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Ex-Aide: Trump And Meadows Knew Of Violence Potential Prior To Attack; Putin's Strategy Backfires As NATO Expands And U.S. Bolsters Forces; U.S. Set To Offer Monkeypox Vaccines In States With High Rates. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 29, 2022 - 07:30   ET



STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP (via Skype): I am sure, just from my own experience -- this is just me talking. I don't know this for a fact. I'm sure that they had planned something earlier and were ready with some kind of a loose route to the Capitol.

And at the end of the day, the president can say I want to go here. Now, if the president -- if the Secret Service sees that there is an actual danger or threat they can say no to him. But for the most part, if the president wants to do an OTR that is allowed because he is still a human being that should be able to move about freely.

So I think that -- I think very much that it also rang true to me that Mark Meadows kept telling the president that was still an option and then left it to Bob Engel, his lead agent, to tell him the bad news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Stephanie, on the subject of the president -- the former president not stepping in to try to stop the violence as it was happening on January 6, there's an episode that you've written about before. But yesterday, you actually posted screenshots of the text exchange you had with the former first lady Melania Trump where you asked her --


BERMAN: You say, you know, do you want to release a statement saying that basically, violence is bad? And she writes back to you one word, "No."

Why is this important to you?

GRISHAM: For me, it was really important because over the years working with Melania Trump I was able to go to her. She was the first person in our entire administration who condemned Charlottesville. And often I would be able to go to her and say this is bad and she would either pick up the phone and call her husband and talk him down from something or she would put out a statement well ahead of the West Wing to set a tone saying this is not OK.

That day when I sent her that text, the text I wanted her to say wasn't even political. It was just saying everybody has the right to peaceful protest but there's no room for violence, and she just said no.

And it just made me think she knew something. It made me think she knew that perhaps her husband was going to try to be down there. She knew something ahead of time. It just -- I don't know this for a fact but again, knowing her as well as I did at that point it was so unlike her to not have condemned it.

That was the moment it all kind of broke me. That's what I wrote in the book. And I resigned immediately afterward.

So yesterday, hearing Cassidy's testimony, I just -- I felt compelled to show that text because it was -- it was a lot of context I thought. And again, knowing Melania like I did, I was so disappointed and discouraged and sickened that she wouldn't stand up and just say simply there should be no violence.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Stephanie Grisham, thank you for speaking with us this morning. We appreciate it.

GRISHAM: Thank you.

KEILAR: This hearing further highlights the legal risks for Donald Trump. A former deputy attorney general is going to join us with his thoughts.

BERMAN: And a new element just in from the Vatican. What happened with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi there after an archbishop in the United States denied giving her communion over her position on abortion.




CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I recall hearing the word Oath Keeper and hearing the word Proud Boys closer to the planning of the January 6 rally when Mr. Giuliani would be around.


KEILAR: Cassidy Hutchinson testifying that she heard the names of two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, leading up to the insurrection. Dozens of people connected to the Proud Boys have been arrested for their alleged participation in the Capitol riot, and leaders of both groups have been charged with seditious conspiracy.

Vice chair Liz Cheney said the White House received updates about the Proud Boys' planned demonstrations.

Joining us now is former deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, and former U.S. attorney Donald -- and former U.S. attorney Donald Ayre. Donald, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Is the former --


KEILAR: -- president more likely to be charged -- or I guess to put it to you, would you charge him?

AYER: Well, I -- it's not for me to charge him or not charge him but I do think the answer is that this evidence is very significant and it builds on everything we've already heard.

And the most significant thing about all the evidence -- and yesterday was no exception -- is that it shows Donald Trump to be the principal person who is driving each phase of this effort to overturn the election. And even more importantly, or at least as importantly, he is doing it over the vehement and direct objections -- repeated objections of his own staff and his own experts.

And so, on the issue of intent, we're building an enormous amount of evidence that he was the driving force. He knew what he was doing and he was going to do it come hell or high water.

BERMAN: The principal force, the driving force, you say. Now, put that in historical perspective for us. When you have a, at that point, sitting President of the United States as the driving force to overturn the election, just historically speaking, what does that mean?

AYER: What about you?

BERMAN: No. I was saying historically speaking --

AYER: I'm not --

BERMAN: -- where does that place Donald Trump in history in your mind --


BERMAN: -- if he was, as you say, the driving force -- the principal actor in trying to overturn an election?

AYER: Well, there's no doubt that this situation is completely unprecedented in our history. We have a civil war where a whole region decided for their own various concerns that they wanted to separate. But there's no -- there's no precursor to a president actively working persistently over months, and especially over the last several weeks, to personally reach the result of overturning a legitimate election. There's simply no precedent for it.

KEILAR: I want to listen to something that Cassidy Hutchinson was saying about pardons being sought by Rudy Giuliani and also Mark Meadows. Let's listen. [07:40:06]


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Did Rudy Giuliani ever suggest that he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6?


CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, did White House chief of staff Mark Meadows ever indicate that he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6?

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon, yes ma'am.


KEILAR: Donald, what does that signify to you that they were both seeking pardons?

AYRE: Well, it signifies that they had a real consciousness that they were at risk and I think other parts of her testimony give us pretty good reason to see why. She testified about talking with Giuliani herself on January second, and Giuliani obviously was very well-versed in what was going to happen on January 6. And his take on it was it was going to be great and she should talk to the chief -- her boss, Meadows -- about it because he really thought this was going to be terrific apparently.

And Meadows, when she talked to him, tells her that -- essentially, on the second, tells her that it could be real, real bad on the sixth. So he knew about it and he knew kind of what was likely to happen, and he thought it might be terrible.

But then later on when he was presented with multiple opportunities to try to intervene by her and by Pat Cipollone and by a number of other people, he looked at his phone. He slammed the door on her and wouldn't talk to him. She finally -- he finally ended up saying that Trump just didn't want to do anything about what was happening on the sixth and he basically was not willing to do anything to try to intervene.

So both of them have pretty good reason to think that they could have some real criminal liability here.

KEILAR: Yes. Pat Cipollone responding to him that he would have blood on his hands.

Donald, thank you so much for speaking with us. We appreciate it.

AYER: Thank you.

KEILAR: Ahead, we're going to be joined by the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. We'll talk about her reaction to these latest revelations.

BERMAN: President Biden in Madrid with NATO leaders this morning. His announcement to strengthen the American presence in Europe.

And Serena Williams out at Wimbledon in the first round. Where does her career go next?



BERMAN: President Biden kicked off his first day at the NATO summit in Madrid this morning announcing that the U.S. will strengthen its force posture in Europe. This comes as the alliance announced yesterday a major step forward in Finland and Sweden's effort to join NATO, sending what President Biden called an unmistakable message to Russia.

CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins covering the NATO summit in Madrid. Finland, Sweden -- just a major development after a major effort from the White House, Kaitlan.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. What you're seeing emerge really from this summit and from over the last several months of what these allies have been doing is a more muscular NATO. Because not only are they adding more forces in Eastern Europe, they're also extending their membership and coming quite close to doing so now that Turkey has dropped its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, which would take this military alliance from a 30-country membership to 32.

And that is quite significant not only for the fact that Finland and Sweden are joining, especially given Sweden's decades of neutrality, but also how quickly all of this has come together. Because yes, there have been these moments in the last several months where Turkey was standing in the way because it does have to be a unanimous decision to have new countries added to the military alliance.

But the fact that it is moving this quickly and now it will go from them formally accepting their applications to NATO to, of course, each of the members ratifying their membership into NATO -- their addition into NATO. It is something that President Biden has been working very hard on behind the scenes working with Turkish officials to get them to drop their objections to having Finland and Sweden join.

And John, really, if you look at it big picture, this is the last thing that President Putin wanted to happen and he actually issued some threats when there was talk of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Clearly, those did not work since they are well on their way to doing so. But also by ramping up the force posture. These are all things that Putin did not want to see when he started his Russian invasion of Ukraine.

And now, while there is, of course, a lot of talk and scrutiny, and analyzing of what is actually happening on the ground in Ukraine and whether or not Russia is getting the upper hand, when you look at it from a global perspective you are seeing a bigger, more muscular NATO. And that's not something that Putin wanted to see when he started this. KEILAR: Let's bring in Natasha Bertrand. She's also joining us from the summit. So talk to us a little bit Natasha about what this is going to look like. This is the addition of U.S. forces into the region which obviously is also something Vladimir Putin did not want.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Brianna. So, obviously, U.S. forces -- around 20,000 U.S. forces were inserted into Europe at the beginning of this war in order to bolster NATO defenses. And that was obviously seen by Russia as a provocation.

But now, it's not going to be to that extent at this point. The U.S. is going to be ramping up its presence a bit more. For example, they are sending two additional destroyers to a port in Spain, raising that number from four to six. They are sending additional units to Romania and also bolstering their presence in the Baltic region.

But ultimately, this is more of a symbolic response by the Biden administration -- by the U.S. to show NATO and Europe that they are united, right? That the president has not given up on NATO, they have not given up on Europe, but they are committed to this fight for as long as it takes, really.


But, of course, the Russians -- it remains to be seen how they are going to view this. Of course, they see NATO's enlargement as a major provocation. That is the main reason that Russian President Vladimir Putin said in the very beginning that they needed to launch this invasion against Ukraine because of NATO's increasing expansion.

So, obviously, NATO's border has just increased dramatically with the accession of Turkey -- with the accession of Sweden and Finland. So whether or not this actually turns up the heat in the region remains to be seen.

Of course, NATO officials here seem to still believe that there is very, very little chance, if any, that Russia would ever dare to attack NATO itself. But, of course, they are making all of the necessary -- taking all of the necessary precautions just in case something were to escalate and potentially even spiral out of control, Brianna.

BERMAN: Natasha Bertrand, Kaitlan Collins, thank you both so much for being with us this morning.

The latest move from the White House this morning to stop the spread of monkeypox.

KEILAR: And next, we'll be joined by January 6 committee member Congressman Pete Aguilar. What's next on the committee's agenda?

This is CNN's special live coverage.


[07:55:16] KEILAR: This morning, the Biden administration is ramping up its response to monkeypox with more vaccines for people most at risk in states with high case rates.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us now to talk about this move. Tell us about this, Sanjay.


Well, first of all, we've dealt with monkeypox outbreaks in the past but this has become more widespread and larger than monkeypox outbreaks. Typically, it's confined to small regions in smaller numbers.

So in the United States, now, you have some 306 confirmed cases of monkeypox all around the country. That's in 27 different states and D.C. Around the world, 4,700 cases in 49 countries. So this is spreading. It's spreading wider and more rapidly than we've seen in the past.

We also note within the United States there are several places where it's spreading the most -- California and New York, Illinois, Florida, and D.C. And it's these areas where they're now focused on trying to get out vaccines to these areas, especially among people who they consider most at risk.

Some of this will be people who have known exposure to someone with monkeypox. Someone who has been a sexual partner with someone with monkeypox. But also, people who -- gay men who have been having multiple sexual partners, especially in areas where they know monkeypox is currently circulating.

And this is something known as post-exposure prophylaxis, meaning that they would give the vaccine after the exposure to try and prevent the infection from taking hold. That's sort of the strategy there on the -- on the vaccine side.

On testing, this is going to sound familiar, but we may not be doing enough testing right now so we don't have a clear picture of exactly how widespread this is. They want to improve testing and get the testing into commercial labs in the public health institutions and start making the testing more widely available.

So that's the strategy right now. Again, this is bigger and wider than we've seen in the past.

BERMAN: When you -- when you say the vaccine, Sanjay, what vaccine are we talking about here?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting, John. There's actually two vaccines.

There's -- one is known as JYNNEOS vaccine. That's a more modern vaccine licensed specifically for monkeypox. It's actually effective against smallpox as well. Those two viruses that cause monkeypox and smallpox are very similar, so the vaccines often have benefit to both of them. Right now, there's about 64,000 doses, which they don't think is likely to be enough. So there's another million doses that are on order for the end of the summer and fall. So, we'll see.

There's also another vaccine called the ACAM vaccine. That's an older vaccine that was really just used for smallpox. And people who are old enough will remember this vaccine. It's actually a two-pronged needle that's used, and when they use this vaccine it would create a pockmark -- a pretty distinctive pockmark or scarring on the arm with this vaccine.

If you were born before the early '70s-late '60s you're likely to have that. So that's going to be me -- probably not you guys. But if you look at your arm and you see that, that means you were vaccinated against smallpox at some point.

BERMAN: I got vaccinated for smallpox prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I still have the scar from that.

Sanjay --

KEILAR: I don't have one.

BERMAN: Yes, you're --

KEILAR: I don't.

BERMAN: -- too young.

GUPTA: You don't have one.

KEILAR: Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: See you.

KEILAR: NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Wednesday, June 29. I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman this morning.

I don't f-ing care that they have weapons. Let my people in. That is what Trump said on January 6 according to a former top White House aide, wanting his supporters to be let into his rally even knowing that they were heading on to the Capitol. It puts him in significantly more legal jeopardy. It ties him closer than ever to the violence at the Capitol.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a once loyal and trusted insider in the Trump White House, delivering blockbuster testimony before the January 6 Committee, saying that Trump demanded those security checkpoints be removed outside of his rally on the Ellipse despite knowing that many of his supporters were armed. That they were threatening violence. And then still, he told them during that rally to quote "fight like hell."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HUTCHINSON: I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of I don't f-ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in and they can march to the Capitol from here.


BERMAN: They can march to the Capitol from here.

This morning we are hearing from an array of attorneys -- former federal prosecutors.