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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Former DOJ Officials Shine Light On Trump's Pressure Campaign; Supreme Court Strikes Down New York's Handgun Law In 6-3 Ruling; Americans Struggling With Soaring Cost Of Energy. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 24, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Thirty-three minutes -- back now.

Turning back to our top story and the hours of testimony Thursday depicting a country on the verge of a full-blown constitutional crisis, although we didn't know it yet.

Three Trump appointees revealing moments of chaos at a dramatic showdown at the White House weeks before the attack on the U.S. Capitol. We heard in testimony yesterday that Trump pushed the Justice Department to seize voting machines in swing states, and he had the then-Secretary of Defense investigate a conspiracy theory that Italian satellites had been used to flip votes from Trump to Biden which, of course, did not happen.

And then there were revelations that multiple members of Congress sought preemptive presidential pardons.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was Rep. Gaetz requesting a pardon?

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I believe so. The pardon that he was discussing requesting was as broad as you could describe.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Biggs did. Mr. Jordan talked about congressional pardons but he never asked me for one. Mr. Gohmert asked for one as well.


HUTCHINSON: Mr. Perry asked for a pardon, too -- I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Marjorie Taylor Greene contact you?

HUTCHINSON: No, she didn't contact me about it. I heard that she asked the White House counsel office for a pardon.


JARRETT: And that's not all. Meantime, behind closed doors yesterday, the committee was questioning someone else, British documentary filmmaker Alex Holder, about his interview with Ivanka Trump, among other people. Holder telling Don Lemon that the committee showed particular interest in possible inconsistencies in her statements between what she told the committee and what she said in the documentary about election fraud.


ALEX HOLDER, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: I don't know what she said to her father but all I know is what she said to me and clearly, there is a difference between the position that she said to me and the position and the position she gave to the -- to the committee.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, "DON LEMON TONIGHT": What did they ask you about that today?

HOLDER: I don't -- I don't want to go into too much detail about that.

LEMON: What -- can you give us context or at least go into -- without specifically, tell us --

HOLDER: Oh, they just asked sort of similar questions to what you just asked, which is sort of when it took place -- to get some background as to how it took place, where it took place, and when it took place, and whether I felt that there was a difference in her position. And I just made it clear that obviously, I can see a difference. As to what that really means outside of that is for other people to determine.

LEMON: So I'll ask you again. I know you just answered but what was your answer to them?

HOLDER: My answer is that there is clearly a difference between the position that she gave to me and the position that she gave to the committee.

LEMON: Did you think duplicitous?

HOLDER: I think other people would judge that themselves.


JARRETT: All right, now to this.

President Biden strongly criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, 6-3, to strike down New York's handgun law, particularly on the heels of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.

Joining me now to discuss that ruling, Jennifer Mascott. She's a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and then-judge now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And she's also an assistant professor at George Mason University's Scalia School of Law. Jennifer, really nice to have you this morning. This is really an important decision so I'm glad to get your expertise on it.

I want to drill down on exactly what the law was. It was a licensing requirement that made New Yorkers show a special need to carry a handgun in public. Just a general desire to protect yourself wasn't enough for New York. The justices saying in a majority opinion that that's not OK.

What was Justice Thomas' best argument for striking down this law?

JENNIFER MASCOTT, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW, SCALIA LAW SCHOOL, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY, FORMER LAW CLERK TO CLARENCE THOMAS AND BRETT KAVANAUGH (via Webex by Cisco): Well, the court yesterday, as you said, definitely confirmed that the Second Amendment, in its view and according to the original understanding of the Second Amendment, includes a right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside of the home. And so it extends the court's decision in 2008 finding D.C.'s system of regulation unconstitutional that had addressed handguns inside the home.

And what the court was basically saying is that if the Second Amendment possesses a right to carry a gun for self-defense, it's not OK for a state to impose a licensing scheme that requires individuals to show a special need to exercise that right. So, 43 states have different regimes where you do have to get a license to carry the gun outside the home, but if you meet certain objective criteria then you can get that license.

And so, the problem here was giving licensing officials so much discretion that it was almost, in many cases, becoming impossible for people to get the right to have a handgun outside the home unless they could show a particular set of circumstances that was totally within the licensing officials' discretion.

JARRETT: So I know you told our producers that the ruling doesn't have an immediate impact beyond New York. But as I understand, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and at least New Jersey have similar if not identical laws. And in dissent yesterday,

Justice Breyer writes that this decision will burden states' efforts to pass laws limiting who can purchase and carry guns. In other words, that the ruling is not quite so modest.

How do you square that? Why is Breyer wrong?

MASCOTT: Well, I think with the -- with the -- with the justices said in majority and specifically -- technically here, of course -- the decision was just on New York's law, Justice Thomas mentions in the opinion that lower courts, at least in the past, have reached rulings on the six states other licensing schemes that have a similar discretionary regime in finding them OK. He suggests that they are inconsistent with the test that the Supreme Court imposes yesterday. So I think those states will need to look and see how their systems line up under this -- under the standards that the court puts in place yesterday.


But the court does not -- the court also leaves in place, potentially, many general requirements and restrictions that states can put into place with handguns. For example, background checks. The state -- the court doesn't necessarily say anything about those restrictions on folks who have mental health or domestic violence problems.

So like the court did in 2008, the Supreme Court here is reaching a decision just on the specific law in front of it. It may have implications for the small set of states that have similar schemes, but those states will have to look at how their laws line up with yesterday's decision.

And, of course, the court again is not taking off the table many ways to be able to make sure that the law and the -- and the rights are being exercised safely. But licensing officials can't have total discretion to just deny the right to others.

I think it's also important to note that it was interesting -- a group of, actually, public defenders associated with New York expressed support for the decision yesterday because of their concern that actually the law in New York was so restrictive it had been applied sometimes perhaps in the past in a discriminatory way. And so, over- criminalizing.

And so, I think there's actually fairly broad support in a lot of corners for yesterday's decision.

JARRETT: Well, certainly not support in New York. I want to play for you a little bit of the reaction from some of the city's leaders. Take a listen to this.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL, (D) NEW YORK: This decision isn't just reckless, it's reprehensible. It's not what New Yorkers want and we should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY: Today's Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation.


JARRETT: You heard the governor say it's not what New Yorkers want and something echoed by the former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal, if we have his tweet. He said it's noteworthy that if the court says next week that abortion is a matter for the states to decide -- he's, of course, referring to that Roe versus Wade decision that we're waiting on out of Mississippi -- it's -- that the states don't get the final word on guns in comparison to abortion.

Is that a fair argument? MASCOTT: Well, I think the consistency actually between at least the draft opinion that was -- that was leaked in the Dobbs case and the decision here is that we see the court really trying to look at the text and structure of the Constitution and figure out what -- how it -- how it protects certain rights.

And so, I think one distinction that's important to keep in mind with the Second Amendment right to bear arms and then some of the questions that are coming up about the states' roles in regulating privacy and abortion, is what the text of the Constitution includes. And, of course, the court yesterday was focused on the text -- the right to bear arms and the Second Amendment.

And so, we'll see what the court finds about the text related to privacy and abortion laws and leaving those to the states. And at least the argument and the draft decision that we saw a few weeks ago was that it's hard to take a text that talks about procedure and procedural due process and gather from that a specific standard on an issue as contested as abortion. And so perhaps, in that case, it really is left up to the states.

JARRETT: All right. Well, we are all waiting on pins and needles for that decision as well.

Professor, thank you. Appreciate you getting up early.

MASCOTT: Thanks so much. Have a great day.

JARRETT: Thanks.

I want to turn now to the White House reaction on this gun decision. I want to bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright. Jasmine, good morning. The president clearly disturbed by this decision and the potential fallout.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Laura. The president did not take this ruling well when speaking to reporters yesterday at the White House. He said that he was deeply disappointed. And the fact is that down the line it could really limit his ability to get past a major goal of his, which is to reduce gun violence in this country.

The president said that he talked to New York's governor just earlier and that despite the fact that he said that not only did it defy common sense but also defied the Constitution. He said that he found really a silver lining in just this one part. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The gun laws in 40 of these states are still in place based on the decision. Not good enough but it's -- I think it's a bad decision. I think it's -- I think it's not reasoned accurately. But I'm disappointed.


WRIGHT: So, clearly there, you can really feel the president's disappointment and it stems from the fact that he has spent the last month-plus really both trying to reduce the amount of gun violence in this country with the executive orders that he's passed since being in office, but also really trying to show the American people and, frankly, Congress that gun violence in this country has gotten out of hand.


Of course, we know that he went back-to-back to those mass meeting sites -- mass shooting sites in both Texas and New York. And so, the president here -- although, of course, he is celebrating the Senate passing the gun bill -- is hoping that it gets to his desk soon, right? He wants to see more.

So in the statement, he really encouraged Americans to do things to make their communities more safe and encouraged states themselves to take it upon themselves really to pass more common-sense gun laws, he said -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Jasmine. Thank you.

Coming up, the high cost of energy is not just the reality at the gas station. Americans are bracing for another round of sticker shock as they try to keep cool.

And the Orlando Magic coming up aces at the NBA draft.



JARRETT: With inflation squeezing so many American pocketbooks right now, the soaring cost of energy will hit even harder this summer -- costs that are expected to go up substantially during a heat wave.

CNN's Gabe Cohen has the latest on this.


LISA AYERS, WAITRESS: And there here, it goes up to $200.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two hundred dollars to power this little house in Manchester, New Hampshire. With each surging bill, Lisa Ayres' nest egg dwindles.

AYERS: Now it's a matter of will I have enough money for rent.

COHEN (voice-over): Most Americans have seen rising utility bills as the war in Ukraine and increased demand drive price hikes on natural gas, and it's about to get worse.

AYERS: It's going to be a long summer.

COHEN (voice-over): The price of electricity is expected to surge yet again this summer nearly 5% nationally and more than 16% in New England, which relies more heavily on natural gas for power. In New Hampshire, energy companies plan to double the price of electricity, upping the average bill from $135 to $206.

AYERS: That's crazy.

COHEN (voice-over): Lisa works as a waitress and just picked up a second job making deliveries to keep up with these costs.

AYERS: Because I want to make sure that I can get the bills paid and keep my head above water. Because I know if the electric and gas bills double there's no way I can afford to stay in the city.

COHEN (voice-over): A survey in March found half of Americans were already worried about affording utilities. Close to 20 million households are in debt, owing power companies more than $23 billion as of April, roughly double the pre-pandemic debt.

COHEN (on camera): What's been going through your mind?

JAAFR MUHAMMAD, UNEMPLOYED: Sticker shock. It's like wow, here we go again.

COHEN (voice-over): Jaafr Muhammad is unemployed. His wife is a teacher near Boston. They now owe their power company nearly $3,000.

MUHAMMAD: I don't see it going down unless something miraculously happens. If it's not paid they will possibly terminate it.

COHEN (on camera): Shut you off.


COHEN (voice-over): Shutoffs have surged since 2020, well before the war in Ukraine -- a more urgent threat to lower-income families, particularly in Black and brown communities where they often pay more for power with homes that are older and poorly insulated.

Now, scorching heat waves are pounding parts of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to jack up their energy bills.

JACQUI PATTERSON, CHISHOLM LEGACY PROJECT: I think of the people who are going to have to make choices between paying their electricity bill, paying for food, paying for medicine or healthcare.

CHARLIE, NCLC: And so, we're going to see a surge in terminations again when people need more electricity for their air conditioners they're going to be losing power.

COHEN (voice-over): On these 100-degree days in Atlanta, Harriet Feggins shuts her blackout curtains --

HARRIET FEGGINS, ATLANTA: It keeps the sun out and the heat out.

COHEN (voice-over): -- uses Christmas lights in the bathroom --

FEGGINS: They don't use a lot of energy.

COHEN (voice-over): -- and cuts power to most of her apartment --

FEGGINS: The washing machine and dryer off, the rooms upstairs off, but the living room on.

COHEN (voice-over): -- all to keep her home cool and her power bill low.

FEGGINS: It's messed up you've got to do it like that but it's cost- efficient.

COHEN (voice-over): She's on disability and struggling to pay these rising bills. She just got a shutoff notice over $65 she owes the power company.

FEGGINS: I started crying. It really hurt my feelings because that's not even $100.

COHEN (voice-over): She says she has until July first to pay or she and her daughters could lose power for the third time this year.

FEGGINS: They was like well, you know, mama, we've got our health and our strength and we're here, so we made do, you know? The cold showers really help.


JARRETT: All right, Gabe Cohen. Thank you so much for that reporting. We appreciate it.

The debate over who should go number one in the NBA draft is now settled. Andy Scholes was there in Brooklyn last night and somehow he managed to get up bright and early for the Bleacher Report. Hello there.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: A long night, though. Good morning, Laura.

And this is always such a fun night --


SCHOLES: -- seeing all these guys realize their dreams.

JARRETT: I love the outfits.

SCHOLES: Oh, and the outfits are out of this world. But, yes, these guys realizing their dreams of being selected in the NBA draft last night.

And all along, most thought Jabari Smith Jr. out of Auburn was going to be the first overall pick but the Orlando Magic had a surprise.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: With the first pick in the 2022 NBA draft, the Orlando Magic select Paolo Banchero from Duke University. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, Paolo Banchero in his fancy purple suit with little rhinestones all over it going number one. The six-foot-ten forward led Duke to the Final Four this past year. He didn't even work out for the Magic so he was pretty surprised to hear his name called first.


PAOLO BANCHERO, FIRST OVERALL PICK BY ORLANDO MAGIC: This isn't even a dream. I feel like this is like a fantasy. Like, I dreamed of being in the NBA but being the number-one overall pick -- you know, this is crazy.


SCHOLES: With that second pick, the Thunder then took Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren. The seven-footer has been an NBA prospect for years since he was like 14 years old. The Houston Rockets then were more than happy to get Smith with the third overall pick.


The Pistons had pick number five and they were thrilled when Purdue's Jaden Ivey fell to them. And check out the emotional moment Jaden had with his mom Niele who coaches Notre Dame's women's team. And get this, Niele once played in the WNBA for the Detroit Shock and Ivey's grandfather, James Hunter, played for the Detroit Lions. So a full- circle moment there for Jaden to be drafted by the Pistons.

All right, it certainly was a fun night there in Brooklyn.

JARRETT: All right, great to have you on set. You sure you don't want to come back every day? This is so nice. Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: I love it.

JARRETT: Coming up on "NEW DAY," more of our coverage of the relentless pressure campaign former President Trump mounted on the Justice Department. We are unpacking all the new key details and tracking the potential legal ramifications.

Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Laura Jarrett. Have a great weekend. "NEW DAY" is next.