Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump White House Aide Set to Testify at Surprise January 6 Hearing; NATO and G7 Leaders Focusing on Russia's War on Ukraine; Harris: I "Never Believed" Trump's Supreme Court Nominees. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired June 28, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: OK, it's Tuesday, 5:00 a.m. on the nose. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is June 28. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Laura Jarrett.

And we begin this morning with a revelation late last night, the identity of a key witness set to testify later today at a last minute hearing set by the January 6 committee. Her name, Cassidy Hutchinson. She may be unfamiliar, but she is considered one of the committee's most consequential witnesses because she was an aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

She was present during many critical events and conversations in the White House and we know that she's been cooperating with the panel already, sitting privately for at least three different times. You can see her there.

CNN reporter Marshall Cohen is live in Washington, D.C.

Marshall, good morning. What do you think that we could learn from Hutchinson today?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, guys. We could learn a lot.

And you know the committee thinks that this is super important because they scheduled this surprise hearing. It was supposed to be, you know, a little break, a little hiatus after the July 4th break. Not so much. Today, this afternoon, we'll be hearing from Cassidy Hutchinson.

As you said, she was there for a lot, in the Trump White House, she was an aide to mark meadows and she witnessed all kinds of events.

I'll break down some of the things that we've already heard from her and some of the things that we might be hearing from her.

First of all, she was there for discussions about fake electors at the White House. That is the plan to subvert the Electoral College process. The Trump campaign pursued that in seven states across the country. We've already heard testimony from her about discussions between her boss Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani who was coordinating that fake elector scheme on the state level.

Number two, we've already heard from her about requests from Republican lawmakers, members of congress, for pardons that they wanted from Donald Trump after January 6. He didn't end up giving any pardons to any sitting members of Congress. But the committee has said listen, if you are asking for a pardon, even you think that you did something wrong.

Also, she has discussed conversations that she was present for about Donald Trump's attempts to weaponize the Justice Department, decapitate the leadership and replace the attorney general with his own hand picked loyalist Jeffrey Clark who was willing to use the powers of the DOJ to overturn the election. Jeffrey Clark himself is in a little bit of hot water, his house was raided last week by federal agents.

And then finally some of the new material that we might hear later today, this is according to past CNN reporting. She was there when Mark Meadows discussed his conversations with Donald Trump on January 6, and his reaction to the violence that day. Trump's reaction to the chants of "hang Mike Pence" which, according to our past reporting, he was reacting with some approval about. And he was apparently dismayed when he learned that the Secret Service has whisked pence to safety away from the rioters, away from the violence.

So that's a little bit of what we've already heard, what we might hear in the future. And, you know, guys, it has going to be something important. The committee's credibility in some ways is on the line here. If she's got to deliver the goods, because they just announced it with so much fanfare, they keep it a secret. Finally, we know what might be coming. It's 1:00 p.m. this afternoon -- guys.

JARRETT: And our understanding is kept it a secret worried about safety of the witness, we don't know if anyone else will testify alongside her.

But, Marshall, we know that you will be covering it all. Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks a lot.

ROMANS: And, we know our reporting is that some people who have been in this room have been told there might be an extra level of security, might not get the seat that you had last time. So, it shows there's sort of an urgency and a bit of drama surrounding this, this morning.

Let's bring in Matthew Brown, national correspondent from the "Washington Post." so nice to see you. Everyone tight lipped about Hutchinson coming in today.

How much of an impact could her testimony have in your view?

MATTHEW BROWN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. I think that this testimony is going to be the next step in what the committee has been attempting do. Each committee hearing so far has been a different aspect of Trump's attempts to overturn the election. This committee so far will be a very interesting moment where we'll be really seeing the inner circle of Trump here.


This is in conversation with for instance the committee recently just getting ten hours of footage from a British filmmaker Alex Holder who was with the Trumps in the run-up to the January 6 attack and had unseen footage previously from the January 6 attack itself. This is going to be showing that we're really going to be seeing inside Trump's inner circle now with Ms. Hutchinson's testimony.

I think it's really notable to note that in the weeks beforehand, Hutchinson actually sacked her last lawyer who was, quote, too close to Trump's inner circle herself. And now that she has new lawyers, it's going to be interesting to see what she will be more comfortable testifying in this moment.

JARRETT: Matt, that's such a great point. I had noticed that as well. She's now hired Chuck Cooper, someone who is very seasoned, well- respected in Washington, D.C. and perhaps signals a change in a tactics. We don't know.

We also learned that federal agents armed with a search warrant have now seized the phone of John Eastman, not only Jeffrey Clark, this DOJ lawyer, but now John Eastman, these two architects of the plot to overturn the election.

What does it tell you that both of their material has been seized?

BROWN: I think it shows that the Department of Justice is definitely interested in what the committee has been finding so far. John Eastman as you said definitely an architect in Trump's efforts to persuade pressure and cajole election officials across the country and as well as lawmakers into going along with his plot to muddy the waters around the election and to ultimately attempts to overturn the election in his favor.

Eastman had intimate knowledge consequently around what Trump was doing, what Trump's internal thoughts were, what his plans were and how they attempted to execute this. So, any documents or information that they are able to get from the phone as the committee has shown likely exists that will be of major consequence for any further criminal investigations here.

ROMANS: Yeah. I mean, we weren't expecting to hear from them again until July and now they want to get this information out. So we'll see what it is all about at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Matt Brown of "The Washington Post", thank you for dropping by early for us this morning. Nice to see you.

BROWN: Thank you.

JARRETT: See you, Matt.

All right. Today at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, join CNN for special coverage to hear new details about what happened inside the White House. You will hear from this new witness as we've just been discussing.

ROMANS: All right. To Texas now, tragedy there are at least 46 migrants were found dead inside a semi-truck in San Antonio, what appears to be one of the worst migrant smuggling operations in recent memory. Officials say 16 others, including four children, were taken to the hospital.


MAYOR RON NIRENBERG, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: There are that we know of 46 individuals who are no longer with us who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life. But this is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy.


ROMANS: First responders were called after a worker in a nearby building heard a cry for help and saw bodies through the truck's partly open door. DHS is investigating the incident. Triple digit temperatures in San Antonio yesterday.

JARRETT: Just awful.

And a horrific collision has left three people dead and at least 50 others injured after an Amtrak train crashed into a dump truck in Missouri. Authorities there say the train derailed at an intersection that had no warning lights or motion gates with 200 passengers on board. One passenger credits divine intervention after he and his family survived the crash without a scratch.


JASON DRINKARD, AMTRAK PASSENGER: You know, I look at the people that were bleeding and injured and then I looked at my kids. And I looked at my wife and I said there is no way that we got out of this without God. That's the only way.


JARRETT: The crash is now under federal investigation.

ROMANS: All right. Just ahead, President Biden about to jet from one overseas summit to another.

JARRETT: Plus, Vladimir Putin's Russia now officially defaulting on its foreign debt.

ROMANS: And Vice President Kamala Harris on the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.






ROMANS: World leaders tightly focused on the war in Ukraine this morning. President Biden meeting with other heads of state at the G7 summit now wrapping up in Germany. And then the president will fly to Spain, he will join NATO leaders there.

Let's go to Fred Pleitgen at the G7 in southern Germany.

And, Fred, what was President Biden's message there?


Well, first of all, the president is departing just a little early from the summit. You can see behind me there is some low cloud cover, some thunderstorms rolling through this area as well. So the president playing it safe, getting out of here while he can before the storms get any worse. He did take part in the last meeting that was on his agenda just a couple of minutes ago. I think that we have video of that.

He met with the European leaders of the G7 nations. And obviously the situation in Ukraine was left front and center in that meeting as well, but also dealing with the global fallout of that and the grain crisis that has ensued. There was one journalist who kept asking do you have a plan to get the grain out of Ukraine.

At some point, it was Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, who said it is something that they are working on. Apparently, the G7 nations led by the United States are set to announce around $5 billion in aid to vulnerable nations to deal with the fact that, of course, there is right now, a global grain and food short annual of course some of which due to the fact that there is grain locked up in ports in Ukraine.

And I think that the most important thing that happened here was the fact that there was a show of unity. I think it was especially important for the European G7 nations to show them that the U.S. still firmly stands behind them.


There was, of course, that bilateral meeting between President Biden and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, where he praised Olaf Scholz. You know, some of these European countries are dealing with some fatigues and, of course, a lot of fear for their economy. So, I guess this meet pretty important to show that unity and resolve, Christine.

ROMANS: And, remember, it wasn't long ago that it was a G8 Summit and Russia was invited and lost their seat when it invaded Crimea. So, just a lot on that backdrop there.

Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much for that.


JARRETT: All right. Turning now to the NATO Summit about to get under way in Madrid. The head of state arriving this morning, with President Biden set to board Air Force One for the short trip in less than an hour now.

CNN's MJ Lee joins us live from Austria.

MJ, good morning. What's at the top of the agenda for the president at NATO?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, guys. Not different from what we saw during the G7 summit. Of course the war in Ukraine is going to be the major topic at this NATO summit that the president should be arriving in later today.

This is a war that in so many ways has actually helped to transform the NATO alliance and strengthen the alliance as these member countries have worked together over the last several months to figure out ways to fight against Russian aggression. It has really had the effect of almost sort of clarifying the alliance's purpose. Now, one major topic that we are going to see during the summit is the applications from the countries of Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Now, this is, of course, something that Vladimir Putin is very much opposed to. He doesn't want to see anything that suggests that the NATO alliance is getting stronger. But there is also one other hiccup which is that Turkey has expressed concerns about the two countries joining NATO.

So we know that U.S. officials have been working over the last couple months and weeks actually to talk to Turkey, to try to sort of address the concerns that the country has raised.

We don't know if the summit is going to lead to a conclusion of that, we don't know whether the summit will end up resulting in an answer to whether they can officially join, but we do know that U.S. officials are feeling pretty optimistic that they can address those concerns. So, just as in the G7 summit, the NATO summit is going to have a lot of conversations about what the end game is for the war in Ukraine. Of course, the U.S. and many of its allies are very much looking forward to bringing an end to this war as quickly as possible.

JARRETT: All right. MJ, thank you for being there. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Seventeen past the hour.

Ghislaine Maxwell on suicide watch in the final hours before her sentencing. What officials are doing to avoid history repeating itself.

JARRETT: And next, the post-Roe reality for working women in America.


[05:22:20] JARRETT: Welcome back.

Vice President Kamala Harris says she was, quote, shocked by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe versus Wade despite knowing that it was likely coming. In her first interview since the landmark abortion decision came down, Harris told Dana Bash that she voted against all three Trump appointed justices you see there because she suspected that they would do exactly what they just did. But she takes Clarence Thomas at his word that other rights could also be in jeopardy now.


HARRIS: I think that he just said the quiet part out loud and I think that that is why we all must really understand the significance of what just happened. This is profound. And the way that this decision has come down has been so driven I think by the politics of the issue versus what should be the values that we place on freedom and liberty in our country.

The court actually took a constitutional right that has been recognized for half a century and took it from the women of America. That's shocking.


JARRETT: The vice president didn't rule out the Biden administration exploring other ways to provide women with access to abortion on federal land.

And, Christine, you know, she also talked about the economic reality for so many women.

ROMANS: Absolutely. And that reality is this, the post-Roe landscape in America, U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world, the only one without guaranteed paid maternity leave or paid sick leave.

Back in 1993, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act. You are guaranteed to keep your job and not be fired, but you won't be paid. That was a hard fought victory that still leaves the U.S. alone in the world in how it supports working women.

For millions of poor women, a sick day in America is unpaid. Child care is exorbitant. There is no doubt the burden is born disproportionately by low income women. The states with the trigger laws banning abortion have the lowest levels of assistance for women and their children and studies show women who are denied an abortion are more likely to be poor and stay poor afterward with higher rates of bankruptcy and eviction.

Economist Heidi Shierholz with the Economic Policy Institute calls the fall of Roe an economic barricade. Quote: This decision will cause immediate economic pain in the 26 states where abortion bans are most likely and where people already face lower wages, less worker power and limited access to health care.


Only one in five workers in this country has paid leave through their employers.

The timing here critical. Companies are scrambling for workers. Some companies are expanding financial aid for their workers and their family members who need to travel out of state for abortion care. It's critical for companies in some states like Texas and Oklahoma where the bans are already in effect.

They are finding a tradeoff. Companies are finding a tradeoff between low taxes and regulation and demands from their employees for health care rights. A number of companies now providing abortion resources for their employees here.

Yelp, the company Yelp says benefits for abortion health care are a recruiting and retention tool. Employees want to work for a company like that.

The question now, does the 50-year battle end here or do victorious anti-abortion activists, do they turn their attention to addressing what poor families need, quality child care, paid sick leave, maternity leave, universal pre-K? I mean, we are alone in the world, the United States, in how it values the time of a woman who is having a baby or had a baby.

JARRETT: Yeah, that's a reality.

All right. Thanks, Christine.

Still to come, rights for some but not all. The patchwork of laws left after Roe's demise.

And Vladimir Putin squeezed to the point where Russia can't pay its bills.