Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

New DOJ Subpoena Is Latest Indication Dept. Is Ramping Up Jan. 6 Probe; U.S. Urges Americans To Leave Ukraine Immediately; U.S. Stocks Open Mixed After Worst Day Since June As Investors Anticipate More Rate Hikes. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 23, 2022 - 12:30   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: A CNN exclusive, the Justice Department issued a new subpoena to the National Archives for more documents for the January 6th investigation. Two Sources tell CNN that the August 17th subpoena is in addition to a subpoena from the DOJ to the archives earlier this year. Now, this new subpoena is just the latest indication that the Justice Department is ramping up its investigation into January 6th. Tia Mitchell of the Washington -- Washington correspondent for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution joins our discussion. But Elliot, I want to come to you first on this. What does this new subpoena tell you about how that DOJ investigation is actually progressing?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So a couple of things, Abby, number one, it's broader than the first subpoena that went the first subpoena that had gone was just for information that have been provided to the January 6th Committee. This is for everything that even extends before January 6th. So I think they're investigating number one, January 6th itself. Number two, classified documents, and number three, the false selector scheme, this scheme to sort of put electors in place. So there's a network of things that the Justice Department is investigating, it can be a little bit confusing, because they're not all connected. But this just isn't January 6th alone, I think.

PHILLIP: Based on --

WILLIAMS: Based on the fact that is broader now.

PHILLIP: And just to give you a sense of what's been happening in the last few days, there has been a lot of activity from DOJ subpoenaing former Trump White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, Pat Cipollone, former Trump White House Counsel, Patrick Philbin, another deputy White House Counsel in the Trump White House. And we also know Mark Short and Greg Jacobs have also testified. The activity is moving in some ways in a parallel fashion to the January 6th Committee, which just concluded their summer hearings, but we could be in for more.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think, well, it's parallel, but a few miles behind to some degree, right? And I think that's been --

PHILLIP: Which the Committee has been clear to say.

MATTINGLY: -- for committee members, but for Democrats, for people who support Democrats outside who have been hammering Merrick Garland, the attorney general for months now say why aren't you doing more? It doesn't seem like you're doing anything. Turns out, they were doing stuff. And they were doing a lot of things. And I think, as Elliott could say, way better than I could.

The idea that the Justice Department is moving isn't something that you're always watching and seeing and I think what has developed over the course of the last four or five weeks, which I think has been very illuminating, is you're starting to see the mechanics kick into gear of the things you can actually see that become public because of subpoenas, because of grand jury testimony, things that are happening right now.

And you start to get a sense, as Elliot is laying out here, that there are multiple aspects of this, it is very wide and very large. And unlike the Committee, which obviously, if you're a Democrat has been very successful in reframing or framing just generally this issue, the Justice Department has time, bandwidth, personnel, money, resources and legal authority to take a lot more than we've seen or that the Committee has --

PHILLIP: Yes, although time is of the essence. I mean, we are heading into a presidential campaign season one thing that is sort of looming over the January 6th Committee is Mike Pence, and whether or not he would be willing to testify whether or not they would want him to testify. He has basically said, Well, I'm not saying no, but I think that maybe they are a little too political. What do you make of it?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: I think of it that, you know, if Mike Pence wanted to testify, he could call them up at any point. So I think for him, he's weighing his options, should he be subpoenaed or otherwise the Committee takes steps to try to compel him to testify. And I think that puts the onus on the Committee and puts them in a tough spot, because, you know, he's not.

He's someone they're clearly very sympathetic to. We've seen that as the hearings unfolded, and they don't want to come across that they're trying to force him to talk. So but I think he knows that, which is why he's making those statements and putting the ball in their court. It seems like if they want to hear from him, they're going to have to take the first steps. He's not showing up at the doorsteps.

PHILLIP: Right. He's not going to be volunteering, raising his hand. I do want to get to something that's somewhat related to this. A new NBC poll found that threats to democracy now tops the list of issues that are important to voters. Now, that could be for a number of reasons considering that Republicans, many of them also do you not believe that our democracy is secure. But take a listen to Mitch McConnell responding to this latest poll finding.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I do think, it's an important issue. I mean, we saw between the November 3rd and January 20th changing one administration for another, there were those who were trying to prevent the orderly transfer of power for the first time in American history. That was not good but our democracy is solid and I don't think of the things that we need to worry about I wouldn't be worried about that one.



JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, there are a lot of Republican candidates, though, that Mitch McConnell is trying to help get elected that are denying what happened in 2020 and saying that Joe Biden is the rightful president not only running for Senate, but running all over the country for places like Secretary of State. So, you know, maybe we'll revisit that with McConnell, going forward. But certainly, the things that are coming out of a lot of his candidate's mouths are very different than what Mitch McConnell.

PHILLIP: I think what's interesting to me about that finding in the poll, is that it's just not clear to me that that is all people who are worried about the election deniers, it might be the election deniers who are worried about democracy, which is in and of itself, another troubling thing.

But up ahead for us, a warning to Americans in Ukraine to get out amid concerns of a violent escalation following the death of a Putin ally's daughter.



PHILLIP: Welcome back, the U.S. is now warning Americans in Ukraine to leave the country immediately that as fears over new attacks grow with Russia, blaming Ukraine for the death of Darya Dugina an accusation that the Ukrainians vehemently denied. Now, Darya Dugina is the daughter of one of the nation's most prominent nationalists, who considered who is considered Putin's ideological guide, Alexander Dugan. She was killed Saturday in a car bomb attack. CNN's Fred liken is following this story for us from Moscow. Fred, tell us more about this alert today to Americans in Ukraine.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Abby. Yes, the U.S. says it has intelligence that seems quite troubling and I think it doesn't necessarily only pertained to the death of Darya Dugina. But of course, also to the fact that Ukraine's Independence Day is right around the corner and also that it's six months since the war started as well.

So the U.S. is saying and this is a quote from the U.S. Embassy saying, quote, the Department of State has information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine, civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days. The U.S. Embassy urges us citizens to depart Ukraine now.

So a very stark warning coming in there from the Embassy in Kyiv and also from the State Department as well. The Ukrainians of course, also say that they are aware of some of these threats and have said that they've already canceled some of the celebrations that they had planned for their own Independence Day. You know, I was at a memorial service today for Darya Dugina, here in Moscow, and there was obviously a lot of grief on the part of the folks who were there. But there was also a lot of anger towards Ukraine.

Obviously, the Russians, as you mentioned, are blaming the Ukrainians for it. And first and foremost, of course, Darya Dugina's father whom you've also just said is an ideologue, who's very prominent here in Russia. I want to listen to what he had to say.


ALEXANDER DUGIN, PUTIN ALLY WHOSE DAUGHTER WAS KILLED IN CAR BOMBING (through translator): The price that we have to pay can be justified by only one thing, the highest achievement, victory. She lived in the name of victory, and she died in the name of victory, our Russian victory, our truth, our orthodoxy, our country and our empire.


PLEITGEN: So you can see they're speaking of Russian Empire, speaking of Russian victory, a lot of people at that event calling for an escalation. While you know, we have to point out the Ukrainians have vehemently denied being behind this killing, Abby.

PHILLIP: Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much for that reporting. And CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger joins me now to discuss all this. So David, as you just heard, we're hearing Dugina being hailed as a martyr who died for Russia. This now is kind of dropping this right in the middle of a really tense geopolitical situation. Could her death be used by Russia as an excuse to escalate attacks on Ukraine?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It certainly could, Abby. And I think that's one of several concerns coming out of this. But the first is political assassinations in Russia have usually been -- have usually involved critics of the Kremlin. And they have rarely have we seen cases where people who were supporting the Kremlin's policies in this case, both Mr. Dugina and her father had been the subject of this. So it could lead to a crackdown inside Russia, on people operating in Russia.

Second, the FSB has identified what they say is a Ukrainian agent responsible for this. They did their investigation pretty quickly, took them only about 36 hours. And what happened was they named her and then said that she is gone was Estonia. So that raises the question, could Russia act against a NATO country, Estonia is a member of NATO, we haven't seen that before.

And then I think the third is, could this be used as an excuse to do these kinds of attacks elsewhere in Ukraine, including shelling of Kyiv that you just heard, that the State Department has warned about? And that raises the question, could this have been a false flag operation, very hard to tell?

PHILLIP: That's actually something that the State Department has basically been asked about. And earlier, Ned Price gave this response to that prospect that perhaps Russia could be using this as a false flag attack.


NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We have a lot of questions about what happened in Moscow. We don't have full clarity on this. But again, this is a government, this is a regime in that is in many ways devious and would certainly wouldn't put anything past them.



PHILLIP: I mean David, the Ukraine defense spokesperson, and also President Zelenskyy have made it clear, they say that they were not responsible for this. And it's kind of hard to see why it would be in their interest to do it. What do you think about that?

SANGER: It is hard to imagine how Ukraine would benefit from this. I mean, they have gone after military targets, by and large, the United States has been pretty strong in saying to them, we don't want to see the kind of indiscriminate killing that we've seen on that the Russians conducted during their initial invasion of Ukraine, and since that time, and the indiscriminate shelling of various cities.

So I don't really see what Ukraine gains from this. But there's always the possibility you could have had a rogue actor, you could have had somebody in Russia, who was in fact, a Russian who opposed Ms. Dugina, who of course, was a pretty well-known television personality, it's very hard to tell without access to the evidence, and of course, the United States doesn't have access to that evidence.

PHILLIP: So where do you think this goes from here? What is the real prospect that this could actually prompt an escalation in this really, at this point, long running war between Ukraine and Russia?

SANGER: Well, we're six months as of today. And of course, at this point, the war is a little bit stagnated. I think you could see and think you're likely to see some kind of retaliation. You've already heard sort of right wing nationalists in Russia call for that. We don't know what Putin will actually decide on that. But the State Department warning didn't come out of nothing. They must have picked up some indication that that there will be increased attacks. Those might have been planned anyway, because of the Ukraine Independence Day that's coming up.

But certainly this does not bode well and could lead to counter assassinations or assassination attempts in a situation that is already so volatile. Where we're seeing, you know, a nuclear power plant being held hostage among other things. PHILLIP: Yes, incredibly dangerous situation in Ukraine continues. David Sanger thanks so much for joining us.

And up ahead, we're keeping an eye on the markets after a big drop yesterday tied to concerns with the Fed.



PHILLIP: The Dow is down again this hour after Wall Street's worst day in two months. All eyes are now on the Federal Reserve this week at its ongoing efforts to fight back against decade's high inflation. We have CNN business reporter Matt Egan here with us now to help us understand what we are seeing in the markets, what is causing this freak out by investors right now?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, Abby, the mood on Wall Street has definitely darkened in the past few days. You know for much of the summer, investors were feeling pretty good. Stocks rose really sharply off their recent lows on hopes that maybe the Federal Reserve was getting ready to wrap up its series of really aggressive interest rate hikes, but I think reality is starting to set in, in just the past few days. I think investors are realizing that the Fed is nowhere near ready to declare victory in this war on inflation.

Yes, inflation may be peaking. But it's going to take some time before inflation gets anywhere back to normal levels. And so that probably means more interest rate hikes ahead from the Fed. Now these rate hikes they mean higher borrowing costs for all of us, credit cards, mortgages, car loans, the Fed is trying to get inflation under control by slowing down the economy.

But instead of just tapping the brakes on the economy, they are really slamming the brakes with these big interest rate hikes. And history shows that when they do that, they can accidentally cause a recession. So that's the concern in the market.

Now Fed Chair Jerome Powell, he is going to be giving this highly anticipated speech on Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he could drop some clues about what the Fed is going to do next. But the Fed doesn't meet again until late September. And there's still another big jobs report and multiple inflation metrics due out before then. So I think Powell is going to give himself some wiggle room about what the Fed is going to do next.

PHILLIP: We're also getting some new data today on new home sales down for the second month in a row. What should we read into those numbers?

EGAN: Yes, Abby, new home sales down in July are down 30 percent year over year. This is actually the slowest pace since early 2016. Home prices though. They're still going up the median home nearly $440,000. That's up 8 percent year over year, although the pace of gains has slowed. Abby, this is all about high borrowing costs and unsustainably high prices. People still need homes. They just can't afford them at these prices and with these borrowing costs. PHILLIP: Matt Egan thank you so much for explaining all of that to us.

EGAN: Thank you, Abby.


PHILLIP: And the White House is leaning toward canceling thousands of dollars of student debt for certain borrowers. We'll break down the details on that coming up next.


PHILLIP: Topping our Political Radar, tomorrow a long awaited announcement on student loans. Sources tell CNN that White House officials are leaning toward canceling $10,000 in debt for borrowers making less than $125,000.

A year and two men now face life in prison for conspiring to kidnap Michigan governor. Now today a Michigan jury convicting Adam Fox and Barry Croft for plotting to abduct Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 and have conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.


And first on CNN, a bipartisan group of nine senators wants the State Department to designate an incarcerated American teacher in Russia as quote, wrongfully detained. Mark Fogle was sentenced to 14 years in prison earlier this summer for quote, large scale drug smuggling. He had 17 grams of cannabis. And thanks for joining INSIDE POLITICS. Bianna Golodryga picks up our coverage right now.