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George Conway is Interviewed about the DOJ Investigation; McCain Visits Polish Border; Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) is Interviewed about Russia; Damaging Storms Across the South; DHS Warns of Migrant Influx. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired March 31, 2022 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We're learning that the Justice Department has substantially expanded its January 6th investigation. According to " The New York Times," prosecutors are now looking deeper into possible criminal activity by a broad range of former President Trump allies who tried to overturn the 2020 election, obstruct the certification of President Biden's victory and promote slates of fake electors.
Joining us now is attorney and contributing columnist for "The Washington Post," George Conway.
George, so great to see you this morning.
I really -- I'm curious to know what you think about this because before the investigation was really focused on rioters. And we've seen hundreds of people charged in that. People who actually stormed the Capitol. Now it's getting closer to former President Trump.
What do you think about this?
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: Well, I think and I hope that it's -- they're doing exactly what Attorney General Garland said in January that they were doing, they are following the facts where they lead, they are doing what prosecutors usually do in large organized crime cases, which is work their way from the bottom up.
And so the bottom will be the people who were on the ground at the Capitol, the Proud Boys and the whatnot and other people who were behaving badly there. But the, you know, the middle -- the middle level is the people -- are the people who organized the rally. What did they know? What did they do? What did the -- what -- how -- where did -- where did all the money come from to send all these people to Washington?
And they've been asking questions. I think if you look closely at some of the documents over time that have been filed in all these January -- hundreds of January 6th cases in Washington, they've been asking questions about that. And now what the new reporting is, is that there are actual grand jury subpoenas to people who were, you know, strong Trump supporters and who may have been in contact with the White House. It's just the natural progression of the investigation. And I think the logic inevitably (ph) leads up higher and higher and higher.
KEILAR: The subpoena says basically they're looking at legislative branch and executive branch folks. I wonder specifically who you think they may be looking at, and do you think that it will go all the way to the former president? Do you think DOJ will hold Trump to account?
CONWAY: Well, I can't speculate as to who receives subpoenas and who would be implicated, you know, overall. But I have to say, and I wrote a piece in this morning's "Washington Post" about it, that the logic of the statutes that -- a couple of the statutes that the Justice Department has been applying at the lower levels leads inexorably to having to take a very close look at Donald Trump. I mean there are laws on the books that say that you cannot corruptly interfere with an official proceeding. There are -- there's a law on the books that says that you can't conspire to defraud the United States, which includes simply engaging in deceit that in some way interferes with the lawful function of government.
Well, if you and I did something to disrupt a penny ante drug case in federal court, you and I would go to jail under the first statute. Or if you -- if you or I tried to persuade people -- and this was an actually -- actual Supreme Court case 98 years ago -- to not register for the draft by, you know, submitting lies and encouraging them to submit false paperwork, we'd -- we'd go to jail for that.
And the difference -- the only difference here is just the size and scale of the lies and the damage and the importance of the official proceedings and the lawful functions that were being interfered with here, and the identity of the man who started it all.
CONWAY: And if we don't enforce laws, you know, if we don't enforce these laws that we'd enforce at these, you know, for penny ante stuff and we don't enforce them against the president of the United States, who's trying to end democracy in the United States, you know, we don't have a country that's governed by the rule of law.
KEILAR: Yes, I thought that was a really interesting point that you made because you're basically saying this would be a novel application of the law, but that's only because what we saw was unprecedented. It is a great column. I do encourage our viewers to check it out.
Separately, George, I want to ask you about this Hunter Biden probe that's heating up. How bad do you think this is for Hunter Biden, in your view, and how bad is this for President Biden?
CONWAY: I -- you know, I'm not -- I can't -- I don't know how bad it is for Hunter Biden. I don't know what the evidence is. I don't know what -- you know, I don't know what the political ramifications of it are. I suspect they're not going to be that great. But the point is, we don't have a president who is saying, this is
fake news. This -- these prosecutors are corrupt. They -- we -- you know, we don't have -- we don't have a president who's trying to disrupt the process of an investigation in the Justice Department to help somebody in his family. And he's not -- I don't see President Biden pardoning anybody who might have anything to do -- or pardoning his son or pardoning people who might have anything to do with it. That's the point. That's the thing that matters here is that this investigation, however it proceeds, is being allowed to proceed. And the president of the United States is not interfering with it. That's -- that's the thing that people should take away from this.
KEILAR: The former president, President Trump, has asked Russia to release dirt on Biden. And I should mention, that's now being echoed by a Republican senator. So I want to -- I want to listen to this and get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): Well, I don't know if he has dirt on Biden. If he does, he should -- he should reveal it. But he is a war criminal, so I don't expect that he's right now sitting around thinking about ways that he can, you know, reveal other -- reveal other information, if, in fact, he has it. I don't -- I don't know of any that he has. So, I don't know what the president might be talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What do you -- he's towing the line, the senator is there, Senator Cramer, on what Trump said. In one breath admitting this is a war criminal, but if he has information, he should release it.
What do you make of this becoming something that other Republicans are touting?
CONWAY: I mean, this is -- this is Donald Trump leading the Republican Party off the cliff. This is -- this is a man for whom there is no bottom. And Republicans are just afraid to call him out.
He's -- you know, he's saying, we're in the middle of this war where -- where Putin, who can't be trusted for a moment, who murders political opponents, who slaughters women and children, and Donald Trump is focused on what, himself, because he wants to get revenge for losing the 2020 election. He says, let's see their dirt on Hunter Biden.
Well, I can't imagine -- I've got to imagine that the -- you know, I wonder someday that maybe we won't have a president in Russia who actually acts in the best interest of the Russian people and behaves himself before the world. Maybe President Navalny. I mean pray -- pray to God that somehow that could happen. And maybe we'll see the files on Donald Trump. I think those would be interesting.
KEILAR: George, always great to have you on.
George Conway, thank you.
CONWAY: Thank you.
KEILAR: Ambassador Cindy McCain arriving at the Poland/Ukraine border. She's going to tell us if food and medical supplies are getting to the civilians who need them most.
And members of the House receiving a classified briefing on the crisis in Ukraine. A former CIA officer turned lawmaker who was in that room will join us next.
KEILAR: U.S. Ambassador Cindy McCain visiting the Polish-Ukrainian border as a shortage of food becomes a growing crisis near the war zone.
Salma Abdelaziz is live for us in Poland with more.
Tell us what's happening there and the challenges that are facing people there, Salma.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely.
Brianna, I'm at the (INAUDIBLE) train station right on the border here. And it's through this train station that hundreds of families come through every single day, may of them not knowing where to go next.
And that's exactly why Ambassador Cindy McCain, the ambassador to U.N. Agencies -- Food and Agricultural Agencies in Rome came here. She wanted to see the crisis firsthand. She wanted to understand what refugees needed.
Take a listen to what she told us yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY MCCAIN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. FOOD AGENCIES: My role is as a humanitarian. And so the things you see here are what -- are what we need to be worried about in the short-term right now, and that is making sure that we can -- can feed a population that can't feed themselves and make sure that we -- we keep them safe and -- and secure. So.
ABDELAZIZ: And tell me about America's contribution so far to the WFP?
MCCAIN: Well, as always, the American government is number one. It's wonderful to represent a country that's so generous in this. But, more importantly, this could all be stopped if Putin would simply pull out and stop bombing.
ABDELAZIZ: Are the people who need help getting the aid they need?
MCCAIN: Yes. I have seen firsthand that the people who need help are getting the help. I am always moved when I see these things.
And I intend to take the message back to not just my own government but to our private donors within the United States and around the world that I would like to have step up to the plate on this and help out.
ABDELAZIZ: And I was going to ask you, your late husband, Senator John McCain, do you feel like you're carrying that legacy, your husband's legacy?
MCCAIN: Oh, I've always felt like I've carried that to some degree. You know, he was a very unique person. And his message of compromise, his message of dignity, his message of respect for other people is something that is carried around the world all the time. And I am just grateful to be able to play a small part in that now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Now, Ambassador Cindy McCain was also worried about the domino effect of this, Brianna. This is the bread basket, Ukraine and Russia, of the world. She was worried that there could be food crises in other parts, in Africa, in the Middle East. She had a simple message, this crisis is only going to grow. We're only going to see more and more suffering if President Putin doesn't stop.
KEILAR: Salma, thank you so much for that report.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we do have breaking news.
We're getting word from Russia that Vladimir Putin has authorized more than 134,000 people to be drafted into the Russian armed forces. A new round of conscription. This comes as Russia suffers significant losses here in Ukraine.
Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a former CIA officer.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us.
I wonder your reaction to that breaking news. What does it tell you?
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): My reaction to that breaking news is that it's -- it demonstrates that I think Vladimir Putin is unfortunately going to continue his efforts, his horrible, horrible efforts in the invasion of Ukraine. And he intends to see more Russians die in the process.
BERMAN: I understand you were part of a classified briefing yesterday. As much as I'd like you to tell me every last thing that was brought up in the meeting, I know your history as a CIA will probably limit that. So, let me put it to you this way. Based on what you've heard in general and based on what you see, what do you think the current situation is in Ukraine on the battlefield?
SPANBERGER: Well, and I -- I am a former CIA officer, and -- and I am very pleased that we continue to have these Congress-wide briefings with members of the Biden administration. We also have separate briefings for those of us who serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Intel Committee or the Armed Services Committee. And I think what we continue to see is that the United States is not only doing extraordinary work in supporting our allies on the ground, the Ukrainians, but we are demonstrating the leadership that only the United States can in bringing together our partner nations to provide legal aid, to provide humanitarian aid, to provide information and support to the Ukrainians who continue to fight for their democracy and their own freedom.
And certainly we see that there is still a road ahead of the Ukrainians. They are fighting. They are standing strong. And we continue to provide more and more in terms of aid to support them in that process.
But we see an extraordinary will to fight for freedom and an extraordinary will to fight for democracy present on the ground in Ukraine. And so as long as they're fighting, my expectation and certainly my commitment is that the United States will -- will support them in that endeavor.
BERMAN: Are they getting that lethal aid quickly enough and are they getting it in the ways that they want? What's the equipment that they want most now?
SPANBERGER: Well, they need to be able to fight back. And so we continue to provide them with stingers and javelins and now switch blades. We've seen the Ukrainians have been utilized Turkish-made drones with great impact at attacking and immobilizing Russian vehicles and Russian units. So, to be able to further arm them with additional tactical drones that can be used, the switch blades also considered kamikaze drones, is important. They need surface-to-air missiles. They need the ability to continue to fight back.
And that's what the United States has been providing. You asked about how fast. I mean I think -- I think just about anyone would say we want them to have everything and we want them to have it yesterday. And if we had been having this question yesterday, I would have said, I want them to have everything and I want them to have it yesterday.
But we are moving quickly and effectively to move massive amounts of equipment to the Ukrainian partners and to work with our partners throughout the world to make sure that we are, you know, scouting out for the material that might -- and the support items that might be available within other countries and facilitate that movement as well.
Quickly, because I have to let you go. I know in the United States you are putting forth some new legislation today, the Better Cybercrimes Metrics Act. What are you looking for here?
SPANBERGER: Yes. So, this bill just passed the House. It's a -- it's a significant success. I'm excited that it's going to be headed to the president's desk. And basically as we see cybercrime increasingly permeating all aspects of our communities, attacks on the Colonial Pipeline in my district, attacks on doctors' office and personal information, attacks directed at individuals, law enforcement does not have what they need to be able to not only investigate but to track, to understand the scope, the breadth, and the interrelated nature of different attacks that may be occurring.
So, this bill gets at the heart of that. This bill is endeavoring to insure that law enforcement has what they need, that there's information sharing, tracking metrics and the ability to investigate these crimes that certainly are not victimless, continue to rise and impact our communities. It has the support of organizations, law enforcement organizations across the country because it will provide a vital tool in stopping these criminals so frequently, frankly, coming from elsewhere in the world and oftentimes Russia.
BERMAN: Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, thank you for being with us. I do appreciate it.
SPANBERGER: Thank you so much, John. Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher join CNN on their efforts to help the Ukrainian people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE WILLIS, ACTOR: Welcome to the party, pal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Bruce Willis stepping away from acting. More on his health condition.
KEILAR: High winds, large hail, tornados even forecast for parts of the south this morning. So, let's get a closer look at this with Chad Myers.
What are you tracking there?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Brianna, still have tornado watches in effect. One until 2:00 p.m. this afternoon and one tornado warning down just to the southeast of Panama City, Florida.
This weather is brought to you by Safelite. Your vehicle, glass and recalibration experts. So, 24 tornado reports yesterday. A lot of wind with this system. This
was really a wind maker. We'll have more of that today, all the way up to the East Coast, all the way into -- possibly into New York City. This is what the radar should look like around noon, still charging to the east. But then moving farther to the north and you see some strong weather, upstate New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, maybe even into New England in the overnight hours. So this isn't over but this is the last hoorah of this cold front. And, by the weekend, we're back to normal. We'll take normal after all of this.
KEILAR: Yes, the last hoorah indeed.
Chad Myers, thank you.
MYERS: You're welcome.
BERMAN: The Biden administration set to decide whether to end pandemic restrictions on the U.S./Mexico border.
Here's CNN's Rosa Flores.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Five-year-old Alison Rosero is from Colombia.
FLORES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). What's your dream?
FLORES (voice over): She wants to be a doctor.
She is one of more than 140 migrants who in the span of 30 minutes were dropped off by Border Patrol at this Del Rio respite center. This month, Border Patrol has dropped off more than 4,400 migrants, says Tiffany Burrow, the director here. More than twice the number in January.
TIFFANY BURROW, VAL VERDE BORDER HUMANITARIAN COALITION: I would say that 4,400 is a drop in the bucket.
FLORES: These are migrants who were processed and allowed into the U.S. despite Title 42. The pandemic public health rule which allows border patrol to swiftly return some migrants, mostly to Mexico, without the opportunity to seek asylum. Burrow is bracing for an even bigger surge when the Biden administration lifts Title 42.
DHS officials preparing for up to 18,000 migrants to attempt to enter the U.S. a day.
FLORES (on camera): Are you prepared for Title 42 to lift?
BURROW: I don't think anyone can truly be prepared. FLORES (voice over): In the past two years, 1.7 million migrants have
been expelled under the Trump era rule. This week, the CDC is set to decide if the order is necessary. If you ask the Val Verde County sheriff --
SHERIFF JOE FRANK MARTINEZ, VAL VERDE COUNTY, TEXAS: I mean I wish they would extend it
FLORES: He points to the more than 15,000 migrants who he says camped under a bridge here in September of last year, waiting for immigration authorities to process them.
MARTINEZ: Last year we called it a -- a crisis. This year we see the same thing here in Del Rio. You know, it's going to be a disaster.
FLORES: Here in the Del Rio sector, Border Patrol has encountered more than 150,000 migrants this fiscal year, a 215 percent increase compared to the same time last year.
Alison shows us the Rio Grande was waist deep when she crossed with her mom and her baby brother.
FLORES (on camera): (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). Were you scared?
ALISON ROSERO, FIVE-YEAR-OLD MIGRANT FROM COLOMBIA: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
FLORES: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). She says she was a little scared.
FLORES (voice over): The Biden administration is facing pressure from all sides. Immigration advocates and Democrats who say there is no health basis for keeping the Trump-era rule, and for Republicans who have been pushing for Biden's plan to secure the border when Title 42 expires.
The sheriff says migrants are waiting just across the Rio Grande in Acuna (ph), Mexico, for Title 42 to end.
FLORES (on camera): How big are those groups that are in Acuna (ph)?
MARTINEZ: They weren't able -- they weren't able to give me a number. I know that there's people walking up and down the streets everywhere.
FLORES (voice over): The Del Rio Border Patrol chief taking to social media to show how large groups of migrants are trying to cross into the U.S.