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Erin Burnett Outfront
Former Trump White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson Cooperating With DOJ Probe; Hunter Biden Emails Show Overdue Taxes, Insufficient Funds; Biden Admin Offers Russian Arms Dealer For Griner, Whelan; Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) Is Interviewed On The Senate Passing Bipartisan Bill To Address Chip Shortage; Sources: Pentagon Developing Security Plan For Possible Pelosi Trip To Taiwan Using Ships And Aircraft. Aired 7- 8p ET
Aired July 27, 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, former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson now cooperating with the Justice Department, as we are learning more Trump insiders have been contacted by federal investigators.
And in a CNN investigation, emails show the lavish lifestyle of Hunter Biden, along with massive debt and tax problems.
And a prisoner swap offer late today. The Biden administration willing to give up a major arms dealer for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Brittney's former basketball coach is my guest.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Trump in the DOJ crosshairs. CNN learning tonight that Cassidy Hutchinson, the aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is now cooperating with the Department of Justice's investigation into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the election.
Now, this is a major development, because, of course, you know, Hutchinson was a key witness for the January 6th committee. Her testimony there providing a window into Trump's state of mind in the days leading up to, and in those crucial moments of January 6th. She was in the room for some of the most damning and important conversations, including one that shows that Trump knew that his rally could turn violent, because his supporters were armed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, I don't f'ing care if they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f'ing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Knew they were armed and take the mags away, head for the Capitol.
Trump's former White House lawyer Ty Cobb told us, after that testimony, quote, if this isn't insurrection, I don't know what is.
Now, Hutchinson also laid out evidence that could possibly get the DOJ closer to prosecuting Trump for obstructing an official proceeding. So, again, during her taped deposition for the January 6th, Hutchinson detailed what she was told about a heated exchange that Trump had with a Secret Service agent after his speech on January 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to 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 toward Bobby Engel. And when Mr. Ornato had recounted the story to me, he had motioned toward his clavicles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Mr. Ornato, the man whom she refers has now retained a lawyer, and two Secret Service sources have backed up much of what she testified to the committee. They tell CNN this. So far, the committee says no one has come forward to contradict her account.
Here's the bottom line: Her testimony was a game changer to the committee. And now, working with the DOJ. And she's not the only former White House official cooperating.
According to Trump's former communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, there are others now speaking to Merrick Garland and the DOJ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Someone else in the broader network who I would consider mid level that could support some of -- what they're looking into, specifically around similar questions that short was asked about, which is the pressure campaign on Mike Pence in the days leading up to January 6th, the schemes of things like fake electors and some of these creative ways that certain officials at the Justice Department wanted to bypass the law to hold onto victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So more people cooperating, and it comes as the Justice Department, we understand, has also obtained a second warrant to search the contents of Trump's election attorney, John Eastman's cell phone. That is a second warrant there.
Obviously, what's on that cell phone is crucial, and it could be devastating for the former president. Eastman presented Trump with a guide for overturning the election. He was in Trump's ear in the days leading to the insurrection and played a major role in the fake elector scheme.
Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington, to begin our coverage.
And, Evan, so much to get to tonight. Let's start with Cassidy Hutchinson. What more are you learning about her cooperating with the DOJ investigation?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the importance, Erin, of Cassidy Hutchinson coming into the Justice Department providing some cooperation is that she and others, according to some of the reporting today, there are others at the White House who are also coming in to talk to prosecutors.
And, obviously, these are people who were present during some of the momentous things that happened. Of course, there was that January 4th meeting where the former president pressured Mike Pence, the vice president, to set aside the election results that he had the power to set aside those results, and to seat these fake electors, that they had gathered in the seven battleground states.
All of that where they had witnesses there in the White House. Of course, Marc Short and Greg Jacob, who were the aides to Mike Pence, have already come into the grand jury. You can expect that this is going to just bring -- the prosecutors are going to bring others before the grand jury to shore up some of that -- some of that testimony.
Importantly, as you pointed out, the Justice Department today in a court filing said they had gotten a second warrant to look through some of the things they found on John Eastman's phone. Obviously, because Eastman claims that he was a lawyer for the former president, this sets up some potential attorney/client privilege issues, which is what prosecutors are trying to get ahead.
By the way, that warrant, the court document that was filed today was signed by the U.S. attorney, the assistant U.S. attorney, his name is Tom Wyndham, who is helping to manage the overall case, the case is that is right now circling around the former president, Erin.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you very much, Evan. You know, as Evan says, circling around. You have hundreds of people charged farther out, it's getting closer and closer and closer.
I want to go to now, Paul Rosenzweig, former senior counsel to Ken Starr during the Whitewater investigation into President Clinton, along with Elie Honig, our senior legal analyst. So, Paul, last time we spoke, you talked about Cassidy Hutchinson and
you said her testimony was obviously crucial. That it made the January 6 committee's case so much stronger. Now, we hear she's cooperating with the DOJ and it appears that their case is rapidly gaining steam.
Paul, is there any doubt at this point that this now is not necessarily about people close to Trump but is actually squarely focused on Trump himself?
PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL TO KEN STARR ON WHITEWATER INVESTIGATION OF CLINTON: I think there's no doubt that at this point, president Trump is the subject of the Justice Department's investigation. It remains to be seen whether or not in the end, they'll have sufficient evidence to charge him, and even if they do, whether or not they will take that decision in the discretion.
For myself, I think that Hutchinson's testimony is extremely valuable. I think that Short and Jacob are going to be very valuable. And the next level up is equally valuable, but yet to come. People like Meadows, Giuliani, Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, the testimony of those people would really lock down the case completely, I think in my judgment.
BURNETT: And, of course, Eastman, Clark, the subject of search warrants from the DOJ.
Elie, how big of a deal is it that Cassidy Hutchinson is now talking formally -- talking to investigators at the Department of Justice?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, it's a big step and a seriously consequential step by DOJ, even if it is also an obvious step. But that's fine, you won't style points for being obvious. The moment that Cassidy Hutchinson testified in front of the committee and the American public last month, my reaction was that is exactly the kind of witness that prosecutors build cases on. She's an insider, she had access, she gave us some testimony about Donald Trump, to be sure, but also about Mark Meadows, another important player here.
And Cassidy Hutchinson, in my view, was extremely credible at the time. I think she was very strongly corroborated. Now, since then, there's been an effort to discredit her that has not just failed but backfired. The Secret Service denied some of her statements. But Adam Kinzinger pointed out earlier today, they still refused to testify and other evidence has come forward that further backs up Cassidy Hutchinson, from Pat Cipollone, from police officers.
So, DOJ was a little bit late getting to Cassidy Hutchinson. No doubt, they should have get there before the committee. But that's okay, they're making up for lost time now, and now, they have her as a witness. That's going to be a game changer.
BURNETT: So, Paul, I want to ask you more about these search warrants because they're obviously significant, and the DOJ, we understand now, as Evan's reporting, has obtained a second warrant regarding the contents on John Eastman's cell phone. He was, of course, at the time providing legal advice about overturning the election to the former president.
I want to play, Paul, some of the testimony that we've heard about the importance of John Eastman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And what did Dr. Eastman want you to do?
RUSTY BOWERS (R), ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER: That we would, in fact, vote, take a vote to overthrow or I shouldn't say overthrow, that we would decertify the electors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did the president say when he called you?
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Essentially, he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Paul, how much legal trouble could Eastman be in? And what do you think the goal is here to get him to flip? I mean, how much trouble could he get Trump in?
ROSENZWEIG: Well, I think that John Eastman is in many ways the linchpin of this investigation. You know, the idea behind overturning the election wasn't Donald Trump's. It was John Eastman.
So he's in a significant amount of legal jeopardy now. The continued effort uncovered (AUDIO GAP) substantial and significant thread (AUDIO GAP) and were John Eastman determined that it would be better off working with the Department of Justice than staying on Trump, that would be an (AUDIO GAP) step of the investigation. You know, if John Eastman breaks Omerta (AUDIO GAP).
BURNETT: So, Elie, the January 6th committee obviously had all these transcripts, right, and the DOJ wanted them. This is one of the points you have been frustrated about, the lack of speed with which they were operating. But Pete Aguilar, member told CNN today that the DOJ has provided the committee a list of the transcripts that they want to see, that they've been very specific.
Okay. Now, in this broader context, Elie, the committee has conducted over 1,000 interviews. So the DOJ has come back with a list of the ones they want. Who do you think the DOJ is most interested in?
HONIG: Well, it's interesting, Erin. I'm always a big believer that you can make a case against the top people, the powerhouses, the bosses by focusing on that mid to upper level. That's where I would be looking to.
And so, that end, I would be looking in particular at Cassidy Hutchinson, at Greg Jacob, at Marc Short, at Sarah Matthews, at Matthew Pottinger, the people who testified last week.
I would be looking for people who were inside the White House, the deputies, the staffers. Not the low-level people who stormed the Capitol. They're not going to have any connection to the real power sources. But those people, those really just sort of honest civil servants, as far as we can tell, who were inside the White House who saw key conversations, key meetings. That's where I'd be looking.
BURNETT: Thank you both very much, Elie, Paul.
And next, a CNN investigation into Hunter Biden's financial troubles, as the Justice Department weighs criminal charges. So, just how much trouble is the president's son in?
Plus, an offer that might send Russia's merchant of death, imprisoned in the United States, back to Russia a free man. Could the proposed prisoner swap bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan back to the U.S.?
And a big legislative victory, a bipartisan win for President Biden tonight that backers say will boost national security.
BURNETT: Tonight, a CNN investigation of Hunter Biden's emails revealing years of high income and even higher debts. More than half a million dollars in unpaid bills, repeated warnings from banks. The IRS even threatened not to renew Hunter Biden's passport. This as the Justice Department weighs possible charges against the president's son.
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The emails posted by a right wing operative on the Internet have long been used as a political weapon against President Joe Biden. But it's his son that is facing potential federal charges. Prosecutors in Delaware are narrowing in on potential tax violations in their investigation of Hunter Biden.
These e-mails forensically authenticated for CNN, reveal Hunter Biden was repeatedly warned about deep debts and years of back taxes. This, despite having a lavish income that included as much as $50,000 a month for sitting on the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.
A 2019 spread sheet sent to Biden from his assistant, details more than $500,000 in bills due or past due, including hundreds of thousands in taxes over several years. The emails show he knew he was delinquent. October 2018, his accountant wrote, they are late, noting that Biden had missed an already extended tax filing deadline of October 15th. Two weeks later, your 2017 tax returns are still unfiled, the accountant reminded Biden. The next day, you need to get 2017 filed so we can try to work out a
payment schedule. The accountant told Biden the IRS was also demanding a payment from 2015. They want $158,000, the accountant wrote. The 2018 federal taxes of $471,000 will be in addition. IRS has notified the State Department, and they will not renew your passport until this is resolved.
KATHLEEN BUHLE, HUNTER BIDEN'S EX-WIFE: He was struggling under massive drug addiction, and that's heartbreaking and painful.
GRIFFIN: In past interviews, both Biden and his ex-wife say Biden's financial issues became worse with the death of his brother and his drug use.
HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SON: I went 13 days one time without sleeping. And smoking crack and drinking vodka exclusively throughout that entire time.
GRIFFIN: The couple divorced and Hunter would owe $37,000 a month in spousal support. The spread sheet shows he fell behind, just part of a lifestyle that was financially out of control. More than $65,000 owed on one credit card. He owed a 1,700 payment on a Porsche. His health care was back due. And the assistant who was trying to keep track of it all, said she too wasn't being paid.
I'm trying to figure out what to do about bills, Biden's then- assistant asks. Pay the health care, pay the Porsche, Biden responded, and told the assistant she should only pay herself half what she was owed.
The emails reveal multiple warnings from banks concerning insufficient funds, deep debt. His credit card repeatedly declined.
In a statement to CNN, Biden's attorney acknowledged the tax issue, saying he is current on his tax obligations and is committed to remaining so as he continues his recovery from addiction.
H. BIDEN: I'm cooperating completely and I'm certain, 100 percent certain, that, at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
GRIFFIN: Even if Hunter Biden is never charged with a crime, that won't matter to Republicans, especially those who may chair powerful committees if the Republican Party wins the majority in Congress, like Kentucky Congressman James Comer who promises a Hunter Biden investigation if he heads the House Oversight Committee.
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Hunter Biden is a shady business character. We fear that he's compromised this White House. That's why we're not going to continue to let up on these investigations and we're going to hold somebody accountable for this.
GRIFFIN: Joe Biden is not being investigated as part of a federal probe into Hunter Biden, according to sources.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: Drew, some of that stuff just is amazing to see, paying his assistant half of what she was owed, but pay the Porsche. Look, I'm sure Republicans would like nothing more than having Hunter Biden indicted right before the midterm elections in November. But the big question is, Drew, how likely is that?
GRIFFIN: You know, Erin, we know this case has reached a critical juncture for the Justice Department, but we know through sources that timing like that is an issue. There are actual guidelines to try to avoid bringing politically sensitive cases before elections. It's anyone's guess whether he is going to be even charged at all -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Drew, thank you very much.
And next, new hope tonight for WNBA star Brittney Griner and former marine Paul Whelan, both held in Russia. Biden offering Putin an incredible deal, one of the world's most notorious arms dealers in exchange for the two Americans. Will Putin take it?
And semiconductor chips are used by every single one of us every single day -- your car, your phone. You can't live without them. Why a new bill may help America and the economy.
BURNETT: Tonight, prisoner exchange. CNN has learned that the Biden administration is offering Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer, in exchange for two Americans held in Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
Bout, you probably know the name, he's one of the most notorious arms dealer on earth, suspected of supplies weapons to Taliban and al Qaeda and others, dubbed the "merchant of death". He's currently serving 25 years in a U.S. prison.
Kylie Atwood is OUTFRONT with her exclusive reporting on the prisoner exchange offer.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man nicknamed the merchant of death, convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When arrested, he oversaw operations capable of delivering enough weapons to launch rebellions, fuel revolutions and slaughter untold thousands of people. He was an accessory to violence on a scale that is beyond comprehension.
ATWOOD: And now, according to courses briefed on the matter, the Biden administration has offered to return him as part of a proposed deal for two Americans the United States says are wrongfully detained in Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying they offered a deal to Russia, but not confirming the details.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal.
ATWOOD: Though the administration has been loathe to engage in prisoner swaps to free American citizens, concern that countries like Russia could be incentivized to hold more Americans, it's one of the tools that actually work. And now, sources say Joe Biden supports the swap especially after the last swap between the United States and Russia earlier this year received bipartisan support.
Bout is a former Soviet military officer who's been accused of using front companies to funnel Soviet era weapons into conflict zones like Afghanistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone, even working with U.S. government contractors in Iraq.
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: He's a dangerous person. He's one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world. He was convicted in U.S. federal court in New York on conspiracy to kill Americans.
ATWOOD: A far cry from Bout's global arm smuggling operation, Griner has pleaded guilty to bringing less than a gram of cannabis into Russia.
BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA PLAYER: I did not plan or have the intent to bring any cannabis or banned substance to Russia. I do understand what my charges are against me. And with them being accidentally in my bags, I take responsibility.
ATWOOD: Griner says she had medical cannabis to treat her pain from sports injuries and she accidently took it with her while she was rushing to pack up from the trip, having recently recovered from COVID. In a Russian courtroom today, she described her harrowing arrest at the Moscow airport.
GRINER: My rights were never read to me. No one explained any of it to me. I definitely knew I was being detained and I kept asking if I could leave or what's next?
But it was just, wait, wait for results.
ATWOOD: But with Russia's invasion of Ukraine still raging and U.S. sanctions still pressuring Russia's economy, U.S. officials believe the Kremlin is using Griner as a political pawn. The family of Marc Fogel, who was similarly detained for bringing cannabis into Russia, believes he's being used as a pawn.
Last month, he was sentenced to 14 years in a Russian penal colony, though the State Department has not declared Fogel to be wrongfully detained.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He made a terrible mistake by taking medical marijuana into Russia. But 14 years in a hard labor camp is essentially a death sentence for him. He's 61 years old, and he has a very long history of spinal injury.
ATWOOD (on camera): Now, a senior administration official indicated the Russians have not constructively engaged with this offer the Biden administration has put on the table, so that may explain why they are putting they have put this offer on the table, when details like this are usually tight lipped and not revealed publicly.
And I also asked the secretary of state why he is going to engage in a phone call with the Russian foreign minister? That could be seen as a win for the Russians. It's the first time that the two diplomats will have spoken since Russia invaded Ukraine. Well, he said he believes there's utility in conveying career and direct messages to Russia on key Biden administration priorities, with Griner and Whelan being priorities and, of course, trying to get Ukrainian grain out of the country, which is contributing to this global food crisis -- Erin.
BURNETT: Kylie, thank you very much.
And kylie's reporting so crucial there. Major, major offer, right, on a silver platter to Putin and still no response.
I want to go to James Wade, because he coached Griner for three years in Russia. He is currently the General Manager and Coach of the Chicago Sky.
And Coach, I'm really glad to have you back. You know, you had been critical that the U.S. hadn't done enough to get Brittney home. But obviously, now that we're hearing this offer's on the table, Viktor Bout, the -- the arms dealer, the merchant of death, you know, played by Nicholas Cage in a movie, he matters to Putin. People know who he is. Are you encouraged by this announcement today?
JAMES WADE, GENERAL MANAGER AND COACH, CHICAGO SKY: Yeah, I'm very encouraged, excuse me, with the news from the Secretary Blinken that they've made an offer to do everything they can to bring Americans home including BG. So we're, you know, we're -- I think we can all be encouraged by this news.
Hopefully, the trial continues to proceed. And it's just good to hear a voice and -- and hear her speaking and hear her side of the story. So, it's all encouraging news because it's progressing as far as where it was a week ago and weeks before that. So now, we're getting into this territory where -- where it's moving on.
BURNETT: You mentioned hearing her voice and, you know, it was -- we just heard a bit of it in Kylie's reporting there. But hearing her voice today for the first time since she was detained, her side of the story, we've heard nothing, complete silence. This is the first time. Let me play a little bit more of it for you, Coach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRINER: I understand my charges. And I understand what he's saying. But I do plead guilty because of the actions that have happened. But again, I did not intend to do this. I did not intend to smuggle or bring any substance into Russia.
I do know that when I bring hash oil into the Russian Federation, I do know those laws. Like I said, earlier, I've been instructed by our teams on what can and can't go into certain countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Coach, you know, what was it like hearing from her today? And I I say also that hearing her voice but then also you see her in that essentially cage, right, where she was holding up a picture of her family. What was it like for you to see and hear that?
WADE: I mean, it was -- it was tough. I mean, like we know what BG's about. The one thing I can tell you, just, you know, from personal experience, she's very honest and sincere person. So I believe whatever she says and just to hear her say her intent and what she was feeling, it was very encouraging for me and I'm sure the same for her family as well.
BURNETT: So Kylie mentioned Mark Fogel, another American arrested on cannabis charges in Russia, just got his sentence, right?
Fourteen years at a hard labor camp in Russia and is not in any way part of this proposed deal, right?
So that's going ahead, 14 years in a hard labor camp. And I mentioned that Putin hasn't responded to this offer for Viktor Bout yet. If he doesn't take this prisoner swap deal, do you fear Brittney could have a similar fate?
WADE: I want to keep an optimistic mindset. I don't want to think in those type of narratives. I can only think about pushing forward. And I want to give, you know, good -- good energy to, you know, all those that are hopeful that she can be home sooner than later. So I try not to think in that, you know, try the kind of aspect of the possibilities of what could go wrong.
BURNETT: Well, obviously, everyone is waiting and watching to see how this -- how this moves from here. Thank you so much, Coach. I appreciate your time.
WADE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, call it a White House win. It is a bill that proponents say could boost national security and it passed with bipartisan support.
And tonight, the Pentagon moving ahead with preparation for Nancy Pelosi's proposed trip to Taiwan, despite their warning to not take it and ongoing threats from China.
[19:40:01] BURNETT: Tonight, the Senate coming together to deliver a major bipartisan win for President Biden.
Seventeen Republicans joined 47 Democrats to pass a bill aimed at boosting domestic semiconductor chip production. And it is important to say this. The U.S. economy and, frankly, life as we all know it would not function without these chips, period. They're indispensable. They power almost every single product that Americans rely on, your smartwatch, your smartphone, your car, your washing machine, your fridge, you name it.
But U.S. chip production has plummeted. America made nearly 40 percent of the world's semiconductor chips in 1990, nearly 40 percent. Now it's only 12 percent, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, and of the super special chips, not even that much.
All of the rest is overwhelmingly made in Taiwan.
OUTFRONT now, Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida. Now, I should note he joined 32 other senators, Republican senators, in opposing this bill.
So, Senator Scott, let me start there.
The United States, as I laid out, was once the leader in semiconductor manufacturing, but now nearly 90 percent of that manufacturing happens overseas, even as, as Americans, we are reliant on these chips for every single thing we do, for the very basic definition of modern life.
Why do you oppose the bill, sir?
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): So, Erin, if it really did what you -- what they talked about, if it really did say, oh, we're going to make sure we build chips here, the chips we need, it was -- I would be all in.
That's not what this bill did. First off, it's $280 billion. It's a massive giveaway to multibillion-dollar corporations. Let me give you an example.
Intel Corporation, I will tell you how it's going to impact them. They're going to get, I think, $4 billion, all right? On top of $4 billion to build a plant, they get a $4 billion tax write-off, and they get a 25 percent tax credit. So they get all that.
Now, what do they have to do? There's no obligation that they build a specific chip that we need. There's no quotas. There's no standards. They're a big investor in China. They can continue to invest in China. They can continue expand in China.
When China invades Taiwan, which I hope they don't, they can continue to do business in China, which they said they would.
I'm a business guy. When you invest, you get a return on your money. There's no return. There's no standard for return for American taxpayers. So, this is -- this is not an anti-China bill. This is not a national security bill. This is just a free giveaway to a bunch of billion-dollar corporations that wanted no accountability.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you about this, particularly when you raise the China point, right?
Obviously, I should note and you know, Senator, there is overwhelming support for this bill, not just in the business community, not just in the national security community, but in the political world. You used to be a governor; 22 governors, including six Republicans in bright red states, support this bill.
And on the issue of China, some of your colleagues have spoken out and said, contrary to your point, that they believe that this bill takes on China. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): This is a bad day for President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party.
SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): This legislation will provide the tools so that we can outgrow, out-innovate and outcompete the Chinese Communist Party and ensure that our values prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Why are Senators Young and Senators Cornyn, who are so definitive, wrong?
SCOTT: Well, I mean, I have read the bill. I think everybody should go read the bill.
I mean, why would we not have -- why wouldn't -- I had an amendment that they wouldn't allow me to do. It just said, simple, if you take the money, number one, you cannot expand in China. Number two, if China invades Taiwan, you cannot continue to do business in China.
Number three, the secretary of commerce would do an investment analysis. And you would not get the money unless American taxpayers, which -- think about it. American taxpayers are dealing with $30 trillion of debt, 9 percent inflation. We have big deficits. American taxpayers are worried about those things.
I would say the American taxpayer should get a return on those dollars. So, you can't say -- and, by the way, there's no quota on what these companies have to make. They don't -- they can make whatever chips they want.
SCOTT: So, I mean, just look and you think about it. Does it make any sense to you?
BURNETT: Well, Governor -- and, Senator -- sorry -- as a free market Republican, you're talking about quotas. You're talking about banning countries from China, companies from investing in China if China invades Taiwan.
I'm just thinking about the example right now with Russia and Ukraine, right? There was no legislation that said companies had to pull out of Russia, and yet they did. You didn't need the government to tell them what to do.
I'm a bit surprised that you think that the government should be so involved.
SCOTT: Well, I asked the CEO of Intel when he testified in Commerce, I said, so if China, God forbid, if they invade Taiwan, are you going to change your business practice? I said, you do big business in China.
And he said they're not.
I said, it's always a lot easier to not do business with Russia. We don't care about Russian vodka that much. But chips, we do -- we do care about.
So, if we're going to be -- have a bill that is clear we're going to compete with China, then a company like Intel, they shouldn't be continuing to expand. They can expand in China. I mean, think about that. They can stay in China when they invade Taiwan, and we get no money. It's -- Erin, our taxpayers get no money back, none.
I mean, that doesn't make any sense. I feel like I'm a fiduciary to all American taxpayers. They're sitting with reckless government spending that's causing inflation, 9 percent inflation, high gas prices. They're saying, what are you doing? I mean, they don't get billions of dollars.
This is $280 billion. It's not out of savings that we have. No one has said they're going to get a return on this money. It's a $280 billion bill that we make no money off of as a taxpayer. And there's no -- we don't know what we're going to get. We don't know what chips companies like Intel are going to make.
We -- there's no accountability. There's no measurement. There's none.
BURNETT: Senator, I want to ask you one other thing here before you go.
And that is former President Trump. Obviously, you know him well, and you have worked with him on many things. He is signaling that he could announce a run for president before the midterms.
So, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has actually come out, Senator, and asked Trump to wait until after the elections to make any sort of announcement.
Do you agree with him? Do you join Leader McCarthy in that call?
SCOTT: You know, I -- there's lots of people I know that are looking at running for president.
I -- they're going to all make a decision when they want to run. If President Trump or anybody else wants to announce, that's -- they will do that.
I will tell you, the election -- I'm the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It's going to be about gas prices. It's going to be about the Biden agenda, baby formula shortage, an open border. Those are -- that's what the election is going to be about.
BURNETT: All right, Senator Scott, I appreciate your time.
Thank you very much.
SCOTT: Bye, Erin.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, China standing firm in its threats as Nancy Pelosi considers her trip to Taiwan. The Pentagon now preparing.
And Tony Dow has died, forever beloved as Wally Cleaver.
BURNETT: Tonight, defense officials telling CNN that the Pentagon is developing a security plan to use both ships and aircraft to keep House Speaker Nancy Pelosi safe if she decides to go ahead with her trip to Taiwan.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying today that he has personally spoken with the speaker to provide his security assessment. China has been threatening military action if Pelosi goes through with this trip. Taiwan is even preparing for a possible attack in that case.
Selina Wang is OUTFRONT.
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taiwan preparing for a possible attack in its annual military drill, as fears of aggression from across the strait grows. That fear coming from fear and fury from Beijing, in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan. China threatening to take resolute measures.
A prominent hawkish voice in China even suggesting shocking military response, saying that PLA military aircraft will accompany Pelosi's plane to enter the island.
PROF. SUSAN SHIRK, CHAIR, 21ST CENTURY CHINA CENTER: Nancy Pelosi is the third public official in the line of succession. It could note that we're treating Taiwan more like an independent country.
WANG: And independence is a red line for Beijing. There have been recent U.S. congressional visits. But if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, she would be the highest ranking U.S. official to travel there since then- House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.
This potential visit comes at an extremely sensitive time. China's military is celebrating its founding anniversary on August 1st, and we're just months away from a key political meeting when Xi Jinping is expecting to seek an unprecedented third term. From Beijing's perspective, a potential visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be a reckless act that provokes Beijing at a time it is supposed to be projecting strength, control, and stability.
SHIRK: Having the Pelosi visit come now will make Xi Jinping fear that other people will see this as a humiliation of him. And that will cause him to feel that he has to react very strongly. Given the overreaching that Xi Jinping has been doing, I don't believe we can count on his good judgment.
WANG: A U.S. official told CNN China could impose a no-fly zone around Taiwan. But the Chinese government hasn't announced details about how it could retaliate.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a commitment we made.
WANG: Biden has said several times that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to attack Taiwan, only to have the White House walked back those remarks each time.
But as China's military might grows, more are calling for the Biden administration to end this so-called strategic ambiguity. It's impossible to overstate how important Taiwan is to the communist party and its legitimacy. China sees the self-ruled island as a break away province that must be reunified with the mainland even by force if necessary.
And a visit from one of America's most powerful politicians might just give Beijing the push to make a risky move.
BURNETT: Selina joins me from Beijing.
So, Selina, there's just a moment where you take a pause and you say, wow, are we really talking about this, this invasion actually happening? Would Xi really resort to military action in the current political climate he's facing in China?
WANG: Well, Erin, there are really two very different viewpoints on this. And one is that this is indeed a dangerous moment, that there is a risk that Xi will make a rash move with a show of some kind of military force because he cannot look weak at this critical moment.
On the flip side, I've spoken to many experts, including here in Beijing, who say, look, all of this, it is just tough talk, tough language, and that China does not want and is not ready to risk military conflict. And that ultimately, if there is conflict over Taiwan, Beijing would want to move on its own timing, not someone else's -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Selina, live from Beijing tonight.
And next, a farewell to an actor who shaped the lives of many as Wally Cleaver.
BURNETT: The actor who played Wally Cleaver in the TV classic "Leave It to Beaver" has died. Tony Dow was Beaver's big brother. The character was a straight arrow and a Boy Scout, always keeping Beaver honest, offering advice, and counsel to his little brother, but not above dressing him down for doing something dumb or ill-advised.
Perhaps most important of all, while he defended Beaver from the likes of Eddie Haskell. The show debuted all the way back in 1957, but reruns have aired ever since. Dow did struggle with depression in his later years but went on to direct other TV shows.
Tony Dow was 77 years old.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.