arizona needs Karrin Taylor Robson.
LAH: Robson also has the support of Arizona's outgoing Republican Governor Doug Ducey who attacked Lake's support for Trump as a matter of political convenience.
GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: Kari Lake's misleading voters with no evidence. She's been tagged by her opponents with a nickname, fake Lake, which seems to be sticking.
LAH: A delicate dance for Robson, courting the right wing means sowing doubts about the 2020 election.
Where are you on the 2020 election?
ROBSON: At a minimum, the election was not fair, and I know people want to hear a different answer from me, but when you take a look at, you know, there was concern from a lot of voters.
MARCUS DELL'ARTINO, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When you look at the primaries we just went through in some of these other states, I think messages to take away from that is certainly the Donald Trump endorsement is a powerful asset but not the silver bullet.
LAH: Arizona's primary will be another signal for national Republicans.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Phoenix.
BURNETT: And next, the U.S. baking under triple digit temperatures, while in China, temperatures are now so hot that roofs are actually melting there.
Plus, a CNN special report into how some of the richest people in America are shaping legislation to fit their views.
BURNETT: Tonight, no end in sight. The brutal temperatures gripping the world are expected to go higher. More than 50 U.S. cities are set to break records this weekend, and in the northeast, many can see triple-digit temperatures.
Polo Sandoval is OUTFRONT.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The National Weather Service predicting the dangerous July heat wave is far from subsiding, after blistering parts of the nation south this week, forecasters expecting this weekend's temperatures in the Northeast will soar above normal for this time of year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sat outside from 10:00 to 4:00 this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too hot inside, I'm sitting outside.
SANDOVAL: Expected record-setting temperatures prompting various heat alerts in the northeast corridor throughout the weekend, including in Boston and in New York, where the forecast calling for a high at/or near 100 degrees in the city on Sunday.
JAMIE MCSHANE, CONEDISON: We're entering an extended heat wave. We're concerned about, you know, the consecutive one day after the next of high temperature, high heat.
SANDOVAL: A similar weekend in store for parts of the southwest, with daytime temperatures in some areas likely to exceed 110 degrees, according to forecasters.
In all, roughly 85 percent of Americans will see temperatures above 90 degrees over the next week. Arizona officials report at least 29 people died from heat-related issues since March. Dallas recorded its first heat-associated death of the year, a 66-year-old woman with underlying health conditions. All across the country, authorities asking people to take caution, staying indoors and hydrated, limiting sun exposure, and checking on the most vulnerable.
ADAM PALUKA, EMSA PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Don't think you're invincible because of your age. Don't think you're invincible because of your fitness level. Everybody could succumb to the heat. There is nobody who is immune. SANDOVAL: the heat has only compounded drought conditions out west.
New NASA satellite imagery showing Lake Mead at its lowest level since 1937. It's a source of water to millions across seven states, tribal lands and parts of Mexico.
Compared to the image in 2000, the recent photograph from this year shows what may be the worst drought in 12 centuries.
The extreme heat in the U.S. continues to be matched by deadly summer conditions overseas. Authorities in Spain estimated more than 510 heat wave-related deaths this week, scorching temperatures melted the roof of a museum in central China and Chinese state media showing COVID workers desperately trying to keep cool in sweltering suits.
And in the U.K., rail workers painted tracks white to absorb less heat to keep them from expanding. Operations at a London airport were temporarily suspended to repair a small section of runway damaged by the summer sun.
And the heat also adding to wildfire concerns. Nineteen European countries are on extreme danger alert.
SANDOVAL (on camera): Back here in the United States, New York City officials because of this unrelenting heat, they've already been forced to basically shorten this triathlon that was expected to take place on Sunday. It still will happen. However, they've basically shortened the distance for the cycling and running portion.
The concern is over heat-related illness. Same concerns also in the city of Boston, where they postponed it to next month, citing historic weather conditions, Erin.
BURNETT: Wow. Polo, thank you very much.
And next, see why some are comparing billionaire's sway on Texas politics to a Russian-style oligarch.
BURNETT: Tonight, billionaires in the shadows, shaping some of the most conservative legislation in the United States.
This is a subject of a new CNN documentary airing Sunday. Ed Lavandera explores just how influential big money is in Texas politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Your voting record is just as conservative as many of the people who might be supported by these West Texas billionaires. And you voted for the abortion bill. You voted for the no permit gun carry bill.
STATE SEN. KEL SELIGER (R-TX): Mm-hmm.
LAVANDERA: And the bill that limits the discussion of race and gender in classrooms, you voted for that as well.
LAVANDERA: So why not have the Tim Dunns and Ferris Wilkes supported you? It seems like they're doing stuff you agreed with.
SELIGER: My voting record is very conservative. Is it 100 percent conservative? No. There are 100 percenters and you're either owned or not owned.
LAVANDERA: So, the way you describe this, it almost sounds like, you know, Senator Joe Smith, to make up a name, if they've got a ton of money that's coming from these West Texas billionaires, those billionaires are really the elected official.
SELIGER: It is a Russian-style oligarchy, pure and simple. Really, really wealthy people who are willing to spend a lot of money, to get policy made the way they want it and they get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Ed joins me now from Dallas. I mean, Ed, it's an incredible charge. His words, Russian oligarchy, right? Longtime Republican state senator that you're interviewing.
Why is the influence of these billionaires so significant in Texas politics?
LAVANDERA: Well, it is influence that has been growing for years. And it's significant in large part because, you know, if you've been following Texas politics from afar, you've heard over and over how many people believe that Texas is on the verge of turning blue. This hasn't happened in almost 30 years.
But, the statewide elections here in this state, the margins of Republican victories are shrinking. But at the same time, you would think that perhaps Republicans would become more moderate. That isn't happening.
And these are the forces behind it. These two West Texas billionaires that we'll focus on play a huge part in all of this.
BURNETT: Okay, so these two billionaires that you're talking about, what is it that makes these billionaire donors so effective, at what he said, is sort of getting exactly what they want, policy wise.
LAVANDERA: Well, you could probably argue that they were ahead of the curve. You hear a lot of Republicans now, especially right-wing conservatives in this country, talking about how they're going to focus on school board elections and city council races and those types of things. These guys were ahead of the curve on that. They have been focusing on state legislature races, and that is where they feel that they could -- they have been able to wield the most influence. And if you look at it from a billionaire's perspective, it doesn't
really cost a whole lot of money to really make a big splash in a small state legislative race out in the middle of nowhere. $1 million can buy you a seat. And that is what makes them so effective.
So, essentially, they were really ahead of the curve on what you hear so many Republicans talking about now.
BURNETT: Yeah, well, and buy a seat, something that should disgust everybody watching and is way too prevalent across this country.
Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.
And, everybody, you don't want to miss Ed's special report, "Deep in the Pockets of Texas". It is Sunday night at 8:00.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.