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George Conway is Interviewed about the January 6th Investigation and Twitter; Deborah Birx Speaking Out; Supreme Court Hears Trump-Era Challenge. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired April 26, 2022 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: During the insurrection itself suggesting that the former president blame ANTIFA and the media for what's going on.
What do you see here?
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: Just the instinct, the first instinct is to lie. You know, they didn't -- they had the big lie and then it caused the -- caused the drama on Capitol Hill, the damage on Capitol Hill. And then the first instinct is, again, just to lie. They had no evidence that bad apples, likely ANTIFA, or crazed leftists were causing disruption on Capitol Hill. In fact, everybody who was texting Meadows, everyone else who was texting Meadows was saying, you've got to get the president out here because these are his people in essence.
And the first instinct, Jason Miller, you know, are we going to -- what do we have Trump say? Well, a lie, because that's what the boss does and that's what we do for the boss.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And, George, I wonder what you made of the text message from Ivanka Trump on November 5th saying that they are warriors of epic proportions, telling them to keep the faith, keep the fight. She said you were all warriors in all caps, keep the faith, keep the fight. What do you read into that?
CONWAY: Yes, I mean, I guess she was being some kind of a cheerleader. I don't -- I don't know that she knew anything about whether or not there was fraud or whether or not there was a basis to fight. But she -- she, you know, she was just being just a cheerleader and, again, they didn't care about the substance. They didn't care to wait for the results. And they didn't care to wait for an investigation to see whether or not there was evidence of fraud. You know, their instinct was to just -- we're going to make something up or we're going to find something. And that's -- that's what -- that's what Ivanka Trump's texts show there.
BERMAN: You know, George, you brought up what Mark Meadows was being told from Republicans, many of them on Capitol Hill during the insurrection. Notes from people like Marjorie Taylor Greene. Marjorie Taylor Greene saying to him, Mark, I was just told there's an active shooter on first floor of the Capitol. Please tell the president to calm people. This isn't the way to solve anything. I think we've got pictures of this. That's from Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Mick Mulvaney says, he needs to stop this now. Can I do anything to help?
Barry Loudermilk says, this doesn't help our cause.
Congressman William Timmons says, the president needs to stop this immediately.
Donald Trump Jr., says he's got to condemn this ship (ph) ASAP.
You know, what does that tell you about what these people know at the time, George?
CONWAY: It tells us what we all knew at the time, what everyone knew at the time, where it's undeniable in what they've since decided to basically whitewash, which is, the person responsible for what happened on January 6th is Donald John Trump. He was the man who lied for months and set these people in motion, convinced them that there was some -- something to fight about, convinced them that their country was being stolen, the election was being stolen, and he spun them up. And the only person who could unspin them, if he was inclined to do it, was Donald J. Trump. And they all knew that.
COLLINS: And, George, so much of this also has to do with the planning for January 6th and what that looked like. And one -- some texts from Katrina Pierson (ph) --
CONWAY: Kaitlan, I'm sorry, I can't hear you.
COLLINS: Can you hear me now? Can you -- George, just stick around with us. We're -- we're going to make sure your audio is working and we'll get right back to you because we have a lot in here that we do -- we do want to discuss with you.
BERMAN: All right, we'll talk more about George about the new texts, also ask one of Twitter's greatest users, George Conway, about what he thinks of the future of Twitter under the probable future owner, Elon Musk.
COLLINS: And former Trump Covid advisor, Dr. Deborah Birx, reveals that she considered going to the press to say that the Trump administration was dropping the ball on the pandemic. We'll talk about why she decided against doing that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": I honestly don't know why Elon would want to own Twitter all right, it just doesn't seem like a fun place to supervise right now. You know, it's like buying Jurassic Park after the power went down and the cages are opened. JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH HAMES CORDEN": Imagine
having so much money you think it's a good idea to buy hell.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": Said he wants to transform Twitter as a platform for free speech around the globe. Yes, that's the problem with Twitter, no one can say what they think. They -- they're holding back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of Twitter was getting roasted by late night hosts. But there are real questions about how the platform will change under the new owner.
Still with us this morning is George Conway.
And so, George, I do wonder, what do you think Twitter is going to look like with Elon Musk as the owner?
CONWAY: I honestly don't know. I just wonder what people -- I'm amazed how stirred up people are about it because I don't know what it is they think that he is going to do that is going to be so bad. I mean he's spending, I don't know, what, $44 billion or whatever the number was to buy this thing. He's not going to destroy it, I assume. Maybe he will. In which case, we'll all go out and find some place else to express our views. It's not a -- I don't see what the big deal is, frankly. If he wants to spend that money, more power to him.
BERMAN: Well, one thing could be, George, and, you know, you, I think, applauded when Twitter took Donald Trump off of the platform. He could allow the former president to go back on.
CONWAY: Yes, he could. And, you know, I would prefer that they don't allow him to go back on because I think he's a menace and I think he's a liar. I think he spreads disinformation. On the other hand, he's still there. And the fundamental problem is, you know, that he's still in our public life, which is some -- which is the fault not of any social media policy and wouldn't be Elon Musk's fault if he let Trump back on, which I oppose, it's the fault of the United States Senate, which had the opportunity and constitutional obligation to bar him from holding federal office ever again. That's what -- that's -- that's who the responsibility for -- for any, you know, ongoing damage that Trump causes to our country resides in. And it resides with the Republicans in the United States Senate who refused to bar him from public office by acquitting him at the impeachment trial in 2021.
BERMAN: One last question back on the texts, George. These are texts that Mark Meadows willingly, more or less, handed over to the January 6th committee. There's still a whole bunch of texts and information he's keeping from them. And isn't it fair to wonder, I mean if this is the stuff he didn't think that was as bad, what's in the stuff that he thinks might be bad?
CONWAY: Yes. Right. Absolutely. I mean according to the record produced by the -- the report produced by the House January 6th committee in seeking a contempt citation against Meadows, they said that there were basically 1,000 more texts that he claimed -- that Meadows claimed executive privilege or attorney/client privilege. And there's no basis for that. I mean Trump lost the case against the GSA in December and January, which means there's no executive privilege here. And as far as attorney/client privilege is concerned, well, who is the client? If it's Donald Trump personally, well, he, you know, Meadows worked for the United States of America. He was chief of staff of the White House. If it's the campaign, same thing, he was chief of staff of the White House. He had no business engaging in any activity that wasn't activity for the interests of the United States of America instead of -- and not Donald Trump.
And so, you know, any attorney/client privilege, which that belongs to Trump or to the campaign doesn't -- you know, it's broken because -- because of the information -- if it's -- the information was shared with Meadows. So there's no basis for privilege at all. So you do really have to wonder, what's in those unproduced, hidden texts.
BERMAN: George Conway, great to see you. Thank you so much.
CONWAY: Thank you.
BERMAN: Next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us on the new revelations this morning from former Trump Covid adviser Dr. Deborah Birx, like what was really going through her mind when Trump said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Plus, the body of a Texas National Guard member has been recovered three days after he tried to rescue migrants who were trying to cross the Rio Grande. We have the latest from the U.S./Mexico border, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And the I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or -- or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number in the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So that -- you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds -- it sounds interesting to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: The Trump White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator sitting there, Dr. Deborah Birx, is now speaking out about her time at the Trump White House, including what she was really thinking in that moment in the press Briefing Room. She writes in her new book, quote, I looked down at my feet and wished for two things, something to kick and for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.
CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.
And, Sanjay, I was in the room that day as the president was making that comment. Now Birx is saying, in her words, that, quote, I should have done better.
What do you think that would have looked like in that moment for her?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that particular comment was a bright line. You know, it was clearly something that was wrong, what the president was suggesting, and it was something that was dangerous.
Now, Ambassador Birx, she has said, and you've talked to her as well, she said that she's had this deeply honed military instinct to not correct a superior, but this was one of those moments where, you know, standing up, maybe even coming over to the lectern and explaining that this is not something that should be normalized in any way because it could be dangerous would have been better. That was something you saw Dr. Fauci do many times, you know, throughout the pandemic, basically coming to the lectern to make those sorts of corrections.
I'm not saying it's easy and it's -- you know, when you have the president speaking there, to be able to go up and say something that's essentially correcting the president can be hard, but that would have been better in this particular circumstance.
The entire situation was absurd. Again, as you know, there had been a conversation between an undersecretary for science and technology earlier in the day. That person was also sitting in the briefing room. I think Ambassador Birx thought the president was speaking to that person.
But, regardless, clearly what got out there was a dangerous message and being better would have been correcting it.
BERMAN: So, Sanjay, Dr. Birx also takes aim at the CDC in her book and she blames sort of the role of the CDC director. What do you see there?
GUPTA: Yes, this is really interesting. So, there were -- there was always this sort of -- these lines, these frictions between, I think, Dr. Birx, as well as Dr. Redfield, in part because of her dissatisfaction of what the CDC was doing initially with the inability to get tests out there, sort of describing this -- at least presenting this Covid as a flu-like illness and not recognizing how significant asymptomatic spread was, that people were spreading this, not knowing that they even had it. Those were sort of the issues. But the larger issue is an interesting one, which is that you have
scientific chiefs in this country who are political appointees. Now, Birx and Fauci are not. They are civil servants. They choose to do this job. Others are appointed into this job. And she thinks there's a difference there.
I talked to her about this specific issue. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Both Bob Redfield and Steve Hahn (ph) were political appointees. So they were held in a different light than Dr. Fauci and I because I could just say, you know, I'm a civil servant, I'm not doing that.
GUPTA: Should there be a separation when it comes to our chief doctors, chief scientists in the United States, a separation between them and the political machinery?
BIRX: I worry about this hyperpartisanism because I see it seeping into the civil servant workforce. And we can't let that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: It's clearly something that has happened, you know, that this partisanship, but this idea of, should scientists also be political appointees, that was issue number one. And issue number two is, let's say people did resign, or they left under whatever circumstance, who would then replace them, would it make a difference to do that? And I think that was something that was always in the back of their minds, Redfield, Hahn, Fauci and Birx.
COLLINS: Yes, she said that they had a pact basically where if one of them was fired, that they would all resign, which is -- you know, it's just so notable because we could tell the tension happening, Sanjay, of course, while we were there reporting on this on a daily basis.
COLLINS: You could see it in the Briefing Room. But to hear her writing about it in this book is really something.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for joining us on that this morning.
GUPTA: You got it. Have a good morning.
COLLINS: We also have more of our breaking coverage of Russia's war on Ukraine as there are new satellite images that reveal a third mass grave outside of Mariupol. And reports that local Ukrainians are being forced to work them in response, in exchange for food and water.
BERMAN: And live outside the Supreme Court, a high stakes debate over a Trump era border restriction is hitting a fevered pitch. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COLLINS: The Texas National Guard is mourning the death of Specialist Bishop Evans, whose body was found Monday after he disappeared into the waters of the Rio Grande after attempting to rescue two migrants who appeared to be drowning while trying to cross. Evans was assigned to Operation Lone Star, which is Texas Governor Greg Abbott's effort to combat what he said was a crisis at the U.S./Mexico border to stop unauthorized crossings. Evans was a 22-year-old field artilleryman who served in The Guard for nearly two years. Before serving on the Texas southern border, he was deployed in Kuwait with assignments in Iraq. Governor Greg Abbott says, quote, we are eternally grateful for the way that Evans heroically served his state and his country.
BERMAN: This morning the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Biden administration's effort to end the controversial Trump era remain in Mexico policy.
CNN's Priscilla Alvarez live at the Supreme Court where a rally is gathering and a news conference is expected with the attorneys general from both Texas and Missouri.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Biden administration is fighting on two legal fronts this morning as it tries to set U.S. immigration policy. First, here at the Supreme Court, justices are going to hear oral arguments in that policy known as remain in Mexico. That's a policy that started under the Trump administration and required migrants to stay in Mexico until their U.S. immigration court date, which was an unprecedented move.
This, in addition to last night when a federal judge said that he will temporarily block the Biden administration from ending border restrictions that were put in place again under the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic. Those restrictions allow authorities to turn migrants away at the U.S. southern border.
And this is the reality for the Biden administration as they try to navigate legal challenges, as well as the political fallout over their decisions. As you mentioned, we will hear from the attorneys general of Texas and Missouri this morning, the two states that filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration for trying to end the remain in Mexico policy, which the justices are hearing about today. And a decision, John and Kaitlan, not expected until this summer.
BERMAN: Priscilla, you're talking about the remain in Mexico policy. That's what's in front of the court today. But you also did bring up this other ruling -- or this state last night on Title 42, which has been so controversial. What happens now with that because it's become such a hot button issue?
ALVAREZ: Well, to be clear, the authority is still in place today. The Biden administration said they would end it on May 23rd. So, on the ground, everything stays the same. But what we're waiting to hear more from, from the judge, is the scope of what is called a temporary restraining order. So, what does it mean for the next few weeks? Can the Biden administration continue to prepare for the winddown or can they not? So, we're still waiting to hear more details. But in the interim, as you mentioned, the Biden administration going to be talking to Hill staff and lawmakers today on The Hill about what their plans are because, as you mentioned, they are getting intense scrutiny about whether they're prepared for an influx of migrants come May.
BERMAN: All right, Priscilla Alvarez for us live at the Supreme Court.
Kaitlan, we've got a few seconds left here. I want to talk to you, in 20 seconds or less, the change in rhetoric we've heard from the administration over the last few days about how they see things going in Ukraine is notable.
COLLINS: Yes. And they're saying it's not. They say it's just in line with what they've been saying. But you're seeing them be more explicit than we've ever seen since this invasion started. Of course, with Secretary Austin saying that the Ukrainians clearly believe they can win, and he said everyone here agrees, of course referencing where he was in Germany this morning at Ramstein Air Base, where he himself was there, saying that that is something that they believe. And I think it's a really notable shift that you're seeing from them and we'll watch to see how it plays into how they help the Ukrainians continuing going forward.
BERMAN: Yes, likely means they see things differently on the ground there than they might have a month, a month and a half ago.
Kaitlan, great to have you. Thanks so much for being here.
CNN's coverage continues right now.