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Inside Politics

Jan 6 Committee Subpoenas Trump DOJ Official Jeffrey Clark; 1/6 Committee Threatens Charges for Subpoena no-shows; Trump Allies Skipping Scheduled Jan 6 Depositions Today; Trump Leans in to the Big Lie, now says GOP shouldn't Vote in 2022 if "Fraud" isn't Fixed; Happening Now: FDA Advisers Discuss Moderna Booster Dose. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

Defiance from two Trump allies and a bizarre new ultimatum from Trump himself, the former president say unless the 2020 election results are changed to his liking, Republican voters should stay home in 2022 and in 2024.

Plus the state of COVID in America, President Biden talks later this hour about the significant progress we have made but we all know giant challenges still remain. And can you mix and match your COVID vaccine?

FDA experts are meeting this week to discuss boosters for the Moderna and the J&J vaccines. And one question is this, is it OK, maybe even helpful to get a booster from a different vaccine brand?

We begin the hour though with defiance on what is supposed to be deposition day for two key Trump allies. Steve Bannon and Kash Patel were scheduled to be questioned by the January 6th Investigative Committee today, but neither man plans to show up lawmakers now threatening criminal contempt.

The committee did get cooperation from the former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who refused repeated Trump demands that he overturn the election, and the committee issued a subpoena for a DOJ official Trump wanted to name to replace Rosen that man is Jeffrey Clark.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now with the latest on the investigation and the question now is Ryan, if the defiance continues, what does the committee do?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, they're giving us every indication that they are not going to waste any time and begin the process of filing criminal contempt charges against those that they feel are not complying. The question is who falls into that category of being worthy of a criminal contempt referral at this stage? And who are they going to continue to negotiate with? And I think we're going to see that play out through the course of today.

Of course, this was supposed to be the day that Steve Bannon, the Former Trump White House Counselor, a firebrand conservative commentator, a big Trump booster and a big booster of the big lie of the election results and Kash Patel, the Former DOJ official who was at the Pentagon in the day of January 6th, we're supposed to appear before the Select Committee for private depositions.

Now, we believe neither of the men will show in fact, we know for sure that Kash Patel is not going to show. And Steve Bannon has made it clear through communications with his lawyers that he is planning to defy these subpoena requests.

So the question is what will we find out later today about the way the committee plans to respond to both of these men? It's clear that Patel is still engaging with the committee on some level, how cooperative he is being they aren't being clear about. It is Bannon who is outright defying them.

So if there's a criminal contempt referral to be had, it seems pretty clear that it is headed in Bannon's direction. And then of course, the question becomes, how quickly could they move? Now it's going to require a vote of the entire House of Representatives to then refer that process to the Department of Justice who would execute said criminal contempt peripheral.

So this isn't something that's going to happen overnight. But John, we could see action headed in that direction as soon as this afternoon John.

KING: Ryan Nobles appreciate the live reporting on the Hill. Keep us posted if anything changes in the hour ahead. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights Julie Hirschfeld Davis of "The New York Times" CNN's Melanie Zanona and CNN's Jeremy diamond and so people watching at home I think politicians threatening this lawyers talking about lawyers, people not showing up from the previous administration.

Why do I care? This is a giant test for this committee and for the integrity of the Congress. For the committee you saw what happened. We all have pictures of what happened at the Capitol on January 6th, we all have pictures of the rally beforehand.

We'll get to a moment there's cooperation from people in the Trump Justice Department. It's a big question mark of what was happening at the White House in the days before and on that day? These are witnesses who can tell us.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I mean, these would be crucial witnesses who could who could add to the picture that the committee has already gathered some of and that we all saw publicly play out obviously on the day of what was going on behind the scenes?

What was in Trump's mind? What conversations was he having with his advisors? And what were the influencing factors that actually led to things to get as violent and out of control as they did? We're really going to - it is going to be a big test of this committee to see A, how far and how quickly they're willing to move and B, how much power they really have?

I mean, Congress is a legislative body; it is not a law enforcement entity. As Ryan said the Justice Department have to make some decisions here about how quickly and aggressively they want to enforce these charges if in fact Congress does recommend them.

But the problem here is they have a very broad assignment here to try to figure out what went on behind the scenes and fill in the blanks those they already that they don't already have filled in. And not a lot of tools to compel people to give them the information that they need to do that.

KING: And that's the compelled - the part about the - can help part help us Jeremy understand from your days covering now you're the Biden White House. Now you're covering the Trump White House. Kash Patel and Steve Bannon. So Steve Bannon had fallen out of favor with the former president, but when people kept saying no to him, that's what he does.

He goes and recycles people and brings it back in. In the context of post-election big lie trying to find people to help him they were part of that circle.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we know that Steve Bannon while he had fallen out of favor with the president for some time, he had recently begun to speak with the president, the former president once again in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th.

And if there's anything we know about Steve Bannon is he is the guy who is always going to encourage Trump's worst instincts, Trump's most norm breaking counter institutional instincts that he is going to have. And so we know that he was obviously crucial player interestingly, as well.

He would also be an interesting first person to be, you know, for Congress to refer these criminal contempt charges against, because Steve Bannon is claiming that he can use executive privilege to not testify to not share documents, even though he wasn't even a White House official so he might be --

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: And Trump is no longer president.

DIAMOND: Right. And so he might be the ideal kind of first person to make this case against if indeed the committee--

KING: You mentioned that point I want to read a little bit from the letter. Steve Bannon's lawyer, Robert Costello, sent this up to the committee. This is an issue between the Committee and President Trump's Counsel. Mr. Bannon is not required to respond at this time again, you're right. Steve Bannon had not worked at the White House for years.

So even if Donald Trump still had privilege, how does it extend to private citizens, Steve Bannon? But the interesting wrinkle in this is the Biden White House often the next president defends the institution, if you will, even if he doesn't like what happened in the previous administration, you defend the institution and the privacy of the institution.

But this is from the White House Counsel's Office, the president maintains his conclusion that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interest of the United States accordingly, President Biden does not uphold former president's assertion of privilege.

So the Biden White House is saying no, that the privilege belongs to the current sitting president. And they say no, but what you get that though is that, oh, I guess we'd better cooperate, what you get is lawyers, lawyers, court, court.

ZANONA: I mean, this is all headed to a legal battle, whether it's over the executive COVID with documents, whether it's the criminal contempt charges for Bannon? And the problem for Democrats is that this could take years to be resolved, and they don't have that type of time, they could lose the house next year and so they are working up against the clock.

I think, to your point about the Biden Administration, they are erring on the side of disclosure, but we don't know what Merrick Garland would do? I mean, I think he's going to be really thrust into a difficult position here, if the criminal contempt charges do land at the doorstep of the DOJ.

Because on the one hand, you know, they don't want to wait into these political fights. They want to repair the reputation of the DOJ after four years of Trump. But on the other hand, in the nature of what we're talking about is just so serious. Bannon's legal argument is so egregious, and the administration has so far showing that they are willing to invade

KING: And these witnesses we're talking about right now are so central to what did the president know? What did the president do? How much did they know about people coming up preparing with plans to storm the Capitol in the days before?

And what did the president do that day, as he was watching it unfold as his vice president was in there being threatened lawmakers in there being thread they are critical to that. One place where the committee is having some success is Jeffrey Rosen, who was the Acting Attorney General at the time did sit down with the committee for several hours.

In the Senate Committee report he essentially acknowledges that the president reached out to the Justice Department directly the former president nine times said to do what you can to overturn the election. Inside the Justice Department, Jeffrey Clark, who was a subordinate to Jeffrey Rosen, at the time, apparently was willing to help the former president.

And Donald Trump wanted to get rid of Rosen and put Clark in. And so now there's a subpoena out for Clark. We are getting some pieces of that drama.

DAVIS: Right, absolutely. I mean, that Rosen spoke for a long time with the investigators yesterday. And he's also testified at length publicly on Capitol Hill. And obviously, as part of that Senate Judiciary Committee report.

And he paints a pretty dire picture of what's going on in the Justice Department there at the end of the Trump Administration, where the president was making all of these requests in these repeated efforts to get them involved and to really weigh in and, you know, contact legislators in Georgia and try to get them to, you know, overturn their electoral votes and send these letters and have these news conferences?

Jeffrey Clark seems to be the one official sort of in the chain of command, who was willing to do all of that and actually was talking to colleagues about potentially helping to get rid of Rosen in order to pave the way for that. Obviously, none of that ever happened.

But it does tell you that the committee is trying to sort of assemble a record in the same way that the Senate Committee did have all of the ways in which President Trump had - was trying to undermine and upend the election results in the run up to January 6th, and they're trying to weave that in as a clear, you know, precipitating factor to what happened.

DIAMOND: It will be interesting to see how long the committee is willing to continue to pursue these documents, these witness interviews? You know, I think back to the second impeachment, when they essentially decided we are not going to fight this out in court for years, we are going to move forward.

And that puts them directly up against the Trump - one of Trump's longest known tactics, both in business and in politics, which is fight in court fight in court fighting court delay, delay and delay. And so it'll be interesting to see how this committee grapples with that decision. You know, again, we're already 10 months out from January 6th.

KING: We're already 10 months out, but it's important works. We'll watch as it plays out, and we will watch that. When we come back President Biden said to deliver a COVID update at the White House soon we will take you there live the moment it begins. In the meantime, follow the leader.


KING: Maybe off the cliff Donald Trump tells Republicans not to vote in the next two elections unless his 2020 loss is reversed.


KING: The price of playing nice with Donald Trump is front and center today. Remember, he lost in 2020 one more time he lost in 2020. All of his state by state challenges in recounts and in the courts failed all of them, but he won't accept it.

And last night he issued a warning for Republicans that reads very much like an ultimatum. Here it is "If we don't solve the presidential election fraud of 2020". He goes on to say which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented that's not true. But here we go Republicans will not be voting in 22 or 24.


KING: It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do that from the former president. Our panel is back with us. It's a great snapshot of Trump on the couch. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do not cut taxes, not fight regulation, not stand up to maybe policy in the Biden Administration, you don't like.

But fix the 2020 election, go back and help me - still go back and help me cheat still. But the idea that you would take if you don't do it, Republicans shouldn't vote.

ZANONA: Oh, my God! You can just hear Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy ripping their hair out right now. I mean, this is the last thing they want to be talking about. There are concerns that this type of rhetoric talking about these false claims of voter fraud and, you know, a rigged election are going to depress voter turnout, like it did in the Georgia Senate elections earlier this year.

And Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell would much rather be talking about Biden, the economy, the border. The problem for them, though, and why this is such a headache for them is that they continue to make Trump front and center and they won't reject these false claims.

In fact, Trump is going to be actually speaking at an NRTC and NRSC fundraising event coming up here. And so he's still front and center in the party as long as he's out there talking about this. I mean, it's just a huge head ache to have.

KING: Which is why - which is why this is Julie's colleague, Maggie Haberman was on this morning, which is why when Republicans do this, it is horsemen listen.


MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They're not saying publicly, he's got to stop doing this. For the most part, they're just averting their gazes and hoping this goes away and hoping not to amplify it. And having basically the same reaction we have seen Republicans have for six years, which is, you know, what the harm in humoring him is.


KING: They own him; they own him, because they will disown him. Standing on a stage with him in an Iowa rally just this weekend, Chuck Grassley, he's raising money for them. They most of them publicly admit they don't think they can win in 2022 without him and his voters. So they are hugging him, he is now saying the most important thing you can do is let's keep trying to cheat in 2020.

DAVIS: Well, and he has made this a litmus test issue for Republicans. And that's just the reality that they face. In a lot of these campaigns, Congressional campaigns, House campaigns, Senate campaigns, you are going to have Republican challengers saying that the 2020 election was a fraud, that election integrity in other words, you know, cracking down on people's ability to vote in under the guise of you know, having a more accurate count than we had in 2020, which, as you said, again, was the accurate count is the biggest issue, and it's something we all have to push for.

And then so that is going to be an agenda setting thing. And these campaigns and the Republican leaders know that as well. So yes, while they might not want to talk about it, and it may, you know, cause them to tear their hair out when they see a tweet like that. The reality for them is this is a core part of the Republican message, and that is going to drive a lot of the 2022.

KING: And silly me to try to apply logic to Donald Trump. But don't president best schools know that he's planning on running in 2024? He's telling Republicans not to vote.

DIAMOND: Yes, and the reality. I mean, that's going to be something he's going to have to face himself. But Republicans have already faced this. I mean, think about the Georgia special election, right? Like, Republicans lost two Senate seats, because in large part, Donald Trump, in the lead up to that election kept talking about how you know, the vote, votes were fraudulent, and there was no point in voting.

And CNN and other outlets interviewed people at those rallies, who said afterwards, they were not planning to vote in that special election, because what's the point because it's going to be stolen from us any way.

KING: To that point Sidney Powell, one of the lawyers who helped Trump - continued to help Trump push the big lie. She said all Georgians to make it known you will not vote at all unless your vote is secure.

Linwood, another one of the conspiracy theory lawyers, this is Georgia, we isn't dumb. We're not going to vote. And another machine made by China, he went on to say, and this is the Republican National Chairwoman at the time she was there before Georgia. She was asked by a voter why should we vote if the election is rigged? Where'd they get that idea I wonder?


RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIR: It's not decided. If you lose your faith and you don't vote and people walk away, that's that will decide it. So we have to work hard. Trust us we're fighting. We're looking at every legal avenue. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's back - yes, we're looking at every legal avenue. They did. They did. They had every right to and they lost. That's but even the Chair - Party Chairwoman I'm looking for it waiting for her statement today saying Mr. President, stop. Mr. President, you're wrong. Mr. President, you're reckless. Mr. President, do the math subtraction does not help you win.

ZANONA: What a lot of this boils down to is Trump cares more about his own image than the success of the Republican Party? I mean that's just the facts, right? I mean, he's said in a radio interview recently that he would rather have Democrats win in seats where there were Republicans who voted to impeach him.

And he said Stacey Abrams, sort of been better than Brian Kemp. I mean, he is more focused on rehabilitating his own image. And that includes perpetuating that.

DIAMOND: And Trump helps make this a top issue for Republican voters. But the rest of the Republican Party who went along with this, they have allowed it to have stay in power and to have stay in power into the midterms and potentially into the next presidential election. And they're going to run up right against what they did themselves in making that happen.


DAVIS: But also I think it snacks of setting up an argument for if Republicans don't do well in the next election, right? I mean, it's like, well, we told you it was going to be fraudulent. I mean, it's in very dangerous way in the same way, as we saw in the run up to the 2020 election. Donald Trump, who was running for election said it's going to be rigged.

It's going to be you know, it's stacked against me, and they're trying to cheat me out of winning. And then, when he lost, he was able to point back to it and say to Republican voters and his base, do you see I told you it was going to be rigged. And so this really smacks of setting up the same sort of dynamic for 2022 and 2024, which is very --

KING: Right. It's cynical, and it's dangerous. But you're absolutely right. Any moment we're expecting the president to update the country on the fight against COVID. This as FDA advisors meeting right now to tackle some big questions still pending on booster shots, including whether you can mix and match COVID vaccines.



KING: It is moments away now from President Biden speaking on his administration's Coronavirus response and the national vaccination efforts. Let's get straight CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, what will we hear from the president? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well John, he'll be fresh off a briefing with his top COVID officials that he and the Vice President got this morning at around 10:30 am in the Oval Office.

And so we'll see the president come out he'll tout the numbers that they believe are going in the right direction when it comes to cases and hospitalizations that we're seeing across the United States. And of course, one big thing that they've been focused on here lately, which are those vaccine mandates that are going into place in several businesses across the country, though, of course, we've seen several states and state officials and governors fighting some of those vaccine requirements.

But that is something the White House believes is working. Of course, it's a reversal of a position that they held previously on vaccine and vaccine mandates. And the president is expected to talk about how many eligible Americans are still left unvaccinated in the country which right now, the White House estimates that's around 66 million eligible Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated.

But John, also when they're talking about the numbers and the progress they've made, there's also a lot of numbers that are not going in the right direction that are still tied to this pandemic, maybe not cases specifically. But when it comes to the economy, that is something that of course, we have seen the president talk about several times this week, as you have seen that this pandemic still has a severe grip on the economy.

And of course, the questions are how that affects the president's poll numbers, because you saw that AXIOS/IPSOS Poll that came out earlier this week that showed that Americans had less faith in what the president was saying about Coronavirus now than they did when he took office in January.

And of course, that comes as people have not gotten back to normal in their daily lives with they've had struggles when it comes to the supply chain and buying cars or in their daily life so all of that is on the topic for the president when it comes out here shortly.

KING: We'll take people there live when the president does. Kaitlan Collins appreciate very much setting it up live from the White House. Now let's bring up the conversation to get some insights and expertise on the public health perspective.

Dr. Mark Kline, Physician in Chief and Chief Academic Officer Children's Hospital in New Orleans Doctor it's great to see you! I want to start with the big decision the FDA advisors face today and tomorrow they are meeting to talk about boosters. Boosters for some people who received the Pfizer vaccine have already been approved.

Now they're looking at do you need a booster if you had the Moderna vaccine? Do you need a booster if you have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? And one of the fascinating questions is if you got let's say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, is it OK to mix and match if you need a booster and maybe get one of the other vaccines? What's the most important thing you're looking for out of this meeting? DR. MARK KLINE, PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS: I think John, probably the most important thing is to see whether the advisory committee airs on the side of uniformity harmonization of approaches between the vaccines, or do they individualize?

These vaccines are all a little bit different from one another. And they may require different approaches to boosters. And the Moderna vaccine, for example, we think of is almost or we had thought of as almost interchangeable with the Pfizer vaccine. But we've seen that over time, it has been more durable in the protection that it offers.

So does the committee say well, let's go ahead and offer boosters for the Moderna vaccine in the same way that we have the Pfizer vaccine, or do we hold off a few more months and see exactly how good that durability is?

Similarly, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine of course an entirely different technology do we go ahead and boost the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with another dose of Johnson & Johnson or do we get very novel and take on the approach of possibly mixing giving one of the other vaccines as a boost to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients?

KING: There was one study that suggested that that's changing if you're a J&J, maybe getting one of the other different vaccines that it would be helpful maybe even better. Do we have enough data on that? Or is that just one study?

DR. KLINE: You know, is a very, very small study only 450 participants in nine different arms, but very intriguing data? If a person had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine initially and then was boosted with the with the Moderna vaccine, there was a 76 fold rise in antibody levels with a Pfizer vaccine boost a 35 fold rise in antibody levels but with the boost being another shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine just a fourfold rise in antibody levels so very intriguing information suggestive that mixing may be advantageous but we need a much bigger study to say definitively.

KING: Kaitlan Collins our Correspondent at the White House just laid out this a very complicate a challenge for the president the COVID impact on the economy, the COVID impact on psychology, even of the country. Let's focus on the public health part of it and what you're seeing on the ground. You're in --