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Today: Trump Campaign Chief to Testify in Surprise Move; Senate's Historic Guns Deal: What's In, What's Out, What's Next; White Nationalists Arrested for Conspiracy Near Pride Parade; Retired 4-Star General Quits Think Tank Amid FBI Lobbying Probe. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman. On this NEW DAY, a surprise witness testifies at this morning's second January 6th hearing in what the committee says will prove how Donald Trump's election lies helped fuel the Capitol attack.


And a significant breakthrough. Ten Democrats, ten Republicans striking a bipartisan deal on gun safety. What lawmakers included in the framework and what they left out.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Retired four-star general John Allen, who once commanded troops in Afghanistan, is leaving a renowned think tank amid an FBI probe. What the investigation just uncovered.

And Justin Bieber sharing a personal health struggle for the world to see. The rare medical condition that has his fans worried.

Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Monday, June 13, and Donald Trump's campaign manager, what does he know and what is he willing to say?

In a surprise announcement, Bill Stepien will be a witness before the January 6th Committee later this morning, facing cameras and the country. CNN has learned he is appearing under subpoena, which adds a wrinkle of uncertainty into just how much he will cooperate.

In the first day of the hearings, the committee revealed videotaped depositions of Trump insiders, including his own daughter Ivanka, testifying that they knew, or at least accepted, that he lost the election. Will Stepien stipulate the same?

KEILAR: We're told today's hearing will focus on the election fraud lies and how they helped fuel rioters to riot and attack. Committee aides say we will hear evidence that Trump knowingly knew the claims were baseless but spread the lies anyway.

The hearing will also call a former FOX News political editor on how Trump pressured the network over calling Arizona early for Biden.

Let's go first now to CNN anchor and senior Washington correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, tell us who we're expecting to hear from. PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: We're

expecting five key witnesses, and this is going to be two panels of witnesses this morning, Brianna.

And first up, you have Trump's former campaign manager, Bill Stepien. He is going to be testifying under subpoena this morning. And he's going to be paired with Chris Stirewalt, the former political director of FOX, who was fired after backlash, because he oversaw FOX calling Arizona for Joe Biden. As you know, that infuriated Trump world.

And so it's interesting the pairing of these two men, because they can really talk about how Trump's election lies permeated the GOP, right? How they spread, how they knew that, in fact, Joe Biden had won the election, but Trump was pushing those lies.

And the committee will try to showcase how those lies, those election fraud lies spurred on the mob, the Capitol riot. So you've got -- we're going to start with that this morning.

And then you have three other key witnesses. BJay Pak, former U.S. attorney in Georgia. You have Al Schmidt, the former Philadelphia city commissioner, who is a Republican, as well. And also another Republican, Ben Ginsberg, a renowned conservative election attorney. As you know, he was critical in 2000 -- the 2000 recount case in Bush v. Gore.

And so what you're going to get from each of these is basically a look at how, again, Trump lost the election, that there was no evidence of election fraud, and yet, Trump continued to push the election lies.

Ben Ginsberg is expected to come out and say there was no widespread election fraud. He's going to talk about all the failed court cases, all the cases from the Trump campaign trying to push -- you know, trying to prove election fraud when, in fact, there wasn't any.

And then you have Al Schmidt, again, a Republican who oversaw election counting in Philadelphia.

BJay Pak, who resigned after there was pressure from Trump world to try to find election fraud in Georgia.

Georgia and Pennsylvania, of course, two key states that Trump was focused on. So you're going to -- the focus clearly is on, look, there was no widespread election fraud. Trump knew it, but he was pushing it anyway. That's what the committee is trying to underscore with the hearing this morning.

KEILAR: And when you look at this slate of five who will testify, they're all Republicans or Republican-appointed.

BROWN: Yes. That's -- and that is by design. And this is a continuation of what we saw with the hearing last week, right? What they want to do, they're trying to find credible people, Republicans in their own words, right, their own words to convey that, look, there was no widespread fraud. Trump knew this. It will be interesting to see what Bill Stepien says, what he is

willing to say under subpoena, because he was right there in the center of it all, right, in the Trump campaign.

And I know from covering the election and the Trump campaign at the time, sources within the campaign, key figures, knew that there was no election fraud. And they were trying to tell Trump there was no -- there was no widespread fraud, that Joe Biden did indeed win, and there was strong pushback.

You'll remember that feisty meeting in the Oval Office in the White House, where Rudy Giuliani and others were trying to say, yes, we should keep fighting. And people in the Trump campaign were saying, No, there's nothing there.

So I'm really looking out to see specifically what Bill Stepien is willing to say.

KEILAR: Yes. And I'm curious about Chris Stirewalt, of course, who is going to be representing what happened at FOX. Obviously, Trump thought that he had a friend there, and in that decision that Stirewalt really pushed there, he felt he didn't. So he's going to talk about that from the perspective of a political editor.


Pam, thank you so much.

BROWN: Thank you.

KEILAR: Really appreciate it.

Coming up, we're going to speak with January 6th Committee member Congresswoman Elaine Luria. How she plans to connect Trump's election lies to the violence that day, ahead.

BERMAN: All right. Joining me now, national political correspondent at "The New York Times," Lisa Lerer; and "EARLY START" anchor and attorney at law, Laura Jarrett.

I want to start with Bill Stepien, because when this witness list released yesterday, that was the name that popped off; and everyone was like, whoa, what's going on there? Appearing under subpoena, what does that mean about the parameters of what we might see?

LAURA JARRETT, "EARLY START" ANCHOR: Well, it means that he is not coming voluntarily like some other members of the panel, but he's still going to be under oath. He's got to tell the truth. He's got to answer their questions. He could try to invoke the Fifth Amendment on some questions, although that, I think, would raise more eyebrows than anything else that he would say.

Look, I think the big question is, they've established clearly that the former president was told on multiple occasions, You have lost. This is all B.S. This is all a lie.

The question for someone like Bill Stepien, I think, is what did Trump say to you in response when he was told that on multiple occasions?

And this is one of the times where we had the benefit of this not being the courtroom. There's no, like, hearsay objection. He's going to have to answer that question, one way or another, to get to the bottom of what did the president say, what was his intent, what he was told repeatedly, this is all a lie.

BROWN: You know, we saw the videotaped deposition from Ivanka Trump, Jason Miller, from other Trump people. And I assume they have Stepien on videotape also, which may box him in. Because I think he was also deposed, but still in a live setting, it is a little bit of a wild card.

LARA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It is a wild card and it's important to remember that he, of course, is working for the woman who is challenging Liz Cheney in that primary in her home state.

So there's some political dynamics going on here, too, of course. This is a hearing, and -- but I think the thing to watch here is whether the committee is able to establish that not only did the former president know and did he verbally say that, but was he -- did he know and was he raising hundreds of millions of dollars from his supporters at the same time?

Because Stepien, of course, was really involved with the Stop the Steal effort, which was going on throughout this whole period, which was bankrolling a lot of this stuff, from Trump supporters who were being told again and again in campaign messaging that the election was stolen, the election was stolen. And they were opening their wallets for it.

And I think the committee sees that as a way to reach some people who may not be open to hearing what they have to say. Nobody likes to feel like a chump, and nobody likes to be defrauded.


BERMAN: Counselor, where's the legal -- what's the legal complication or problem for Trump world or Donald Trump if, in fact, all of this testimony says he knew he lost?

JARRETT: It's -- well, so it's a little bit tricky here, because I think the reporting on this has gone both ways.

On the one hand, you have multiple people telling him that there is no widespread fraud, including the former attorney general. You have multiple people telling him the time is -- the time is now to give this up.

But the question is there, was he on notice so much so that he couldn't put his head in the sand? Right? In other words, you can't just put your hands over your ears and not hear it. At a certain point that comes, I think, beyond the line of just sort of willful blindness, if you will. The hard part here is then making the connection to not only was he on

notice of the lie, but then he participates in a larger conspiracy to actually stop the vote count. That's the -- that's that critical link that still needs to be made.

BERMAN: And you looked at another one of the witnesses, BJAY Pak, this U.S. attorney from Georgia. Why is he interesting to you?

LERER: So he was under pressure from the White House. He got -- he has said publicly that he's got -- he got this call from the White House saying you're not doing enough. You're not pushing these claims of election fraud in Georgia that were, of course, false and conspiratorial. And you're not pushing it, and then he resigns, right before he suspects that the president -- former President Trump would have fired him.

So he is part of establishing how the White House was pushing sort of the legal apparatus and the forces of government to push this. It wasn't just messaging to supporters. They were also trying to sort of subvert our legal process and really subvert democracy to push these claims forward.

That this was about not only defrauding people but also maintaining power, and that's a really important point here.

BERMAN: Laura, you covered the Justice Department.


BERMAN: It really does seem as if the Justice Department may be the key audience for these hearings, will Merrick Garland or attorneys within the Justice Department see this and see a path to prosecute. What does today -- how does today fit into that?

JARRETT: That's why it was interesting to know our team's reporting that Merrick Garland was watching the hearings last week. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall and see what his takeaway was. What did he learn that he didn't already know?

Probably not too much if their -- if his investigators are doing their job, but seeing how they're weaving together that narrative, again, making the critical link from the seven different ways that he tried to subvert the will of the people, to not just fighting the fuse but actually to there being a larger conspiracy. I think that's the -- that's the question.


And you see members of the panel now sort of doing this delicate dance, saying, We think that there are multiple ways that the president likely violated the law, but we're not saying that Merrick Garland has to prosecute. Right?

You see Schiff and Raskin. You see them sort of trying to do this dance, trying to say, We recognize the Justice Department is independent, because they want to distance themselves from the Trump years but also saying, Oh, by the way, we think Trump committed a crime.

BERMAN: Laura and Lisa, thank you both very much. Nice to see you both this morning.

KEILAR: This morning, a modest but significant deal on Capitol Hill after a group of senators announced a bipartisan agreement on gun safety. It's the first deal for new federal restrictions on gun ownership and gun safety in nearly 30 years.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, live for us on Capitol Hill with more on this.

It may not be even close to everything the Democrats want, for sure, Sunlen, but the fact that there is anything is almost amazing.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. This certainly is a significant moment, but it is notably still very far from the finish line.

We had ten Republicans and ten Democrats over the weekend announcing this framework for a deal, and that is notable, given the fact that that indicates there is enough Republican support at this moment to potentially get it through the Senate.

Now, this deal includes funding for states to enact so-called red-flag laws. It gives more money for mental health, for school safety, and it includes an enhanced review process for kids, people aged 18 to 21 who want to get a gun. It gives the authorities more time to look into their juvenile records, pull their medical record -- mental health records, rather.

And it would clarify the definition of a federally-licensed firearm dealer. That potentially would require more firearm sellers to have to register, go through some sort of background check.

And it notably reduces the boyfriend loophole that now would apply potentially to dating partners, as well.

Now, what is not in the deal is also, as you noted, very significant, as well. Not in a deal is expanded background checks, a ban on assault weapons; and it does not change the minimum age that a person needs to be to purchase an assault weapon. Democrats, of course, wanted that age raised between 18 and 21.

Now, this today on Capitol Hill is an important moment. And they have this framework, but they have not actually written the legislative text. So that is the big challenge right now, is translating this deal into the legislation.

And certainly, that challenge is not -- is keeping the Republican support intact, making sure they don't lose any Republicans. They need the ten Republicans, Brianna, that they have already signed onto this framework.

KEILAR: Yes, the fine print here very important. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much, live for us from Capitol Hill.

Dozens of suspected white nationalists arrested as they gathered near a pride parade in Idaho with the intent, authorities say, to riot.

And he once commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Now, retired four- star General John Allen has resigned as the head of the Brookings Institution in the face of an FBI investigation.

BERMAN: And during a CNN interview, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refused to commit to backing President Biden in 2024 as more national Democrats question a reelection run.



KEILAR: This morning, 31 people affiliated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front are out on bond, following their weekend arrest near a pride parade.

Police in Idaho say the men had riot gear after a tipster reported seeing people loading into a U-Haul like a, quote, "little army" in the city of Coeur d'Alene. All 31 members were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot, which is a misdemeanor.

Joining us now to discuss this is former FBI deputy assistant director Peter Strzok.

And as I mentioned there, this is a misdemeanor, right, conspiracy to riot, but how serious of a threat is this group?

PETER STRZOK, FORMER FBI DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I think when you look at the past actions of the Patriot Front, they're a very -- they're a white supremacist group. They're comparatively young, age- wise.

And a lot of what they do is designed for creating propaganda to use to spread their message to recruit more followers. So in the past, what we've seen from a lot of their activity is not so much intent on engaging in violence as much as engaging in protest. Certainly, hateful speech, for sure. But this is much more a group that's designed for image and for, you know, creating a public spectacle.

KEILAR: So it's as much as -- it's as little, really, as trying to create video of them confronting a pride celebration for some sort of video that they would pass around.

STRZOK: Well, that's certainly one of the things that I'm interested to find out. I mean, their past behavior is one of protest and not violence.

But the question is, as with any of these groups, that is there a trigger point where their intention is to move from simply protesting to violence. And that's one of those things that I hope to hear and find out more about in the days ahead, as we learn about this.

KEILAR: Police arrested them before anything happened, right? Before they even could have this potential photo op. What does that tell you? STRZOK: Well, it tells me, at least on some of the initial reporting,

that the police received a tip that was indicated from somebody who saw people loading into a van.

At least what's been released, this does not appear to be something that was there was warning to law enforcement weeks or months ahead, but rather something that they were tipped off to on the day of the event.

KEILAR: Is that a problem that they didn't know ahead of time? That they didn't have, maybe, a lot of visibility into the activities of this group?


STRZOK: Well, I think it depends. But again, if the intention of the group was simply to march and engage in hateful speech, that's still lawful. It may be racist, it may be hateful speech, but it's still legal.

And so if that's the case, that's not the sort of thing that, certainly, federal law enforcement would look at. But, again, if their intention was to engage in violence, then certainly, that would indicate a potential gap and a potential failure not to see that in advance.

KEILAR: They were armed.

STRZOK: I think there's some indication that they were. They certainly had shields. And so the question is, again, were they doing that, and did they have arms with the intention of defending themselves? Certainly, again, it's legal to carry and possess weapons. You know, I don't know the details of whether or not there were any illegal weapons.

But, again, the question, the real question in my mind is their intention for what they were going to do that day, whether it was simply nonviolent protest or something more.

KEILAR: That's the key, right? What were they planning to do with the weapons, if anything? Maybe just sort of a show of force.

Are you worried overall that we are in a phase right now of anti- government extremism, the likes of which we maybe haven't seen since the '90s when you think back to Ruby Ridge and Waco and, God forbid, Oklahoma City?

STRZOK: You know, I am. I think there's certainly a lot of personal grievances out there all across America. And what particularly concerns me right now.

Because you see a lot of people, both political leaders, as well as some in the media who are tacitly encouraging not violence but, certainly, these extremist beliefs. And whether it's replacement theory, which plays into a lot of the white nationalist propaganda; whether it's political figures using images of violence, I think that's encouraging or accepting behavior that, in the past, we had moved away from in this society.

So I am worried that people who are inclined to violence who see this sort of resonance and messaging in the public sphere might be driven to violence.

KEILAR: You'd expect them to be discouraged by some of the rhetoric, but it certainly is not the case.

Peter, thank you so much for your invite.

STRZOK: Thank you.

KEILAR: Ahead this morning, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho's mayor, Jim Hammond, is going to join us. What he says about the white nationalists who were arrested in his city.

And ahead, the rare virus that Justin Bieber says caused paralysis in his face.

Plus, the federal investigation into a retired four-star general, leading him to resign from a think tank.

BERMAN: And why the point of no return has now arrived with Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Why that is being alleged now by people watching the situation.



BERMAN: This morning, retired four-star Marine General John Allen is stepping down as president of the influential think tank the Brookings Institution. It comes amid a federal investigation into whether he secretly lobbied for the government of Qatar.

CNN's Alex Marquardt joins us now with the latest on this. General Allen is a big name, Alex.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He's a big name, John, and General Allen is saying that he is leaving the Brookings Institution with a heavy heart. He wrote that in a resignation letter that came out yesterday.

But for context, Brookings, as you noted, is an extremely influential think tank, one of the most reputable and respected here in Washington. General Allen, of course, commanded U.S. and coalition working in Afghanistan. And in this resignation letter, he went on to write that it is best for all concerned in this moment that he leave Brookings.

But John, he did not address the controversy that is at the heart of this resignation, and that is that he failed to disclose that he was lobbying for the government of Qatar, that he did not hand over emails to the FBI pertaining to his efforts to -- to lobby for them.

Now, all that's coming out in a court filing that appears to have been posted accidentally. And in it, there was an FBI warrant that alleges that General Allen was essentially hired by two other men, a businessman and a former U.S. ambassador, to travel to the Qatari capital of Doha in 2017 for meetings; and that General Allen requested a -- what is being called a speaker's fee of $20,000. That's really at the heart of all this.

Now, we do have a response from a spokesman for General Allen, and he says in part, "General Allen has never acted as an agent of the Qatari government. Neither General Allen nor any entity with which he was or is affiliated ever received fees directly or indirectly from the Qatari government for his efforts."

Now, the context, the timing is key, John. This was 2017. Qatar was facing a blockade by two of its big neighbors: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They wanted support from the Trump administration to break that blockade.

And in these court documents, it shows that General Allen reached out to General H.R. McMaster, who was the three-star general, the national security adviser in the Trump administration, for that support, to ask the State Department or the White House to put out some kind of support for the government of Qatar.

But General Allen, in those interactions, did not disclose that he was doing so on behalf of the government of Qatar -- John.

BERMAN: Alex Marquardt, stay on this for us. Thank you very much.

So some Republicans with ties to January 6th are having success in congressional races. How much of a factor will the insurrection be for voters in November?

Plus --




KEILAR: On Broadway's biggest night, an Oscar winner brings down the house. And another joins a small group of performers who have won the big four, an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.