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Committee Floats Fundraising Fraud as Potential Trump Crime; Georgia Investigators Seek Testimony From Ex-Kanye West Publicist; Ohio Governor Signs Bill Arming Teachers After Only 24 Hours of Training. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired June 14, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In the January 6th Committee itself whether it will make a specific criminal referral to the Justice Department.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: As for witnesses, some of the most stark testimony coming from Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, who offered a line-by-line debunking of Trump's ongoing lies about fraud, and called Trump detached from reality after the election.
Pamela Brown is live for us in Washington this morning. Pamela, Trump supporters were donating millions, and this was not money paying for what they thought it was.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Brianna. And that was really what the committee aimed to showcase, that Donald Trump's election lies spread as he ignored key advisers and then profited off of those lies.
But, Brianna and John, the question of whether the committee will ask the Justice Department to further investigate its findings sparks fresh drama in the wake of the second hearing, as the two leaders of the committee publicly split on the issue.
BROWN (voice over): Chairman Bennie Thompson publicly claiming the January 6th House select committee will not refer former President Trump or anyone else to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): What I prefer that we complete our work and seal that work with the Department of Justice. And they will make that call after that.
BROWN: Even without a referral, the Justice Department could prosecute. But some committee members feel those comments are premature.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We haven't had a discussion about that. I thought we defer that decision until we concluded our investigation, at least that's my understanding. BROWN: Vice Chair Liz Cheney pushing back on Thompson's statement, writing in a tweet, the January 6th select committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals.
Despite the discord in the committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland says he is monitoring its findings.
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am watching and I will be watching all the hearings. And I can assure you that the January 6th prosecutors are watching all the hearings as well.
BROWN: The disconnect over criminal referrals coming in the wake of the second January 6 committee hearing, detailing how Trump's campaign lawyers and advisers knew his claims of election fraud were unfounded.
BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We told him that the group that went over there outlined, you know, my belief and chances for success at this point. And then we pegged it at 5, maybe 10 percent.
BROWN: In a video deposition played during the hearing, Trump's former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, detailed a chaotic election night where he advised the president not to declare victory just yet.
STEPIEN: It was far too early to be making any calls like that. Ballots -- ballots were still being counted.
BROWN: That didn't stop Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.
BROWN: Campaign Adviser Jason Miller claimed in a deposition it was after a conversation with Rudy Giuliani that Trump decided to claim victory.
JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: There are suggestions by, I believe, it was Mayor Giuliani to go declare victory and say they won it outright. And the mayor was definitely intoxicated but I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president, for example.
BROWN: Giuliani's lawyer on Monday denied he was intoxicated on election night. Several Trump campaign lawyers testified they did not believe the election lies Giuliani and Trump were peddling.
ALEX CANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: I remember telling him that I didn't believe the Dominion allegations.
ERIC HERSCHMAN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: What they were proposing, I thought, was nuts.
BROWN: Former Attorney General Bill Barr's previously recorded testimony spotlighted his impression of Trump's state of mind.
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were. I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has, you know, lost contact with -- he's become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.
BROWN: The committee also mapping out the massive fundraising effort in the months after the election. It claims most of the $250 million that poured in went to Trump's political action committee, instead of going toward an election integrity effort as advertised.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): The Trump campaign used these false claims of election fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters.
The big lie was also a big rip-off.
BROWN (on camera): And, in fact, the official election defense fund that Team Trump promoted may never have actually existed and about $5 billion raised went to the company that ran Trump's rally at The Ellipse on January 6th.
Now, Donald Trump released a 12-page statement defending himself and trashing the committee, arguing it won't show countervailing opinions and saying, quote, what are they afraid of.
Now, I do want to note, though, He did continue to point out or push these unproven theories, these disproven theories of election fraud that he has been pushing since right after the election, that had been disproven through evidence and through his own advisers in the committee. Clearly, the former president would not move on despite the mounting evidence against those theories. But looking ahead, the third hearing will occur Wednesday morning.
KEILAR: All right. We'll be watching with you. Pamela Brown in Washington, thank you.
BERMAN: All right. Here with us now, Daniel Goldman, the former lead counsel for House Democrats in the first impeachment of Donald Trump. And he's former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and we should note he is also now a candidate for New York's 10th Congressional District. Dan, it's great to see you in person.
Listen, I want to focus on the money because that's where the committee ended and that's where Pamela just ended there. Where might the legal jeopardy be there, if any, for Trump world and specifically Donald Trump?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, I think the legal jeopardy for Trump world is pretty clear. They solicited donations for an express purpose, which was this legal defense fund, which did not exist. And in order to prove that, there was -- you prove that it didn't exist, you'd prove that the money came in, but then you'd have to go and interview some of the people who sent the money in and say, why did you send this money in? And would you have to get testimony from them that said, I did it to support this legal defense fund. And you'd show the legal defense fund doesn't exist and you basically got a criminal case. It's a pretty textbook case of wire fraud.
The more difficult thing is to attach this to Donald Trump, which seems like the theme of the last four years, because he is going to be removed from the actual creation of the documents, the sending of the documents. So, what you would have to do as a prosecutor is go to the source. Go to the people who sent it out, who came up with the theory, who did it and then work your way up the chain. Because, presumably, Donald Trump didn't know that he was getting $250 million on a bogus but it's harder to prove that with actual evidence than it is just to assert that.
KEILAR: But if someone didn't know about the creation of this PAC or how this was being used benefits from the ill-gotten money, then what is their responsibility or what happens to the money? What happens to what they've spent it on?
GOLDMAN: So, what the other thing that will flow from this is a host of civil lawsuits. I mean, this is a plaintiffs class action lawyer's dream is to go to all these donors and essentially file a class action lawsuit for fraud. So, the fact that someone might have benefited from it might make them civilly liable.
But the difference between civil liability and criminal liability is that you have to affirmatively do something in order to defraud a victim to be charged with a crime. If you benefit from it, you might be liable civilly and you would have to give the money back. But I would 100 percent expect that we will not only have criminal investigation or investigations out of this but a number of civil lawsuits.
BERMAN: More sensational allegations were that money went to a Mark Meadows' charity. That money went to paying Kimberly Guilfoyle $60,000 for a three-minute speech. Does the sensational and some might say scandalous, and we have reporting later on the show, that there were Trump insiders upset that she was paid that much, does the sensational nature of that have a legal implication?
GOLDMAN: Only in the optics, right? So, if I'm trying this case, the first witness I put up there is, you know, someone -- a victim, necessarily, who is irate at where the money actually went. And, you know, there's a -- trials are shows, in many respects. So, it doesn't have a legal significance other than the fact it went to something other than what it was purported to be for. So, it doesn't really matter.
But from an optics standpoint, which matters, from an appearance standpoint, it's much worst that this grift went to a Mark Meadows charity or $5 million of it went to pay the January 6 event organizers. I mean, it makes it look like January 6 was simply a money-making venture for MAGA world and that there was -- it was really just trying to use their supporters for their own personal enrichment. KEILAR: Dan, we're seeing some division on the committee when it comes to whether they are going to refer to the DOJ criminal charges, right, when it comes to what they have uncovered here, or at least there's disagreement when it comes to the messaging.
Because the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, is saying, no, they're not going to doing this, Liz Cheney and others seem to be saying, not so fast or they're keeping their powder dry. The committee coming out and saying we haven't made a decision yet. What's going on?
GOLDMAN: I think what's more interesting about it is the division than the actual issue of a criminal referral. We know that the Department of Justice, we know at least, they're late to the game, but they are investigating this. So, a criminal referral does nothing to the Department of Justice because they're already investigating this.
But what is interesting is the conflicting statements between the chair and the vice chair, which demonstrates that they're not on the same page. They may have different opinions. They may have different vested -- different interests but they're not marrying it up and they're airing it out in the public.
I don't know if that says anything more about the relationship between the two of them. It seems to be working relatively well in terms these hearings at least. But a criminal referral is pretty much useless at this point since the Department of Justice is investigating this.
Maybe for the $250 million big grift that we don't know whether they're investigating, you could do it. But it's really important to remember that nothing about a criminal referral from Congress is binding. It has no legal impact. So, it's all optics.
And I think if I were advising the committee, I would suggest they do not refer anything criminally because it would give Trump world a bogus but potential argument that there is something partisan about ensuing prosecution. You just don't want to give any ammunition to the claim, which you know is coming if you're the committee.
BERMAN: What evidence that has been presented, I'm talking about the evidence that we've seen now in these hearings, do you think is of the greatest legal significance?
GOLDMAN: I think, so far, what we've seen the greatest legal significance is the degree and the extent to which Donald Trump was told over and over and over by so many different of his own senior officials that there was no fraud, because that is going to be the crux of any criminal trial against him. You have to prove that he intended -- that he knew that his allegations were false, and that he still went forward, trying to interfere with the lawful function of government, which is to overturn the election.
And what he will claim, as he's still claiming in his 12-page missive, is that he genuinely believed there was election fraud, therefore, he did not have the necessary state of mind to be committing a crime. So, what the prosecutors will have to show is that relief is completely unreasonable because you were told over and over and over by everybody other than Drunk Rudy that it was false. And you, therefore, are putting your head in the sand, which is not a defense to a criminal case. But all of that evidence, Bill Barr, Jason Miller, everything we saw from Republican appointees and Republican officials, all of the witnesses were Republicans yesterday, and all of those -- those statements, that testimony is going to be essential to prove his intent.
BERMAN: Daniel Goldman, nice to see you in person. Thank you for being here.
KEILAR: Georgia investigators are looking at efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn the state's 2020 election results, and they now want to talk to Kanye West's former publicist.
Sara Murray is live in Washington with this new CNN reporting. This is curious. What is going on here?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, come with me on this journey. It is bizarre when you think about what this investigation, but essentially what happened is, after the 2020 election, this former publicist for Kanye West and R. Kelly shows up at the home of a Georgia election worker.
So, Trevian Kutti is the publicist. The election worker has already faced this barrage of threats. She's been targeted by Donald Trump, targeted by Trump's allies. So, the election workers seemingly freaked out. She calls 911. The cops say, look, why don't you guys come to the precinct and have this conversation there? We can film it.
What investigators say that the publicist wanted was to coerce essentially a false confession of voter fraud out of this election worker. So, they go to the police precinct and then we have the body cam footage of their roughly hour-long interaction.
In this interaction, the publicist, Trevian Kutti, says, I cannot say what specifically will take place. I just know it will disrupt your freedom. The publicist goes on to tell this election worker, you are a loose end for a party that needs to tidy up.
Now, apparently during this interaction, the publicist puts the election worker on the phone with a couple of different individuals. We don't know what was said during that conversation. What investigators said in court filings is that need the testimony from this publicist.
They want to know how she ended up showing at the home of this election worker, what the conversation was before they moved over to the police precinct, and they also want to know who was on the phone during these multiple conversations where this publicist is connecting this election worker to these various third parties. We should note that the documents that came along with this court filing included a police report where Trevian Kutti said she was a crisis manager and she was sent from a high-profile individual, although it doesn't identify who that individual is.
I think --
KEILAR: You think what? I have like a million more questions. Go on.
MURRAY: I know. I was just going to say, this kind of points out how sprawling the investigation is in Georgia. We don't know that this is going to be central part. We should also note that Kutti did not respond to our request for comment, Brianna.
KEILAR: Wow. It seems like investigators have a million more questions as well. Sara Murray, thank you.
A new law in Ohio will make it easier for teachers and school staff to carry guns in schools.
BERMAN: Voters heading to the polls in five states. Key races to watch.
Plus, what Amber Heard just said, her first interview since her defeat in the blockbuster defamation trial.
KEILAR: In Ohio, Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that makes it easier for teachers and staff to carry guns at school. The new law dramatically reduces the amount of training required for teachers and other school staff from 700 hours to just 24 hours.
Joining us now is the director of Government Affairs at the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, Michael Weinman. Michael, I know that the FOP has a lot of concerns about this. Let's start with the training time. What is your issue with the training time reduction here?
MICHAELWEINMAN, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE OF OHIO: Well, 24 hours maximum training on this bill, and what it doesn't set a minimum. So, it could be as little as four hours of training that we're seeing in this bill. And it doesn't talk about how long you spend at the range. So, this lack of training is really concerning to us.
KEILAR: How much time -- what is the minimum amount of time that, say, a teacher who might be armed could end up spending at the range to get their qualification for this, as you see it?
WEINMAN: Yes. I mean it doesn't really say in the bill. I mean, what it talks about is four hours of training in scenario-based incidents, and that's it. That's the minimum amount talked about in this bill. So, it doesn't talk about how much time you actually spend on a range with a weapon.
KEILAR: What about room for accidents? Is there any room for accidents in classrooms here? What do teachers need if they were to be armed to be proficient at reducing that?
WEINMAN: Well, quite frankly, we -- law enforcement in Ohio gets at least 46 hours of training on the range in our base academy and we have to re-qualify every year. That's not happening in this bill. And then also what a lot of officers are taught is whenever you have a gun, you're bringing a gun into that scenario that can be used against you. So, you're taught weapons retention. You're taught to fight for that gun. And now you're going to have a teacher could be sitting on a carpet reading to their students and have a zero retention holster with this gun. So, none of that is covered in this bill.
KEILAR: What do you think considering maybe some missteps or some things that aren't accounted for? I think, obviously, the goal of this bill is to protect students, right? I think we can agree. The goal of this bill is protect students. You're worried there're so many unintended consequences that are possible. What would school look like, in your opinion, with those unintended consequences if this goes into effect?
WEINMAN: Well, most of the shooters in these school shootings are students. The students are going to learn who these teachers are that are carrying these weapons. So, these weapons are being brought into the school by the staffers. It doesn't have to be a teacher. It could be any employee that the school board employees.
So, you know, you're bringing in a gun into a scenario where, you know, the student could get to it. And when it comes to an active shooter situation, you know, are these teachers going to be proficient enough to be able to be on target and not strike other students in a crowded cafeteria or gym or auditorium or something like that. There's going to be mass chaos when this shooting occurs.
KEILAR: I wonder, Michael, I've been surprised now, whenever I run into a teacher, I ask them what they would think about carrying a weapon. I know this is entirely anecdotal. But I personally have been surprised that a lot of them are comfortable with it. Obviously, there are many who are not.
But what does that say to you that there are schools looking towards this, teachers looking towards this not looking towards police? They see what happened at Uvalde. They don't trust that police are going to be there for them. And this certainly is not the first shooting where a police response was something that was so much in question. What does that tell you?
WEINMAN: Well, it tells me that, you know, officers, these agencies need to build trust throughout their communities. And I don't know what the holdup with Uvalde was. That's unfortunate, since Columbine officers have not been taught to just stand around and wait. You're taught to engage with a shooter immediately upon arrival. You're not even instructed to wait for a backup.
So, one of the arguments --
KEILAR: But, I mean, they waited at Parkland. I mean, you saw that at parkland too, the student resource officer there waiting.
WEINMAN: Yes, these are isolated incidents. We have thousands of school resource officers across the country who will do everything in their power to protect students and engage shooters and put their lives on the line. You know, we have thousands of members of the FOP, over 300,000, that wouldn't hesitate to put themselves in between a shooter and a student.
KEILAR: Yes. We've covered some of those amazing stories. It truly is amazing, the sacrifice, the risk they will take. Michael Weinman, thank you so much. We do appreciate your perspective on this.
WEINMAN: Thank you.
KEILAR: So, ahead, we're going to be joined by Trevor Reed as he marks 48 days since his release from Russian detention. His new plea for Vladimir Putin to be held accountable.
BERMAN: And voters in five states heading to the polls today. CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten standing by with the races to watch.