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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Ex-Trump Campaign Manager to Testify Before January 6th Committee Today; Joe Biden: Tentative Gun Safety Deal is a "Step in the Right Direction"; Thirty One People Arrested for Conspiracy to Riot Near Pride Parade in Idaho. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's Monday, June 13th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. Thanks so much for getting an early start with us, I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Monday, and I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. In a matter of hours, day two of the January 6 hearings will kick off with the focus on Donald Trump's big lie. In the hot seat today, the ultimate Trump insider, his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien. He will be testifying under subpoena.

The committee plans to show how the former president peddled false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, even though he was told by his closest aides repeatedly, Mr. President, you lost the election. Daniella Diaz is live on Capitol Hill. Daniela, do we know what Bill Stepien plans to say?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN REPORTER: We don't know, Christine. What we do expect though is he is actually testifying under subpoena. Super notable, the fact that he's appearing before the committee in its second hearing that will take place later today starts at 10:00 a.m. We do also know because Liz Cheney actually said at the first prime time hearing that took place last week that this hearing will revolve around Trump's effort to, quote, "convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him" despite the fact that numerous aides told him he lost the election.

Aides also told us that this hearing would show how Trump's team pursued legal challenges in court and lost those cases, and that Trump chose to ignore the will of the courts and continued to try to overturn the election anyway. We're also planning to hear from Chris Stirewalt. He will testify before the committee as well. He is that former "Fox News" editor who actually called the results for Arizona in November 2019 for Joe Biden instead of Trump.

Of course, Trump needed Arizona to win the election. He lost Arizona. Chris Stirewalt correctly called it for Joe Biden, and as a result, he faced fire from Trump and people in his orbit, and he was fired from "Fox News". So that's another person who is planning to testify. But, look, another really interesting detail, Stepien is now running the campaign or advising, excuse me, the campaign for Wyoming Republican Harriet Hageman, who is actually primarying Liz Cheney in her race for re-election for her seat in Congress.

So, that is an interesting detail we will see later today. But really, the bottom line here being is, this is just -- continues to be part of the committee trying to weave that narrative, Christine, that Trump knew he had lost the election, but wanted to pursue the big lie anyway and overturn the election results despite the fact that multiple people in his orbit repeatedly told him he had lost the election. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Daniella Diaz, nice to see you this morning, thank you, Daniella.

JARRETT: All right, let's bring in former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin, host of the podcast. "That Said with Michael Zeldin". Michael, good morning. Day two of some interesting witnesses lined up here. Who are you most interested in hearing from today?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, PODCAST HOST: Well, I think Ben Ginsberg and Stepien, those are the people who are going to tell us as we just heard that Trump was told he lost. And in fact, his pollster Mark Farizio(ph) also issued a 90-page or 70-page report in December, telling Trump how he lost, why he lost.

And yet, he pursued the big lie. Why that's important and why these witnesses will lay that predicate is that the theory of the committee is that but for that big lie, the insurrectionists would not have come to Washington. So that he is directly responsible for the insurrection starting with the big lie as the predicate for it.

JARRETT: They need to show not only that he was told that he lost, that he knew he lost. That he knew it was all a lie. He knew it was all BS.

ZELDIN: Correct, because we talked about this before. We have to show in a conspiracy that he acted with bad faith --

JARRETT: Right --

ZELDIN: Or criminal intent. And so, in this case when you have Ginsberg and Stepien and others saying, Mr. President, you lost, this is the truth. And he says, I don't care about the truth. I'm going to perpetrate a lie in order to obstruct the transfer of power from Biden -- from me to Biden That is criminal intent, and that's what is at the heart of what I think Liz Cheney is going to try to establish today.

ROMANS: And so, they have to draw -- the committee, you say, has to draw this line, this direct line that had the big lie not been spread, there would be no insurrection. How do they get there?


ZELDIN: Well, that's right. It is called causation. But for the big lie, these insurrectionists wouldn't have come. And we're going to hear, I expect from the insurrectionists themselves, just as we did in the tease on day one, where they're going to say, they came there specifically because the president asked them to come there.

And they came there with the purpose of stopping the certification. So that is the conspiracy. The bad act is the stopping of the certification. The criminal intent is, you did this knowing it was untrue and you did it anyway.

JARRETT: Michael, it's been interesting to watch members of the committee sort of carefully do this dance when it comes to whether or not the Justice Department should act to indict the former president. You have people like, you know, Jamie Raskin going out, saying, that Garland is on notice that his staff is paying attention. And then you have Congressman Schiff going on "ABC" this weekend saying that the president has -- they have evidence that the former president committed multiple federal crimes.

Do you think that these hearings are actually moving the needle when it comes to Garland or is he sort of like with his hands over his ears at the Justice Department?

ZELDIN: Well, I don't think his hands are over his ears. But I think that he will say, show me the evidence. When you give me -- you know, they're doing their own investigation. They're developing their own evidence. They don't really need the house specifically to give them evidence. But he's saying, if you've got evidence of criminal behavior, give it to me. And then we will make a decision based on the law and the facts as to whether or not it is a crime that should be prosecuted.

So he's happy to receive it, but he's not going to be pressured into acting because Adam Schiff or Jamie Raskin want him to.

JARRETT: Yes, and we know that he has, in fact, been watching the hearings which is --

ZELDIN: Yes --

JARRETT: Interesting.

ROMANS: All right, Michael Zeldin, nice to see you this Monday morning. Thank you so much.

ZELDIN: Good to see you, thanks, guys.

JARRETT: All right, so it all kicks off today at 9:00 a.m., join CNN for special coverage to hear new details about what happened inside the White House on January 6 --

ROMANS: Laying out the case one step --


ROMANS: At a time. All right, the inflation situation. Prices are on fire. The firefighter is the Federal Reserve. This week, the Fed will meet to officially decide its next move to cool down a raging hot American economy. They could raise interest rates, another 50 basis points, making it more expensive to borrow money for just about everything, cars, houses, credit cards and for businesses that rely on debt to grow.

But they need to rein in prices. So that means higher interest rates. Meanwhile, Americans are reeling from those price increases. In May, prices for just about everything rose dramatically from the year before. Gas, used cars, food, shelter, airline tickets, it's not the transitory inflation so many of the experts predicted, not at all. But it is nowhere near the worst we have seen. Inflation in March 1980 hit 14.6 percent.

The big question is why? Moody's has broken down the awful inflation report for May, and finds the Russian invasion and spike in oil and other commodity prices is the number one reason, followed by the pandemic and the housing shortage. Things like the American rescue plan, energy regulation, money supply, corporate price gouging, those are further down the list. But inflation not transitory.

Almost all the experts, except for a few, you know, Larry Summers, Mohamed El-Erian really thought that this was going to be worked out by now, it is not. The worry is that the Fed is behind the curve. One of the reasons why you saw Asian shares down sharply overnight and we've got futures down again this morning. It's going to be a tough day in the stock market is what I'm saying.

JARRETT: So, you're telling me another rocky week.

ROMANS: Another rocky week.

JARRETT: All right, well, just ahead, what to do about high prices in America. Does the U.K. have the right idea?

ROMANS: Plus, rare common ground on gun safety. What's in the bipartisan deal just reached?

JARRETT: And why China is lashing out against the United States, next.



JARRETT: In Washington, the Senate has reached a tentative agreement on a new gun safety law The bipartisan measure has the support of ten Republican senators, enough to overcome the threat of a filibuster.



SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): That's right. There's a lot of work still to do to take this framework agreement and reduce it to legislative language. We shouldn't take a victory lap yet, but I'm so grateful for the leadership that senators like Chris Murphy and John Cornyn have shown in getting us to this point. And I'm optimistic that the pressure that we are all feeling from our constituents to act and to deliver real results will get us to the president's desk with legislation this time.


JARRETT: Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell also says that he hopes the discussion, quote, "makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment and earns broad support in the Senate.

ROMANS: So here's what's in this deal framework. Money for state red flag laws to keep guns away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others, a funding for mental health and suicide prevention, closing the boy friend loophole to keep guns away from people found guilty of violence against a dating partner, and enhance review process for people under 21 buying a gun like an AR-15.

Clarification of what a federally-licensed gun dealer is, they have to do background checks under federal law and more money for school security.

JARRETT: So, what's out of the deal? Well, no expanded background checks, no federal ban on military assault-style weapons like an AR- 15, and the age to buy such guns will not go up to 21.


President Biden not responding to any questions about this tentative gun safety deal, except to flash a thumbs up after leaving mass last night. CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us live from Washington D.C. this morning. Jasmine, the White House did release a statement about this tentative deal. What did they say?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, the president's message was clear here. He indicated that while the proposal did not go far enough, he indicated that he would actually sign it anyway, and that sentiment reflects the energy here in Washington D.C., and certainly down in Pennsylvania Ave. That despite the fact that maybe everything that they wanted is not necessarily in this bill, there has been so long since anything has been done that any incremental progress is still progress and should become law.

Now, I want to read you the statement that the White House put out from President Biden almost immediately after that deal was announced yesterday, really showing how top of mind this is for them. The president thanked those who led negotiations and said, obviously, it does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.

Now, he continued to say that with bipartisan support from both sides, that this should get passed quickly from Congress and then end up on his desk. And the sooner that, that happens, the sooner that he said that we can use these measures to save lives. Now, of course, this is a proposal and not yet legislative texts. Let's be clear about that. So, it could take some time to get down the pipeline.

And we know that this urgency though, that we heard from Biden's statement, it reflects his mentality for the last few weeks, especially responding to this back-to-back mass major shootings where he's really urging Congress to do something, and now it falls short of exactly what he called for. Really, we just heard Laura talk about it. He wanted enhanced background checks. He wanted Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.

And if they couldn't pass it, at least, raise the wage age from 18 to 21 as well as other things like storage safety laws. But of course, those are not in it because those did not get 60 votes, they could not. But this -- what they propose, theoretically can get 60 votes and the president has indicated that is where his signature will be. Laura?

JARRETT: All right, it's something, Jasmine, thank you. Meantime, the NRA is opting not to weigh in on this bipartisan gun deal. A spokesman telling CNN, quote, "as is our policy, the NRA does not take positions on frameworks. We will make our position known when the full text of the bill is available for review."

ROMANS: Republican Congressman Chris Jacobs of New York says he changed his mind and now supports gun safety legislation. Jacobs' decision comes after multiple mass shootings including in his native city of Buffalo, New York. Speaking to CNN, he explained what prompted him to switch his position.


REP. CHRIS JACOBS (R-NY): So, I spent a lot of time talking with people on both sides of this issue, talking with people that are strong defenders of the Second Amendment, which I believe I am. I was the county clerk in Erie County, county clerk in New York State, issued pistol permits, so I was very involved in allowing people to avail themselves of Second Amendment rights.

But as I talked to Second Amendment advocates on these issues of the absolutism that they have that nothing should change, no additional controls, their -- just their arguments felt hollow to me.


ROMANS: Earlier this month, Jacobs announced he is not seeking re- election. That decision coming after he broke with Republicans to support raising the minimum age for gun ownership from 18 to 21, and banning AR-15s. It's clear that it feels as though in Washington, they're getting the message a little more that they are really out of step with the public on this. I mean, the public opinion polls --

JARRETT: Well, they're getting the message they have to do something --

ROMANS: Right --

JARRETT: And so they're going to just do the bare minimum to make sure that they can say that they did something so that they can get back to talking about the economy and inflation and gas. Next, the U.S. Defense Secretary in a war of words with China. ROMANS: And later, how to protect your nest egg from inflation.



ROMANS: All right. Police confirmed 31 people arrested on Saturday for conspiracy to riot near a pride parade in Idaho were from 12 different states. You can see them there. Authorities believe they're all affiliated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front. They were equipped with shields, shin guards, other riot gear. They were all dressed the same.

Among those arrested was Patriot Front leader Thomas Ryan Rousseau, according to the Anti-defamation League, Russo led several dozen members of a group called Vanguard America Texas during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, 2017.

JARRETT: All right, jumping overseas now. China's defense minister accusing the United States of being a, quote, "bully" and vowing to fight to the very end to block independence for Taiwan. He also blasted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who is accusing China of coercive, aggressive and dangerous actions that threaten stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is traveling with Secretary Austin and joins us live from Bangkok this morning. Oren, good morning. Secretary Austin and his Chinese counterpart sparring all weekend. Where is this heading?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, this is a war of words. A very clear war of words with some pretty hostile rhetoric that we heard over the weekend from both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Minister Wei Fenghe. But right now, it remains sort of in the realm of rhetoric, and the goal is to keep it there.

Of course, perhaps, this was to be expected, given the fact that it's the U.S. and China speaking at an Asian defense conference. Taiwan was bound to come up where there isn't all that much common ground between the U.S. and China. Austin in his speech, reiterated U.S. policies, said the U.S. supports a one-China policy, does not support Taiwan independence.


But under the Taiwan Relations Act, can continue to provide Taiwan with defensive arms. Austin also accused China of trying to change the status quo when it comes to Taiwan and when it comes to the region there, the South China Sea, using as an example the Chinese interception of two Australian and Canadian aircraft in recent weeks. He said that kind of action shows that China is trying to move or change the status quo in the region.

Well, China fired back there pretty quickly saying, that speech was a confrontation, and then Minister Wei when he spoke, said that China would fight any attempt at Taiwan's independence. So some very strong words from China as well there. Where did they find common ground? The two of them met before they each gave their speeches, and they did agree that there was a need for greater communications, more open lines of communications and crisis communications mechanisms.

Not only at the highest levels of the military which would be Austin to Wei, but also at the operational and theater levels, and a senior defense official said you should expect to see some more of that in the coming months and perhaps before the end of the year. Of course, even there, Laura, there was some disagreement. That disagreement being who is it that's the cause of the instability for which you need the crisis communication lines.

JARRETT: All right, Oren, thank you for following it all.

ROMANS: All right, South Korea plans to dramatically strengthen its defensive capabilities as concern grows about North Korea reviving its nuclear testing program. CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us this morning in Seoul. Paula, nice to see you, you know, what does South Korea mean by strengthen its defensive capabilities?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, the details are lacking at this point. They haven't specified exactly what they will be doing. We know that the new president of South Korea Yoon Seok-youl is pushing himself more towards the United States is wanting to strengthen the alliance that is already very close. And within that would be looking for the extended deterrence, and clearly, they have said that they are also going to potentially restart these joint military drills.

So certainly, we don't know exactly what they are planning to do, but we have seen the defense budget grow here in South Korea. We've also seen from even the previous administration wanting to test more weapons capabilities and, of course, that is exactly what we're seeing North Korea doing as well. Just on Sunday morning local time, over a three-hour period, the Joint Chiefs of Staff here in Seoul said that North Korea fired numerous multi-rocket launcher shots.

So they're showing that they are well and truly in the midst of their weapons testing and missile launching cycle. Kim Jong-un up until this point have showed absolutely no interest in negotiating or even engaging with either Washington or with Seoul or Tokyo. So clearly, this is in response to that. We heard from the defense minister himself down in Singapore saying this, that it was to try and counter the North Korean threat, Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Paula, thank you so much for that. Keep us posted.

JARRETT: Coming up, a country music star revealing his battle with cancer.

ROMANS: And next, hear from the American who went all the way to Kyiv to help Ukrainians who were forced from their homes by war.