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New Day

GOP Candidates win Primaries; Russia's war in Ukraine; Bieber Reveals Facial Paralysis. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Across the country a string of Republican candidates with either ties or alleged ties to the Stop the Steal Rally in Washington and who marched to the U.S. Capitol on January 6th have won or could win their primaries in competitive congressional districts.

And as the House Select Committee continues its series of public hearings on the January 6th insurrection, this could prove to be a clear test of how much weight the insurrection carries with general election voters come November.

Joining me now to talk about this, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN reporter Gabby Orr, who covers Republican politics.

OK, let's talk about some of the candidates that we are discussing here. Here is one.


J.R. MAJEWSKI (R), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, ATTENDED JAN. J RALLY: I didn't want to be a hype (ph) beast (ph), but I've had it in my back pocket to say that every state that went red should secede from the United States. I don't think it sounds out there.


KEILAR: All right, that is J.R. Majewski in Ohio.

And then here is Sandy Smith on Twitter, who actually was at the insurrection, if we can pull up the tweet that she put out so we can see where she was on that day.


But she was, right? So, she was there at -- she was there at the insurrection.

Gabby, how likely is it that these folks could actually end up in Congress? GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: It's likely in -- especially in Sandy Smith's

district. This is a district that is considered competitive in November.

And, look, I think these are going to be walking Rorschach tests in a general election. You know, and -- on the one hand they are going to appeal greatly to MAGA Republican voters who really think that the participation in efforts to overturn our 2020 election outcome is actually something that gives these candidates credibility in their view. And, on the other hand, they're going to totally repel independent voters and centrist Republicans who think that candidates like this are a threat to democracy.

I think if you're McCarthy or McConnell at this point, the prospect of these candidates being too radical to win a general election is less a concern than the prospect of them winning and having folks who were, you know, either in the halls of Congress or very close to the halls of Congress on January 6th now serving in them.

KEILAR: OK. What do you think?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, but I'm just struck by how little difference there is between what we call extremist candidates and the mainstream of the Republican Party today. Kevin McCarthy won't even acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election. I mean this is where the Republican Party is.

I think, you know, what's -- what's more significant in a way is not that a handful of, you know, really extreme people may win, it's that the whole party has gotten that extreme.

KEILAR: OK, is there a difference, though, between, say -- I mean, I hear totally what you're saying because Republicans are certainly not turning their back on some of the sentiment.


KEILAR: But Kevin McCarthy was scared that day. His staff was scared. Isn't there a difference between a Kevin McCarthy or someone like that than someone who you would wonder, are they going to open the door for someone to come in?

TOOBIN: No, I don't think there is a significant difference. I mean that's the thing that's so amazing to me is that Kevin McCarthy, who was scared and in that new video from last week we saw his staff running for their lives. But even though that's true, they won't denounce -- he won't denounce Donald Trump.

ORR: Publicly he won't. I mean privately we know he has.

TOOBIN: Well, that's all that matters.

ORR: Yes, but I think there's a difference between somebody like Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise and Republicans who, despite the noise that they have made about January 6th, they're still very much focused on policy. And Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, who are just provocateurs and having a sudden rush of candidates like that into the House Republican Conference, especially if they're in the majority come November, that's going to be - create a lot of leadership challenges for some of the other in the party.

TOOBIN: I think they will welcome leadership challenges because that means they've won. They want to win more than they want to behave honorably. I think that's the thing that is so striking and, frankly, disturbing about what's gone on in the Republican Party is that they will not acknowledge the reality of Joe Biden's victory, they will not denounce Donald Trump's lies, all because they think it's going to get them the majority.

KEILAR: How does it change Congress? How does it change the Republican conference when you -- look, you already have some January 6th sympathizers who are in Congress. We know this, right? You have some true believers who aren't just sort of selling it, but they believe that Donald Trump won the election. How does this really change things if you add a few more people to the mix?

ORR: Well, I mean you have Republican congressmen who sought pardons from President Trump after January 6th. So, there is already this flank of the House GOP conference that has been sort of radicalized by January 6th and very much believes that the election was stolen.

But I think the more voices that you have that are a part of that group, the more pressure there's going to be on McCarthy or McConnell to launch investigations that look into so-called election integrity. And, you know, to put taxpayer resources into things like that. And that's going to cost Republicans, at some point in the future, if that is what they spend the next two years doing, instead of, you know, working with the Biden administration to get things like inflation under control.

KEILAR: Yes, they might still do it, though.

TOOBIN: Impeach - impeachment. Joe Biden's going to get impeached if there's a House - if there's a Republican majority. I don't think there's any question in the world that Joe Biden is going to get impeached.

The subject of the impeachment is almost immaterial. They'll figure something out. You know, they'll talk about Hunter Biden, as they did for months and months. But, you know, that's where the party is. And I think, you know - the - the -- I guess the distinctions among Republicans are so much smaller than the difference between Democrats and Republicans these days.

KEILAR: All right, Gabby, let's talk about Ginni Thomas, who is -- she's sort of a -- let's say a pro-Trump advocate, if I can just kind of characterize her in a certain way, and she is the wife, of course, the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.


Turns out she was even more involved in encouraging state legislators in Arizona to meddle in the slate of presidential electors than we even knew.

ORR: Right. She reached out to 29 in trying to pressure them to get involved in this effort to subvert the 2020 election outcome.

And, look, I think this is very important. The reporting on this is important. But as we enter another week of public hearings on this, I think there would be some danger to the January 6 committee to get involved in, you know, talking about this growing cast of characters. At the end of the day, they are trying to reinject this into the public consciousness and you don't want to overwhelm viewers with sort of too many people to follow, too many dots to connect.

Ginni Thomas is an important figure, most definitely. She's a very influential voice in the conservative movement. But, at the end of the day, she was sort of in the outer ring of Trump's circle and I think efforts that she participated in to overturn the 2020 election are important but not something that the committee necessarily needs to be focusing on.

TOOBIN: Ginni Thomas can believe and say whatever she wants. What makes her story significant is that Clarence Thomas hasn't recused himself in these January 6th cases. That's why the Ginni Thomas story matters.

I agree, I don't think she in of herself is such an important figure, but she is a participant in this incredibly controversial set of facts that has wound up before the Supreme Court and her husband continues to sit on them. That's what's wrong with this story.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly should be addressed.

Jeffrey Toobin, Gabby Orr, thank you so much to both of you.

Nearly four months into the war, Ukrainian forces are still fighting against Russia. Now they're facing fatigue. Matthew Chance live for us from Kyiv with new reporting.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And McDonald's closed up shop in Russia because of the invasion, but now a successor is muscling in.



BERMAN: This morning, Russia has pushed Ukrainian forces back from the center of Severodonetsk. This is a key city in the eastern part of the country, really the crucial city to Russia's goal of gaining control over the entire region, the entire eastern part of Ukraine.

Let's go to Kyiv now. We're joined by CNN's Matthew Chance, who is there.

And, in a way, the battle for this part of the country has reached this critical stage where it's become this fierce back and forth effort and the sides are getting worn down, Matt. MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are

getting worn down, John. And, you know, still, Ukrainian forces are fighting street to street there, but there's been a stark message this morning from Kremlin forces in and around that city to Ukrainian troops, basically saying, leave, surrender or face death or die. That's the message coming from these rebel groups backed by Russia, as well as the Russian military, of course, as Russia continues to make, you know, slow but definite progress in that key city.


CHANCE (voice over): There's no end in sight to this war, but it's horror is plain to see. An old woman crosses herself in prayer as troops fight street to street. It's the battle here in and around the city of Severodonetsk where the Ukrainian president says the fate of Donbas in eastern Ukraine is being decided. But it seems more a case of when not if this devastated region will fall into Russian hands.

The embattled Ukrainian president is, again, expressing his frustration.

Ukraine needs modern missile defense systems, he says in his latest address. Did we get them? No. Do we need them? Yes.

On both sides there are signs of fatigue setting in, but these latest images from the Russian defense ministry show its forces on the offensive. A squadron of attack helicopters hitting what Russian military officials say are Ukrainian positions.

Target hit, the pilot reports.

Thanks very much, guys. God be with you, comes the response.

By concentrating its fire, Russia appears to be gaining momentum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Operational, tactical and army aviation hit three Ukrainian command posts in 25 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment. As a result, more than 150 Ukrainian nationalists, six tanks, five filled artillery pieces and ten special vehicles for various purposes were destroyed.

CHANCE (on camera): Of course, Russia is paying a heavy price for waging this war, what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine, too. It's estimated to have lost thousands of troops and countless tanks and other armored vehicles, some of which have been placed here in the center of the capitol Kyiv on public display.

But nearly four months into this grinding and relentless conflict, Ukraine seems dangerously outnumbered and outgunned.

CHANCE (voice over): From the Black Sea, Russia's naval bombardment continues apace. These four cruise missiles fired at a warehouse of anti-tank weapons supplied by the United States and its allies according to the Russian military.

[06:50:01] Ukraine says the missiles hit mostly residential areas in the west of the country injuring 22 civilians, including a 12-year-old child.

Of course, Ukrainian forces are fighting back, like here near the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where they say this old captured Russian rocket launcher has been turned on the invaders, but Ukrainian officials say they need many more long range weapons from the U.S. and its western allies if they are to push or even hold the Russians back.


CHANCE: Well, John, when they say more, they mean a lot more. Russia -- Ukrainian officials, rather, are talking about the need for heavy weapons parity with Russia in order for them to end this war. And they say that means hundreds of tanks, hundreds of rocket launcher systems like the one we just saw and more sophisticated ones, artillery pieces, armored vehicles, drones, all over and above the $40 billion in military aid the Biden administration has already pledged.

BERMAN: They want more, not just to hold the Russians back, but ultimately they hope to try to push them out. And it's hard to imagine how that would happen.

Matthew Chance for us in Kyiv, thank you so much.

A violent weekend across the United States. Nearly two dozen shootings in Chicago alone. We have a live report ahead.

KEILAR: Plus, pop star Justin Bieber reveals a virus has led to facial paralysis. We'll talk about his prognosis.


JUSTIN BIEBER, SINGER: As you can see this eye is not blinking. I can't smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move.




KEILAR: Pop singer Justin Bieber has postponed his performances, saying that he is suffering from a rare condition that has left one side of his face paralyzed.

Here he is.


JUSTIN BIEBER, SINGER: As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can't smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move. So, there's full paralysis in this side of my face.


KEILAR: The condition that he's battling is known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

And joining us now to talk more about it is CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

It is rare, but now I think people -- a lot more people are going to know what it is. Tell us about it and what causes it, Elizabeth.


So, Brianna, what causes it, is that when someone had chickenpox earlier in life it is dormant. It can be dormant for decades and then it kind of rears its ugly head. If this sounds familiar, that's what shingles is, but it can also cause Ramsay Hunt.

So, what happens is, is that the chickenpox virus sort of reactivates itself and attacks facial nerves. And his symptoms, the ones that Mr. Bieber describes, are very - it's very classic. And so let's look a look at what those symptoms are. A painful rash in and around one ear, vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, facial weakness or paralysis.

Now, it's interesting, a question that came up in my head was when -- whether he was vaccinated against chickenpox. He was born in 1994. He would have been around 10 when the province he's from in Canada would have put out that vaccine. So, chances are -- we don't know for sure but chances are he was not vaccinated. He probably had chickenpox sometime before he was 10 years old, sometime before the vaccine was available where he grew up.


KEILAR: So, what can he - what can anyone with this syndrome do to fix or help with these symptoms?

COHEN: Right. So, catching it quickly is really key, and we hope that's what's happened in his case. If you catch it quickly, you can go on antivirals. And that helps a lot. So, catching it quickly is really important.

KEILAR: All right, well, let's hope that he does that and he's able to perform again soon. I'm sure it's very disconcerting for him and certainly for his fans who want to see him.

Elizabeth, I do want to talk about a piece that you wrote about a colleague that you lost last March in a shooting. Can you tell us about this?

COHEN: Yes, Brianna, this is -- sorry, I will - we'll see if this -- every time I talk about her I break into tears. We'll see if this will be the first time that I won't.

This is a colleague named Sierra Jenkins. A lovely young woman who was our news assistant in 2020. She did an amazing job at CNN in a freelance position that she took and then she left to take a permanent position at "The Virginian Pilot" in Norfolk, Virginia.

She was incredible. She, unfortunately, was killed. She was killed by a gunman as she walked out of a pizza restaurant one Friday night.

Now, shortly before she was killed, she sent me a photo. It's an amazing photo. The smile on her face says it all. It was her first front page headline at "The Virginian Pilot." And she was a great journalist and a great writer. And we all knew that she was going to do great things, but then she was killed by a bullet.

And so in our -- in my essay that I'm publishing this morning on, I make an unusual plea because you don't hear this very often. My plea is that gun owners, my plea is to responsible gun owners, that they're the ones who can turn this around. Republican politicians are the ones who have really stood in the way of many what are called common sense gun laws, things like background checks or 18- year-olds should not be allowed to buy semiautomatic weapons. It's mostly Republicans who have stood in the way of these.

And gun owners often lean Republican. Republican politicians will listen to gun owners. And so I make a plea to gun owners to be public about how they feel.


And there was an interesting survey that was done in 2019 by a Tufts researcher, Dr. Michael Siegel. And what he found is that gun owners.