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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Today's 1/6 Hearing Will Focus on Trump Pressure Campaign on Pence; Fed Hikes Interest Rates by Three-Quarters of a Percentage Point; Senate Negotiators Struggle Over Gun Safety Deal Sticking Points. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 16, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, June 16. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Thursday, we are slowly plowing through this week. I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you all this morning.

The next public hearing of the January 6 committee is set to start just hours from now. The committee plans to draw a straight line from former President Trump's words to the Capitol riot. Aides say the panel focused on Trump's campaign to pressure his vice president into blocking the certification of President Biden's victory on January 6th. Remember what Trump told the crowd at the ellipse just hours after, before rather the attack.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Mike Pence -- I will tell you right now. I'm not hearing good stories.

I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president comes through for us. He's a great guy. Of course, if he doesn't come through. I won't like him quite as much.

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!


ROMANS: They will make the case that Trump's very public push directly contributed to the riot. The riot there, which included the mob chanting threats against -- against Pence's life and his evacuation to safety.

Two Pence aides will appear live this morning, counsel to the vice president, Greg Jacobs and retired judge, Michael Luttig, an informal adviser. Also, expect to see video from the deposition of Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, who appeared yesterday exclusively on CNN.

Short telling Wolf Blitzer how he warned the Secret Service the day before the riot.


MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: At this point, it became clear that the disagreements that had been discussed --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Between the president and vice president.

SHORT: And staffs are about to become far more public. And I think with thousands of people descending upon Washington, with hopes of a different outcome, I just thought it was important they be alerted to that.


JARRETT: The January 6 committee also releasing a video that raises more questions about a tour conducted by Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk on January 5th. So this is the day before the riot. That video shows a man taking pictures of tunnels, hallways, staircases, and a security checkpoint within the Capitol complex and what appears to be that very same man marching to the Capitol on January 6th, spouting threats against Democrats.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no escape Pelosi. Schumer, Nadler. We are coming for you. We are coming in like white on rice, for Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, even you AOC, we're coming to take you out, and pull you out by your hairs. How about that, Pelosi?


JARRETT: Loudermilk is pushing back against what he calls the committees false accusations in a statement to CNN after this video was released, calling them smear campaign. The Capitol police have already put the bed.

All right. Joining me now is Dave Aronberg, the state attorney from Palm Beach County, Florida.

So nice to have you, sir. Appreciate you getting up right in the early for us.

Let's talk about today's hearing. We understand the focus is going to be all about Trump's pressure campaign. This campaign to overturn the election, essentially this ill-conceived plot that Pence could somehow singlehandedly block the certification of Biden's win. What are you watching for today?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Yeah, good morning, Laura, great to be with you.

Today I'm watching for further evidence of Trump's criminal intent, and that is what this committee is getting at. You saw a little teaser by the release of this video from Eric Herschmann, who was a White House counsel and who advised John Eastman that he needed to get a criminal defense lawyer. He used more colorful language than that. But that tells you where they are growing, they are showing that Trump

knew the Eastman plan was, illegal and knew that his efforts to pressure Mike Pence also were illegal. This all goes back to the issue of criminal intent.

JARRETT: So you mention Eastman. Eastman now really a central character in this entire story. And "The New York Times" is reporting on emails this morning between Trump attorney John Eastman, and this Wisconsin lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro.

And the link here in terms of criminal intent aspect is really interesting because Eastman in these images suggest that he has inside info over a heated fight amongst Supreme Court justices -- sitting Supreme Court justices about whether to hear arguments about the president's efforts to overturn his defeat at the polls.


Now whether or not Eastman actually had inside info, we don't yet know. But, it's been significant that he's at least espousing the idea that he does.

ARONBERG: Sure does. It gets to the issue of Ginni Thomas. Now there is a new report that shows that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas was more involved -- John Eastman used to clerk for her husband. So there is that natural connection.

But, it is important to find out what her role was, because Clarence Thomas was still on the court making decisions on cases involved in January 6th. So, I don't know how you can have a Supreme Court justice making decisions on a case that his wife was intricately involved with. But that goes to the point that the Supreme Court sets its own rules for its own justices, and they interpret their own rules to determine, what's a violation of the rules? So, in that sense, they are really above the law.


JARRETT: Yeah, it's really interesting. "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" reporting on these emails and CNN has done a lot of reporting on certainly the pressure that Ginni Thomas was asserting on members of the White House team, like Mark Meadows and state and local officials, that she was sort of intimately involved here as a player, she's of course married to Clarence Thomas.

And I just want to go back to one piece of this "New York Times" story, because they are trying to make this link, I think, between the violence that we saw on January 6th, and the plot that was going on among Eastman and these other lawyers, and the Wisconsin lawyer that I mentioned thinks that the odds of action before January 6th will become more favorable of the justices start to fear that there will be wild chaos on January 6th.

In another words, that the justices would be so intimidated that they would actually rule.

What does that tell you?

ARONBERG: Well, that to me provides evidence of criminal intent. And Herschmann was right, Eastman needs to get a good criminal defense lawyer. This all goes back to the issue, Laura, of Donald Trump's criminal intent, because a lot of what he knew on the election, that he was told the election was legitimate.

But as a prosecutor, you don't need to prove that Donald Trump knew the election was legitimate to show criminal intent. It is stuff like this where after your protest in the courts have been exhausted, after your pills are over, you don't then get to send a phony electors to be counted, you don't get the pressure local officials to find you a certain number of votes, you don't get to pressure DOJ officials to declare fraud that does not exist, and you certainly do not get to assemble and unleash a mob onto the capital to disrupt the counting of the votes.

That's all evidence of criminal intent, regardless of whether the president believed the election was stolen or not.

JARRETT: Yeah, we don't have emails from Trump. He doesn't have a paper trail, but we certainly now have quite a bit of evidence from those around him, those who were advising him. It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out this morning.

All right. Dave Aronberg, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.

ARONBERG: Thanks for having me.

JARRETT: And we have more legal news.

Steve Bannon goes on trial next month. The federal judge refusing to throw contempt of Congress charges against the former adviser to President Trump. Bannon had argued, you will remember, that House committee subpoenas were illegal, and his communication should be shielded from the committee because he had been in contact with Trump at the end of his administration.

ROMANS: All right, remember the sky, and then parading through the Capitol with a large Confederate fly during the January 6th riot, has been found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding. His name is Kevin Seefried, his wife, his son, Hunter, and his son's girlfriend all drove from Delaware to attend the Stop the Steal rally that day. Father and son help stormed the building climbing in through a broken window.

At least 165 people have now been charged for their participation in the insurrection.

Today at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, join CNN for special coverage to hear new details of what happened inside the Capitol and inside the White House on January 6th.

JARRETT: Damn if you do, damn if you don't. Just ahead, Joe Biden's administration sued by environmentalists over oil drilling. ROMANS: Plus, two Americans who may have been captured after fighting

Russians in Ukraine.

JARRETT: And late night talks on Capitol Hill. Will this bipartisan deal on gun safety hold.



ROMANS: All right, a historic day for your money. The Federal Reserve cranked up official interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point, the most aggressive Fed hike since 1994. It is a bold move to try and cool a red hot inflation -- inflation that is crushing consumers, and frustrating the Biden administration.

Fed chair Jerome Powell says, failure is not an, option inflation is distorting the American economy and hurting families.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: Clearly, today's 75 basis point increase is an unusually large one and I do not expect the moves of this size to be common. We at the Fed understand the hardship that high inflation is causing. We are strongly committed to bringing inflation back down.


ROMANS: The rate increase is powerful medicine that could have a bitter taste for millions of American households and businesses. Of course, high rates raise the cost of borrowing for homes, credit cards, cars, student loans. The idea is to reduce demand and slow down the economy. But be warned, if you are carrying debt, that debt is just about to get more expensive.

All right. The Wall Street reaction an initial relief rally that appears to have faded overnight.


Stock index futures are not lower here. Dow futures down about 570 points.

How is the Feds move playing out in global markets? We have Selina Wang in Beijing, but first, let's go to Anna Stewart in Paris.

And, Anna, Europeans have opened sharply lower. What's going on this morning?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, it closed yesterday higher after a six-day losing streak, but that relief rally has completely fizzled. Not a good start to the day.

Let's bring you these markets. You can see there, Xetra DAX in Germany is leading the losses, but all the main indices over 2 percent lower. So that wipes out any gains we had yesterday. And the Federal Reserve is not the only Central Bank that investors are watching.

This side of the pond, yesterday, the European Central Bank actually had an ad hoc meeting, a surprise meeting which is pretty much unheard of to tackle the fact that bond deals and some member states in southern Europe spiked and that is that a result of rate rises being indicated for July and some of those member states had too much that.

Here in U -- I'm sorry, not here in the U.K., I'm in Paris now, but in the U.K., the Bank of England is also meeting today and we are expecting a fifth consecutive rate rise. Will it be 25 basis points like we've had the others or, will they double down and take relief out of the Federal Reserve's book? That remains to be seen.

But inflation in the U.K. topping 9 percent in April. So the cost of living and inflation, and rising rates really biding across the -- across the board here in Europe.

ROMANS: Yeah, it is a global story, investors getting used to a new -- a shift in factors. Higher interest, rates higher inflation, slower growth, and an energy crisis frankly around the world.

Thank you so much for that, Anna.

Asian markets closed just a short time ago, for a look at that, let's bring in Selina Wang.

Selina, a bit of a mixed bag across Asia today. Those major markets are closed now.


Well, originally, we saw Asian markets rallying, but that momentum was slowly losing speed as the trading day ended. The Nikkei, if you take a look at the markets, ended higher, but mainland markets as well as Hong Kong stocks closed lower.

What is really been putting pressure on Asian markets these past few months is Chinese COVID-19 lockdowns. Even as you see some restrictions, lift well, the economy here is always hostage to for the lockdowns over just a single COVID-19 case.

And while inflation is a global story, here in China actually, prices were actually cooling. That is because these lockdowns have so severely depressed factory and retail activity. At the same, time you've got this risk of a looming recession in the United States. Some analysts are saying that China's economy is in the worst shape in the past 30 years. That, Christine, delivers a double whammy to global growth, because China is such a massive producer and consumer of the world's goods.

ROMANS: Yeah, to say nothing of all those supply chains that are trying to get sorted out, we have lockdowns in China, that just delays that for sure.

Selina Wang, thank you so much. Nice to see you. JARRETT: Later today, President Biden will sign a bipartisan deal to

drive down the cost of shipping goods overseas. The White House hopes that this bill is the supply chain bottlenecks that sea, and bars ocean carriers from refusing to take American exports back to Asia if their ships have space. Overseas shippers posted an estimate profits of $150 billion in 2021.

And three environmental law groups are suing the Biden administration now. They are trying to block more than 3,500 permeable occasions from energy companies to drill for oil and gas on public land. The groups claim permit approvals in Wyoming and New Mexico violate several federal laws.

Climate advocates are determined to hold President Biden and his campaign promise to ban all new oil and a chilling on public land. So far, a promise he has failed to deliver on.

ROMANS: All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour. Coming up, greedflation. Are big companies to blame for higher prices?

JARRETT: Plus, the key sticking points that could threaten the gun safety deal.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

Overnight, bipartisan Senate negotiators met trying to make this deal on legislation. The sides are still trying to work through their issues here. The sticking points include the red flag laws and so- called boyfriend loophole. It is unclear if they are going to meet their agreement through the end of the week.

CNN's Daniella Diaz has been following it all from the very beginning.

So, what are senators saying about the sticking point? What's the holdup?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN REPORTER: Key negotiators, Laura, are trying to write out the legislation for this framework that we have been talking about all week that this bipartisan group has announced last Sunday.

The problem here being, now that they are writing this text, they're still trying to figure out the details and they're not agreeing on all these details, one of them being, as you, said whether funds should be used to incentivize states to implement red flag laws, Republicans believe that would trample a Second Amendment rights and instead they believe these funds should be used for alternative crisis intervention programs so that is one sticking point they are still negotiating in the socks as they are trying to write this legislation.

The second, being this second boyfriend loophole. Currently under federal law, people who've been convicted of misdemeanor, domestic violence are prohibited from owning or purchasing guns but the problem here being the ban only applies to spouses, those who share child, co- habitants, not just a dating partner. So Democrats are prioritizing trying to define what a dating partner means, which is another sticking point in these negotiations.


But, look, they are working against the clock, Laura, to try and write this text. They really want to have it done by Friday, they understand that they have momentum right now before any other news comes up, for example a Supreme Court decision that could distract senators and shift their priorities.

But take a listen to what the key negotiators, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, and Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, said last night before the meetings that they had on these sticking points. It is really interesting, they are optimistic, but they understand they are racing against the clock.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I think we are on our way, but I am concerned now given the time it takes, the need to complete our work really by tomorrow, we have two subtleties issues, or else we are talking about jeopardizing our ability to deal with legislation next week.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I'm not worried. We worked hard to get a framework agreement that 20 Republicans and Democrats -- when we have to do is put that into taxed. I'm not saying that is a piece of cake, but I think that everybody in this room wants to get a bill to the floor by next week.


DIAZ: I do want to note, Laura, that after they said -- they made these comments to us about where they stood on these negotiations, they met late last night and Cornyn emerged and said he was incredibly optimistic they could reach that deadline of trying to write that text by the end of the week. Of course, those sticking points remain.

So we will have to see how they eventually figure out how they are going to write through that text.

JARRETT: And the process grinds on.

All right, Daniella, we'll see if they can get it done. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, just ahead, two Americans missing in Ukraine, are they now prisoners of war?

JARRETT: And a new setback in the baby formula shortage. Why Mother Nature is to blame?