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Court Documents Reveal that Trump Supporters Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell Admitted Under Oath to Not Verifying Election Fraud Claims They Were Amplifying in Public; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Interviewed on Senate Judiciary Committee Report on Steps President Trump Took to Try and Overturn Results of 2020 Presidential Election; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Allows Temporary Raising of U.S. Debt Ceiling. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 08:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: What do you want them to know?

MANA SHIM, FORMER PLAYER, NATIONAL WOMEN'S SOCCER LEAGUE: I want them to know that we are so grateful for their un unwavering support, that they keep showing up, that they were outraged by this. We didn't know how people were going to respond when we came out and told our stories. And the response has been overwhelming. And just that we have always tried our best. We always showed up and tried our best to enjoy the game and play as well as we could to entertain our fans. And this was -- it was really difficult for us. But having them stick by us through it all has made it all worth it.

KEILAR: I know this has been very tough for both of you. Sinead and Mana, I thank you so much for coming on the program and telling us your story. We appreciate it so much.

SHIM: Thank you.


KEILAR: NEW DAY continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, October 7th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. And we do have breaking news. More than 2,000 court documents obtained by CNN reveal that Trump cronies, like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, admitted under oath they did little to verify election fraud claims before amplifying them on the national stage.

KEILAR: In the meantime, it is deadline day for four Trump aides to comply with subpoenas from the House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. This committee wants documents from these folks. One of those aides, Dan Scavino, where in the world is he? He is still nowhere to be found. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joining us now with more on the breaking news. Jessica, tell us what you found. JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Our team has been going

through these 2,000 court documents. It is a team that includes Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz. And they found here that these top Trump allies admitting under oath in depositions that they did really nothing to verify all these false claims that they went on television to spout and that they repeated for weeks after the election. Rudy Giuliani even admitting in his deposition that in one set of allegations he only reviewed them for about an hour.

So all of this is coming out because of the former executive for Dominion Voting Systems Eric Coomer. He's suing the former Trump campaign attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for defaming him when they repeatedly claimed that he tampered with votes. And Coomer says as a result he suffered severe emotional distress. He's seen his reputation tarnished. And, of course, as part of this case, Coomer is now working to show that Giuliani and Powell knew that what they were saying was false, or that they made these claims recklessly.

So what exactly did they say? Giuliani called this executive a vicious, vicious man, with Antifa ties. Sidney Powell claimed that Coomer had been recorded in a conversation with Antifa members, saying that he had the election rigged for Biden. Now, Powell has since said in the deposition there is no such reporting, no proof as to this.

And, of course, with this defamation suit there has been discovery. Giuliani and Powell have given these sworn depositions admitting they did little to no vetting of these false claims of election fraud. And in fact, Rudy Giuliani seemed to act exasperated in his deposition that he should be expected to vet these claims before amplifying them in a national press conference. He said this about Coomer. He said "Exactly what role he played, I had no idea. It is a big company, lots of people do different things. I had no idea, nor was I particularly interested at that point."

What we're also seeing in these court documents is something "The New York Times" previously reported, that about a week before Powell and Giuliani made these claims about Coomer and Dominion in public, people on the Trump campaign actually put together a memo specifically debunking key points of those claims. However, in these court documents, we're not seeing any indication that the memo was actually ever shared with Giuliani or Powell.

Now, there are several cases here where state officials are seeking sanctions for these false election claims. And in fact, in August, a federal judge actually sanctioned Sidney Powell, among others, the judge saying this, "The question before the court is whether plaintiffs' attorneys engaged in litigation practices that are abusive and in turn sanctionable. The short answer is yes." That's from a judge.

These court documents, they also detail how conservative media played a big role blasting out these false claims that Dominion Voting Systems or their employees tampered with the election.

[08:05:01] These are media outlets like One America News and Newsmax, and the documents are showing that these news organizations, or so-called news organizations, didn't take key steps like contacting Coomer and instead just went with the false claims. It is important to note Newsmax did subsequently issue a retraction and apology. They settled their part of the defamation lawsuit.

Now, guys, our team, we've reached out to attorneys for Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, the Trump campaign. No response. Of course, they all want this defamation suit dismissed. The court in Colorado still deciding exactly what to do. But we're going through these troves of documents, and they're showing that Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, they just went on television. They just held these press conferences spouting these false claims without ever really looking into them and not really caring about the fact that they were false.

KEILAR: They're lawyers. They know that you're not just allowed to do that. Right. This isn't just negligence.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. And Sidney Powell has been sanctioned by a judge for these false claims, and there could be a lot more to come because other state officials are seeking retribution for this.


KEILAR: Unbelievable.

SCHNEIDER: More continues to come in.

KEILAR: Thank you for that report, Jessica Schneider. We know you're continuing to look through these documents.

BERMAN: Joining me now is Senator Dick Durbin, Democratic Whip and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Senator Durbin, I know you have your own news to break this morning about an interim report from your committee. But, first, can I get your reaction to what we just reported here on CNN, these documents show that Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell were out in public spouting claims for which they had done little due diligence?

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL) CHAIR, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We can see evidence of that in our report that we're releasing from the Judiciary Committee. It was some of the most preposterous ideas. Italy-gate, I think you remember that, John, where supposedly some Italian satellites were hooked up to the Dominion voting machines, bizarre theories. They were being pushed by the White House, of course, Trump White House, on the Department of Justice. And that was part of the problem here. They were trying to get investigations, Mark Meadows was calling for them, the president was calling for them, of claims that had already been completely discredited. They wanted to create a scenario and commentary that they could take to the states and tell them to overturn the results of the election.

So, yes, I know that Giuliani was hard at work. He's been disbarred for his efforts, and Powell the same, making statements which she couldn't back up when she was called on. BERMAN: So based on this report, which you are releasing this

morning, how close was it, in a way, to working?

DURBIN: We were a half-step away from a constitutional crisis, a full blown constitutional crisis. Understand the three phases. First phase, Trump goes to court, loses every lawsuit which claims there was voter fraud in the election. Next, he decides he has to take over the Department of Justice and the attorney general, and have the attorney general push this narrative on to the states to tell them to stop from sending in their Electoral College vote totals. When that failed, and our report goes into graphic detail over the efforts that were made, the third step was to turn the mob loose on the Capitol the day we were counting the ballots. Those are the three phases.

Our report shows in detail how relentless this president was. Were it not for Jeffrey Rosen, Richard O'Donohue, and eight members of the Department of Justice who stood and said we'll resign if you take Rosen out of the picture and put Clark in, Jeffrey Clark in, if those efforts weren't made, we could have seen a collapse of that Department of Justice into a political entity. They already had their handpicked successor, a man named Jeffrey Clark, ready to take over. And he was involved in areas that he should not have even touched as head of the civil division.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Clark was the acting assistant attorney general who was willing and trying to push many of these claims and get states to do things on the basis of arguments that simply weren't true. You mentioned there was a threat of a mass resignation by the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, and from reading parts of the report, I've just been pouring over it over the last few minutes, as I could, the White House counsel at that time, Pat Cipollone, was also involved. What was his role?

DURBIN: It was a good role. I won't speak to everything Pat Cipollone has done in the White House because I'm not aware of it. But on that day, when the president was teetering on the precipice and whether or not he was going to remove the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Jeffrey Clark, it was Cipollone who spoke up and said that he thought this scenario and what they were trying to achieve was a murder-suicide pact and the president should not do it.

So the president was stalled for at least a moment by that resistance in the White House, and he decided to fire the U.S. attorney in Georgia, B.J. Pak, who had refused to cooperate as well.


So it was a volatile time, and if it had gone the other way, it would have been disastrous for our country.

BERMAN: You mentioned some of the sanctions that have already been levied on Rudy Giuliani, his ability to practice law in some places, the discussion around Sidney Powell, your committee is also asking I think the D.C. bar to look into Jeffrey Clark for what he did, yes?

DURBIN: Yes. And we did that very carefully, taking a look at his role. But Clark, who emerged in this, he was suggested to the president by a Pennsylvania Republican congressman, and then all of a sudden sprung out of the Department of Justice to everyone's surprise and became the president's man. The president even promised him, apparently, that he would be the next attorney general. And what he did in terms of asking for the Department of Justice to get involved in this political exercise goes way beyond the bounds of fitness and his worthiness to serve as a lawyer in the District of Columbia.

BERMAN: You mentioned U.S. Congressman, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, a Republican. Your report goes into detail about the role that a U.S. congressman played in trying to push the lies.

DURBIN: Well, and the president even referred to that at one point, that if he couldn't get the job done in other quarters, he had friends in Congress who were going to carry the water for him. And there were others who were involved in it and players coming from all sorts of different places for the president.

But most of their claims were just as preposterous as Rudy Giuliani's claims. In fact, some were inspired by Giuliani. And that's what the president was basing his case on. When people in the Department of Justice said we haven't seen any evidence, the president's retort to them was, well, you don't watch the Internet as closely as I do. That's what the president's source was, and he grabbed any straw he could find that might suggest he won the election when clearly he did not.

BERMAN: While you're working on this, some of your other colleagues are working on a deal for a short-term postponement of the issue of whether or not the United States will default on its debt, raising the debt ceiling, delaying that -- postponing that until December, as it were. Is this something you support, the delay? And how does this change anything? Does it make it more likely you'd support using reconciliation and get this done permanently?

DURBIN: Well, let me tell you, thank goodness Senator McConnell backed off of his threat of taking this to the nth degree when it came to the debt ceiling. We have never as a nation defaulted on our debt. As soon as we lose our reputation in the credit markets, interest rates go up, feeds inflation, families face higher interest rates, and the United States taxpayers have to pay more for our debt. So it was a reckless and irresponsible strategy, which Senator McConnell finally realized.

So he has extended the debt ceiling until December. It still has not resolved as it should be. But at least during this period of time we can finally act on the bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as the reconciliation bill, which has the largest tax cut for working families on our nation's history. We can get this important work done because this threat of a debt ceiling is not looming over our heads.

BERMAN: Senator Dick Durbin, we appreciate you being with us. You got a lot going on. Thank you, sir.

DURBIN: Busy. Thank you. KEILAR: Joining us with his analysis is CNN political direct and the

host of the "CNN Political Briefing" podcast David Chalian. David, this was quite a move by Mitch McConnell.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It was quite a move. You don't normally see Mitch McConnell move off the dime. When he declares a position, he sticks with it.

I think there are two things that are clearly behind this move. One, the donor community, the business community that has strong relationships with Mitch McConnell and many of his Republican members in his conference, were applying pressure that this was -- this appeared to be careening out of hand, and that there was real danger to the economy. So clearly those conversations were taking place and had some impact.

But then, as our colleague Manu Raju was reporting, the other piece of this is that whole debate over the filibuster that we have been seeing all year long that McConnell was actually getting worried that Manchin and Sinema, the two Democratic opponents to filibuster reform, might get a little weak-kneed on this one issue and start chipping away at the filibuster, which is a tool Mitch McConnell uses time and time again and had no desire to see any damage done to. And I think his concern that the Democrats were going to use this as an opportunity, since Biden and Schumer seemed on board, to chip away at the filibuster gave him real concern and also expedited this movement in his position.

BERMAN: We're saying Mitch McConnell blinked. I didn't know his eyes worked that way.


BERMAN: I didn't know they could blink. David, the Democrats and the president are in trouble in the polls. The polls give some clear warning signs for members of Congress for 2022, Joe Biden in 2024, and other Democrats in, like, a few weeks.

CHALIAN: Yes. This week Terry McAuliffe, who is on the ballot in just a few weeks in Virginia running for his old job again, said in a virtual meeting with supporters, the president is unpopular here in Virginia.


That's not normally something you hear from candidates who are on the ballot, and talking about the head of their party. His point was, you know, we have got to be able to try and overcome what is already a clear hurdle in trying to win this election which is that we can't ride Biden's coattails because Biden doesn't have coattails right now. Our latest poll, polls on Biden our latest poll, polls on Biden approval rating, he has 45 percent approval, it is not disastrous, it is not where any president wants to be, especially when they're trying to muscle through their agenda.

What is the best way to get your party unified around your agenda? Say, hey, I'm going to be there for you, your election, look how popular I am. That is not available to Joe Biden right now, especially in a lot of those swing districts.

The 2022 midterms are going to be tough for the Democrats no matter what. That is what history dictates. But the fact that Biden right now is under water, and the fact that he's bleeding support with independents, which was critical to his coalition to win the presidency, I think you are right, John, to call them warning signs. I don't think there is desperation in the White House or despair that they feel this is unable to be turned around.

But they are in a bit of a lull at the moment, no doubt, at precisely the moment he's trying to get his agenda through, and this Virginia election is going to be -- have a lot of people reading tea leaves.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, and McAuliffe was hoping he would have this infrastructure deal, social safety net plan to tout. So, he's kind of like starting to tap his foot really nervously, right?

OK, let's talk about the subpoenas, subpoenas for documents, but these are for four top Trump former even current confidants that Congress has put forward and these Trump aides, they're not expected to comply. This is the last day.

CHALIAN: Yeah, no, they are not expected to comply, which I don't think will shock anyone. But, you know, the former president put out this statement yesterday in advance of this to try and give support to his former aides in not complying.

A statement that he -- I was so crazy when you read it, and I know we have gone through a lot of Trump statements, but he was saying, no, no, no, the insurrection wasn't January 6th, where we saw the violent mob on the capitol, but the insurrection was in November and the election. And that that was the insurrection.

To me, I look at that statement, he's trying to give comfort to his former aides, it is a disqualifying statement for the office he may seek again and he once held and yet, as we know, the Republican Party fealty to him makes it not a disqualifying statement for him. The fact that a former president of the United States who is the front-runner to be the nominee again for the party can suggest that a fairly held presidential election, that he lost on election day represented an insurrection against the government, it is other level.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, people like Mitch McConnell, very critical of what the president did in January 6th, but then thought he would go away, this just shows he hasn't and it is creating this -- it is very dangerous, David. You look at this and look at history, I'm talking hundreds of years of history in the United States, look at people who said things like that, and where it has gone.

CHALIAN: Exactly, John. And, Mitch McConnell, I don't know if he was wishing it would go away. Yes, he spoke out on some occasions, his silence on this and his allowing his party that he leads to be silent on this is why Donald Trump hasn't gone away.

KEILAR: Yeah, there are no obstacles to this kind of behavior, right? That's what we're seeing. David, thank you.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

KEILAR: Coming up, a federal judge blocks Texas' new anti-abortion law. Is this going to last? What does this mean for Texas women today?

BERMAN: Plus, a major breakthrough in the search for Brian Laundrie. What his parents are now telling police and why they changed their story.

And, Lindsey Graham, booed by his own supporters for encouraging the COVID vaccine.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you haven't had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it. Because if you're --





BERMAN: All right, breaking overnight, the ban of nearly all abortions in Texas, that ban has been blocked for now. A federal judge sided with the Biden administration finding the law that banned abortion when a fetal heart beat is detected violates a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us now.

It is an important moment, but maybe fleeting, Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR, EARLY START: John, this should be a hugely important ruling for women waking up in the state of Texas this morning who want access to an abortion. I say should be, because they had their constitutional rights vindicated here on paper, but what about as you say inaction?

The unusual part of this law, remember, was that it doesn't just ban abortion when a doctor hears a heart beat, but gives private citizens the ability to sue abortion providers, basically anyone that helps, and we know that this law was deliberately crafted by lawyers because it wanted to make it harder to challenge it, wanted to make it harder to sue. So to get the law struck down, the Justice Department had to figure out a way to show the harm to the United States.

And the interesting strategy here was not just to show the violation of women's rights in Texas, but how this law affects interstate commerce here in the United States because all the reporting out there shows the law didn't stop abortions. It just stopped them from women who don't have the money and who don't have the resources and plenty of other women are crossing state lines to get abortions in places like Louisiana and Oklahoma and that's putting a huge burden on neighboring states' clinics. So, that was the hook and the job was persuaded by that and other arguments made by DOJ lawyers and he uses some pretty strong language.

He's got over 100 pages of an opinion here and writes this in part: From the moment SB-8, that's the law in Texas, from the moment it went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution. This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.

Now, I should note, this is just one judge, appointed by President Obama, he knows this will get appealed to the 5th circuit which has a reputation for leaning more conservative, but he offered a road map in this 100 plus page opinion for a way to get this struck down for good -- John.

BERMAN: Right, I know you'll be watching this over the next several days because there could be more developments very quickly.


Laura Jarrett, thank you.


KEILAR: Significant new developments in the search for Brian Laundrie. Remnants of a recently used campsite have been found at the Florida reserve where his parents told law enforcement sources they believe that he was -- where they believed he was.

Laundrie's father has now reportedly been asked to help officials track him down and Laundrie's parents have changed their story about when they last saw their son. They told authorities that they last saw him on September 13th, you may recall that it was one day earlier than they previously disclosed.

They said the 14th. It is five days now. Not four. Five before they reported him missing.

The update is coming after police confirmed a car belonging to the Laundrie family had been abandoned outside the reserve.

Let's discuss with fugitive investigator Zeke Unger.

Zeke, you know, let's talk, first, about the remnants of a campsite. What does that tell you?

ZEKE UNGER, FUGITIVE INVESTIGATOR: Well, first, I think we have to ascertain if it was actually the fugitive's campsite or was it a normal campsite belonging to someone else. You need to have factual evidence before you start moving forward with your investigation.

KEILAR: Police have asked Brian's dad to help out in the search. This seemed to have been suspended because of the finding of this campsite. What do you make of that request for help from the dad? UNGER: I think it was motivated by the family legal team. I think

they said that they should get involved in the investigation so it doesn't look like harboring, aiding and abetting is taking place. I also believe there is possibly a negotiation, a surrender negotiation in place. Or maybe the fact that the father is concerned that his son may come back in a body bag versus handcuffs. It is a pretty good motivator.

KEILAR: Do you think Brian Laundrie is still alive?

UNGER: I do. I do. And I said from the beginning, he's probably tired, overwhelmed, physically and mentally exhausted, being on the run is very taxing. And one thing that we also have to take into consideration in a legal system, there is no additional penalty for going on the run and very rarely is aiding and abetting prosecuted in the court system. So it is kind of, like, do what you're going to do, and you're going to get caught, it is just a matter of when.

KEILAR: All right, Zeke, we know you're watching intently as are we. Zeke Unger, thanks for being with us.

UNGER: Thanks for having me.

Coming up, Canada imposes vaccine requirements for air and train travel. Should the U.S. follow suit? We're going to ask the White House, next.

BERMAN: Plus, Taiwan says China could be capable of launching a full scale invasion by 2025. How the U.S. is responding next.