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House January 6th Select Committee Continues Hearings Concerning Pressure Campaign Former President Trump and Supporters Put on State Officials to Overturn 2020 Presidential Election; Ivanka Trump Testified She Believed 2020 Election Was Legitimate While Still Publicly Encouraging Former President Trump to Pursue Legal Challenges to Election Outcome; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed on Gun Safety Bill. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 08:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Wednesday, June 22nd. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

Harassment campaigns, threats against state officials, fake elector schemes, a compelling and disturbing day four of the January 6th committee hearings, and it directly linked former president Donald Trump to all of it. In the end, Trump's allies could not produce any evidence of election fraud, something that they openly admitted.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: At some point, did one of them make a comment that they didn't have evidence but they had a lot of theories?


SCHIFF: And what exactly did he say, and how did that come up?

BOWERS: My recollection, he said, we've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence.


KEILAR: The pressure campaign on state officials was relentless, even dangerous. It included ugly threats and intimidation by Trump supporters and the former president himself, leaving one Georgia election worker too scared to even say her own name out loud in public, a steep price for those who defended democracy and did their job.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The committee also unveiled new information about previously unknown activity involving Wisconsin's Republican Senator Ron Johnson. His aide offered to hand deliver fake electors to Vice President Mike Pence on January 6th. Now, Johnson claims this is a nonstory. CNN's Manu Raju pressed him on this. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)


SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R-WI): Because somebody delivered this to our office and asked to deliver that to the vice president.

RAJU: Who is the person that delivered it?

JOHNSON: I have no idea.


BERMAN: And new reporting this morning on Ivanka Trump. This is a reminder of what she told the January 6th committee in a taped deposition when asked about Bill Barr's conclusion that there was no widespread election fraud.


IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying.


BERMAN: Barr made those claims on December 1st, 2020, but nine days later, Ivanka Trump told a documentary film crew that her father, quote, will continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted, and that's what he should do.

Here with us, Maggie Haberman who broke this story for "The New York Times." She is a CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for "The New York Times." Maggie, you have actually seen this video. Explain what it is and where what Ivanka Trump says fits in all of this.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: John, she was shown testifying before the House select committee in that video clip you just played saying that Bill Barr's statement, which was December 1st, 2020, affected her thinking. She really respected Bill Barr. Bill Barr, remember, said there is no widespread fraud.

Nine days later she sat with this filmmaker who was doing some kind of a documentary, legacy project, about Donald Trump, and he asked her her take on her father's claims about the election, which by then were still that it was stolen, that it was fraudulent, he was still trying to get the results overturned. And she said part of what you just showed, that he should keep fighting, that he should exhaust every legal remedy, that people were questioning the, quote-unquote, sanctity of the elections process. And she says this without acknowledging that part of why people were questioning was that her father kept saying they should question it.

Now, I suspect what she said under oath is what she actually believed, but what she said in the video was at odds, and it was a real reminder of how little people were saying to Donald Trump's face about what they thought about what he was doing.

BERMAN: It's interest, if she's saying that on video, you are left to infer she may not have been saying the truth to her father during that time period.

Maggie, what is this video that all of a sudden we have learned, the committee is going to speak to the filmmaker and take a look at all of the footage they have available. It does seem that people within Trump world were a little bit surprised by this revelation.

HABERMAN: John, there was a very small group of people that was aware of this film crew being around in first place. And a bunch of them didn't even know, who I spoke with yesterday, remember there had been some interviews with someone who was British who turned out to be the filmmaker. A lot of campaign officials had no idea of what was going on, and they were stunned when they learned from "Politico" that this footage had been subpoenaed, and it turns out that the filmmaker is going to meet with the committee, as you said, tomorrow.

He has three interviews with Donald Trump, two were before January 6th, one was after at Mar-a-Lago, which means that that was after the riot, after everything that we saw on that day. And it will be an interesting question as to what it gets to his mindset.

What else could be on these videos, we don't know. I don't know they had any significance in terms of whether people were talking about the elections specifically and plans, but the committee wants to know what's there.

BERMAN: You say people you talked to were stunned. Are they worried at all?

HABERMAN: Well, the people that I talked to are not worried because they're not in it.


My understanding is that there is some anxiety among some family members about what might have been said, again, not necessarily for legal reasons, but just because there are things like what we just discussed, which are at odds with other statements that have been made. I think that the people I spoke with, I know the people I spoke with who worked on the campaign, senior officials among them, couldn't really believe that people were bringing in a documentary filmmaker to just follow people around sort of with no clarity or visibility by a lot of people about what was happening. This is not typical in a campaign, to say the least, without it being a broader, preplanned effort. And it just speaks, John, to the degree to which there are sort of these rooms within rooms in Trump's orbit.

BERMAN: Our Melanie Zanona and Gabby Orr reporting on how the former president isn't happy with the fact that these hearings are going on, the way that they are, without somebody not defending him in the room because Kevin McCarthy chose not to have that happen. You have got similar reporting, Maggie. What are you hearing on that front? HABERMAN: Exactly the same, John. He has been -- there are other

Republicans who were feeling this way well before he was. But he has a small cadre of allies who have been in his ear about this for the last couple of weeks, and it has occurred to him as he's watching these hearings that there are none of his, what he sees as his fighters who are on this committee. He now blames Kevin McCarthy, as do other Republicans, for not negotiating further when his two picks, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, were not allowed on the committee by Nancy Pelosi. It has meant that basically the presentation is entirely from people who have been very critical of Donald Trump. And that is very frustrating to him, especially because, as you know, he consumes all of this through television.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, great to see you this morning sharing your reporting which you broke. Great to see you. Brianna?

KEILAR: Joining us now, we have CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates, and also with us, former Republican Congresswoman from Virginia, Barbara Comstock. Laura, how much more, if any, legal jeopardy is Donald Trump in today, right now, than he was 24 hours ago?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Even more, because you have more evidence he may have in fact known what he was doing was fraudulent. Last week we knew that he was told multiple times by his attorney, John Eastman, at one point, that he didn't necessarily know this was going to be or have any weight to it. He was told by his campaign advisers, the council for Vice President Mike Pence, all of these people were talking about how this was not a legitimate exercise, that all legal remedies have been exhausted.

You have certain laws on the books, federally and at the state level, in Georgia in particular, that say, look, if you're trying to interfere with an election by deception, by trying to procure or tabulate nonexistent ballots, for example, you have legal jeopardy. Maybe trying to find them. If he knew there was nothing to find, you've got more and more exposure here.

Having said that, there is still some work to be done to make that bridge complete. The idea of whether it is just people who were in the Capitol who said I believe this, so I acted on that, that's not going to be enough unless he has a direct interaction.

KEILAR: Do you think he looks worse in all of this, especially considering what we just heard from Maggie there, with the fact that Donald Trump was getting some encouragement, perhaps, from people who just were telling him what he wanted to hear, including his own daughter, perhaps.

BARBARA COMSTOCK, (R) FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSWOMAN: No. I think it is clear from the record and every day it becomes more clear that his own campaign told him he lost, his Justice Department told him there was not fraud to the degree that it could change anything, and they threatened to quit. That will be hearing, if he didn't, if he tried to fire people to pursue this, and then his own vice president, all the legal counsel, the serious lawyers, everybody was there. Yet he went out and sought the clown car, as Bill Barr called it, of lawyers. So, no, he didn't have people who were telling them this is all legitimate. He knew it was false. And I think our long tape in Georgia is one of the most damning pieces of evidence of Trump testifying against himself.

KEILAR: You saw what Manu was asking Senator Ron Johnson yesterday outside of the Capitol. I wonder if you find it believable what Ron Johnson is saying, that he didn't know what his chief of staff was doing when he was trying to deliver fake electors from Wisconsin and Michigan to Pence's staff just before this whole process on January 6th. Do you believe him?

COMSTOCK: I think there is a lot more that was going on with these fake electors, because you have all these states that they were reaching out to. And again, it was Donald Trump directly. Remember, he brought in people from Pennsylvania, we haven't even heard what went on there. People hiding out in Michigan, as we heard a little piece of it. So I think there is going to be a lot more of that, say, if a grand jury were looking at that, there would be a lot more information on that front. And the idea that people are coming in with made up fake ballots and give them to this guy and pass them over -- again, it was a clown car show, but it was a very deliberate effort to get them to overturn the election.


That is the whole effort that he's involved in, and I think every day the case gets so much stronger.

COATES: The idea of a member of Congress just willy-nilly handing over documents to the vice president, the second person in line, is bizarre. It is --

KEILAR: To be clear, it was his chief of staff in the texts.

COATES: OK, well, the chief of staff of a congressperson --

KEILAR: And my question is, is it believable that the senator, the chief of staff, that the senator wouldn't know or that the chief of staff would be doing this without his boss telling him to do it?

COMSTOCK: You don't pass on things without knowing what they are to the Vice President. You check that out. So I think there will still be more.

COATES: And to your point, Congresswoman, you named Pennsylvania, Michigan, we've been focused a lot on Georgia. But the testimony yesterday of Bowers and others suggests that there was a coordinated effort to try to interfere with individual states outside of Georgia. The pressure exerted on things like the secretary -- the House speaker in Arizona. The idea that this is only a centralized focused to fine 11,000 or more votes as opposed it trying to put your thumb on the scale in various jurisdictions, that makes this a broader investigation, outside of the realm even of federal law. There are state laws in each of these areas that suggest that you cannot try to interfere with an election, or try to remove somebody's ability to have a fair and free election.

Remember former attorney general Eric Holder tweeted out immediately when we heard about that Brad Raffensperger call, a criminal code that talked about if you try to interfere with the fair and free process of an individual state in the federal election, you've got problems. Each of those states talks about it.

COMSTOCK: We were reminded yesterday, Gabe Sterling in early December said stop doing this. The danger and the violence that was coming out of this, this is what was going on in Arizona, that was known in real time. And so when you're able to have, I imagine, a grand jury and you're able to show them, be able to read a lot of these vile texts that people were getting, things were known, because if you just go back and look at your own coverage, I'm sure day after day after day there were threats of violence here in Washington. There were arrests and things going on in December. Donald Trump was aware of this in that whole time.

Gabe Sterling, that got a lot of attention at the time, and he talked about the noose that workers were, I guess in the office or whatever happened there, and all the threats that were coming in, in real time, and he ignored it, because remember, on January 6th, they're saying, maybe these people are more upset than you are, Kevin. And he said the same thing about Mike Pence, well, maybe he deserves it. This was a state of mind he had early on that, unlike Speaker Bowers, who said I'm not going to cheat to win, Donald Trump made it clear from the start he was happy to cheat to win.

KEILAR: Yes, and this process revealing --

COMSTOCK: And to ask people to do it.

KEILAR: -- revealing the dataset that Donald Trump was working with at the time. Laura Coates, Congresswoman Comstock, thank you so much for being with us.

COMSTOCK: Thank you.

KEILAR: So overnight, a bipartisan gun safety bill advanced in the Senate. Yes, I said that. So what is in this, and when it could become law? We're going to speak to a key senator, part of those negotiations.

And this just in, President Biden calling for a suspension of federal gas taxes until the end of September. But will it make a difference?

BERMAN: A terrifying scene on a Miami tarmac, a passenger plane catches fire. We have new details ahead.



BERMAN: With a late night procedural vote, the Senate has taken a major step toward passing a bipartisan gun safety bill. The bill closes the so-called boyfriend loophole, which allows

unmarried partners access to guns, even if they're found guilty of violence. It also includes millions of dollars of investments in mental health and school safety programs, and incentivizes red flag laws, and enhances background checks for young gun buyers.

Joining us now, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He is part of the bipartisan group who has been working on this legislation.

Senator, nice to see you this morning.

I want to talk policy before process here, if I can. Now that the text is out, what's in here that you think has the potential to make the biggest difference?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, there's a number of things you just referenced that I'm so glad we were able to move ahead last night in the Senate. We had 14 Republicans join in supporting this bill.

The billions of dollars of investment in community mental health. Obviously, strengthening background checks for 18 to 21-year-olds. Closing the so-called boyfriend loophole. There is also additional penalties for trafficking in guns, for so-called straw purchasers, that I think will be important.

And, frankly, one of the things important to my home community and many others is $250 million for violence interruption programs, something that's been proven around the country to help prevent a cycle of gun violence at the community level.

BERMAN: I want to focus on the so-called boyfriend loophole for a second because one of the things that's interesting about this is this -- people have tried to get this closed before, this loophole, and haven't been able to.

So, why now? What made the difference this time?

COONS: Well, frankly, persistent engagement, and I am so grateful to a wide range of senators, Senators Murphy and Blumenthal of Connecticut, Senator Sinema of Arizona, Senators Cornyn and Tillis, two Republicans who helped lead this. Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota has long led efforts on closing the boyfriend loophole.

And this time, it was difficult. It nearly dropped out several times. There is a way that one can appeal to get their gun restored. There was a tragic case in Delaware, involving a so-called red flag law, where someone had their guns removed and then on appeal had them returned and used that exact weapon in a murder/suicide.

So these are always contentious issues. How we strike the right balance between making sure there is due process for the potential restoration of a firearm and yet making sure that those convicted of domestic violence, whether it is against a spouse or simply a dating partner are prevented from buying weapons when they demonstrated a propensity for violence and have been convicted for it.


BERMAN: Just the headline: bipartisan gun safety legislation, it feels unusual.

COONS: Yes. It does.

BERMAN: This is something that hasn't been possible before.

What's the secret sauce? People might look at this and say, okay, bipartisan things can happen. So what's the secret sauce here that maybe you can take forward?

COONS: Well, look, ten years ago when Sandy Hook happened, that incredible tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut, Senators Toomey and Manchin worked very hard to try and get universal background checks. And that fell short partly because of ferocious, fierce lobbying by the NRA and by the time that it took to negotiate the details.

Here I think building on previous experience, a core group of senators moved quickly, took advantage of the fact that the whole country was sickened, was shocked by the massacre of Black Americans at a grocery store in Buffalo on a weekend, the massacre of elementary school students in Uvalde, Texas, and so many other incidents of mass gun violence that have happened over the last few weeks, let alone the last few years. And moved quickly to negotiate text, to come to a framework agreement, to get the text to the floor, because if we waited weeks and weeks more to negotiate the details, I suspect the same thing would have happened this time.

So, coming together around a few things that we have had hearings on, we worked on, where we all know each other and where we all know what the core issues are, that's what the group that has really led this over the finish line has done. And I'm so encouraged that we had a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate last night.

BERMAN: And it passes this week?

COONS: I think we don't leave this week until this passes the Senate, and then I hope, I expect that the House will take it up and pass it when they return. I believe this gets to the president's desk by the end of July.

BERMAN: End of July, not end of June?

COONS: Well, the end of June would be the end of this week. And so that's when I think it will get out of the Senate, I think it will then go to the House. The House will be on a fourth of July recess, it could be as early as the second week of July, but I'm giving a little cushion, things do move slowly here in the United States Congress.

BERMAN: I've heard that before.

Senator Chris Coons, nice to see you this morning. Thank you.

COONS: Thank you, John. KEILAR: We are getting information just in on a devastating

earthquake in Afghanistan. At least 1,000 people are dead. That number is expected to climb.

This was a 5.9 magnitude quake according to an emergency official and this was south of Kabul, near the border with Pakistan.

I want to go now to CNN's Vedika Sud for the latest on this. What do you know at this point? It sounds like this is very bad and bound to get worse.


This earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan at 1:24 local time, that's when most of the people in the region were fast asleep in their homes. Now, like you pointed out, more than 1,000 people are dead and injured stand at 1,500.

But, Brianna, this number has gone up in the last six hours. But six hours ago, the officials said the casualties stand at about 260, and now it has gone up to a thousand. We're expecting more casualty figures to come in over the next few hours.

Let me just tell you about the two worst impacted regions, one of them is the Paktika region and the other is the Khost region. Both of these regions are near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

Now, we're talking about remote mountain villages here. You can imagine what the health officials are there, they would be very basic. What you're seeing in videos is people -- is a lot of people there are scrambling really to help others and take them to safer ground. You also see a lot of rubble around the place.

Most of the homes in this region are made of mud. Now, the Indian monsoon has already impacted these homes, weakened them. They already are quite unstable at this point. When the earthquake hit, it really reduced them to rubble.

And what's made it worse is the fact that the depth of the quake was 10 kilometers, so quite to the surface, because of which the casualty figures have gone up. We all know this region has been home to conflict for decades. They haven't had the money really to put together an infrastructure, to protect themselves from natural calamities and earthquakes.

And this comes at a time, Brianna, when Afghanistan is in the midst of a humanitarian and economic crisis -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And this is making it so much worse. Vedika Sud, thank you so much for the update there. We'll continue to follow this.

The election lies pushed by former President Trump and his allies now becoming a huge legal problem for the media outlets that repeated them.

BERMAN: And a new move by the Biden administration to make cigarettes a little less addictive.



BERMAN: New legal defeats for Fox, OAN and Newsmax related to their peddling of former President Trump's lie about election fraud.

This comes as the January 6th committee continues to debunk conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election.

Joining me now, CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter.

Brian, what's going on with these lawsuits?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Think of this as a parallel track to the hearings. This is another form of accountability for the election lies and it is happening basically on multiple tracts at the same time.

Last week, a judge denied Newsmax's motion to throw out Dominion's lawsuit against Newsmax. Of course, Dominion is one of those big voting technology companies that helps run elections in the U.S. and around the world. And it says it was defamed by a lot of the rhetoric post-election 2020.

So, Dominion is suing some of these networks and some of these individuals. Smartmatic is the other company suing. Yesterday, Smartmatic won a victory against Fox Corporation, the same judge that denied Newsmax's motion, yesterday denied Fox News's motion to throw out that lawsuit by Smartmatic.

And then, yesterday, OAN, One America News, a right wing fringe network, lost another motion by Dominion to reject another lawsuit by Dominion.

So, basically, you got two voting technology companies suing these three right wing networks and the networks keep losing. The voting companies keep winning.