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Major Developments In DOJ's Investigation Into Jan 6; Ex-DOJ Officials: Trump Asked To Seize Voting Machines; McCarthy: "Don't Recall" Talking To Hutchinson On January 6th: Manchin & Schumer Announce Deal For Energy & Healthcare Bill; Schatz: Failure Not An Option On Energy & Climate Bill; Trump Hosts Saudi-Backed Golf Tournament Despite Protests; 9/11 Family: "Shameful" For Trump To Host Saudi Golf Event. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your day with us. A week of consequence for President Biden and for his agenda, a COVID bounce back, a big legislative win, and now sudden hope for a deal to pass significant climate and healthcare changes.

Plus, next hour, a Saudi golf league tees off at Donald Trump's New Jersey golf resort. This morning, 9/11 families say the former president is picking blood money over morality.


BRETT EAGLESON, 9/11 RELATIVE: How much money are you getting? How much does it take to buy you off? What dollar amount is more important than American lives, American values?


KING: And the House speaker leaves today for Asia, an important trip but her itinerary still unsettled. The big question, will she visit Taiwan? Will she test what China means by its perish by fire warning? We begin though with major and multiple developments in the January 6 investigations. More missing records, more important cooperation and fierce preparations now for a daunting court battle.

The Washington Post reporting late last night, there is yet another batch of missing text messages. Sources telling the newspaper texts from Donald Trump's Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf and his top deputy Ken Cuccinelli are Mia, reportedly lost to reset of their government devices. Both are potentially critical witnesses to a number of important Trump episodes, including a presidential demand to cease voting machines.

There's this two, brand new CNN reporting the Justice Department prosecutors are now preparing for a courtroom wore to compel former Trump White House officials to testify directly to their conversations with Trump in the day surrounding the insurrection. Let's get up to Capitol Hill first to CNN's Ryan Nobles. Ryan, the January 6 committee puzzled yet again by "missing" or deleted or Mia texts.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In particular, John, because they come from such important people. Obviously, the Secret Service text messages are of great concern and interest to the committee. But now you have these two ranking, high ranking DHS officials and Ken Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf, both of whom we should point out have had conversations with the January 6 select committee, whose records have gone missing.

Wolf saying on Twitter today responding to the Washington Post report, that it was nothing that he had anything to do with it, he handed over his government phone with everything intact. And if something was lost in a migration program, that's not nothing that he had anything to do with. Regardless, the information is missing. And it is something that January 6 select committee wants, and it also is something that the Department of Justice could want as their investigation widens.

Now, to that end, though, that we are seeing increased cooperation from some of these high-level members of the Trump administration, not just with the Department of Justice, but with the select committee as well.

We know yesterday they met with Mick Mulvaney, they have engaged with people like Mike Pompeo, who they are hoping could come in for an interview as soon as next week, if not sooner. And Mick Mulvaney was pretty honest about what he experienced during that conversation with January 6 select committee yesterday. Listen to what he told CNN earlier today.


MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: Clearly, they're trying to figure out more about how it is, perhaps Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell got the access to the president United States that they did. Folks like Mike Lindell had accessed the role of people like Peter Navarro. That sort of inner circle of people that have been described by others as the crazies, how did they get the access that they did, when they did.


NOBLES: And of course, we also know that the committee is very interested in those conversations about the 25th Amendment Act of January 6. Part of the reason that they're trying to get as many of these cabinet officials in front of them as possible. And we should also point out, though, John, that even though the committee has not gotten all the information that they want from the Department of Homeland Security or Secret Service, that doesn't mean they aren't getting some information.

Secret Service, handing over thousands of documents to the committee, as late as this week and the committee now sifting through all that information to see if it can help aid in their investigation. So, while the committee is making progress in some areas being stifled and others, regardless, their investigation moves forward. John?

KING: And they tell us August of investigating, and then at the end of August we'll learn, whether the how many of these clues they can actually find. Ryan Nobles, kicking us off from Capitol Hill. Ryan, thank you. With me in the room to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Manu Raju, CNN's Arlette Saenz, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times, and the former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Let's remind our viewers, so Chad Wolf, who was the acting Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, his deputy. Texts deleted by accident missing. We'll figure that out. We'll find out where the evidence takes us. Why are they important? Let's listen to two top Justice Department officials in the Trump days, describing very important moments that Mr. Wolf and Mr. Cuccinelli, may know more about.



RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER TRUMP ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president yelled out to the Secretary Ken Cuccinelli on the phone, and she did in very short order. Mr. Cuccinelli was on the phone. He was number two at DHS at the time. I was on the speakerphone. And the president essentially said, Ken, I'm sitting here with the acting attorney general. He just told me it's your job to seize machines and you're not doing your job. And Mr. Cuccinelli responded.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Mr. Rosen, did you ever tell the president that the Department of Homeland Security could cease voting machines?



KING: Seizing voting machines. One of the remarkable crazy, pick your word for at things that Donald Trump considered in his effort to block Joe Biden's inauguration. From an evidence standpoint, you're building a case. Why does it matter?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It does matter, because of how central this point is. So, number one, they have to get it as part of a criminal investigation. But you know, there's a few different problems with the Department of Homeland Security going back to when I worked there back in 2009. I think number one, Congress ought to be taking. Look at this, it's not just the January 6 committee, it's the Committee on Homeland Security.

To take a look at what kind of management failures were going on, even outside of possible criminal liability. But you know, the place is being managed badly, and needs a better way of storing and retaining their data that opened the door of this, number one. Number two, and then the Justice Department had to take a look at it. So, just the place has been a bit of a dumpster fire management while since I was there. KING: And for those who don't remember at home or don't follow this closely at home, the Secret Service also part of the Department Homeland Security, and I used to be the Treasury Department, it was moved over to Homeland Security. So, you have missing text or mysteries about text, pick your word for it. Now, it's two different levels in the same department.

You also have - you have cooperation, and then you have in some cases, I don't know what to call this Manu, is it failing memories? Is it - look, it was a busy day, I get it? But you tried to ask the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy today about Cassie Hutchinson, who was Mark Meadows, one of Mark Meadows' top aide, the Trump White House Chief of Staff. She says, on that day, when Donald Trump said I'm going up to the Capitol, she got a phone call from Kevin McCarthy saying, don't let this happen. Kevin McCarthy is recollection. Well, listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't recall talking to that day. I recall talking to Dan Scavino. I recall talking to Jared. I recall talking to Trump. That's what I talked to on television like that, too. If I talked to her, I don't remember it.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because she said under oath that you told her throughout the course of the week, or she told reassured you to the course of the week that he was not going to come to the Capitol. So apparently, you've had numbers.

REP. MCCARTHY: No, I don't remember having any conversations with her about coming to the Capitol. The president coming to the Capitol. I just I don't recall any of that.



KING: An important point and he refuses to go under oath.

RAJU: Yes, exactly. The committee has, in fact subpoenaed him asking him to come and testify he and on a handful of other Republicans have said no, they've attacked this committee. McCarthy has not really answered many questions about this. In fact, he said, very limited in a number of press availabilities. As this committee has revealed more and more information instead attacking it more as a partisan witch hunt, rather than getting into the substance but the substance does matter.

McCarthy, according to Cassie Hutchinson testimony was very concerned about Donald Trump coming to the Capitol and made that clear to the course of the week, don't come up here. And he accused her of lying to him by saying, when Trump said, we're going to go to the Capitol, and she said, she was not lying to him. She said, she's going to make it stop. And she even indicated she texted him about that later. So, to say that he doesn't even remember that whole interaction is rather surprising. KING: It's seemed to be about something that was important to him as she gave him. Let's just leave it there and see what we get. The substance is important, but so is the sensitivity. Jonathan, your colleague said at the New York Times today, writing about that, you know, the attorney general of the United States, mindful of what happened with Comey and McCabe, in the Trump administration.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is intent on avoiding even the slightest errors, which could taint the current investigation provide Mr. Trump's defenders with reasons to claim the inquiry was driven by animus or undue his effort to rehabilitate the department's reputation after the political warfare of the Trump years. Obviously, the substance did anybody break the law? What is the evidence comes first but that is more than understandable?

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. They're trying to cross every T and dot every I in a way that. I think A will make them seem as pure and as apolitical as possible. But being yes to sort of deny the Trump folks any kind of fodder that that could sort of undermine or at least sort of muddy, the DOJ probe. And look, you don't have to talk to many Democrats in Washington to hear complaining about Merrick Garland.

And the concern is always the same, which is that, you know, he's too apolitical, and that he should be pursuing this harder. The truth is, John, we don't know exactly what DOJ is doing because they are trying to sort of keep this thing above board and they're not sort of leaking left and right to our dismay, about what precisely they're doing. And if they're targeting Trump himself, we don't know that. And so, the grumbling among Democrats I get it, but it could be for naught because we don't know if they do it.


WILLIAMS: The worst possible outcome from the Justice Department's perspective is charging a former president with a crime and having them get acquitted, right, more than anything else, all this political stuff, whatever it might be. You can't go into court with this.

KING: There's another big test. The Justice Department, we are told is from great CNN reporting. You got to go online and read it in detail. It's worth it about trying to get these other former Trump officials to testify about their conversations with the president.

Neil Eggleston, who I remember well, from covering the Bill Clinton White House says this, I think it would be effortless for the Department of Justice to litigate and win this. This happens in days. This does not take very long. Neil Eggleston, quite confident while.

They could get a judge to say, sorry, no privilege here, you have to talk about this. That is an issue on which the current president's lawyers would look at closely for the precedent it says, but the Biden White House today has been no privilege for Trump, do what you need to do.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. They've really stayed away from trying to exert that executive privilege, which is really limiting the former president's ability to make that argument. But it's very clear that the Justice Department is ready to pursue all avenues to try to get these answers directly when it comes to people's interactions with the former president regarding January 6.

KING: It's clear cut as Neil Eggleston things?

WILLIAMS: It really is. Look, when courts have looked at this issue, the separation of powers issue, they've generally tended to rule in favor of the people bringing their criminal cases, the big one United States versus Nixon 1974. Executive privilege is real, but it doesn't get in the way of a criminal investigation.

KING: I'm seeing Neil Eggleston a long time, makes me feel 25 years younger, right there. Up next. The latest on the big Democratic deal for new climate and healthcare changes. One key Senator, still not ready to say yea or nay, and some climate activists see some bad wrapped in with the good.




KING: We have more details today on just what the huge climate and energy agreement brokered by key Senate Democrats would mean for you if emphasis on, if it passes. For example, there's a $4,000 tax credit for buying a used electric car. It's $7,500 for purchasing a new electric vehicle, a new vehicle. In addition to the climate pieces, the proposal would lower prescription drug costs and it would extend Obamacare subsidies.

Senator Joe Manchin brokered this deal critical because you all remember his opposition derailed the larger Democratic spending package, but we're still not sure it will pass. All 50 Democratic senators would need to vote yes. And Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says, she wants some time to give it a careful read.

Joining me now, Senator Brian Schatz. He's also the Chair of the Senate Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. Senator, thanks for your time today. Substance first, math and politics in a moment. I just want to go through. This deal with slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. It would extend tax credits for electric vehicles, $60 billion for domestic clean energy manufacturing, $30 billion for wind, solar, battery, storage tax credit.

It would be the largest investment in the climate in American history. And yet, when climate activists look at it and they're happy, a deal was revived after being written off as dead. Some do see some problems. This is Brett Hartl, Government Affairs Director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

A climate suicide pact he calls itself defeating to handcuff renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction, new leasing required in this bill will fanned the flames of climate disasters torching our country. Is there some bad rap in the good here?

SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HI): Well, I think you're right. This is the biggest climate action that the American government will have ever taken. And it's not even close $370 billion for clean energy. And the important way to analyze this bill is emissions reductions. Everything else is kind of ancillary. In my mind, the earth is on fire.

So, the question is, how do you use these resources to reduce emissions and therefore reduce global climate change? This gets us 80 percent of the way towards our goal. And this is not some far off goal, this is a 2030 objective to reduce our emissions by 50 percent. This gets us to 40 percent reduction in emissions, as opposed to literally nothing, which is what we had about a week ago.

Are there some parts of this bill that I don't like? Of course, we just made a deal with Joe Manchin. So, if you think there's going to be nothing in it for fossil energy, you don't understand Joe Manchin. But the real question is in the net, what does this do for the climate? And that is not at all a close call.

KING: So, in the net, you have Joe Manchin in the net, you know, the math is fails, if you don't get Senator Sinema. She says, she wants time to give it a careful read. Is she a yea or nay?

SEN. SCHATZ: Well, I can't speak for her. I think it's pretty reasonable since this is a big bill, to take the weekend and analyze the bill. And, you know, we've talked a lot about climate, Kyrsten and I. And I know she feels very passionately about it. I am not her spokesperson. But I do think it's reasonable to read the bill because not everybody was kind of intimate with all the negotiations.

KING: She has been more willing. I'm going to put it this way, more willing to say, I'm not going to think about this in a Democrat sense. I want to think about it just on the substance. But having promised the big giant reconciliation package that went away. Having come closer to a smaller reconciliation package that went away.

What would happen if Democrats said to the base again, to voters who want climate action, who want lower prescription drug costs, who want to extend those Obamacare subsidies. We have a deal, and then Lucy pulls the football away again. What would happen?

SEN. SCHATZ: Well, failure is not an option. And to me, it's not even a political question. I don't know whether this will help us in the midterms. I don't think that's the point. The point is that we're in a planetary emergency. And you only get the trifecta once in a while, maybe every 10 or 15, or even 20 years. We have an opportunity to do the kind of thing that can reverse climate change over time.

If we do this, the rest of the world will follow because every time I travel internationally, as it relates to climate, everybody wants to know what the United States is doing. And so, we've just got to act, and we've got to act in the next week.

[12:20:00] KING: So, what happens if Senator Sinema says, I want to change something or one of the climate group says, we can't be on board unless you water down or take out those fossil fuel provisions that Senator Manchin is insisting on. Does this deal have to pass as is, is that were Manchin is?

SEN. SCHATZ: Well, let me start with the environmental groups. The vast, vast majority of environmental organizations really liked this bill. There are varying degrees of enthusiasm. But the environmental community is unified with the exception of the Center for Biological Diversity behind this legislation. So, I wanted to make that extremely clear.

On whether or not, any member can ask for any change. You know, that's Chuck Schumer's role to try to negotiate to land this package. But I'm pretty confident that this this bill is pretty baked as it is, and we're going to be able to pass it next week. We have a lot of work to do over the next seven days, and nothing is guaranteed. We've certainly failed on this before. So, I'm not overconfident, but I do think we're in a good position to enact this legislation over the next couple of weeks.

KING: Republicans don't like it. John Cornyn says an absolute declaration of political warfare. Leader McConnell, nonsense the Democrats are focused on. Senator Thune says the Republicans were blindsided. That matter to you?

SEN. SCHATZ: I mean, look, I get along with some of these folks, and we collaborate on some bills, but it is a very weird pattern recently, where you know, first, Mitch McConnell said, I'm going to kill the chips bill, if you do the thing that you promised to do during the election. That was already a kind of cynical move, and arguably a bad move just in the political sense.

And then, once the climate deal was announced, they tanked a bill to take care of veterans who are experiencing the bad health effects from burn pits. And now we're hearing they may tank gay marriage to punish us, to punish us, but really punish the public for reducing the cost of prescription medicine for making billion-dollar companies pay their fair share and for attacking climate change.

You know, I think it's a really, really cynical strategy. But I also think just politically, it's going to backfire, punishing the American people because Democrats are enacting popular policies. It strikes me as, you know, sort of ill advised.

KING: Senator Schatz, grateful for your time today. We'll continue the conversation.

SEN. SCHATZ: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Up next. 9/11 families and survivors protesting today at Donald Trump's New Jersey golf course. They are angry, furious at the former president for embracing the new golf league sponsored by Saudi Arabia.




KING: Today the former President Donald Trump is hosting a Saudi funded golf tournament less than 50 miles from ground zero. The event is sparking protests from 9/11 families, who blame the Saudis for helping carry out the attacks. Last year you will recall, the FBI declassified a report which did detail Saudi ties to the 9/11 hijackers. But the former president ignored their request to call off this tournament and he is defending with a very strange language. Listen here, his decision to carry on.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11 unfortunately, and they should have as to the maniacs that did that horrible thing to our city, to our country, to the world. So, nobody's really been there. But I can tell you that there are a lot of really great people that are out here today and we're going to have a lot of fun and we're going to celebrate.


KING: USA TODAY Sports columnist, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan joins our panel. He was in New Yorker on 9/11 and he was president United States for four years. We haven't gotten to the bottom of 911. We fought a war in Afghanistan. They found Osama bin Laden. What was that?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST USA TODAY: He was out there. I was there the day before, and you know, this is his golf course. It's Trump is plastered all over it. The appalling thing, John, is that it's 50 miles from ground zero, an hour's drive. And feelings are all around the country still about this clearly, but especially there.

And you know, he just wants to make this all about him. He's got these golfers. He can play the game he loves. He's getting attention for his golf course. He's angry with the PGA Tour, which of course is the one that Levi (Ph) is going after because they pull the PGA Championship this year, the 2022 PGA Championship out of Bedminster after January 6. And so, this is trumping Trump, but it is appalling.

KING: Money. airing his grievances, getting attention. Is this the Trump trifecta, it is Trump trifecta? But this one, this we'll come back to this in a minute. This league or whatever you want to call it, is controversial to begin with. But to the point of Bedminster and where it is, and Trump being a former president. I want you to listen to Brett Eagleson. He's the founder and president of 9/11 Justice. He was 15 years old when his father died in 9/11.


EAGLESON: Former president United States, who in 2016 himself said the Saudis did it. When in 2019 chose to invoke the state secrets principle against these documents, it is absolutely shameful. It is absolutely disgusting that we have to be here today. Coming out in full force, shaming at former president and shaming golfers and shaming people at large or doing business with this Saudi funded golf league.


KING: Its powerful to listen to these families to every day have memories and pain they have to deal with. What does it say about Trump?

MARTIN: Well, as you pointed out, it's totally predictable and in character of who he is. Doesn't really know the facts of what is probably the most widely covered modern American news event. And is basically sort of unsympathetic to the obvious concern to the people who 20 years on desperately miss their family.

KING: You're almost being too kind to him. I think in the sense that he'd say, he doesn't know the facts. He's ignoring the facts.