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New Day

Standoff Between January 6 Panel, Trump Allies Comes to Head Today; Trump Lawyer's Key Role in Plot to Overturn Election; Walgreens Closing Some Stores Due to Organized Shoplifting. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 07:00   ET



JENNIFER JENKINS, EDUCATOR AND BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: However, I'm just against them terrorizing me and threatening me. And I think it's the most useless and silly form of trying to motivate me and any elected official. Because, to be perfectly honest with you, it doesn't work, it doesn't motivate me, it never encourages me to do anything that they want me to do.

And to be perfectly frank with you, it only encourages me to put my feet down stronger on the ground, continue to be who I am and stand up for the convictions that I have.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Jennifer, real quick, before I let you go, they shouldn't be allowed to stalk or harass you. That is against the law. Are you getting help from police and authorities?

JENKINS: I am. The Satellite Beach Police Department is right on the block that I live on. And they have been really good lately when it comes to these threats that have been happening to me, as well as the Brevard County Sheriff's Office that is linked with our district security. They have been very, very supportive, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

KEILAR: All right. Jennifer, thank you for being with us this morning.

JENKKINS: Thank you.

KEILAR: We wish you the best. Be safe.

JENKINS: Thank you so much.

KEILAR: New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, October 14th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

In the next few hours, showdown, the witnesses have been subpoenaed. Now will they show up? And if not, then what? We're about to find out how the January 6th select committee plans to deal with Donald Trump's former aides if they fail to comply with subpoenas. Kash Patel and Steve Bannon have been called for depositions today. Trump has been urging his loyalists to ignore the subpoenas. And Bannon's lawyer confirmed overnight that he will defy the order.

Now, lawmakers say they are prepared to pursue criminal charges for noncompliant witnesses.

KEILAR: In the meantime, a new subpoena has been issued for ex- Justice Department Official Jeffrey Clark. You may recall that it was Clark who drafted that letter falsely claiming that the DOJ found voting irregularities in Georgia. The January 6th select committee met for eight hours yesterday with the man that Clark wanted to sign that letter, the former acting attorney general, Jeff Rosen.

And former President Trump trying to block the release of documents from the National Archives and the clock here is ticking.

Laura Jarrett is with us on this story. Laura, what are you expecting to see today?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Guys, the big question this morning is whether anyone even shows up, or House investigators end up sitting in a room alone.

Now, originally, the committee has scheduled two depositions for today and two for Friday. Up first, Kash Patel. He was an aide to Trump's defense secretary and is said to be engaging with the January 6th committee. But no word on whether he will actually turn up on the Hill today.

And then there is former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon. He is stonewalling, as you mentioned, the committee on documents that he's already said he is going to be a no-show today. In a statement last night, Bannon's attorney said his client isn't participating because Trump told him not to, citing executive privilege.

Bannon, you'll recall, was fired back in 2017, so he wasn't even part of the executive branch on January 6th, making any assertions of privilege about his talks with Trump pretty legally dubious at best.

As for what happens if witnesses don't show, one member of this committee says there will be swift consequences.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not willing to allow them to play rope-a-dope in the civil courts that way. That is why we're going to go straight to criminal contempt and expect the Justice Department, unlike the last one, to uphold the principle that no one is above the law. No one gets to say, I'm not going to comply with the subpoena because I don't want to and there's nothing you can do about it. In fact, there is something that can be done about it and they can be prosecuted and go to jail over it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: So, the House is obviously looking to act fast here, guys, and compel testimony any way they can. As for the Friday witnesses, we know the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is also in talks with the select committee. But Dan Scavino, the man behind so many of Trump's tweets, he was MIA for more than a week. Process servers only recently found someone to accept the subpoena on his behalf down at Mar-a-Lago. So, bottom line here, guys, very unclear whether Scavino or Meadows show up today or tomorrow. . KEILAR: Okay. So, those are the folks that they are not or may not be talking to. Who are the witnesses to go ahead?

JARRETT: That's right. So there are some big moves here on that front last night. We learned that the House has subpoenaed former DOJ Official Jeffrey Clark. Now, you'll remember he was the lawyer so eager to please Trump that he drafted this bogus letter no lawyer in their right mind would sign. It was never sent. But it encouraged state officials in Georgia to delay certifying the election results by falsely suggesting that voter fraud had taken place.

Clark had also recommended holding a press conference at the Justice Department to announce that DOJ was investigating allegations of voter fraud, even though there was no evidence of that at all.

Now, thankfully no one at DOJ agreed to go along with Clark's misguided scheme, but Trump was intrigued by Clark's ideas.


And for a time, he wanted to make him acting attorney general in place of Jeffrey Rosen. Jeffrey Rosen got on Trump's bad side because he refused to use the Justice Department to amplify Trump's big lie. And we have now learned that the committee spoke with Rosen for about eight hours on Wednesday. I can only imagine what he said.

So, the committee now wants to speak to Jeffrey Clark. They want him to get in for a deposition on October 29th. One person familiar with the talks with the committee says that the subpoena may make it more likely that Clark will actually testify. He could try to refuse here, guys, but he will then almost certainly face contempt proceedings. And since people like Rosen have already testified about him, his options are pretty limited.

KEILAR: Very interesting. All right, so much to develop here. We will keep an eye on it. Laura, thanks.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me now is former Attorney General and former Counsel to President George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales. Judge, thank you so much for being with us.

The current attorney general may soon have a key decision to make, Merrick Garland. If there is a criminal contempt referral, if these guys refuse to show up, comply with subpoenas and Congress, there's a criminal referral to the Justice Department. If you were attorney general, would you pursue charges? . ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I'd have to know a lot of information, a lot of things to weigh here, John, quite frankly. Obviously, it's important to ensure that criminal statutes are enforced. That's the job of the Department of Justice. And there is a criminal statute that makes it a crime not to comply with a congressional subpoena.

My sense is that General Garland is fairly measured in his approach to the job. He may look to see whether or not Congress would exercise other options, for example, and there is a practice that it hasn't been done since in modern times, sending out sergeant at arms. There's also the civil judgment route where you go into court and obtain a civil judgment against someone who defies a subpoena. So, he may look to see have all other options been exercised.

On the other hand, what is weighing here I think will be equally important is the reason why the compliance with the subpoena is so important and that is in relation to an investigation about events that happened January 6th, which is an insurrection, an attack on our democracy. And so A.G. Garland is going to weigh these factors and make a decision as to whether or not to pursue criminal contempt.

But, you know, this is a big decision. And it's one that I'm sure he is going to approach very carefully.

BERMAN: How important is the investigation, do you think?

GONZALES: Oh, I think the investigation is extremely important. And I think one recent and key evidence of that is the failure by the president to exercise executive privilege. The executive privilege is not an absolute privilege. It's a qualified privilege. There are competing interests at stake here. On the one hand is the ability to receive unvarnished advice from his advisers. And on the other hand, what is the need for the information.

In this case, President Biden has made a determination that the need is compelling. The need is great, to get information about possible criminal prosecution in relation to activities that occurred on January 6th insurrection, the assault on our democracy. And so I think that's a pretty strong signal to the attorney general. The attorney general will consider that very seriously.

BERMAN: Do you think he is right? Do you think Biden is right in this case that executive privilege should not cover the discussions that the former president had potentially about trying to overturn the election?

GONZALES: Again, I think it's a judgment call, weighing equities here. And I think in this particular case, I think the equities are in favor of disclosing this information, making this information available. Executive privilege cannot be used to hide wrongdoing. And if there's no other way to get the information necessary to move forward on a prosecution of criminal wrongdoing, then executive privilege doesn't exist. And so I think in this particular case, I think if I were advising the president, I would make the recommendation that the executive privilege would not be honored, would not be recognized in a court of law.

BERMAN: And that is what has been advised to the current president, and that is what the president is suggesting in this case.

I just want to go back at this one more time here, again, putting you if you were in the Justice Department right now. If Congress issue subpoenas and people just stopped paying attention to them, which is essentially what is beginning to happen, what is the point of having congressional subpoenas?

GONZALES: That is a very good question. Of course, there are other ways to get those subpoenas honored.


And what Merrick Garland is weighing whether or not, okay, does it make sense to wait and see whether or not, by pursuing other routes, Congress will get the information that it needs in connection to this inquiry.

On the other hand, I think it's been, you know, going the civil route is going to take a long period of time. We haven't had the sergeant at arms go out and arrest someone in order to enforce a subpoena in modern times. And so Merrick Garland may very well decide that there is no other way to ensure the congressional subpoenas are honored.

And you're right, what is the point of issuing congressional subpoenas if they're not going to be honored and not going to be enforced. And in this case, the Department of Justice may make the decision this is the one instance whether there is a compelling need to make sure the congressional subpoenas are, in fact, respected and enforced.

BERMAN: Yes or no, are you glad this is not your decision to make?

GONZALES: Well, it's just part of the job, quite frankly, John. There are tough decisions all the time when you're the attorney general of the United States. And this comes with territory. You know that when you accept the nomination and know that that is your duty and your obligation once you're confirmed as the attorney general.

BERMAN: I just want to very quickly ask you about Republicans, like Steve Scalise, for instance, who refused to say the election was not stolen. Liz Cheney, congresswoman from Wyoming, says millions of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen. Republicans have a duty to tell the American people this is not true. Perpetuating the big lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic. Your view on that?

GONZALES: I would ask the congressman, what's the evidence of that? Show me the evidence. As a lawyer, we're trained to present evidence, make arguments based upon evidence. And so let's see the evidence. And if there is evidence, why hasn't it produced in court and why hasn't it produced publicly?

So, I respect the congressman. But, again, in taking that position, I think he has an obligation to the American people serving in a leadership role to provide the evidence if he's going to make that kind of assertion.

BERMAN: Alberto Gonzales, I appreciate you being with us this morning.

GONZALES: Thanks, John.

KEILAR: So, you may not know the name, Cleta Mitchell, but we are now learning about her pivotal role behind the scenes in pushing Donald Trump's false election fraud claims. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is joining us live now with more on this Trump who lawyer is quite frankly a liar.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, Brianna, she's not someone that is well-known, like you said. But she is a long time conservator lawyer that was pulled into Trump's inner circle the day after Election Day. And a newly released Senate report recommends that the January 6th committee looked deeper into her role in the lead-up to the insurrection.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The system that we witnessed in 2020 was not right.

SERFATY (voice over): She is not a household name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't want us talking on social media about election fraud.

SERFATY: But the lawyer Cleta Mitchell is emerging as a key player in former President Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And I want to thank you. You are a hell of a lawyer and tough. And that's what we need.

SERFATY: Named multiple times in a newly released Senate Judiciary report for her role in the pressure campaign on the Department of Justice to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud. On December 30th, the report says she emailed then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. This is the petition filed in Georgia state court and the press release issued about it, she writes, I presume the DOJ would want all the exhibits.

Meadows forwarded her email Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen asking, can you have your team look into these allegations of wrongdoing, only the alleged fraudulent activity.

Mitchell first made national headlines earlier this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And our estimate is that there were roughly 18,000 ballots. We don't know that. If you know that -- TRUMP: It was 18,000 ballots, but they used each one three times.

SERFATY: When her voice was heard assisting Trump on the now infamous leaked January 2nd phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes.

SERFATY: Her involvement with Trump came as a surprise to many, including her law firm, and ultimately led to her swift departure.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

SERFATY: Mitchell was first pulled in 24 hours after election day as she recounts in a little noticed podcast viewed by CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a call from mark meadows. I flew to Atlanta. And thus began my involvement with the post-election.

SERFATY: Three days later, on the day that Joe Biden's victory was projected, she was on national T.V. arguing otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just because CNN says or even Fox News says that somebody is president doesn't make them president.

SERFATY: And she became involved with helping to fund the partisan Arizona audit of the 2020 election.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was certified as the winner in Florida by the proper procedures established --

SERFATY: For years, Mitchell has been well-known in conservative circles, operating behind the scenes as one of the right-wing's most prominent lawyers focusing on voter fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the vast right-wing conspiracy annual gathering.

SERFATY: With link to the most conservative forces in Congress within the Republican Party, Steve Bannon, the National Rifle Association, Senator DeMint, and a decade ago, Donald Trump, representing him in 2011 against accusations that his exploratory committee violated federal election laws.

TRUMP: Beyond an attorney, a great attorney, okay?

SERFATY: Mitchell first started in politics as a Democrat in the Oklahoma state legislature in the 1970s and 80s. In the 90s, she became an independent, then a Republican. She is still in regular contact with Trump, vowing the fight that started in 2020 will continue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to take the election offices back. And we need you to help us. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (on camera): And right now, Mitchell is behind new efforts pushing for tighter state voting laws and she has been advising state Republican lawmakers as well. And, Brianna, she would not speak with CNN for this story.

KEILAR: Sunlen, great report, thank you so much for sharing that with us.

Walgreens across the country actually closing their doors because of scenes like this, criminals just emptying store shelves in broad daylight in what is being called a multimillion dollar theft ring.

BERMAN: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits down for a fascinating interview with Joe Rogan. I wonder if Sanjay would say it's fascinating. You're going to hear what Sanjay has to say about this advice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be better to get the virus and recover and have amazing immunity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what I think you should do? I think you should get vaccinated and then get sick.

That's the move. Get vaccinated, let it wane and hang around with a bunch of dirty people.




BERMAN: Walgreens says it is closing another five of its San Francisco locations citing the ongoing rampant shoplifting rings that are plaguing the city.

CNN's Dan Simon is live in San Francisco with more. This is a real problem, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, John. This is one of the Walgreens stores that will be closing down. It is a terrible blow for neighbors who rely on this store for their medications. As we have seen, these organized crime rings are quite sophisticated.


SIMON (voice over): Boxes and boxes of over-the-counter drugs. It looks like a warehouse distribution center for medicine. In reality, it's a warehouse full of stolen goods. JASON BREWER, RETAIL INDUSTRY LEADERS ASSOCIATION: What you are looking at is not petty shoplifting. What you are looking at is an organized criminal ring.

SIMON: Law enforcement making this bust last year in San Mateo, California, just outside San Francisco. These videos offering a glimpse inside the sophistication of organized shoplifting rings, San Francisco in epicenter, so much so that Walgreens says it will soon be closing five of its stores here. That, in addition to the 17 stores the retailer had previously shuttered in the past few years.

AHSHA SAFAI, SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: This is a real blow to San Francisco. It's a blow to the merchants. It's a blow to our reputation as a city.

SIMON: It begins with something like this, a thief hurriedly grabbing items off store shelves. This viral video captured last year at a San Francisco Walgreens in plain view of a security guard, the store among those being shut down.

BREWER: You have street level thieves selling to boosters, who are then selling to larger syndicates, who are building million dollar businesses selling stolen product. It is not something that is limited to San Francisco. It's happening all over the country. San Francisco is a focal point now.

SIMON: Jason Brewer of the Retail Industry Leaders Association says the stolen goods then wind up being sold online.

BREWER: We have allowed criminal networks to create a business model selling stolen goods online, and that is what's put this problem on steroids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm really sad that the situation in San Francisco is driving businesses away.

SIMON: This Walgreens shopper deeply saddened to see her neighborhood store shutdown but understands the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If business is going to lose money, why should they stay open?

SIMON: So, you don't blame Walgreens?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Why would I blame Walgreens? Business is to make money.

SIMON: San Francisco Police have added foot patrols to the turf thefts in known hot zones.

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D-SAN FRANCISCO, CA): Our police department is working really hard to make sure that people are apprehended and held accountable for these crimes.

SIMON: And Mayor London Breed says criminals are only hurting people in their own neighborhoods. BREED: When they do this it impacts their family members, their grandmothers who can't get their medicine at their pharmacies or can get resources that they need to take care of their health and well- being.


SIMON (on camera): experts say the key to tackling this problem is to really prevent these goods from appearing online in the first place. A bill making its way through Congress could help in that regard. It's called the informed consumers act. And it would require third-party vendors to be vetted by online marketplaces.

But the bottom line is this is a very complicated situation. And, once again, so sad for these neighborhoods to be losing their corner pharmacies.

BERMAN: The neighbor who is being hurt here will take a comprehensive response to fix this. Dan Simon, thanks so much.

We have breaking news. 10,000 union workers going on strike this morning against John Deere as the nation confronts a supply chain nightmare.

KEILAR: Plus, hear Joe Rogan's answer to this question from our very own Sanjay Gupta.



GUPTA: So, would you now, with what you know now and having had COVID, would you have wished that you had been vaccinated?


KEILAR: What was his response? Sanjay will be here to discuss, next.


KEILAR: Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, sat down for a three-hour one-on-one with controversial podcast host Joe Rogan last night. Rogan remains a vaccine skeptic despite having caught COVID-19 himself. Let's listen to a part of this.


GUPTA: So, would you now, with what you know now and having had COVID, would you have wished that you had been vaccinated beforehand?


You almost got vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But, again, I explained all that.

GUPTA: You got through it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I got through COVID pretty quickly.