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CNN: Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas Ex-Trump WH Counsel Pat Cipollone; China Launches Military Drills Around Taiwan After Pelosi Visit; Biden To Sign Burn Pit Bill On Monday. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 12:30   ET



PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: There wasn't sufficient election fraud to change the outcome of the election, when other people kept suggesting that there was, the answer is, what is it? And at some point you have to put up or shut up. That was my view.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: That's what he told the January 6th Committee, the question is, can the Justice Department prove when he when somebody like that said, put up or shut up that the President of the United States knew it was over, knew the steps he was taking, whether it's trying to seize voting machines, or have fake electors were illegal?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And that, of course, is the question intent, right? And what he knew, but also Pat Cipollone, has proven to be an extraordinarily important witness for the January 6th Select Committee. Of course, Cassidy Hutchinson and Sarah Matthews were as well that coming to testify. But the fact that you had the President's lawyer in his deposition and how much they have relied on that, you know, sources have told me that they might not have had an additional hearing if Pat Cipollone did not come before the Committee. And so I think the Justice Department saw that in the fact that Department of Justice is now wanting to talk to Pat Cipollone, you know, is just proof that they are very deep into this investigation.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN HOST: It doesn't get more inner sanctum than the White House Counsel. I mean, that if you are Donald Trump, you are at a heightened level of alert, hearing this news that that's Cipollone, this is not where you can work out a deal with the Select Committee and just say, I'm not going to answer those questions. This is now going to be a heavily negotiated ability for him to share what he's able to share in a whole different context of this DOJ probe. You know, I just think it shows how serious this effort is that they're bringing him in. And the -- what he revealed to us, in a lot of his testimony, showed how critical he was. He was running down the hallway to stop meetings. He was trying to shake the White House Chief of Staff to life on the 6th of January, like trying to halt this. So he has very keen insight into what was going on with the President in the West Wing at these critical moments. KING: And we know from January 6th testimony, he was on Mike Pence this side that this whole fake electors plot was crazy and not only illegal and crazy that you couldn't have fake electors, Joe Biden won fair and square. "The New York Times" has some new information today about this e-mails show the Arizona officials, the state version of the fake, Ward and Townsend in this, Kelly Ward is the state Republican, Chairman Townsend are concerned it could appear treasonous, treasonous is not bolded in our graphic, it's bolded in the e-mail, treasonous for the Arizona electors to vote on Monday, if there's no pending court proceedings that might eventually lead to like to be ratified. Again, if you're trying to build a criminal case, if you know what you're doing is wrong, there's more evidence.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: And you were talking about the issue of privilege even if he does not talk about direct conversations that he had with the President of the United States, he can provide information on other people who were in the room when these conversations were also happening, someone who may not actually have worked for the President or the White House and don't face that same exact issue. We know that he was there when members of Congress were also in touch with the President of the United States also. So the other key thing about Pat Cipollone is that he is not someone who is close to the President currently in Trump world so you can't just offer him a job or anything else in order to get him to not talk to the Committee.

KING: Help me understand the line. Where does he have privilege and where is there no privilege specifically to the point of if Pat Cipollone turned to the President of the United States at some point, this hypothetical, hypothetical, and said, sir, that's illegal. Is the conversation after that point, is that privileged if you're talking about potentially committing a crime?

CHALIAN: He can argue this, but I think he's on the losing side of this from a legal analyst point of view. I mean, first of all, you got a number of court decisions against them. In Nixon, the Supreme Court said that this generalized assertion of executive privilege is going to fail in front of a particularized need in a federal criminal investigation. That's what we have here. Second of all, in the Clinton era, Bruce Lindsey tried to assert executive privilege in the D.C. Court of Appeals also knocked that down in the same context.

And then lastly, we have the most recent federal court decisions suggesting in the civil context, that there was already a preponderance of evidence that there may have been a crime committed. So there's the crime fraud exception. So I think all those things weigh against the privilege arguments, but it certainly can be a delaying tactic. And overall, I'd say, you know, one right piece of news for Cipollone in this is that DOJ does not subpoena targets. That's something they won't do. They don't just bring you in front of the grand jury to have you invoke your Fifth Amendment. So it sounds like he has certainly, at least through his testimony made himself out of that target.

KING: And we'll see how that negotiations unfolds, important perspective. [12:34:40]

Up next for us, message delivered, Nancy Pelosi says America stands with Taiwan, while China is furious, live fire military exercises, just one piece of Beijing's response.


KING: China making very clear today its anger at the United States and especially at Nancy Pelosi. The House Speaker is now in South Korea after wrapping up a defiant visit to Taiwan earlier today. Just visiting made China furious. But Speaker Pelosi did more than just hold photo opportunities. She spoke when visiting Taiwan's parliament and she spoke again when meeting with its president.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Today, our delegation, which I'm very proud, came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear, we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship.


KING: China immediately sending a message that friendship has its price. Let's get straight to Beijing live now from CNN Selina Wang. What has the reaction been Selina?


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Pelosi may have left Taiwan but China's retaliation is just getting started. It flew dozens of warplanes around the island when Pelosi was there. And it's also launching a series of military drills around the island. Beijing even released a map of the military drills. And if you look at it, it literally encircles the island. It's an extremely provocative move. And the map indicates that some of those drills could actually encroach on Taiwan's territorial waters. That means it's just within about 14 miles of Taiwan's shore. Taiwan is calling this a blockade that endangers regional security. It's even having to reroute some vessels in order to avoid those drills.

But now the White House is saying, look, this is pretty much what we expected. And they're urging Beijing not to escalate the tensions. And we'll have to watch very closely to see just how far Beijing takes this because yes, we're at a moment when Xi Jinping, China's leader, cannot look weak. But he also cannot afford to have this escalate into a crisis. And we have to remember that when we see the strong reactions from Beijing, it's directed towards Taiwan, yes, and the U.S., but it's also directed to the home audience. They're trying to prove to the Chinese people that Beijing is taking very seriously what they see as a national humiliation, because they see Taiwan as a renegade province that must be reunified with the mainland, even by force, if necessary. John?

KING: Selina Wang live for us in Beijing. Thank you, Selena. Joining our conversation now for important insights, our CNN national security analyst, the former Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Beth Sanner. Selina makes a key point there. China is mad. The United States and Taiwan know there's going to be a response. Where's the line? Taiwan views what's happening live fire exercises flying planes into its airspace that's unacceptable, but predictable. What are you looking forward to see whether this turns from a lowercase crisis into a capital boldface crisis?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think there are two things. One, are the activities and the other is how long this lasts. So they're planning these exercises for about four days, I think it will go into the territorial waters are very close. And maybe, you know, even more flyovers of the median line, which is rather unprecedented is really only happened once at scale. The last time there was a major high level U.S. official during the Trump administration. And, you know, we could see a lot more in terms of cyber, maybe more economic things, but hopefully it will die down.

One school of thought says that, and another says that this is going to be the fourth major straight crisis, the last one being during the Clinton ministration. I'm kind of somewhere in the middle that maybe we're going to see a lot of ratcheting up, ratcheting down continuing and China is just going to be a lot more boldly aggressive in asserting its sovereignty over Taiwan.

KING: Is this a difficult incident? Or is it a page turning game changing incident in the sense that if you listen to Speaker Pelosi, she didn't have to speak, she could have done photo ops, she twice spoke, knowing that her remarks would infuriate China. And both times she spoke she said this is a test now between dictatorship and democracy. She wants to change the conversation. We have the strategic ambiguity. We're not supposed to say publicly, the United States would stand with Taiwan if Beijing tried to take it by force. She wants to just change that clearly. Will it happen?

SANNER: Well, as one analyst I like to look at says this isn't event. This is a process. And I think that this process of our relationship has been tilting it has been slowly turning, and I think it is. And from here, I think this is an inflection point. And we are going to see this relationship. I mean, the rough waters ahead no matter what looking at all the scenarios.

KING: The rough waters include the possibility of war from a miss or either by design or by miscalculation?

SANNER: Certainly, there's room for miscalculation, and everybody is worried about that. I mean, I think in this instance, we are being very careful, the language coming out of the White House, very careful. So I'm a little, you know, things can happen. There's this friction that always takes place. But I think that, you know, the real danger is when is Xi going to militarily attack Taiwan? And I think increasingly in my mind, that's an inevitability even if it's not a near term one.

KING: That's the stakes right there, something to keep an eye on. Beth Sanner, grateful for the insights.


Up next for us a meeting of the moderates, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, chat, in a new Democratic climate and health care package, well, it hangs in the balance.


KING: Today a big win for veterans and for their families. The White House says President Biden will sign the PAC Act on Monday. That bill would provide health care benefits for up to 3.5 million veterans who have been affected by burn pits. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 86 to 11 yesterday, as a number of Republican senators didn't about face after stalling the measure last week. The full name of the legislation is the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson PAC Act. Sergeant Robinson died two years ago at the age of 39 from lung cancer attributed to his exposure to burn pits in Iraq. His mother in law among those demanding Congress act.


SUSAN ZEIER, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF LATE SGT. FIRST CLASS HEATH ROBINSON: So last night, I fulfilled my promise to him. And I know he's looking down so proud of me but there's nothing in this this bill that benefits our family except the satisfaction of knowing we won't have to watch any other family suffer like we did.



KING: Our reporters are back with us. Proof here that Washington can work, the Republicans had some objections. They say they were principled objections about funding. But you had, you know, John Stewart up there, you had these veterans up there, mix of celebrity, and a mix of just grassroots lobbying, and the Republicans said, you know what, let's vote.

CALDWELL: Yes, that's right. And this is legislation that these veterans have been working on for 13 years. And it finally came together now. And it came together now, the timing was right, you had two, a Republican and a Democratic senator who are working together, who got it done. But finally, the last final days when there were problems, it was those veterans who spent the last five or six days on Capitol Hill, not leaving sleeping there insisting and demanding that Congress act and ultimately that pressure helped to get this over the finish line.

KING: It's the right thing to do. If there's any group of people that we just said, all the polarization and the partisanship aside for, it's America's veterans, and it happened here with a few hiccups. The White House released a photo of the president watching the final vote, he attributes burn pits, exposure to burn pits, to the cancer, his son, Beau Biden suffer. This is a quintessential what Biden promised moment is on some things we should all be able to work together. CHAMBERS: Well, that's what he has been trying to do throughout his administration, sometimes to the frustration of progressives who want him to do things, you know, quickly and without the help of Republicans. He wants to do things through a legislative manner, and he wants bipartisanship work. But you -- as you touched on, this one was really personal to the President for the reason that you said. Now though, you have a situation where next week he'll be signing this legislation, he'll signing that Chips Act legislation, which deals with the semiconductors.

So to two back to back days now where he'll have this legislation that not only he'll be able to tell, but Democratic lawmakers are hopeful that they will be able to tell during the August recess as they have to go back and face their constituents.

KING: And so you make a point number one, this legislation is important in and of itself, because of the debt we owe Americans veterans, critical important, but the President also will sign legislation, has some bipartisan votes to make the American semiconductor industry more competitive. The Democrats are working on this so called welcome to Washington language reconciliation plan. It's a climate package and a health care package.

CHALIAN: Not bipartisan.

KING: Not bipartisan. This one here would require all 50 Democrats. Joe Manchin is in the negotiation, so you have his vote. He says he's working on Senator Sinema, his colleagues, she told our colleague Manu Raju this morning, I believe it was Manu, that she's taking my time to read it. Is it possible? And does, and you help me with the politics of it, Joe Biden signs the Chips Act signs, the PAC Act, Democrats get this health care, does that change the politics, the frustration with Washington?

CHALIAN: I don't know if that will impact the political environment, as much as perhaps the abortion issue that we talked about at the top of the show will. I think that is going to be more motivated, but you'd rather go to the voters with a list of accomplishments, then not on some of these high priority items. And again, this has been core to your point of Joe Biden's identity of trying to get people together in terms of the bipartisan bills or in the reconciliation bill, delivering on some of his key core campaign promises to voters in hopes that Democrats will get enthused around that. I am less of the mind that getting that agenda passed, which is significantly important to Democrats and the President is going to be the thing that can upend the political environment.

KING: But if collapsing now would be a fatal blow in some ways, or a hard blow anyway, is there any chance you cover the Hill a lot, Sinema walks away from this, and can't do it?

CALDWELL: It's hard to tell she's keeping people guessing. I will say though, that she wrote the prescription drug negotiation part of this legislation with Speaker Pelosi. I do also know that she is very interested. She likes the climate change components. Will the tax things knock her off? I don't know. We'll see. KING: They're all waiting for the Senate parliamentarian. Again, welcome to Washington, the Senate parliamentarian has to decide whether it's all in order where they need to make some tweaks. We'll stay on top of that story.


Up next for us, though, should President Biden run for reelection? Well, surprising answers from two top House Democrats.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, two House Democrats now running against each other in New York primary, hesitant in a debate last night when asked about whether they support another term for President Biden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should President Biden run again in 2024?



REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Too early to say. It doesn't serve the purpose of the Democratic Party to deal with that until after the midterms.


REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): I don't believe he's running for reelection.


KING: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who you heard last there, now doing some cleanup after that debate last night telling CNN she would support Biden if he chooses to run in 2024.

The former President Donald Trump meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently at the Trump Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey that because Orban is here in the United States to appear at CPAC tomorrow. Orban recently came under scrutiny after expressing his concern that Hungary was becoming quote, a mixed race country. One of his top aides called it pure Nazi text and resigned. Trump though says this to Orban, few people know as much about out what is going on in the world today.


This welcome news for drivers gas prices falling for get this the 50th day in a row. The national average dropped to $4.16 a gallon today. That's down 65 cents, 65 cents over the last month. AAA says 19 states now have gas prices below $4.

Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.