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Inside Politics

Economic Swoon Hovers Over July 4th Celebrations; Source: Shooting At July 4th Parade In Highland Park, Illinois; Jan 6 Cmte Member: More Witnesses Coming Forward; Schiff: Next Hearing Will Focus On Ties Between Trump WH, Extremist; Jan 6 Cmte Member Questions DOJ: "What Are They Doing Over There"; Cheney: 1/6 Cmte Could Make Criminal Referral Against Trump. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 04, 2022 - 12:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to a special edition of Inside Politics. I am Abby Phillip in Washington. John King is off today. Joe Biden's summer swoon.

This July 4, just about everything is a reminder of the country's economic hangovers from burgers, hotdogs, road trips and flights, all of them more expensive.

Plus, new witnesses. The January 6 committee says, more people have come forward since Cassidy Hutchinson's blockbuster testimony.

And an Independence Day ad war. California's governor is taking out airtime on Fox News, telling Florida residents that their Governor Ron DeSantis has America all wrong.

But up first, a fourth of July inflection point for President Joe Biden. The president will celebrate American independence today at the White House, hosting military families before a marathon firework show.

Those fireworks though and virtually everything else will cost much more this year than last. And if it's just part of the summer squeeze that has cratered Biden's approval rating and has Democrats on track to potentially lose big at the ballot box in November.

So, let's get straight to CNN's MJ Lee, who is at the White House for us. MJ, how is the first family spending this fourth of July Monday?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Abby, happy fourth to you. Well, we are going to see the president any moment now returns to the White House from Camp David where he and his family spent the holiday weekend.

And this morning, we saw him tweet out a holiday message to the American people.

He wrote, the fourth of July is a sacred day in our country. It's a time to celebrate the goodness of our nation, the only nation on earth founded based on an idea that all people are created equal. Make no mistake, our best days still lie ahead.

Now this is obviously a very patriotic and optimistic tone that we are hearing from the president and something that we expect to hear more from the president later this afternoon when he hosts a barbecue for military families here at the White House.

You're absolutely right, that none of this really can hide the fact that this is a tough moment for a lot of people across the country, with inflation being so high, and so many consumer goods costing so much more now than under normal circumstances, including gas prices, something that people are going to feel a whole lot more acutely during a high travel weekend like this one.

Now, the president, of course, knows very well that he is pretty limited in the number of things that he can do on that front. He has already released a ton of oil from the strategic reserve.

He has, of course, as you know, also call for a gas tax holiday, an idea that has gone nowhere over on Capitol Hill. And so, we are seeing in the last couple of days, the president again, calling on oil companies to not put profits first to lower the gas prices at the gas pump.

We have no real reason to believe that these for-profit companies are going to heed those warnings and pleas from the president. So again, this is a time of real economic pessimism. And that is a tough situation for this president, as he looks ahead to the November midterm elections. Abby?

PHILLIP: Thank you so much, MJ Lee. We have some breaking news right now coming to us at CNN. A person at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, tell CNN that there was a shooting and that they saw victims.

The city's Facebook page says that police are rushing to the scene and telling people to stay away from the city's downtown area.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has been working to get some more details. Brynn, what can you tell us right now?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Abby. Basically, what you have just said right there, we are still working to get information. But what we do know, we have confirmed with the Facebook page of Highland Park which is a suburb of Chicago.

There, a city government Facebook page which essentially says exactly this. Highland Park police are responding to an incident in downtown Highland Park, Fourth Fest has been canceled which is an activity that was planned for the afternoon in that suburb.

Please avoid downtown Highland Park. More information will be shared as it becomes available. As you mentioned, Abby, we know of someone who was at a parade that kicked off in that town Highland Park at about 10am local time.

So, 11 o'clock on the east coast time and that person witnessed multiple shots being fired between 20 and 25. They estimate and also said that they saw victims.

So, that is the information that we are going with right now but again, we're making all the calls to local area. Hospitals, I can tell you, I just called one nearby hospital and they seemed a bit frantic on the phone.

So, we're trying to see if any have actually received any victims, gunshot victims, etc. to their local hospital. Of course, we are waiting to get some updates from police. But of course, this was a parade like I mentioned in Highland Park, Illinois.


You can imagine the scene there, usually lots of law enforcement typically on the scene just to be, you know, prepared for anything that could happen. And you can imagine it was quite frantic as we heard this victim - excuse me, this person who went to the parade say, that they heard multiple gunshots, you can imagine the frantic, you know, run from people as they were trying to leave a parade area. So again, we are working to get information, Abby. And as soon as we get more, we'll update you.

PHILLIP: And we'll be right back with you when you do. Thank you so much, Brynn. Joining me now CNN's senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He is the former Philadelphia police commissioner, and Washington D.C. police chief. So chief Ramsey, this is obviously an unfolding situation. We don't have a ton of information.

But it strikes me that the fourth of July, a parade like this, these are the types of events that have been a concern for law enforcement for a long time. If you were there on the scene today, what would you be trying to determine about what happened here?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, you'd be looking to see if there's video, witnesses, things of that nature, but right now, the priority is anybody who's injured, making sure they get to the hospital and get treated.

You know, fourth of July is a family event. And you're going to have a lot of kids there, a lot of families.

I'm familiar with Highland Park. I'm from Chicago, originally. I've been parts about 25 miles north of Chicago. It is an affluent suburb, right on Lake Michigan, and that where you would expect to have something like this take place certainly.

But right now, I'm sure it's very chaotic. They're trying to get control of the scene, trying to make sure that get any witnesses, any video, anything they possibly can to identify the person or persons responsible.

But it's just - it's ridiculous. You can't even have a fourth of July parade.

PHILLIP: Brynn just reported moments ago that a couple of - that there were reports that there were between 25 and perhaps, you know, 20 and 25 gunshots.

Does that give you any more information about what could have happened here? And also, what the scope of this incident might have been?

RAMSEY: Not really. You might have had people shooting at one another, a couple of people shooting at one another could be an assault rifle, could be an extended clip, could be a lot of things. It's too early to tell.

Right now, this is just unfolding. But you know, I can't remember a time when I went to a crime scene in my last few years as a police chief, where I saw only one showcasing on the ground.

It's not unusual to find 25-30, even 70 or 80 shell casings at a crime scene, it is absolutely ridiculous. The amounts of shots being fired on the streets of our cities in many instances. And so, you know, I am not surprised, but it's tragic. It is very tragic. I just hope nobody is killed.

PHILLIP: I mean, you're raising the prospect here. I mean, we just come off of several mass shootings here in this country. This is another shooting incident. We don't know the scope of it just yet.

But put this in the broader context of this conversation that we're having as a country about guns and you as someone in law enforcement, about just the role that guns play in how deadly incidents like this can become?

RAMSEY: Well, guns are part of the problem. But the other part of the problem of the idiots that use these guns to commit crime and to just indiscriminately shoot. And so, we've got to be able to deal with both sides of this.

We got to have reasonable steps, keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have it. But those people who do use guns, they need some real jail time.

All this kid gloves stuff, and you know, worried about how many people are in jail, some of these guys need to be in jail period.

And until we really get tough with the people who are really using guns to commit crime, it's not going to change, it's only going to get worse. So, a part of the equation of availability of guns, other part, the people who use them.

PHILLIP: So, we just got in this tweet from the village of Deerfield, Illinois, nearby that says. Due to a shooting in Highland Park, family days, activities at Jewett Park have been cleared, and the parade is canceled.

Please share that the parade activities are canceled with your family and friends. So, there is clearly here a potential ripple effect of this incident on nearby communities.

If you were in a nearby community, I mean, what is the response here to just? I mean, frankly, it seems just a lack of information, a little bit of uncertainty about whether even the potential suspect has been detained or contained in any way.

RAMSEY: Yes. I mean, I don't know why they canceled the parade. But certainly, I would beef up the security. There's no question about that.

There would be a lot of security there anyway, because it's a fourth of July parade, but you'd need to beef it up just to make sure that people feel safe. It doesn't mean that there's a threat or anything like that, but not just Deerfield.


I mean, I'm sure that people around the country now that are planning and having fourth of July parade, we're taking a look at their security. I mean you shouldn't have to do. This is the fourth of July.

We're celebrating the independence date of birth of our nation. And yet, we are talking about mass shootings. I mean, come on now. I mean, at some point in time, enough is enough. And we've got to really figure out how to fix this problem.

PHILLIP: You mentioned that it's also about the perpetrators of these acts of violence. I mean, what do you think, especially on a day like today, as in as other cities, especially large cities they have.

They're preparing for mass gatherings today, all across the country. What should be the posture going forward today, as this day unfolds?

RAMSEY: Well, you have to beef up security, but you have so many people, there's no way you can search everybody or anything else. I mean, it is a family event.

You're going to have a lot of children, a lot of families out there. But whatever your security arrangements were before, you're going to need to take another look and make sure that you really enhance it.

It's as much to make people feel safe to come out as it is actually anything else, quite frankly. But you've got to really take all these things and just increase the number of people and the resources you devote to them before a parade like this.

You'd certainly have a lot of people detail to that particular parade. But there were really no incidents that would take place during the parade. But now things have changed, and you've got to change your posture and it's going to cost cities a lot of money because you need more resources to deal with this.

PHILLIP: It's incredibly unfortunate. But yes, I think you are right, things really have changed. Chief Ramsey stay with us. You all stay with us. We're going to be right back. We'll have more on this breaking news when we'll come back.




PHILLIP: Call it the Cassidy Hutchinson effect. The member - a member of the January 6 committee is now saying that the panel's star witness has prompted a rush of other witnesses willing to step forward.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Congressman, since Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, have new witnesses come forward to want to speak up.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R-IL): Yes, I again I don't want to get into who or any of those details and it's not even just Cassidy. By the way, she's been inspiring for a lot of people. This happens every day.

Every day we get new people that come forward and say, hey, I didn't think maybe this piece of a story that I knew was important. But now that you guys are telling, like, I do see this plays-in here.


PHILLIP: And here to share the reporting and insights, CNN's Phil Mattingly, Heidi Przybyla, and Politico's Marianne LeVine. Thank you all for being here. So, this testimony was revelatory for, I think the whole country.

But the key thing here is, does it open more doors for the January 6 committee? And it seems very much that he's hinting there that it has and that as this has gone on, people have been evaluating what's been said and the environment that it's been creating. And they're saying, hey, I got more to say.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, WASHINGTON, D.C. CORRESPONDENT: More doors for backing up Cassidy Hutchinson, but also when you listen to Adam Kinzinger there, may be more doors in terms of new revelatory information. And those are the things that we'll find out in the coming weeks.

The second thing, I think that is also really important question to answer is whether Pat Cipollone is going to come forward and also weigh in on whether he directly warn the president about the criminality, potential of what was happening in terms of going down to the Capitol that day.

And then finally, the last big piece of this is going to be making connections, if there are between the far-right extremist, white supremacist groups that were there organizing on that day. How are they funded? What was the pre-planning and if there's connections there between Trump's inner circle?

PHILLIP: To that point, take a listen to Adam Schiff, a member of the committee talking about that exact point.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The very next hearing will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating, who was financing it. How it was organized, including the participation of these white nationalist groups, like the proud boys, the three percenters and others.


PHILLIP: So, this was a little obscured in all the other headlines from Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony. But she dropped a few crumbs on this trail, talking about Trump, telling Mark Meadows, her boss, to go to the Willard Hotel and talk to Rudy Giuliani and talk to others. That Willard Hotel was also a place where you had the oath keepers and others gathering. So, this is a really big part of the puzzle here.

MARIANNE LEVINE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. And I think that, in looking at future hearings and it looks like the January 6 committee is going to be examining domestic extremism.

And also, this question of what was Trump doing? What knowledge did he have of the potential violence?

I mean, one of the more revelatory parts of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony was the fact that Trump knew that protesters had were armed and he didn't seem to care.

So, I think the question of how much knowledge did Trump have is one that the committee is going to continue to explore with through, with new witnesses and up until September.

PHILLIP: So, there's also the problem here of what the committee's relationship with the justice department is. Things have been a little tense between them, with some of the committee members kind of just saying, it's not our problem.

Whether or not, you have the investigatory materials that you want. Take a listen to Zoe Lofgren, talking about this this weekend.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): We're not an arm of the Department of Justice. We are legislative committee. They have subpoena power. They could subpoena Ms. Hutchinson. I'm surprised they had not done so.

You know, I was surprised that the prosecutors who are surprised at, what are they doing over there? They have a much greater opportunity to enforce their subpoenas than our legislative committee does.



PHILLIP: What are they doing over there? I mean that's really - yes, that's a tough.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's been interesting. Committee and DOJ has been doing kind of a delicate dance, at least publicly. Anything behind the scenes, there's been one as well. And it's

starting - you're starting to see that the frustration is starting to kind of, what has long been simmering and starting to boil over from what you hear from committee members.

I think from the justice department's perspective, when you talk to people, I mean they try to do the investigation, or some of CNN's reporting on the investigation. They have been very engaged on this.

They just see that they're in a very different track than what the committee is, as comes from Lofgren, makes clear, there's a very different intent. A legislative intent versus a potential criminal intent is a different kind of investigation with very different investigatory tools.

I think the interesting thing that remains, at least from the committee's perspective, is the political pressure that has just been growing and growing and growing on the justice department on the attorney general.

And the idea that if the committee is unveiling all of these things, and they don't have half the tools or half the capabilities the justice department has, why is this new to prosecutors? Why are prosecutors learning about this? What have they been doing in the meantime?

PHILLIP: Doesn't it strike you that the public nature of this committee itself is what is helping to propel their investigation forward in a way that perhaps the DOJ maybe can't mirror?

PRZYBYLA: I think in Democrats minds, the charitable interpretation is that they are working their way into Trump's inner circle. But they're not, just not there yet but it's hard to just kind of separate those out.

When you do see, for instance, the timing that we saw of the raid on the day of the hearings that took place, and so of Mr. Rosen. So, I think that yes, that there is some question there about what the justice department is doing. Democrats are frustrated, but the charitable interpretation is, they're just not there yet.

LEVINE: I think there is also some tension about the question of whether the January 6 committee goes forward with a criminal referral or not. And that move could put additional pressure on the justice department.

But there is - there does appear to be a divide among members of the committee, about whether or not that action, which is largely symbolic, whether or not that would actually help encourage the justice department to pursue action, just given that they don't want to seem like they're caving under pressure from committee members.

PHILLIP: And of course, they don't need a criminal referral. I mean, they can investigate whatever they want, and they will if they have the goods. We should know. By the way, we'll talk a little bit more about this later. The bar for criminal investigation is different from the bar for

something that is shocking to viewers at home and surprising to people at home. But more on that soon. Coming up next, the committee moles its strategy. How would a potential criminal referral of Trump even play out? We'll have that when you get back.




PHILLIP: The January 6 committee could make multiple criminal referrals. Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney said on Sunday, that they may include former President Donald Trump.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: So, the committee will or will not make a criminal referral?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We'll make a decision as a committee about it.

KARL: So, it's possible there will be a criminal referral, which would be effectively the committee saying that he should be prosecuted, and this is the evidence that we've got.

CHENEY: The justice department doesn't have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral. And there could be more than one criminal referral.


PHILLIP: A CNN legal analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Elie Honig, is joining me now. Elie, you heard her say there, the justice department doesn't need a criminal referral.

And so, from what you've seen at these hearings, do you think there is evidence to actually criminally charge Trump or anyone else, especially when it comes to the planning of this January 6 insurrection?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Well, Abby, first of all, Liz Cheney is exactly right. The DOJ does not need a criminal referral in order to do its business.

It appears DOJ is investigating, I think at a slower pace than the committee, which could be a problem. As your question about whether there's sufficient evidence. There's definitely a solid foundation.

I think that the committee has now given the public and DOJ. And I think the committee has really given us evidence more than we even expected when we headed into these committee hearings.

They haven't just sort of recycled the same old things that were already known. For example, Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony last week. I think, is new to DOJ reportedly and extremely powerful as the Donald Trump's knowledge and intent. And I think all that's very useful to prosecutors.

PHILLIP: So, what more do they have to do then in a court of law that would be different from what is playing out in the public? You mentioned Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony.

But what is the difference between what she had to say that was shocking to all of us and what they would have to do to actually bring and win a criminal case?

HONIG: Yes. This is such an important distinction, Abby. So, while Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony was remarkable, compelling and in my view, quite credible, it would not translate over 100 percent into a criminal court.

We're talking about two different forums here. For example, some of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony was hearsay, some people were trying to make it out like the whole thing was hearsay.

That's not true, but a small portion. 10, 15 percent was hearsay that you couldn't testify to in a court.

For example, when she told the story about walking into the room, there's ketchup on the wall. That part's fine. But then when she testified that the staffer said, well, Donald Trump threw his dish against the wall when he heard the news about Bill Barr.