Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

National Archives Demands Answers on Lost Secret Service Texts; 100+ Million Across the Country Under Health Alerts, Advisories; UK Sets All-Time Record High, London Firefighters Stretched Thin; Biden Under Pressure on Climate After Manchin Sinks Legislation. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2022 - 05:00   ET



KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday, July 20th, I'm Kristin Fisher, in for Christine Romans.

First on CNN this morning, not one text exchange about January 6, that's all the Secret Service has been able to provide in response to a request for a month's worth of records from 24 Secret Service agents and officials. CNN obtaining a letter from the homeland security inspector general to the January 6 committee, and it shows that the single text exchange is from the Capitol police chief to the head of the Secret Service uniform division asking for help as the riot escalated.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): We got one text message. And I haven't seen it yet. It will be sent over to me. It is obviously -- this doesn't look good. And so, you know, coincidences can happen, but, you know, we really need to get to the bottom of this.


FISHER: Now, the January 6 committee and inspector general aren't the only ones demanding answers from the Secret Service.

More on that from CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Key Secret Service text messages from date before and the day of the Capitol attack are still missing. The Secret Service under subpoena from the January 6 committee acknowledging they are still unable to uncover the texts after admitting that data was lost because of a routine phone replacement program.

And now, the National Archives is demanding answers, sending the Secret Service this letter, laying out concerns about the potential unauthorized deletion of text messages and telling the Secret Service to investigate and report back to the archives within 30 days to detail how the messages got deleted and explain how they tried to retrieve the records.

Secret Service is pledging to cooperate.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We want to see what that process is.

SCHNEIDER: The Secret Service is a focal point for the committee as it prepares for present another hearing in primary time Thursday featuring two who worked at the White House on January 6, Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews. Both resigned in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack referencing how they were disturbed by Trump's response.

MATTHEW POTTINGER, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURIOTY ADVISER: The events of that day January 6 were for me a red line.

SCHNEIDER: Thursday's hearing will focus on Trump's inaction in those 187 minutes after he gave the speech on the ellipse --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Let's walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

SCHNEIDER: -- until he finally released this video.

TRUMP: Go home.

SCHNEIDER: The committee is still getting information and interviewing witnesses. The latest person appearing today behind closed doors for the committee, Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler, who reportedly took credit for welcoming Trump ally Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne into the White House on December 18, 2020. All three were allegedly pushing extreme plans to overturn the election in that meeting that other White House aides call unhinged.

PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office. I don't think any of these people are providing the president with good advice.

SCHNEIDER: The committee is dismissing talk that Trump could disrupt the investigations and shield himself from prosecution by announcing his bid for another run at the presidency.

THOMPSON: We are a nation of all. And if a person breaks the law or is accused of breaking the law, he is not one who can just do what he chooses because he is running for president.

SCHNEIDER: Asked about Trump's potential campaign, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco also pledged that the Justice Department's criminal probe will move forward.

LISA MONACO, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We're going to continue to do our job, to follow the facts wherever they go no matter where they lead, no matter to what level. And we're going to continue to do our job to investigate what was fundamentally an attack on our democracy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FISHER: And that was Jessica Schneider reporting.

So, let's bring in "Washington Post" national correspondent Matthew Brown.

Good morning, Matthew. Thanks for getting up early for us.

And let's start with that single text exchange that the Secret Service turned over. I guess one is better than none, but clearly not what the committee was hoping for. So, where do they go from here?

MATTHEW BROWN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. The optics are obviously terrible for the Secret Service especially in the wake of the testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson who testified that President Trump not only was frustrated and irate at his Secret Service agents, but actually physically attacked one.


A testimony that some sources have disputed, but so far we have no evidence to the contrary and no witnesses have come to the committee to testify and to the contrary so far. So the text messages from the Secret Service and internal communications like what would be on their phones and other documents that should be preserved in National Archives, that would have been part of this data that would have been handed over the January 6 Committee, not being available to them for the reasons of a routine data transfer is horrible optics.

Now, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this was a long standing data transfer and that the issue is that it was presided over by -- or charged to individual agent to the preserve the data, that they deemed important for national security reasons. That is not something that the office of the inspector general inside DHS is taking seriously. He is claiming that the agents have been delaying the transfer of some data.

It's going to be a very interesting situation to see how the January 6 committee handle this going forward now that they have subpoenaed the Secret Service as an agency.

FISHER: Yeah, absolutely. So, I'd like to turn to something that is happening where you are in Georgia, where the prosecutors examining Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election have announced that all 16 of the electors who participated in the plan, the fake electors as they are calling them, to subvert Georgia's electoral college vote are now targets in a criminal investigation.

And I mean, Matt, this is a pretty significant development. What is the likelihood that these people will actually be charged with crimes now?

BROWN: It is a very interesting case and I think really shows the escalation in the investigation down here in Fulton County where you are seeing that the special grand jury condition have the power to officially indict people itself, but it does have the ability to recommend to the district attorney that should they bring a regular grand jury, that people who it believes have participated in criminal conduct could be indicted there.

So the fact that the special grand jury has already sent these letters and the district attorney feels that members of this fake elector slate of 16 people could be potentially -- have violated straightforward Georgia laws around conspiracy to commit election fraud and delaying of certification, that shows that the district attorney feels fairly confident that they can make a very strong case that these people and potentially others in Trump's orbit are deserving of criminal charges.

FISHER: Yeah, and we heard during Jessica Schneider's piece, the deputy attorney general saying that a potential Trump run in 2024 would not affect the Justice Department's investigation into what happened on January 6, that that will continue no matter what. But what kind of impact could this Georgia case have on that DOJ investigation?

BROWN: Yeah, definitely. All eyes have definitely been on Washington through the January 6 hearings and the Department of Justice's investigations here. It is important to note that the most immediate legal trouble for Trump is definitely coming from Fulton County where the district attorney is subpoenaing most of his inner circle at this point, many of his legal advisers. They have reached out for comment from Senator Lindsey Graham, Representative Jody Hice, very, very close Trump allies who could pose as District Willis has said previously as potential prelude to a charge against Trump himself, that could show that he could be barred from running for office here in Georgia.

Those are serious legal challenges that Trump at this point has to take very seriously.

FISHER: Yeah, really is fascinating and we'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

Matt Brown of "The Washington Post," thank you so much.

BROWN: Thank you.

FISHER: So former -- you bet.

So, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon leaving angry after his send day in court on criminal contempt of Congress charges. Bannon was upset that January 6 committee chair Bennie Thompson was not on the witness list.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Bennie Thompson sent a staffer over here. Where is Bennie Thompson? We subpoenaed Thompson and they are hiding behind the phony privileges.


FISHER: Bannon's legal team tried to subpoena several House members but the judge wouldn't allow it.

Well, right now, wildfires are scorching the Earth as a heat wave grips the northern hemisphere. Just hours from now, President Biden announcing new action on climate change.

And the hunt for suspects under way after a high priced jewelry heist on a highway.



FISHER: A dangerous heat wave has settled across the United States with more than 100 million Americans struggling to cope with these record high temperatures. The heat is feeling wildfires, drought and straining power grids and it is not expected to end anytime soon.

CNN's Brian Todd takes a lower look at the impact of all of this extreme heat.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Scottsdale, Arizona, a UPS driver is unsteady, he chances, he seems close to passing out and then gathers himself but doesn't look stable as he walks around.

Brian Enriquez who lives there wasn't home at the time, but later saw the doorbell video on his phone and called police to check on the driver.

BRIAN ENRIQUEZ, HOMEOWNER IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA: I want to make sure these guys are safe. With this heat, they don't have AC in those trucks.

TODD: UPS said that the driver was fine and they are trained to deal with hot weather.

Around the country this week, more than 100 million people are under heat advisories or warnings, with around 60 million Americans likely to see temperatures over 100 degrees.


TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And the incredible heat in the Southern Plains now makes its way into Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, to the Northeast, the larger populated cities and the outlook for all of next week is much above average.

On Wednesday, expect heat index values near 100 degrees in parts of the Northeast and heat advisories for Philadelphia, New York and Boston which has declared a heat emergency.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: This is serious heat and we're really concerned about those particularly with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

TODD: Cities from Sacramento to D.C. offering cooling centers and splash parks. Doctors say avoid the heat and drink plenty of fluids.

DR. MCDONNA HINDS, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON, HOSPITAL: Wear loose fitting clothes, light clothing, things that are breathable such as cotton and linen. And keep well hydrated and wear wide brim hats and try to stay in the shade.

TODD: One town in Arkansas losing power following a wind storm when temperatures hit 106.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrible, especially when you got heart problems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I get too hot, sometimes I pass out.

TODD: And new concerns about wildfires due to the heat and the wind. This fire popping up near Ft. Worth burning over 500 acres. Is this heat the new normal?

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, AUTHOR, "THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH": It is hotter than it has been in the entire history of human civilization and almost certainly no matter what we do over the next decade or two because we're not going to cut our emissions to zero tomorrow, the planet is going to continue to heat up. We need to be cutting our emissions pretty quickly.

TODD: Experts say they are also seeing more humidity.

KENNY BLUMENFELD, SENIOR CLIMATOLOGIST, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL RESOURCES: They are delivering a level of humidity that we just never used to have. And those are the days that are likely to become more common as we move into the future.


TODD (on camera): And conditions here in Washington are about to get worse with temperatures venturing toward the high 90s in the next few days. And to make it worse, forecasters say the humidity combined with the heat is going to make some areas feel 5 to 10 degrees hotter than the actual temperature.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

FISHER: Thank you, Brian.

So, heat alerts and advisories being issued from the South to the Northeast with record temperatures expected to continue through the weekend.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is live in Atlanta.

And, Pedram, I feel as though I've been asking you this same question every day this week. But -- I mean, it's the question that everybody wants answers to, when is this going to be over, do we have to it with a until the fall?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it might be the fall. It's an incredible long duration set up here as far as the heat is concerned. You get a break here and here where a day or two with a break, a little bit of cooling mainly because of a storm that brings in the rain. But really the heat, the humidity as Brian noted in the previous also really what's most impressive about all of these.

Look at these observations in the past 24 hours -- 115, 110, 102 degrees. Not only besting records in some cases that have been standing for decades but other records that are just a couple years old. But these temperatures just in the shape not factoring in the humidity. The human body has evolved to be able to cool off significantly by just sweating. Your sweat evaporates off your skin and that allows the core temperature to drop.

Humidity here is so high, that sweat just sits on your skin and that is really what makes it so dangerous with these heat indices that are exceeding 110 to 115. In fact look at this, Memphis this afternoon, 98 degrees. It doesn't seem all that bad. You factor in the humidity, it will feel closer to 113 degrees.

So the disparity between what it says it is and what it will feel like is significant in some of these cities and that is the concern moving forward in this long duration setup. And in Dallas, you see kind of a cooling trend, down to 96 degrees and then right up to the century mark, well above the average of 96 for this time of year for the next five or six days.

And that energy is going to want to shift a little farther toward the east and yeah, some of the major metro cities are also under the heat alerts, where heat indices could push up to 105, 110 degrees, in areas around the city, Philly and New York as well.

And look at that 7 day forecast, very little relief in sight. Sometime early next week maybe a few thunderstorms that will bring those temperatures back down to the middle 80s.

But you have to keep in mind, Kristin, summer is only about 30 days old. So it has a long ways to go before we get out of all this.

FISHER: And August is usually the worst especially here in Washington.


FISHER: Pedram, thanks so much.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

FISHER: So from the U.S. to the U.K., which has set an all time heat record of 104 degrees Fahrenheit as southern Europe deals with its own heat wave this week. Record breaking temperatures and fires have stretched the fire department to its limit in London.

And that's where we find CNN's Nina Dos Santos live.

Good morning, Nina. Good afternoon where you are.

You know, British officials are describing these fires as truly unprecedented. NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Yeah, that's right. This is

something we've never seen before here in London. And I'm a Londoner born and bred, never before have we faced the specter of wildfires breaking out across the Capitol.

But that is what London firefighters had to deal with after a major incident yesterday when the mercury topped the hottest level ever seen in this country, 40.3 degrees Celsius that is 104.5 Fahrenheit.


What it did was ignite compost heat in backyards, there were spontaneous fires to the north of the capital and the west and the south and some of the most destructive ones here in the east where I am.

In the village of Wennington, which is about half a mile down that road, behind that police cordon, 18 to 20 properties were destroyed in a blaze that took in 90 acres of farmland and scrubland.

I spoke to a local resident whose house was destroyed who spotted it first and tried to use their hose pipes to put out the fire in their neighbor's backyard to no avail.


TIM STOCK, WILDFIRE WITNESS: I was saying about two, three days before, I said to my wife, I said, this is -- it's like a tinderbox. And it was like a tinderbox, and it was getting warmer and warmer. The day before when it was a few degrees lower, it was no wind. But once the wind picked up yesterday, obviously the sucking oxygen, got out of control so quickly. So, I didn't sleep thinking how badly it could have gone. So just thank God that everyone got out alive, you know.


DOS SANTOS: Well, there are about 90 residents in this village of 300 people behind me who still don't know who they will spend time, including Tim Stock, that 66-year-old grave digger and much of his family. You heard his own harrowing story.

But it isn't just here in this small little town. A few miles down the road in the east of London, there was another substantial fire after fireworks warehouse caught ablaze and other blazes took place in other parts of the capital. The mayor has said that it is not the time to be using anything like barbecues, but that is not really what caused these types of fires it seems. The investigation continues. This has been a wake-up call for London -- Kristin.

FISHER: Definitely not the time to use barbecues there. Or pretty much anywhere in the word right now it seems.

Thank you so much.

So meantime in Southern and Western Europe, more than 1,100 people have died from the oppressive heat and wildfires continue to rage in France and Spain.

Reporter Barbie Nadeau is live for us in Rome. Gosh, how are Europeans coping with the heat especially since so many of them don't have air conditioning like most of us do here in the U.S.?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. You know, there are a lot of people suffering especially the elderly and the people who are in vulnerable health conditions trying to do anything they can to keep cool. In places in Italy, some of the cities have opened up free admission to elderly people to use swimming pools as a way to cool off.

But generally, people are trying to stay indoors, trying to stay out of this relentless sun. You know, we're more than a week into this heat wave already, and we've seen fires across Spain and France and in northern Italy, and those firefighters working under incredibly difficult conditions to try to keep the blazes from moving in to cities.

But we've seen evacuations and deaths and there is no end in sight. They are talking at least another week of these horrific temperatures here across Southern Europe -- Kristin.

FISHER: Yeah, and I do -- despite all the difficult images, I have enjoyed watching the images of the dogs being cooled off in Europe's many fountains. It seems quite fitting because, you know, they get hot too in all this.

Thank you so much.

Just ahead, Senator Joe Manchin once again blocking the Biden agenda. What can Democrats do about it?

And later, a judge orders the world's richest man Elon Musk to prove his case in court.



FISHER: President Biden is in Massachusetts today where he will announce new funding for communities facing extreme heat. The president will also talk about steps to boost the offshore wind industry when he speaks at a defunct coal power plant.

And the White House has made it very clear that Biden will act to tackle the climate crisis if the Senate does not.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would not plan an announcement this week on national climate emergency. Again, everything is on the table. It is just not going to be this week on that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FISHER: This after moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin dealt a devastating blow to his own party's efforts last week, announcing that he won't support climate provisions in the proposed economic package.

So, let's bring in Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast", Jackie Kucinich.

Good morning, Jackie.


FISHER: So, let's start with what Senator Joe Manchin says yesterday. He was asked if he has been stringing Democrats along. Here is what he said and I get your reaction on the other side.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): If they don't understand inflation is the number one critical factor that we have that is hurting every family and harming our economy right now, it is inflation. And I'm very much concerned, I've never changed my position, I'm not stringing anybody along, all I said can't we make sure that what question do does not add fuel to the fire. That's it.


FISHER: All right. So he says he has never strung anyone along. What do you think?

KUCINICH: You know , the other thing Manchin has said over and over again is that he just wants to delay potential talks about climate provisions. Now, that is not on Democratic time lines of course. They want to get something done before the August recess. And Manchin is just not something to do that.