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Russian Missiles Kill At Least 22 In Ukraine, Including 3 Children; Ukraine's Foreign Minister Describes Attacks As "Terrorism"; Biden In Israel For Historic Middle East Trip; Trump Tried To Call WH Support Staffer Talking With Jan 6 Cmte; DOJ Asks Jan 6 Cmte To Share Interview Transcripts On Electors Scheme; Judge Rejects Bannon's Attempt To Delay Criminal Contempt Trial. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 14, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Smoke, ash, fear and death. A Russian cruise missile kills at least 22 in Ukraine. Right now, crews still digging through the rubble. We'll take you there live in just a moment.

Plus, a big jump at wholesale prices. Mortgage rates climb too. Your life is more expensive, and more and more Democrats say the Biden White House is making things worse. And Steve Bannon goes on trial next week, a federal judge rejects ban his argument that he can't get an impartial jury right now, that judge by the way, was appointed by Bannon buddy, Donald Trump.

We begin the hour though with the dead and the missing in Ukraine, warning, what you're about to see is quite graphic and disturbing. This is Vinnytsia, in central Ukraine, and it is the chart aftermath of a Russian cruise missile. You see the panic, civilians and first responders rushing stretchers out of still smoldering wreckage. The pictures are gruesome, and they are sadly all too familiar.

The entire buildings windows reduced to glass shards, cars, battered by the sheer kinetic force of the strike. 22 officials say were dead. The death toll so far includes three children, 39 still missing, and authorities warn, they may need DNA test to identify even more bodies.

Let's get straight to the scene, and CNN's Scott McLean. Scott, walk us through what you're seeing and what we know?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we talked about that kinetic force. Here's one example. This is actually across the street from the blast site. And you can see just how many windows are completely blown out, barely any survived. And people are trying to - who are living in that building trying to - try to make sure that their apartments sealed in.

This is the actual blast site itself. This is a building called the house of officers. It's the concert hall and you can just see the incredible force that this missile strike would have had. If we can, we'll take you in to give you a little bit of a better look. You can see there is a lot of firefighters here still on scene. Just be careful walking down here.

There is the glass absolutely everywhere. There is debris, I mean, every square inch, it seems. You can see they're still trying to put out hotspots, the firefighters inside this building. And keep in mind, John, we're about eight hours and 15 minutes since the actual blast went off.

So, I'll just pause here for a second to point out that this church here, just behind the actual concert site has been badly damaged. Several windows gone. You can see the tops of the spires here have actually they're sitting on the ground. Now, they're not actually attached to the church itself, they would have been blown off.

We can take you over here and we're trying to locate the actual epicenter of where this missile would have fallen. And somewhere in here would have been the actual blast site. It's just not entirely clear where. You can see, I mean, the pictures can describe it a lot better than I can.

But what's really remarkable here, John, is, sorry, there's actually a couple of more crews coming in here. There's a dog, perhaps to look for some bodies, you know, the last update that we have is that there's 22 people who are dead. There's also a lot of missing as well, a few dozen who are still missing. And so, they're still trying to comb through this building to see if they can locate any of the bodies.

And you mentioned, John, as well, the fact that they're going to require some DNA test to locate some people, which tells you a lot about, just how much force there was and what kind of condition they're actually finding these bodies in.

What's really remarkable about this as well. And maybe we can walk through here if it's safe enough to. But what's really remarkable is remember that Vinnytsia is nowhere close to the front lines. This is a place where a lot of people who are live near the front lines, or lived near the front lines, if they're from Kyiv, they came here to seek shelter.

This is a place where the sirens often go off and people don't really pay that much attention because while the airport was struck earlier on in this war, it's been relatively quiet since then, again. If you look, this is likely where the missile would have actually hit because this part of the building has undoubtedly sustained the most damage.

And if we can, if we have time, John, I'll just show you the rest of it. Again, Vinnytsia, we just were talking to one woman inside an office building, who was inside an office building across the street, which I'll show you in just a second. And she actually told us that look, she didn't bother going downstairs when the sirens went off because why would she.


Vinnytsia safe. Nothing is really happened here since the war started. And so, she was contentious to sit in her office. Well, this here, that's her office. She was on the fourth floor of this building, all of the windows, maybe nine or 10-storeys high, every single window of this building completely, completely blown out.

What likely saved her is the fact that there was obviously a concrete wall there. And the bottom floor of this building, which obviously caught fire, would have actually taken most of the brunt of this strike. And John, this is really what tells the story, I think, the best is the actual crater of one of these missiles.

And I just want to give you a sense of just how - just give you a sense of scale of how big of an impact that we're talking about. This is concrete. This is asphalt. This is not dirt. So, it moved all of this, obviously scarred all of the earth here. And then completely took out this, this building, as well, John.

KING: Scott McLean, live on the ground for us. Scott, fantastic reporting on the scene. And please thank your crew as well and keep us posted as we watched the search underway. Again, 22 dead, as many as 40 more still missing. Three of the dead, the Ukrainian government says are children. Scott McLean will keep searching the scene for us to get back to us.

Let's get some perspective now from Susan Glasser. She is a staff writer for The New Yorker, and of course, a CNN global affairs analyst. You heard Scott there, Susan, at the end Vinnytsia far from the front. But we have seen at times, these I'm going to call them random. You'd probably have a better word for it, Russian strikes.

So, the Ukrainian foreign minister says plainly, "this is terrorism" Deliberate murder of civilians to spread fear. Russia is a terrorist state and must be legally recognized as such. We have seen a times at moments when the United States and other western nations are providing more higher tech, more muscular, more advanced weapons system. Russia lashing out in other places, not just having the fighting in Luhansk and Donetsk. Is that what's at play here?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I think when people hear war of attrition, they think it's, you know, just two militaries facing each other across a more or less static frontline. That is not what this war is. Russia is waging, essentially a total war on the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian country. And, you know, there is no other way to describe it, but an act of purposeful terror, rather than random terror.

I would say, when you launch cruise missiles from a submarine, which is apparently what happened here into a city in central Ukraine, far from the frontlines. It is purposeful, and it is designed to sow terror and to weaken the resolve and to send a message, and it's a war crime. And it is also, I think, a sign that Russia has become truly a rogue state.

Remember that Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council attacking civilians day in and day out. This is a particularly horrific attack, but it is not an outlier, it is in fact very consistent with the strategy of Russia in waging this war, not just on military combatants, but on the Ukrainian people itself. KING: And to that point, sewing fear, trying to get the Ukrainian people, essentially to be wore down something that Russia has failed for months and months and months now. That has become sort of the strategic purpose of Vladimir Putin, has it not?

GLASSER: Well, yes. I also remember, you know, often there's talk of smart missiles, these are dumb missiles. Russia is throwing its arsenal of weapons, many of them old and outdated, the full arsenal at the Ukrainian people. Putin, in fact, has been determined to show in recent weeks that his campaign is producing some results after the initial embarrassment of the failure of their plan to undertake a lightning strike to decapitate the government in Kyiv.

And so, this is, I think, very consistent with where Putin is at. He still apparently believes in the possibility, not just of holding the line, but actually of achieving some victory in Ukraine. But you know, he is achieving victory on the backs of Ukrainian office workers. And it's not clear where this is going to end up.

But I think the message that Putin is sending is that he is by no means going to be satisfied just for taking territory in Ukraine's east. Remember, this is in central Ukraine, away from the actual fighting in the Donbass region.


KING: Susan Glasser, grateful for your insights, very important context. Susan, thank you. Let's move to Israel now, and another giant global security challenge. President Biden is there, and while the welcome is overwhelmingly warm. There is a clear and giant and very public policy difference. The president promising, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. The Israeli prime minister warning, words alone will not solve this.


JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: We will not, we say it again. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

YAIR LAPID, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: Words will not stop, Mr. President, diplomacy will not stop. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force.


KING: Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was at the president's news conference today. Joins us now live from Jerusalem. Kaitlan, it was a friendly nudge from the Israeli prime minister, but clearly a nudge. He wants President Biden to be more muscular in his rhetoric to essentially said it, Iran agreed to back down or else deadline.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. It was friendly, but it was quite firm coming from Prime Minister Lapid. It was obvious to those of us in the room, seeing the differences in their statements when it came to how they think they should counter Iran, because yes, they agree that Iran should not get a nuclear weapon. But they have very key differences on what that looks like.

And you heard the prime minister saying that the free world should use force on Iran if they continue to develop their nuclear program. President Biden stopped short of saying that and essentially argued that force should be used as a last resort. He said, but only if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon. So, you can see the difference in the language there from these two leaders, a stark difference, though, of course.

And the question is, how did they resolve that between the two sides on the differences there? Because Lapid was quite firm in what he was saying in the pressure that he wanted the United States to be more forceful in that tone of how they were discussing this. And so, that was very clear in the room.

The other big takeaway, John, were the president's comments about the Saudi crown prince. Who of course, in about 24 hours from now, he is going to be coming face to face with him for the first time since he's made those comments on the campaign trail vowing to make Saudi Arabia a pariah?

And today he was asked if you will directly bring up the murdered journalist named Jamal Khashoggi, when he meets with MBS, given the U.S. assesses that MBS ordered his murder. And so, when he was asked about that, John, he just said, he always brings up human rights, but even pressed he did not specifically commit to bringing it up. So, it remains to be seen if U.S. officials say, we've even made a decision on bringing it up during that meeting, John?

KING: I just want to read the president's words to you. My views on Khashoggi had been made absolutely clear, absolutely, positively clear. I've never been quiet about talking about human rights. But he would not repeat the condemnation today. He just essentially trying to say, the Saudis know, as opposed to repeating it again, to put pressure on them, heading into the meeting.

COLLINS: Exactly. And I think that's because this meeting is such a delicate dance for the White House, given those past comments from President Biden, which they have said he has not expressed any regret about those comments. But you're right, he is certainly not repeating them. And that's because they have realized that things are a lot easier when you get along with Saudi Arabia than when you don't.

And that is part of this visit, which could really change the way that President Biden interacts with the Saudis so far. Remember, he's only had two calls with the king since he's taken office. Neither of those would the crown prince. We'll see if that changes after this meeting, John?

KING: Well, a remarkable day today for the president on the world stage and another one to come. Kaitlan Collins, live for us in Jerusalem. Kaitlan, thank you. Ahead for us a brand new CNN reporting on the witness President Trump tried to call in the insurrection investigation. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



KING: Today, some new and important CNN reporting about a dramatic January 6 committee moment. Two sources now tell CNN, Donald Trump tried to call a member of the White House support staff who was talking to the Congressional panel. The support staffer is not someone who routinely communicates with the former president. So, that staffer did not take the call and immediately informed their attorney.

Let's get straight up to Capitol Hill and CNN's Ryan Nobles. Ryan, tell us more.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. I think the reason that this information is important because the information that the committee provided on Tuesday did not seem like a true case of witness intimidation. There were a lot of details that they left out. And this reporting that we've been able to nail down shows the reason why this particular person was so concerned about this outreach from the former president that seemingly came out of the blue.

It came just a couple of days after Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony. And this was a particular witness that served as a member of the White House support staff that would be not a member of the Trump administration, but someone that worked on the business of keeping the White House going on a day-to-day basis. And was someone that could perhaps corroborate a portion of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony.

So, the fact that they got this call from the president out of the blue, something they normally wouldn't get. And the timing of it is what led them to reach out to their lawyer, who then reached out to the committee who was now forwarded on to the Department of Justice.

Now, there is still a lot of information on the periphery of this that we don't know. Like, for instance, how did they know it was Donald Trump that was calling them? Was there some other contact made prior to that? Was there a voicemail or something along those lines left? Those are all details that we don't have answers too and the committee is not answering yet.

But it shows, John, how serious the committee is taking any risk at all of witness intimidation. This is something that they've been talking about, since the beginning of their investigation, warning that they were going to take all of those potential problems seriously, and they would act accordingly.

Now, this also comes at the same time, John, that we've learned that the committee has begun the process of cooperating with the Department of Justice. They've now handed over information or made x available information related to the fake electoral scheme. That's important because it shows that the Department of Justice's investigation is expanding even more into these aspects related to the overturning of the 2020 election. John? [12:20:00]

KING: Ryan Nobles, live on the Hill. Ryan, thanks so much. Let's continue the conversation. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich to The Daily Beast, Francesca Chambers of USA Today, Tarini Parti of the Wall Street Journal, and the former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Counselor, let me start with you. I want to read a little bit here. The call was made after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified publicly to the committee. The White House staffer was in a position to corroborate part of what Hutchinson had said under oath, according to the sources. Put on your prosecutor had for me, is that witness tampering?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Not yet, but it's alarming. You couldn't charge witness tampering there because you'd have to establish that the person intended to influence prevent or delay somebody else's testimony. Now, a lot of things smell really bad about this, John. Think about it. If it were a call to Ivanka Trump, or Mark Meadows or somebody else that the president had a report with, you know, maybe nothing to be alarmed by.

If this is some, you know, waiter or staffer at the White House, the guy who's carrying the food in the White House mess hall, he would normally never receive, or she would normally never receive a call from the president. That's alarming and the relationship matters. And it mattered enough for them to call the attorney. Like I know folks have said that, well, we don't know what happened. It's just alarming.

KING: And so, again, the issue here is this White House staff or support staffer, who can presumably at the committee believes corroborate, some of our Cassie Hutchinson said, Donald Trump being Donald Trump. This is an interview just posted with New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi, criticizing Cassie Hutchinson saying, he doesn't know her saying, "she has been totally discredited." No, she has not, actually other witnesses have confirmed much of her account.

And no one has contradicted her, including the White House counsel Pat Cipollone, one former deputy chief of staff has said he would, but he won't go to the committee and testify under oath. And Donald Trump says, she is sick. I think she is a sick person. Once a gem, always a gem.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, this is very in line with how former President Trump acted when he was president. And I think the same thing with the - his call to this potential witness. He is constantly, we saw throughout the presidency, testing the limits of government of the framework of the justice system, just constantly running up in defenses and seeing how far he can go.

I mean, the fact that they ended the Cassidy Hutchinson hearing, talking about witness tampering, and he did it anyway, or tried to, or you know, maybe hasn't crossed the line yet. I don't want to run afoul of that. It just shows. He just wants to see how far he can go. KING: It also shows he is paying very close attention. And he understands the next hearing, next week is about those 187 minutes about what he did and what he didn't do. Importantly, not just what he did, but what he didn't do on January 6.

But another big development, Ryan talked about it, is that the committee, there was some tension early on between the committee and the justice department. Now there is more sharing of information. And Bennie Thompson the chairman, telling our colleague Manu Raju, in this case, when these witnesses start getting curious phone calls, we call the DOJ.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is it your opinion that there is enough evidence to say that there was an attempt to intimidate these witnesses?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, from my vantage point is highly unusual to do that. And that's why, we more or less put that in the hands of the justice department for them to make that decision. That's a concern that we have is even attempt raises a question, but it's one that we think is better handled by the Department of Justice. If they think that this is something they need to look into, then they will.


KING: That's a quick handoff.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: And there are many Democrats who still would like to see Merrick Garland investigate and potentially prosecute the former president of the United States. Even as we get closer to the end of the year, it closer to the midterm elections. They say, look, if you find evidence of wrongdoing, that he should not be above the law.

KING: And that dynamic is interesting and that normally you have six, seven. You're moving through these public hearings. You're getting to a point where OK, you're out of information. The remarkable thing about these hearings is they keep generating new information because they are getting attention and people are raising their hand and saying, I have more to share.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's exactly right. And the one that we are going to see next is perhaps going to have the most information about the most important day and what the president was doing in those 187 minutes. So, there is still a lot to come clearly from the committee.

KING: It's been a fascinating process so far. Next, something very much related. Steve Bannon's latest plan to have his trial for contempt of Congress delayed. Well, it was denied.



KING: Trump ally Steve Bannon's criminal contempt trial will start Monday. Today a Trump appointed federal judge, denied an attempt by Bannon to delay that trial. He's being tried for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the January 6 committee. The judge did keep the door open for Bannon to present evidence of his newfound willingness, or at least his stating willingness to testify to that panel. An offer the committee has not yet said whether or not it will take up.

Our great reporters and legal analysts back with us. I'm going to start with you again because the legal matter. It's interesting in that, Steve Bannon said, there's a new CNN documentary about him coming out Sunday night. He said, he's been mentioned several times in the January 6 theories. He can't get an impartial jury at this moment. You need to delay this. A Trump appointed judge said, sorry, no, we start Monday.

WILLIAMS: Judges very much do not like to delay trials on account of pre-trial publicity. They believe that if they tell jurors, you know what, put this out of your mind, set this aside, juries can be fair.