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Biden Tests Positive For COVID, "Very Mild Symptoms"; Tonight: Jan. 6th Cmte Hearing To Lay Out Trump's "Dereliction Of Duty"; Watchdog Tells Secret Service To Stop Investigating Missing Texts. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 21, 2022 - 12:30   ET



MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: He can't physically chair the hearing tonight. So it couldn't be used as a reminder for that.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It could be and just to make a point to those of you watching at home everybody at this table, we do it every day, we take a test every day before we sit in close proximity just to be extra safe. And to that point contact tracing, close contacts is the languages that we've all gotten used to over the last couple of years in terms of the President of the United States being positive for COVID-19. The calls are going out today to a pretty high profile group. This is just some of the people traveling with the President on Air Force One yesterday both senators from Massachusetts, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Auchincloss, Congressman Keating, his own press secretary Gina McCarthy, Massachusetts, member of Red Sox Nation, as we say finally here, although we're struggling at the moment, as well.

That's just part of it, plus the senior staff as well. Congressman Auchincloss's communications director just tweeting out that he tested negative ahead of the trip with the President yesterday, as was protocol, Franco just mentioned that, if you're going to travel with the President, you have to be tested. And he tested negative again this morning, he's asymptomatic will continue testing regularly. It's a teaching moment, but it's a sort of high profile teaching moment now. I assume every one of those people on Air Force One has had a test.

ZANONA: Yes. And there's also just a foreign overseas trip that Biden was on, he's been increasing his public engagement lately. So it does seem inevitable to a degree. And my question now is whether the Biden administration is going to try to pull back a little bit and try to implement some of these protocols that maybe had been lacks for a while even though, you know, they've had strict protocols in place. But we have seen that dipping and you can tell that they are wrestling with how much you put Biden out there, and how much should he be shaking hands with people? How much he'd be having not having a mask on.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And more broadly, what does this mean for the country? This variant seems particularly spreadable. And the other thing is, there's a question about whether or not they're going to approve boosters for folks under 50. People are waiting second boosters for folks under 50. How prepared is the country for the fall? Are we going to see a third fall of record contagion from COVID in the way that we've seen already?

And so this is a kind of critical moment. I think we're in a good place because young kids can get vaccinated. A lot of people have been vaccinated. A lot of people have already gotten it. So there's a sort of built in immunity too. But there is a sense of OK, are we ready for the fall in terms of what we might see?

KING: And from a public health perspective is the most important part of that question. The other piece of it is we're in another political year. This was a defining issue in the 2020 campaign, obviously, between President, now President Biden, but then candidate Biden and President Trump. In a midterm election year, the President wanted to go to Pennsylvania today pretty important state. He wanted to have a gun violence event there. He was also going to have a big fundraiser there. It's unclear whether he'll participate in that fundraiser remotely or not.

But in terms of if you're the White House political office, and the President gets COVID in, you know, late July, you know, late July, in an election year, you're scratching your head saying, OK, how is this going to affect the plan next week and the week after?

FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: No, absolutely. I mean, there's the schedule and making sure that he can do all the things that he needs to do and during that time. And there's also the messaging. I mean, you know, you're we're talking here about the -- how pervasive the virus still is, and how the White House has an opportunity to kind of send a message and set an example for America. At the same time, the President also wants, you know, American know that we can -- that it can continue to move on, that the economy is still going to not be afraid of the virus and that's what the boosters are there for to encourage people to do boosters.

And for the midterms, you don't you, you know, he ran, as you said earlier on fixing this, on getting better. So to go into the midterms and having this continue to be a problem where people are still scared is not a message that I think he wants to have.

KING: And a message, we'll watch it play out again, obviously, a primary concern of the President's health at the moment. He says he's doing great. We will stay on top of that. And again, later today at the White House briefing, they say they'll have the doctors on hand to give an update as well.


Up next for us, primetime for the January 6th Committee, tonight's hearing will focus on Donald Trump and 187 telling minutes. Aides wanted the President to tell his writing supporters to stand down. He wanted to watch it on T.V.


KING: Now to tonight's primetime January 6th Committee presentation, the committee promising to lay out how Donald Trump abandoned his duty and turn gleeful spectator as his supporters assaulted police, broke into the United States Capitol, disrupted the certification of the election, and threatened elected officials including the Vice President of the United States and the Speaker of the House. The 187 minutes of Trump in action will be told by Trump West Wing insiders including live testimony tonight from national security aide Matthew Pottinger and press aide Sarah Matthews. Corroboration now a key part of tonight's hearing adding backup to accounts from other former top Trump officials that are already part of the Committee's public body of work. And you will hear tonight from Donald Trump himself.

The Committee has outtakes from a tape Trump video message from January 7th, 2021. The tape message, the tapes, the outtakes sources tell CNN, show Trump refusing among other things to say the election results are settled. CNN's Ryan Nobles live for us up on Capitol. Ryan, what else do we expect to hear tonight?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, John, I think the Committee has said for some time that they have a lot of evidence that shows just what Donald Trump was not doing during that 187 minutes while the Capitol was under siege. And we've already seen a preview of that already today through a clip that was shown by Adam Kinzinger on his Twitter feed from various officials from in and around the White House that have already been deposed. And they talked about him just watching T.V. or leaving a back dining room while the Capitol was, while the riot was ongoing, which is a way that they're going to demonstrate a dereliction of duty which they've said over and over again.

We also expect to hear from witnesses, at least videotaped depositions of witnesses that we have not heard yet. People that have not appeared in these hearings in any way shape or form and we're going to get live testimony from witnesses that we've never heard from before in the form of Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, two Trump White House aides that ended up resigning because of what took place on January 6th.


And then there are those outtakes that we reported on last night from the speech that Donald Trump gave on January 7th, which the Committee says shows him struggling to try and come up with an explanation for what happened on January 6th, and wrestling with how to refer to the people that stormed the Capitol on that day and then of course, refusing even at that point, to say that the election results were settled.

So there's no doubt, John, that the Committee has been building towards tonight. This will only be their second primetime hearing. Many of the members I've spoken to believe that this could potentially be the most devastating blow against the former President Donald Trump. We'll have to see tonight if it lives up to those expectations. KING: Ryan Nobles live for us on Capitol Hill. Ryan, grateful for the live report. Let's bring the conversation back in the room with our great reports. And to Ryan's point, the power of the Committee so far has been that the most damning testimony comes from people who work closely for Donald Trump who stayed to the very end, who worked in the Trump West Wing. These are not deep staters. These are not liberal Democrats. Tonight, we're going to hear from Donald Trump himself.

But the most damning part was in this tweet. There were -- one of the Republicans on the Committee, Adam Kinzinger, tweeting out this morning, people worked in the West Wing, the Capitol, remember that day, the Capitol is under attack. Law enforcement officers are being beaten, windows broken, the building stormed, and ransacked. Chants of hang Mike Pence, chants of let's find Nancy Pelosi. This is what Donald Trump was doing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the President in that private dining room the whole time that the attack on the Capitol was going on? Or did he ever go to, again, I'm going to only do your knowledge, to the Oval Office, to the White House Situation Room, anywhere else?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE AIDE: So that's my recollection, he was always in the dining room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did they say, Mr. Meadows or the president at all during that brief encounter that you were in the dining room? What do you recall?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everybody was watching the T.V.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know whether he was watching T.V. in the dining room when you talked to him on January 6th?

MATTHEWS: It's my understanding he was watching television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you were in the dining room in these discussions, was the violence in Capitol visible on the screen on the television?



KING: That Melanie is what makes it so damning. That's the White House Counsel there, a retired General Keith Kellogg there, a Trump press secretary very loyal Trump supporter, Kayleigh McEnany. The President was watching on television, the government of the United States was under attack. The Vice President was being threatened. The President is watching on T.V.

ZANONA: We already knew that aides were going in there and telling him so he was hearing it with his own ears. Now we know without any doubt that he was seeing it with his own eyes. And not only did he not act, but we've heard other testimonies that he was supportive of what was going on, including the hanging Mike Pence chants. Adam Kinzinger said he was gleefully watching. And I think we've heard a lot about his actions leading up to January 6th, on January 6th. We're starting to get a picture of afterwards, including January 7th, when those outtakes of that film was filmed, and he was not sorry. He was not remorseful. In fact, he wanted to continue spreading these lies. And that is consistent with how he's acted ever since.

KING: Wanting to continue to call the people who stormed the Capitol patriots, patriots, not rioters not criminals, patriots.

HENDERSON: Right. You know, this was a show that Donald Trump produced, right? This is -- it unfolded in the way that he wanted it to happen from that tweet. He sent after that White House meeting saying come to the Capitol, it'll be wild to his protestations when he was in front of that crowd that they were going to march to the Capitol. So of course, he was sitting there and watching it because those folks were called to the Capitol by him in doing what he wanted them to do.

The only thing that went wrong was that it actually didn't work. They weren't able to overthrow the government. Mike Pence didn't do what Donald Trump wanted him to do. But it is a damning portrait, right, of just inaction, right? It's not only a dereliction of his duty as a President, it's a dereliction of his duty as a human, right? Someone who can stop this rampage, stop this violence from happening and there he is sitting in watching it on television.

KING: And you live through this covering the Trump White House and that if something didn't go his way, Trump said that person is a liar. They're with the fake news. They're Republican in name only. They're liberal Democrat. They're the deep state. We can just show you just some of the people, just some of the people. These are Trump insiders, former press aide Sarah Matthews, former White House Chief of Staff's aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Matthew Pottinger, Pat Cipollone, Eric Herschmann, Derek Lyons, the list goes on and on. These are all people who worked with Donald Trump, worked in the campaign, worked with him to the end, some from the beginning. It's just impossible. They can criticize how the Committee was formed. They can criticize the Democrats on the Committee. That testimony is damning because it comes from people who were very loyal to Donald Trump until the end.

ORDONEZ: Absolutely. I mean, I covered the Trump White House for four years. I covered the NSC quite a bit. And Matthew Pottinger, Sarah Matthews, both may while they may not be the most household name are very respected especially Matthew Pottinger who was a very high ranking senior aide who was very involved with some of the top foreign policy, his testimony cannot just be tossed out. He cannot be painted as someone who, you know, is just a low level staffer.


And he, you know, he, I think he as well as Sarah Marshall are going to kind of go through the timeline of that fight of January 6th. And not only show that President Trump or former President Trump was just watching T.V., but all the different points that he could have done the right thing. KING: And all the people coming in, begging him, pleading with him to do the right thing. We'll watch it play out tonight in primetime. Ahead for us first on CNN, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general tells the Secret Service to stop a January 6th connected investigation. We'll tell you why, next.



KING: I want to turn to some important new reporting this hour on a turf war over whose job it is to find some very important missing text messages. The Homeland Security Inspector General instructing the Secret Service to stop its internal investigation into why January 6th related text messages were deleted. Let's get the latest from CNN's Whitney Wild. Whitney, what is this about and why is it important?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the Secret Service received a notice, Wednesday, telling the Secret Service to stop investigating the matter because it could interfere with the Inspector General's own investigation into what happened to the agency's text messages. This Wednesday letter coming from the IG telling Secret Service in effect stand down for now.

The letter adds to this growing tension between the Secret Service and the DHS Inspector General over these potentially missing text messages, which are also John being sought by the House Select Committee as part of its investigation into former President Donald Trump's actions and movements on January 6th, 2021. Here's a quote from this letter. To ensure the integrity of our investigation, the USSS must not engage in any further investigative activities regarding the collection and preservation of the evidence referenced above. This includes immediately refraining from interviewing potential witnesses, collecting devices or taking any other action that would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.

John, we know that the IG has the authority to eventually refer things for criminal investigation. The problem here is that the Secret Service has already begun what they call a very rigorous review into what happened to these potentially missing text messages and why that's because they were subpoenaed by the House Select Committee. They've told the House Select Committee. They're conducting forensic examinations. They're doing interviews, to try to abide by that directive. This is certainly making things so much more complicated for the Secret Service as it tries to satisfy all of these oversight bodies who John now appear to be starkly at odds with one another.

KING: At odds with one another to say the least. Whitney Wild, appreciate that important reporting, joining our conversation now for some important context, our CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero and the former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. Andy, let me start with you, you worked at a law enforcement agency that yes, sometimes has to update the phones, sensitive investigations. There have to be careful protocols in place. What in the world went wrong here?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Really great question, John. I have been through this process from every level in my time in the FBI as an agent and then as a senior leader overseeing some exchanges, technological exchanges. I've never, ever seen a process that involves every individual agent or user of a phone, putting the responsibility on them individually to preserve their own data. It's inexplicable to me.

KING: Inexplicable. And we'll see how it gets sorted out. And more importantly, I guess we'll see if we actually get any of the messages which could shed some light on January 5th, January 6th, what the agents were having. As part of this, we have the January 6th investigation. Now you have this DHS Inspector General, you have the Justice Department investigation into January 6th. The Attorney General the United States said yesterday, twice, no person is above the law in this country. He said nothing stops us. And then in the context of can you, you know, investigate Donald Trump, right? No person above the law in this country. I can't say it more clearly than that. Did Merrick Garland just have to say that publicly? Or is there a message in that?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that's about what we should expect for the Attorney General. And I think really, we shouldn't expect much more. Because if we want the Justice Department to be abiding by the traditional norms of not commenting on ongoing investigations, not casting aspersions on people who have not been charged with any crimes, and allowing them to conduct the investigation that they have, then really, we don't want to hear that much more from the Attorney General. So I think that is about as bland a statement as we could hear from the Attorney General, but frankly, I don't think you should be saying much more about it.

KING: Well, the January 6th Committee has been trying to lead the Attorney General to the water, if you will, through its testimony and its public hearings. It's pretty a lot of damning testimony. In the legal experts will look at this say they see for potential crimes for the former president of the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding, certification of the election there, conspiracy to defraud the United States, seditious conspiracy, witness tampering.

Tonight, a prime time hearing about that 187 minutes of what Donald Trump did, and more importantly, what he refused to do during that. Is that proving dereliction of duty, or do you think it's important tonight with these White House insiders to help prove is that a crime, dereliction of duty is a dereliction of decency but what about when it comes to crimes?

MCCABE: I think we need to step back from the crime cliff as it were, right? And remember, what is the Committee trying to do? Committee is trying to present a compelling and complete thorough narrative to the American people to understand all of the bad things that Donald Trump did. One of those bad things is completely obliterating and ignoring his oath to protect and defend the Constitution to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. And he did that by as we'll see tonight, twittering away, watching television and doing nothing to stop the attack on the nation's Capitol.

[12:55:16] CORDERO: Yes, I think tonight is less about the Committee laying out potential evidence for criminal culpability than it is about potentially having political arguments in the future to prevent him from receiving a nomination or assuming office, public office, ever again. The dereliction of duty is really was the subject of the second impeachment. It is about his inaction and the things that he didn't do to protect the country, to protect the safety of lawmakers, and to protect the law enforcement personnel who were at the Capitol site that day. But I don't think it's the same conversation as potential criminal as well.

KING: And Committee promises some new information tonight. They've delivered on those promises in the past. We will see if we get it tonight as well. Again, join CNN special coverage of tonight's insurrection hearing. It begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics, very busy breaking news day. Don't go anywhere, Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break.