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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

January 6 Committee Granted Access to Hundreds of Trump White House Documents; Biden in Baltimore to Promote His "Build Back Better" Package; Communications Breakdown at Music Festival Tragedy. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired November 10, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's Wednesday, November 10th. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

Thanks so much for getting an early start with me. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine is off today. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We begin with the breaking news overnight. A federal judge has rejected Donald Trump's bid to keep hundreds of documents about his sanctions leading up to January 6 secret. The court recognized the former president may have some residual powers here, but those interests are outweighed by the current president and Congress's role in getting to the bottom of that attack on the Capitol.

The judge writing in part, in a nearly 40-page ruling about Trump, quote, presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president. This ruling now means some of Trump's most closely guarded secrets could be in the committee's hands within days.

CNN's Ryan Nobles starts off this morning.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. This is no doubt a big win for the January 6th Select Committee. A federal judge saying they may have access to hundreds of documents from the Trump administration around the time of the January 6th insurrection. This includes communications in the White House, visitor logs, call logs, also handwritten notes by the former president himself, that the committee believes is a central part of their investigation.

In her ruling, the judge in this case weighing the balance between executive privilege and the public interest, and she says that in this particular case, it is the public interest that wins out, writing, quote, the court holds that the public interest lies in permitting, not enjoining the combined role of the executive and the legislative branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6th and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again.

Now, the committee chairman, Bennie Thompson was actually in an interview with CNN at the time that this ruling came down, and this is how he responded.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, that's a big deal. We have a lot of information we've requested. We now, based on a judge, the judge's decision, that Donald Trump brought the lawsuit. We fought him in court. We had the law on our side, and you know, we are a nation of laws.

So if you take your issue to court, and lose, then you need to man up, and deal with it. And not be a spoiled brat.

NOBLES: The chairman making it clear that it is a big deal, and also to a certain extent daring the former president not to file an appeal in this case, but his legal team has already weighed in saying that they plan to file an appeal. The question is, will that appeal play itself out? In time for the release of the documents, which could happen as soon as this Friday?

It's unlikely that an appellate court will make a decision but could they weigh in with some sort of injunction or stay to prevent the release of those documents while the appellate process plays out? That's something that we will have to wait and see. At this point though, the committee feels they are in a strong position to get that information and get it as soon as possible.


JARRETT: Thank you for that.

Let's dig in here, with three questions in three minutes. Here to help me is former federal prosecutor Michael, the host of the podcast "That Said" with Michael.

Michael, good morning.

First, I want to get your reaction to last night's ruling from Judge Chutkan.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it was anticipated that this would be the ruling. Former President Nixon tried the same thing when he attempted to withhold from Congress, and the judiciary his incriminating information in the Watergate case, and he lost. And so it was pretty clear that with the president's records act and the Nixon case as precedent, that President Trump would lose and he did.

JARRETT: And she did engage in that careful balancing as you mentioned in the sort of Nixon era cases where she's not saying that the former president doesn't have any interests, it is just that those interests are outweighed by the current executive and congress's prerogatives here. This week, we've seen different factions of subpoenas from House investigators, right?

On the one hand, you have the dispatch that is focused on efforts to stop the vote count, to stop the steal. But yesterday's subpoenas go deep inside the White House, a bunch of White House the staffers and they seem to be getting at more at what Trump was doing and saying around January 6th. And I wonder, Michael, what does this tell you sort of about the

larger picture of where this committee is going with their investigation?

ZELDIN: Well, it seems, Laura, that they have three prongs. One is the rioters themselves and what they were doing. Second is the lead-up to the events, who funded it, who orchestrated it, who spoke to whom about it, and then finally, and what we see in these last subpoenas, is what was Trump and his advisers doing in the White House, during this critical two and a half hour period when the riot was ongoing. And that's what we see most, I think interestingly, in this new batch of subpoenas.

JARRETT: And although there were people who actually worked in the White House, arguably would have a better claim, if there is any claim to executive privilege, than people like Jason Miller who were not even in the White House at the time. In this latest batch, there's some familiar names, people like Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Miller, senior adviser to Trump, but also a handful of people that most Americans probably haven't heard of and those are the people that interest you most in ways, I'm told.

Tell me about that.

ZELDIN: Right there. There are two people, Keith Kellogg, and Cassidy Hutchinson, both were in the White House during the events, one was Pence's national security adviser, one was a legislative affairs assistant to Trump, and they were there watching Trump's actions and inactions, and I think they will therefore have important testimony, and testimony that could box in Mark Meadows, who also was there, and who has not yet agreed to testify. They're boxing around what he'll say, and what the scope of that deposition will be.

And then also, Ken Klukowski, who is a special counsel to Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark. Remember, Clark was subpoenaed. He refused to testify. He is the one who theoretically was hatching a plan to get rid of A.G. Rosen so he could step in, announce there was fraud, and give great credence to Trump stop the steal.

So, those three are of particular interest to me.

JARRETT: Well, I should also mention, all of these subpoenas are not happening in a vacuum. This committee is moving forward with the investigation, despite radio silence from the current Justice Department on the prosecution of Steve Bannon, a close ally to the former president. He defied the committee subpoena and yet, now, the committee is expected to get cooperation from all these folks. So, we will see where that goes.

ZELDIN: That's right. And, Laura, if I could just add one thing, we talked yesterday about whether Merrick Garland would wait until there was a decision from the court to decide whether to go forward with the Bannon case. Now that the case has been resolved, and there is no executive privilege, if Bannon continues to refuse, then he really is in a contemptuous position, and it makes it much easier for Garland to move forward. JARRETT: Yeah, great point.

Michael Zeldin, always great to have you my friend. Thank you.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

All right. More legal news here. Oklahoma Supreme Court reversing a lower court decision that ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $465 million to the state for its role in the opioid crisis. The justices ruled that the lower court essentially got it wrong by holding J&J liable under a state nuisance statute. The opinion goes on to say the manufacturer and distribution of products rarely causes a violation of a public right and a manufacturer generally does not have control over a product once it's sold.

All right. With gas prices soaring, it's on everybody's minds, President Biden takes his infrastructure message on the road today. What more can he actually do to ease pain at the pump? That's next.



JARRETT: President Biden is in Baltimore today trying to keep the focus on the economy, which is improving, but Americans are just not feeling it, mostly because of inflation. Gas prices are at a seven- year high. The cost of Thanksgiving is about to soar. And CNN has also learned that burgers, hot dogs and deli meats will soon cost more.

CNN's Daniella Diaz joins us live from Capitol Hill.

Daniella, good morning. So, how does the president using any lessons perhaps learned from Democrat's tough losses in places like Virginia to now push forward on his social safety net package.

DIAZ: It really appears, Laura, that President Joe Biden and the White House are listening to America's struggles, what Americans are feeling in terms of inflation, rising gas prices, and the rising cost of groceries, and things that are really affecting Americans, pocketbooks.

And this is why: he is putting renewed pressure on Congress, to pass the second part of his infrastructure legislation, which is the economic bill that would expand the nation's social safety net, and do things such as combat climate change, and have paid leave, and if that ends up staying in the Senate version of this bill. These are things that would help Americans and release, help them relieve some of the pressure that are facing, because of rising prices in this country.

Biden is recognizing that many American families are struggling, especially after they lost this race in Virginia as a result of this. And this is why he's putting renewed pressure on this. He actually is starting a sales pitch today, in Baltimore, for the separate bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed Congress last week, that he still hasn't signed, but they're working on implementing, funding from this, to actually help with transportation in this country, and supply chain issues, and another issue that we're facing ahead of the holidays.

And of course, I talked about how this economic bill would combat climate crisis, improve public transit, and alleviate some of the supply chain issues that Americans are facing.

Take a listen to what President Joe Biden said yesterday in a virtual town hall on what Americans are facing right now with these issues.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that a lot of folks don't feel the progress we're making in the economy. I get it, I know the cost of gas, groceries, and rent seems to be harder and harder to handle. For four years long, for four years long, the last president told us that we're going to get infrastructure done. And he couldn't get it done.

So it was left to us. And we got the job done. And now, we need to do it again. With my Build Back Better plan. And I'm confident we're going to get it done.


DIAZ: Ahead of his visit to Baltimore today, where he plans to tout the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed Congress last week, the White House announced a new set of immediate and short-term actions that would have an effect of alleviating some of the supply chain issues that the nation, at the nation's ports, waterways and networks, as the administration is taking steps to address this issue.

And another thing that President Biden is doing is he actually spoke with the CEOs of four major U.S. companies, including Walmart, UPS, FedEx and Target. These are major companies, that he, and he's doing this on purpose, these are companies that have an effect on supply chain issues, especially ahead of the holidays, and that's why he met with them to discuss these problems.

But the bottom line here is Americans are feeling the real effects of this, and that is why the White House, the Biden administration, is really putting pressure on Congress to pass the second legislation of his domestic agenda -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Daniella Diaz, thank you for staying on top of all of this as always.

So, while the president is looking forward, he is also scolding House Republicans for considering retaliation against 13 GOP members who voted for his bipartisan infrastructure bill, as Daniella mentioned, last week, some conservative lawmakers have discussed stripping those colleagues of their committee assignments for this. The president condemning that approach, for playing into this growing partisan divide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: I'm hoping that we get to a place where will is more civility in politics. I really mean. It and I've never seen it this way. It's got to stop, for the sake of America. I know I get in trouble when I talk about this, and with Democrats and Republicans.

Well, it's important, we are -- unless we get and generate consensus in America, we're in trouble.


JARRETT: You hear the president talking there about civility but that's clearly an uphill fight. In just the last few days alone, we heard that threatening tirade of a voice mail for Michigan Congressman Fred Upton, one of 13 GOP members who voted for the bill.

And then Republican Paul Gosar, a fierce offender of the former president who had conspiracy theories himself, he posted a bizarre Photoshopped anime video on social media that depicts him killing fellow Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.

Gosar's own sister, horrified.


JENNIFER GOSAR, SISTER OF REP. GOSAR: This is something that I have to openly wonder, does very to act on it himself before we believe that he is an absolute, he's a sociopath. No one, no one holds him accountable.


JARRETT: Republican leaders in the house have said nothing in response. And Gosar not one to back down, he said now gaslighting, telling people to relax, because the anime video was not meant to depict any harm or violence against anyone.

Coming up for you, a massive communications failure. No cell phone service, no open lines between emergency responders, at Astroworld. More new details on that deadly concert in Houston, just ahead for you.



JARRETT: New signs this morning of the communications breakdown at the Houston music festival that left eight people dead over the weekend. Houston's fire chief now says that firefighters outside the venue didn't have radio contact with third party medical crews hired by concert organizers. They only had cell phone numbers.

Now, no comment yet from that third party group. But cell numbers wouldn't have helped much. One person at the concert told the Houston City Council cell service wasn't even working there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was also no phone reception while I was trying to text my friends or just to make sure that they were okay, zero phone coverage. I couldn't even contact my friend that was 20 feet away from me that I couldn't even reach him.

I have worked festivals before and I've never seen that much unpreparedness when it comes to aiding people. Things could have been prevented if the right measures had been taken.


JARRETT: Video from that night shows concert-goers pleading for the show to be stopped and one tenant there said the cameraman had been getting death threats over this.

Meantime, there are still questions about Travis Scott and his role here. He kept on performing for 40 minutes, after the first reports of injuries, kept on performing even though he saw an ambulance there in the crowd. The concert operations plan says only the executive producer or festival director could stop the show, fire officials say involving Travis Scott early on can could have made a difference.


RUY LOZANO, ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF: I agree with the fire chief, letting the artist know and seeing he has the largest microphone in the venue may have helped, but the concentration was up against the stage, having that large microphone, explaining to the crowd, and hopefully -- and this is a hope -- that the crowd would listen.



JARRETT: The FBI is now offering to help Houston police with that investigation.

All right. NASA says putting astronauts back on the moon won't happen until 2025 at the earliest. The space agency has been aiming for 2024, for the first human moon landing in half a century. NASA administrator Bill Nelson blaming the delay in part on the legal challenges by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin that stalled work on the lunar mission for months now.

Nelson also citing the threat from China's aggressive space program, adding the U.S. needs to get back to the moon first.

All right. A little programming note for you here, more than 20 years after her death, Princess Diana's story is having a moment. Going inside her lasting legacy, on the new episode of the CNN original series "DIANA", Sunday night at 9:00, only on CNN.