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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

House Committee Lays Out Case Against Trump in Prime-Time Hearing; Senate Negotiators Optimistic Over Gun Talks But Deal Remains Elusive; Ukraine: Six People Killed in Russian Bombardment of Kryvyi Rih. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 10, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Friday, June 10th. It is 5:00 a.m. exactly here in New York. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Christine Romans.


A late night last night for us.


JARRETT: Welcome to our viewers in the United States, and around the world.

He lit the fuse. That was the central claim against Donald Trump last night offered by the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

After nearly a year and a half of work, the panel opened its first public hearing last night in primetime accusing the former president of the United States of America of orchestrating a chilling conspiracy to remain in power, an intentional scheme that played out in several different ways, one that culminated in an attempted coup.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): All Americans should keep in mind this fact, on the morning of January 6th, President Donald Trump's intention was to remain president of the United States, despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election, and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power. Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election, and prevent the transfer of presidential power.


JARRETT: It's a bold claim she's making. The question now is whether the panel has the evidence to prove a direct line from the White House to the carnage and chaos we saw on January 6th. What we do know is that some of those closest to Trump knew that the

election was not stolen. Those were lies. The committee played the position committee from Trump staff, and even members of his own family including his daughter Ivanka who testified she believed former Attorney General Bill Barr's assessment that there was no widespread election fraud, and then there was this from Barr himself.


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I had three discussions with the president that I can recall, one was on November 23rd, one was on December 1st, and one was on December 14th. And I've been through this sort of give and take of those discussions, and in that context I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out the stuff which I told the president was bullshit.

And, you know, I didn't want to be a part of it, and that's one of the reasons I went and deciding to leave when I did. I observed I think it was on December 1st, you know, how can -- you can't live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence that the election -- that there was fraud in the election.


ROMANS: Also brand new video the committee presenting a compilation of disturbing footage from the January 6th riot.


ROMANS: There was gripping testimony from Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards. She suffered a traumatic brain injury there in that riot, and described a scene of raw, shocking rage.


CAROLINE EDWARDS, CAPTAIN POLICE OFFICER: There were officers on the ground, but you know, they were bleeding, they were throwing up, they were -- you know, they had -- I mean I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood. You know, I was catching people as they fell. You know, I was -- it was carnage, it was chaos --


ROMANS: It was an emotional night for Capitol police officers like Harry Dunn and also Sandra Garza, fallen Officer Brian Sicknick's partner brought to tears reliving that awful day. Dunn wore a t-shirt to the hearing featuring the definition of the word insurrection with a reference to January 6th.

JARRETT: Yet the committee even with all the evidence, present evidence that the president did not want the violence to stop, that he angrily resisted his own advisers who were urging him to call off the rioters. He believed his own Vice President Mike Pence deserved -- deserved, those were his words, to be hanged, telling advisers, quote, maybe our supporters have the right idea.

Let's bring in former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Andrew Cherkasky.


Thank you for much for joining us by an early after such a big night last night. There's a lot to unpack.

How do you think the committee did in their opening arguments essentially against Trump?

ANDREW CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it was a very well orchestrated effort to make the case against Trump, and to remind the country about serious and how dangerous the insurrection efforts were of those who stormed the capitol on January 6th.

I think it was particularly telling how much evidence they were bringing forward from people around President Trump, but about the degree of what he should have known in terms of the election fraud -- fraud that he was committing on the nation in continuing that message, but also what Trump knew about what was going on at the Capitol and how he did literally nothing to stop it and instead seemed to encourage it to continue throughout.

So I think that the committee was very affective from both sides of the aisle to communicate essentially their outrage over what happened on January 6th. I think that landed very much with anybody who tuned in, either Democrat or Republican.

ROMANS: The big question would be, whether the committee could offer something new to link the White House with those who carried out the attack. Listen to chairman Bennie Thompson on that.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Are there going to be witnesses that describe actual conversations between these extremist groups, and anyone in Trump's orbit?


TAPPER: There will be?

THOMPSON: Yes. Obviously, you have to go through the hearings, but we have a number of witnesses who have come forward, that people have not talked to before, that will document a lot of what was going on in the Trump orbit while all of this was occurring.


ROMANS: So they are saying they are going to connect the dots, that there is evidence, there are witnesses. Why not get some of that right away, I wonder?

CHERKASKY: Well, both -- when I get that out right away, but also to and is the committee essentially holding these hearings. So I think that if very much evidence from what we saw last night that they have tremendous evidence against those involved specifically Donald Trump, but really everyone who is storming the capital.

But the question now, I think now will be can the committee bring something of this? Is this just a public service to inform us as the viewers, as to what they think happened, or do they have indictments that they are going to recommend that come from this? Specifically, do they recommend an indictment of the former president, something that is very difficult for most legal scholars' eyes to do, and really under what's crime? So it has yet to be seen what they are asking come from this, and whether it is actually going to be criminal allegations or whether this is to further shocked the nation about what we saw from the Oval Office on January 6th.

JARRETT: So Congresswoman Liz Cheney really laid out the seven different ways that they say Trump tried to prevent the transition of power. You can see there, anyone of which should be terrifying to someone who cares about democracy. But, look at six and seven, summoned mob, ignores pleas to stop violence.

Those to me, Andrew, are different than the other ones because six and seven are almost passive actions. And I wonder in your mind, legally, is inaction enough?

CHERKASKY: Inaction is generally not going to be enough, especially if allegations come from President Trump. That really has much more to do with the political efforts that we have seen take place with regard to trying to impeach President Trump and really whether the country can tolerate him running again for president.

In order to create a criminal case against him, we're going to have to see that he was directly involved and encouraging or bringing about the chaos and madness that happened at the Capitol, not just there were protests, but that he knew that his efforts directly were continuing to contribute to essentially the mob growing angrier and angrier. And there are some texts -- or excuse me, Twitter messages along that line. So, whether that is enough in the end is yet to be seen, but that has to be the focus that has to be in his affirmative actions, as opposed to his passive, albeit condemnable actions throughout the day.

ROMANS: And the committee showed those Twitter messages that he was saying were being read with bullhorns to the crowd by Proud Boys and other group members, you know? So, they thought they were being instructed by the president via Twitter. Testimony also revealed that it was not the president. It was Pence who called in the National Guard. Does that speak to intent in your view?


CHERKASKY: Well, I think that is particularly interesting about what's going on in terms of the chain of command. As a former military officer myself, that whole question as to whether the authority to control and manage the military generally is seen as nonexistent. It is the president who was in charge of the military. And so, to hear that orders were coming from Vice President Trump, that they were not being echoed or encouraged from the White House is a very odd, and I think it is definitely something interesting to see as the committee continues to understand what the Pentagon was thinking, and who was in control of all of this, because it certainly seems like President Trump had no intent in bringing in federal forces, whether those military forces, national guard forces, or additional police forces to assist in terms of what was going on at the Capitol.

ROMANS: The president was saying these were good peaceful people. The president was saying remember this day forever. I mean, what was coming from the vice president was different, from the vice president, who was saying, as Mark Milley said, unambiguously put this down. This has got to stop.

JARRETT: Andrew Cherkasky, you so much. Appreciate it. Appreciate your time.

ROMANS: Thank you.

CHERKASKY: Good morning, guys. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: Yeah, you too, thanks.

Now to our other top story this morning, Senate negotiators racing to finalize a deal on bipartisan gun legislation. Chief GOP negotiator, Texas Senator John Cornyn, expressed optimism Thursday saying, quote, we are not far away. But it is not clear when they will be able to nail down an agreement.

CNN's Daniella Diaz live on Capitol Hill this morning.

What is the indication on expected Republican support once they can hammer out something here?

DIAZ: Christine, Senator Chris Murphy, the chief Democratic negotiator in these bipartisan talks on gun safety reform, told us yesterday that he expects more than ten Republicans to sign on to any sort of legislation that eventually agree on in these talks they started in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. That is really notable, because remember, Christine, they need 60 votes in the Senate, it is a 50/50 split, 50 Democrats, 50 Republicans.

So if every single Democratic senator supports any sort of gun safety reform, ten Republicans are needed to get it over the finish line. Now, they were hoping that they could reach a deal by today, now Senator Cornyn said yesterday he would hold water on that idea, he says they are close, but they are not there just yet. The meetings to continue in-person today, we are planning to continue meeting.

There are a couple of sticking points, one of them a force being whether there could be any incentivized red flag laws in these negotiations, something else is that the group is zeroing in on the 18 to 21 age group on age limits. They wanted possibly raise the age limit to buy a fire arm, a semiautomatic weapon to 21 right now, and 18 year old to purchase that weapon.

I want to reference a Quinnipiac poll that shows that the majority of Americans are supportive of that idea, 74 percent actually saying that they support raising the age limit to 21. But really, the bottom line here being, Christine, that negotiators are close, they are working towards this deal, and they are both -- on both sides Republicans and Democrats optimistic they can reach something in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, in the wake of that Buffalo shooting, an ideal for gun safety reform here on Capitol Hill.

ROMANS: I know. It's -- more optimism than I have seen really in a long, long time, but it is all fragile optimism to be sure.

Daniella Diaz, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: Coming up next for you, the chief of police for Uvalde schools publicly defending that long delay before confronting the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers.

Plus, a Michigan police officer charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man during a traffic stop.

ROMANS: And Russian forces inflicting heavy damage in central Ukraine. We are live on the ground in Kyiv.



JARRETT: Uvalde school's police chief Pete Arredondo is defending the delay in confronting the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers inside Robb Elementary School. In an interview with "The Texas Tribune", Arredondo e says he never considered himself the scene's incident commander, and he didn't give any instruction to police should not attempt to breach the building. He says he took on the role instead of a frontline responder, calling for assistance, asking for an extraction tool to open the lock to classroom door, he says was impossible to kick in.

Now we must know, here he did give at least one instruction when he told officers to break windows to evacuate other classrooms. Meantime, there's new reporting on the response to the school shooting that day.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Uvalde with more.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Law enforcement was aware there were injured individuals alive inside this classroom before deciding to breach. That's according to a "New York Times" review of investigative documents and videos.

I want to read you some of the high points, again, according to "The Times". One, people are going to ask why we are taking so long. A law enforcement official on the scene of the shooting could be heard according to a times review of body camera transcripts. Separately, we are trying to preserve the rest of the life part of the transcript.

Now, by our timeline, it is around 11:44 in the morning that day that officers first asked for backup, then 20 minutes later as much as 19 officers were in that hallway. Around 12:30, again, few minute after that, Chief Arredondo, Pete Arredondo, the school chief here, is heard saying, according to "The Times", we are ready to breach, but that door is locked.


Separately, one officers heard saying if there are kids in there, we need to go in there, according to "The Times".

It wasn't until 12:50 pm that the officers used a janitor key to reach this room and shot the suspect. But, again, officers were aware there were injured people, and even one officer asked, according to "The Times" people are going to ask why we are taking so long, and multiple overlapping investigations later, that remains the essential question -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: All right. Omar, thank you feeling all that out. CNN has reached out to Arredondo's attorney, DPS and the school district for comment about all of this.

ROMANS: All right, today, a Michigan police officer faces a -- arraignment of second degree murder charges for the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya. Prosecutors say the 26-year-old man was shot in the back of the head in a struggle during an Aril traffic stop. Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr, who was white, was trying to arrest Lyoya.

The final moments of the confrontation or caught on video. Lyoya's father, Peter, told the shirt brings a little bit of consolation to their family.

All right. Russian forces inflicting heavy damage in the largest city in central Ukraine. We are live from Kyiv.

JARRETT: And top military officials from the U.S. and China meeting face to face in Singapore.



ROMANS: A Ukrainian official reports six people have been killed in Russia's relentless bombardment of the city of Kryvyi Rih. The Russians have also destroyed hundreds of homes, multiple schools, a hospital and the largest city in central Ukraine.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz live from Kyiv, with the latest.

I'm sure I've said the name of that town wrong but certainly making headlines for what's happening there, what the Russians are doing. So, you're there live, where volunteers are clearing rubble and starting recovery efforts.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. Let's just start with the flash point city, Christine, Severodonetsk. There, Ukrainian forces are trying to hold down about a third of the city. They are outmanned. They are outgunned. This is an artillery war and they're running out of artillery.

It's hard to imagine how much longer they can hold it. But I'm really witnessing a story of two Ukraines. Here in Kyiv, and I'm going to start walking through where I am, this is residential building in the suburb of Mila.

You're going to watch these volunteers passing through because what they're trying to do here, Christine, is recover, is rebuild, is bring back what was lost under Russian fighting. Yes, to the east of the country is being gained by Russian forces by the hour it seems, but here you can see the roof of this building was literally blown off by artillery shelling tanks.

Again, this is a place where families were, but now that Russian forces have retreated from this area, these lawyers are saying it is time to come back. It's time to recover. It is time to make places like this livable again. So them, this is an act of defiance, to be able to come here, rebuilt, take back what was lost, make this a home again for families.

They believe this is now a safe place. I'm just going to kneel down because I want you to see, there are residents living. There are kids living here when Russian forces entered, when that innovation happened. And that's what they are hoping to see here yet again, is families coming back to the suburbs, feeling safe, feeling ready to be able to live here yet again.

And it's volunteers again who are trying to do the same thing. It is a moment of pride, and unity for Ukraine to try to come back here in the East, even while their soldiers are fighting in the east.

ROMANS: All right. Salma, thank you so much for that. And thank you for your fine reporting there. Stay safe. Thanks.

All right. An unprecedented operation to crackdown on human smuggling, a CNN exclusive with homeland security next.

And gas prices inching closer to a guided milestone.

Plus --


CHENEY: Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues, you are defending the indefensible. There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.


JARRETT: That's Congresswoman Liz Cheney delivering a warning to some of her fellow Republicans. We will have more from that debut hearing from the January 6th panel, next.