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DOJ Intensifies Fake Elector Probe, Issuing Subpoenas In Georgia, Pennsylvania, And Michigan; Inside The White House's Scramble To Contain Formula Crisis; South Carolina Democrat Seeks Age Limit For "Geriatric" Politicians. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I don't. I think that the Republican senators that are voting for this are committed to getting this done. And while that clipped that you played was just a show for the cameras, President Trump didn't end up doing anything to try to stem gun violence in this country.
What he said yesterday is just untrue. There is nothing in this bill that violates people's Second Amendment rights. All we are doing is making sure that dangerous people -- people that shouldn't have weapons don't have them, and that is something that is supported by 90% of the American public.
And this fantasy that people like me have this secret agenda to confiscate weapons is just ridiculous. It is laughable. And I'm glad that my Republican partners, notwithstanding the gun lobby's opposition and notwithstanding Donald Trump's opposition, have decided to the right thing. And they've done that because 90% of the American public support what we're doing here. Democracy just dictates that when that many people want change that we have no choice but to do what they want.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And Sen. Murphy, before I let you go, I do want to ask you about something else that's happening -- something that President Biden called for yesterday -- not on guns but on gas prices that we've seen incredibly high in the last several weeks and month.
He wants Congress to pass a federal gas tax holiday, which would essentially suspend the federal gas tax for the next three months. Is that something that you support?
MURPHY: I do. Listen, I support anything that's going to bring costs down for consumers.
What I know is that right now, we are in a moment of global inflation. Whether you have a left-leaning government or a right-leaning government, countries are dealing with massive inflation because of supply chain constraints, the war in Ukraine, lockdowns in China.
And while I think there are limited things that a government can do to try to bring those prices down right now, I'm going to support any step that makes things easier, especially this summer, on people in my state.
COLLINS: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you for joining us this morning.
MURPHY: Thank you.
COLLINS: Up next, we're also going to be joined by an Arizona election official with reaction to the Justice Department's new subpoenas in the fake elector probe. One of the people who were subpoenaed was accused of working that scheme in his state.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And new CNN reporting is giving us an inside look at the early White House scramble to contain the baby formula crisis.
BERMAN: Developing overnight, the Justice Department issuing new subpoenas in its investigation into the fake elector scheme pushed by, at a minimum, the former President Trump -- the former president's allies. Sources tell CNN that the Department of Justice issued subpoenas to Trump electors in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, all states that former President Trump lost.
Also subpoenaed, according to The Washington Post, Thomas Lane, who worked in the Trump campaign's efforts in Arizona and New Mexico.
Joining me now is someone who held firm against all kinds of election lies, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona, Republican Bill Gates. Thank you so much for being with us.
What did you personally see in terms of this fake elector scheme in Arizona?
BILL GATES, (R) CHAIRMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Well, this fake elector scheme was really key to the whole January 6 effort of the Trump campaign. I mean, here, we had -- these weren't just sort of random people who were the fake electors. These are, sadly, leaders of today's Arizona Republican Party -- Kelli Ward, chairman; national committeeman Tyler Bowyer; Jim Lamon who is running for the U.S. Senate; current member of the Arizona House Jay Coffman, and others.
So this was a serious effort and it wasn't something that was done in secret. They held this meeting at the Arizona Republican Party headquarters and voted to certify these fake electors.
BERMAN: Is this something that would ever have been done without the direction, in your mind, or at least communication with the Trump campaign?
GATES: I can't imagine that it -- that it would have. I mean, in fact, I think this Mr. Lane that you're referring to -- there was a picture I saw last night on social media with him handing paperwork to the folks at the table and I think he had a Trump campaign jacket on. BERMAN: Based on what you know about Arizona election law -- and you
know more than most on planet Earth, I would suggest -- this whole idea of this alternative slate of electors. Any basis in that whatsoever?
GATES: No basis at all. And I'm so proud of the Speaker of the Arizona House Rusty Bowers, who everyone got to see earlier this week, saying he was open to allegations of fraud. He wanted to hear them. And I was, too. My colleagues and I -- we certified the election.
And we talked to Kelli Ward and others in the party and we said bring us facts and evidence, but there wasn't any. There were no facts and evidence so there was absolutely no basis for assembling these fake electors. The only reason to do it was to lay the predicate for January 6.
And the problem is that good people who were misled -- they saw this happen and they thought this is real. Donald Trump actually won. And therefore, they thought they were justified in breaking in and desecrating the Capitol of our country.
BERMAN: Based on what you have seen in the January 6 hearings, and based on what you have seen for yourself over these 18 months and beforehand -- before even January 6 -- do you feel that laws were broken? And I'm not just talking about those who entered the Capitol grounds. I'm talking about in the planning and the carrying out by people who may have been connected to Trump world.
GATES: Well, I'm very concerned. Again, I'm not a prosecutor but we have a top prosecutor in the state, Mark Brnovich. He is well aware of the election tampering that was attempted.
All of the people within the Arizona Republican Party -- I mean, Rudy Giuliani called me on Christmas Eve trying to get my colleagues and I to turn over the ballots and the machines that were used in November of 2020.
And the Arizona Senate filed paperwork in federal court trying to force my colleagues and I to turn over those documents saying that they needed those ballots and machines for the January 6 hearing. They wanted any kind of evidence to try and raise questions and to try and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
BERMAN: You mentioned the courage of Rusty Bowers speaking about what he went through and the pressure that he faced. Were you at all surprised when he told the Associated Press in an interview that even with all he saw if Donald Trump was on the ballot against Joe Biden he would vote for Donald Trump?
GATES: Well, Rusty Bowers is a good man and I'm sure that he has his reasons for wanting to vote for Donald Trump. But for me, with all that I have seen now -- the clear attempt to try and overturn this election and, frankly, President Trump's absolute lack of regard or reverence for our Constitution and our system of government -- I couldn't. But I certainly respect that that's how Speaker Bowers feels.
BERMAN: Chairman Bill Gates, as always, thank you for speaking with us this morning. I know it's early for you out there.
GATES: Thank you.
BERMAN: So, as the January 6 Committee gears up for today's hearing, word that members have beefed up security because of violent threats.
COLLINS: And ahead, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is going to join NEW DAY after confronting the Federal Reserve chairman on what he's doing to fix inflation.
COLLINS: CNN has new details this morning on the early stages of the baby formula shortage and a discussion between the White House and the FDA as Biden officials were concerned about steps that needed to be taken to avert the full-blown crisis.
Joining me now is CNN White House correspondent MJ Lee, and CNN reporter Priscilla Alvarez. Thank you both for being here this morning and on this reporting.
And, MJ, what did you see about what the White House -- discussions that they were having and concerns that they had about what this could potentially turn into?
MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, just to take us one step back, remember, it was in the month of February that this major Abbott baby formula plant shuts down. There is a major recall because some of the products end up making some babies sick.
And at this moment in time, this is when the administration starts tracking two things really closely. One is the in-stock rate. That's basically how much formula is on the store shelves. And then the other is the sales numbers. How much baby formula is being sold compared to the year before.
And in the month of May, they start to see two things happen at the same time. The in-stock rate starts to take a dip, and then the sales numbers go up. They don't know exactly why but clearly, there is a shock and demand as one administration official put it to me.
So at this moment in time, the White House basically informs the FDA we think that we need to start taking some additional actions. That the actions that you all have been taking, the USDA have been taking -- they may not be enough to sort of avert a full-blown crisis. And that's, of course, when we see the president invoke the Defense Production Act. They start bringing in formula from abroad.
You know, Kaitlan, I think, as you know very well, the White House has gotten a lot of questions about why those emergency actions weren't taken until the month of May. And I think our reporting sheds a little bit of light on the timing on all of that.
COLLINS: And so, Priscilla, what was the FDA doing during all of this -- while they're having these conversations with the White House? I know looking at these numbers, were they not equipped to handle an issue like this?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, the FDA says that it was focused on these issues before and after the recall, working with manufacturers and focusing on the issues at the plant in Michigan. But former FDA officials I spoke with explained that the agency, to some degree, was hampered in its ability to really understand the potential infant formula shortage.
The reason for that is, as you know, the FDA oversees -- has oversight over food and drugs. Now, on the food side, they lack the authorities and the data to really understand if a plant shudders that a shortage will happen, as they do on the drug side. On the drug side, they can see what the stock is -- what the inventory is, and if they shudder that plant they can understand maybe what a shortage might look like with drugs.
They don't have that on the food side and it's an authority the FDA has asked Congress to expand. And it is also something that the FDA Commissioner Robert Califf in a hearing in May where he mentioned that they need those authorities and they couldn't fully understand just how bad this shortage was going to be without that.
COLLINS: Which is interesting given there's so few formula manufacturers here in the United States. They have a pretty good idea of how many people are buying baby formula.
But MJ, one big thing about this has been President Biden and him making this admission that he did not get, really, a good grasp of it until much later on. And so, I wonder what is the White House saying about that now and their explanations of why he wasn't filled in by aides until later a later date?
LEE: Yes. You know, this was that exchange that you had with President Biden a couple of weeks ago. Basically, he was in this meeting with baby formula manufacturers. All of these executives are telling him -- President Biden, we knew as soon as there were issues at this Abbott plant in February this was going to be a huge problem.
He then turns to you and says you know what? They knew but I did not. And he eventually says it wasn't until basically sometime in April -- at one point he says early April, in April, and then he says after April -- sometime around that time that I knew about the severity of the issue.
And then, of course, the White House gets deluged with a number of questions about why didn't he know until then. Who failed to inform him. Who eventually told him.
But again, even though the White House has been reticent to sort of get into those details, our reporting does sort of help to explain why it might have been that the president was potentially now aware of the severity of the issue until after April. Because again, it was only until around May that White House officials start seeing the data and start thinking to themselves OK, we think that additional actions might need to get taken.
COLLINS: Yes, and a big question has been if they had taken those actions sooner what would the difference have been.
MJ and Priscilla, thank you both for joining us this morning.
Up next, we're going to have Chris Wallace join us live on the January 6 hearings and the violent threat that the members of the January 6 Committee are now getting.
BERMAN: South Carolina's Democratic nominee for governor here with an announcement that long-serving politicians, including possibly the president, might not be fans of.
BERMAN: You have heard of term limits for politicians, but how about age limits? The Democratic nominee for governor in South Carolina, Joe Cunningham, thinks the people running his state and the country are just too old. That idea is the center of this new campaign video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE CUNNINGHAM, (D) FORMER CONGRESSMAN, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Airline pilots are forced to retire at age 65. Federal law enforcement officers, 57. Judges here in South Carolina, 72.
Have you ever noticed that politicians hardly ever retire? Our country and our state are being run by geriatric oligarchy. The folks who are making a career out of politics are making a mess of our country. That's why it's time to put term limits and age limits on politicians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, joining me now is former congressman and the Democratic nominee for governor of South Carolina, Joe Cunningham. Thank you so much for being with us.
Let's cut right to the chase here. Joe Biden, the President of the United States, is about to turn 80 in the fall. Do you think he is too old to run for reelection?
CUNNINGHAM: Well look, I think that the thing that people hate about politics and politicians, to be honest, is the inconsistency and the hypocrisy. And we look at the White House and see President Biden and we think about what the future is going to look like and a new generation of leadership. And look, if President Biden were here with me right now and he was
asking my opinion whether or not he should run for another term or whether he should step aside and allow a new generation of leadership to emerge, I would tell him the latter.
BERMAN: Your video was a little more clear than that answer you just gave me. You think Joe Biden is too old to run for reelection -- is that what you're saying?
CUNNINGHAM: Yes. I think we need to have a new generation of leadership emerge. And this isn't -- you know, as the video said, judges in South Carolina have to retire at age 72. Democrats have a very deep bench and it's time to allow a new generation to emerge and new talent.
And, you know, President Biden told us himself that he was just a bridge. We're all in a car driving across that bridge and it's time to have -- to have the discussion as to what's on the other side of that bridge and what's the future look like. Because I think we need to have a new vision and new leadership.
And this isn't about personal about Biden but he'll be 82 at the time of the next election. If he served out -- served out a second term, he would be 86 years old. I'm not sure if any of us know of any 86-year- olds who should be running the entire country.
BERMAN: How do you think his age has affected how he has handled the job as president?
CUNNINGHAM: Well look, I don't think this is about this term right now and where we are as a country. We're looking to the future and we need a new generation of leadership.
And in South Carolina, we've got the oldest governor in our state's history. And we have a -- the whole system of government is being run by a geriatric oligarchy.
And look, maybe it's just a coincidence that we have the oldest Congress in our nation's history and that we're at a partisan gridlock and nothing is getting done. And maybe it's just a coincidence that South Carolina's last in roads and at the bottom of healthcare and education, and we have the oldest governor in our state's history. But how many coincidences are going to stack up before we notice a correlation?
BERMAN: Your governor, Henry McMaster, is 75. Jim Clyburn, who is the number three in the House of Representatives and a very popular congressman in South Carolina, is 81. Do you think he should retire as well?
CUNNINGHAM: Well look, this isn't anything personal. I mean, we've set out and we've drawn a line at age 72. In South Carolina, the state law is judges have to retire at age 72. So my question and the point that I'm making -- if you're too old to interpret the law, are you not too old to be making the law? And again, this isn't anything personal against anybody in the Democratic Party or Republican Party, but as we look towards the future, we have hundreds of millions of Americans in this country. Can we not find other people to put on the ballot besides Biden and Trump in this next upcoming election? I know we have a wealth of talent. So I think it's time for a new generation to step forward and provide new leadership with new vision.
BERMAN: And that means Jim Clyburn to retire as well, you think?
CUNNINGHAM: Again, this is looking -- I mean, we don't even know if the majority whip is -- will be running in 2024. And again, I appreciate all of his service and what he's done for our country, and it's nothing personal. I get along fine with him. But as we look towards the future we've got to be looking to provide new vision.
BERMAN: I think we have the picture. When he was vice president, Joe Biden came down to your congressional district and endorsed you. There you are. It's a big smile.
BERMAN: You're with the former vice -- he was former vice president. But a big smile. You're really proud of the endorsement in that picture. How do you think he's going to feel about you coming out this morning and saying he shouldn't run for reelection?
CUNNINGHAM: Well look, this isn't about where we are right now. This is looking to the future. And we're -- like I said, he, himself, said he wants to be a bridge to the future. And again, we're in this car and we're driving across this bridge and no one knows what's on the other side. And that's the conversation we need to be having right now.
BERMAN: In South Carolina, what is -- is this biggest issue on the ballot, you think, in South Carolina in your governor's race?
CUNNINGHAM: Look. I mean, Gov. McMaster, in South Carolina, has been in politics longer than I've been alive, literally, and that's not unusual.
You know, if folks look up at D.C. and they're tired of the people who have been clinging to power for 30, 40, 50 years and they want a new generation of leadership, I would tell them to look at the state of South Carolina and what's going on there. Because again, Gov. McMaster has been clinging onto power for 40 years and look where it's gotten our state. We're last in roads and at the bottom for healthcare.
BERMAN: I've got to let you run, but if Joe Biden offers to come campaign for you in South Carolina, which I'm not sure he will at this point -- but if he did, would you have him come in?
CUNNINGHAM: No. Look, we're running our campaign on new ideas and new vision. We're focused on running our race the way we want to run it.
BERMAN: Former congressman Joe Cunningham, thanks so much for joining us this morning.
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you -- appreciate it.
BERMAN: Nice to see you in New York.
CUNNINGHAM: Yes, good to be here.