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Officer Corroborates Heated Incident Between Trump, Secret Service. Secret Service Erased Texts from January 5th, 6th. Biden Faces Crucial Day of Meetings in West Bank, Saudi Arabia. White House Makes It Official: Biden Meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Today. Manchin Deal Blow to Biden Agenda By Ending Climate, Tax Talks. Clarissa Ward to Oprah: Putin's War is Creating "Seismic Shift". Biden Meets with Palestinian Leaders in West Bank. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired July 15, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: DHS Inspector General in this letter we've seen expresses some frustration in how difficult it has been to get records from the Secret Service, especially around that time, January 6. Important time. And then the House Select Committee and other congressional committees are concerned as well partly because the House, too, they're trying to nail down on their own the details of January 6. That includes what Secret Service agents witnessed of Donald Trump that day, what they said about it afterward, and that's a big part of what they're continuing to probe especially now after the testimony of White House Aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, which did highlight the Secret Service and what happened there.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY HOST: And Katelyn, CNN also has some new reporting about a D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer whose corroborating details of what Cassidy Hutchinson said. Tell us about this.
POLANTZ: Right. So it wasn't just the Secret Service who witnesses that motorcade on January 6 that Donald Trump was in. When Cassidy Hutchinson testified, she spoke about the story she heard from another White House staffer who was in the vehicle. Here's her description under oath on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WH CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engle grabbed his arm and said, "Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol." Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engle, and when Mr. Oranto had recounted this story me he had motioned towards his clavicles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLANTZ: So my colleagues, Jamie Gangel and Annie Grayer, were able to confirm that a D.C. Police Officer who was in that motorcade talked to the House Select Committee about this incident as well. He or she is essentially corroborating some details from Hutchinson's testimony. We don't have yet more on exactly what the witness told the committee, but one thing that has been playing out since Hutchinson's testimony is this debate over the accuracy of the story she heard. The House is working very hard to try to nail that down, what happened there, and the takeaway here still is that the most significant point of Hutchinson's testimony is not being undermined. It's not being disputed. Donald Trump was demanding to go to the Capitol with his supporters on January 6 including when he was inside that SUV, driving him back to the White House as the crowd was getting out of control. Brianna and John -
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY HOST: All right. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much. Joining us now, Stacey Richman, Criminal Defense Attorney; Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and a CNN Political Commentator; and Errol Louis, CNN Political Commentator and Columnist for "New York Magazine". Errol, I want to start with the Secret Service. The Homeland Security Inspector General request - says that his department requested texts and that they were deleted or erased after that request. That looks like what?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That looks like insubordination within an agency. That looks like a problem that has to be solved on their own terms or perhaps with discipline of personnel. You can't just ignore something like that. These inspectors general - and there's a whole team of them throughout the federal government - they're invested with very serious powers, including disciplinary powers. And to the extent that laws may have been broken they can even make criminal referrals.
So this is - this is very serious stuff. This isn't just, oh, we forgot to do it or, you know, wink-wink. We chose to dump this stuff before we had to hand it up to somebody in authority. This is very serious stuff, and it was serious even before the January 6 Committee came about.
When the inspector general comes knocking, you are supposed to answer. So what's going on within Homeland Security is something that maybe an entirely separate conversation needs to start on.
KEILAR: What would you think -- you've been in government - if you saw an agency doing this?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well before I hop on my jump to conclusions mat, I do think it's important that the Secret Service spokesperson came out last night, said, look, we have a story to tell here about how this is not what it seemed. I think they deserve to be listened to. There's obviously more to be learned. There's questions to be asked.
And so, I don't know what to make of it. I know what it looks like and I know that they still have more questions to answer. I do think that finding out everything we can about that day is vital, then the agency should consider it to be vital as well because they had a big role to play. Obviously the situation got out of hand. The security of president's vital. You want to know that you're learning everything you can from something like that. So I want to hear more from them. I think they have a few more questions to answer.
BERMAN: Stacey, I mean, what happens? Ultimately, if that stuff is erased, it's erased.
STACEY RICHMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If it's erased, it's erased. And so, as he's pointing out, we have to hear both sides just like we would in a trial, but people might assume a very negative inference. And again, what will happen? I mean, there is a Federal Records Act. All of this needs to be preserved so that when we look back and when we do our assessment we can look at things in real time.
If this were a trial, a defense attorney would ask for negative inference, and you want the complete doctrine. If they only saved some texts, well we're not really getting the entire story then.
And things may have been cherry picked or things that may have been lost that change the context of what we're seeing.
KEILAR: If it's a long-planned migration, I mean, that's sort of what you can fall back on if you're the Secret Service, but why would you continue or begin that migration? Why would you even go ahead with it?
RICHMAN: Well there should be a backup before you do it. I mean, you change your phone. They say back it up first. Same concept.
BERMAN: The corroboration from a D.C. Metro Police Officer according to the CNN, Errol, of the events that Cassidy Hutchinson testified she heard - I got that right - that she heard took place on January 6 when Donald Trump wanted to go from The Ellipse to the Capitol. D.C. Metro Police Officer says, yes, they happened.
LOUIS: Yes, and that is important. You know, it's easy to get distracted by some of the juicier details about whether or not he grabbed at the man's clavicle or whether he tried to grab the steering wheel and that sort of thing. But the most important thing is that the mob that he had set in motion was one that he intended to join and lead. And what was going to happen at that Capitol is something that we really do need answers to. What did he intend or what did others think that he intended to do?
And there's a really interesting question that I hasn't I think gotten enough attention, which is to what extent can and did the Secret Service simply overrule the President of the United States and said, listen, we're not doing that. You know, we're here to protect the presidency. We're here to protect your safety. If you asked us to drive into a brick wall at 60 miles an hour, we would say no. You're asking us to take you into the middle of a riot that you helped start. We're not going to do that either. That's partly why I think we want to see these Secret Service messages.
JENNINGS: Yes. I'm where Errol is on this. I think the Secret Service obviously knew this was a dangerous situation, and I mean, it appears they didn't want to take him into the middle of it, and I understand why. I mean, they were up there erecting gallows to hang Mike Pence, who is, you know, obviously, you know, in the constitutional line of succession.
So I get that. I'm less interested in the lunging. I don't - you know, I don't know what that means, but the point that Errol made is the right one. The president wanted to go, and the political issue is he wanted to go because he thought if he and his supporters went to the Capitol they would break Mike Pence, that they would - ultimately the intimidating of one branch of government up there would work. That's what they intended.
And so, lunging, the details, the idea that you thought you could go to another branch of government and intimidate it into breaking to your will, that's the issue.
KEILAR: You know, Stacey, I think this does give credibility to Cassidy Hutchinson, but also importantly it may take away from any credibility that some in the Secret Service or, in particular, Tony Ornato has. He has not testified under oath contradicting Cassidy Hutchinson about what he told her.
RICHMAN: Well that's a statement as well. He's not contradicting her. And so, as we get different people that were witnessed tow hat was going on there, to everyone's point, it's indicative of what the intent of the president was. That's the question.
And when you look back at a history, we're looking - none of us were there. So you're piecing together various points of information, and when you step back you have a picture. People can have different interpretations of that picture, but that's what we're seeking to do by taking all of these different testimonies. Just like a trial, just like an inquiry, it's an attempt but to place something together. We still always will need to hear this - the other side. And if it is a criminal referral, at some point we will.
KEILAR: Well these - are they more likely to subpoena Tony Ornato now that they have this backup to Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony?
RICHMAN: I think that it's likely.
BERMAN: So this is all about really one man, and that's Donald Trump at this point, one man who it does seem has decided to run for president again. Olivia Nuzzi spoke to him and Trump told her all I'm deciding at this point is before or after, and it seemed he meant before or after the midterms. Scott, as a card-carrying member of the Republican Party with keen interest in the midterms, what happens if he announces he's running for president again before?
JENNINGS: Well just is a pure tactical matter. Any day we're talking about Donald Trump and not talking about Joe Biden, inflation, you know, the economy, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, that's a lost day. I mean, the universe has handed the Republican Party the greatest, you know, midterm playbook of all time. If you're just looking at it from purely a how many seats can we win? Well all the pieces are on the board to win quite a few.
If Trump gets in, it certainly takes away from that. He's also - by the way, he's a - he's a money vacuum. I mean, Republican donors want to give him money sometimes when they don't want to give anyone else money. He's an attention vacuum, and he's frequently not on message, and the message here is very clear. Biden's not doing a good job. Inflation's out of control. Quality of life is suffering in America. Vote Republican. That's the message, and keeping him on a very simple, narrow message in any of the previous elections, '16, '18, '20 has been impossible.
And so, to the extent that he would be the leader of the Republican's messaging in this midterm, if we just look at the empirical evidence with the previous elections he's been involved in we don't do that well.
KEILAR: Errol, do you think it can actually cost Republican seats if he gets in before the midterms?
LOUIS: It could certainly cause some complications. Keep in mind that there are a lot of Republican nominees who very explicitly Donald Trump fought against. He did not want them to win, and yet they did. So we know from past experience he's not going to go out and campaign for those people. He's not going to even sort of do it indirectly and say well I support the ticket even though this person who I hate personally happens to be running (ph).
JENNINGS: Georgia - is he going to go to Georgia and campaign for Brian Kemp?
LOUIS: No. Not going to happen.
JENNINGS: His is going to tell Republican voters in certain states well don't vote for this person or don't vote here but vote there? I mean, that's the kind of sort of weird four-dimensional chess that you'd be getting into, and you know, none of that is helpful during an overall campaign.
LOUIS: You also have to keep in mind there will be some Republican losses. And so, to the extent that he associates himself with the entire ticket would be some losses here and there and he's going to have to absorb that, too. So he would be well-advised to just wait until after the midterms to announce that.
JENNINGS: I'm envisioning a rally in Georgia where he's on a stage saying vote for Herschel Walker, but while you're in there make sure you vote against Brian Kemp or don't vote at all. I mean, think about how crazy that would sound to the average Republican voter.
BERMAN: Brad Raffensperger on the ballot.
JENNINGS: Yes. I mean, this is well within the realm of the possible, and Georgia's going to be a tough state for the Republicans I think.
BERMAN: All right. Scott, Errol, Stacey, thank you all so much for being with us this morning. KEILAR: Happening now, President Biden is in the West Bank. He's meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the president will restate his commitment to a two-state solution with - to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He's going to unveil a new economic assistance package for the Palestinians as well.
CNN's Hadas Gold is live for us in Bethlehem along with CNN Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins with more. So Hadas, we're expecting these two leaders to speak any moment. W hat should we be looking for here?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. We're watching the podiums right now. The flags are set. Now we're just waiting for Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas and President Joe Biden to come out and make statements. They've been meeting for at least 45 minutes one-on-one as well as with their teams.
And what we're expecting to hear from President Biden is something the Americans have already announced, increased funding for Palestinians and things to make the lives of the everyday Palestinians' easier. These are confidence-building measures. I mean, we'll hear him once again reaffirm his support for a two-state solution for Israel, for Israelis and for Palestinians, but beyond that there is not much that the Palestinians are expecting from President Biden to offer that provides them with any sort of political horizon. And honestly, there's been quite a bit of disappointment from Palestinians in the Biden administration. There was a lot of hope when he took over from President Trump because remember the relations between the Palestinian authority and President Trump were severed. The funding was cut. And while President Biden has restored the funding, has restored the relationship coming out here, the symbolism of this visit is still very important, there's a lot of disappointment. There's disappointment that there's not more on the political horizon. Their disappointment in things like the American consulate in Jerusalem that largely serves Palestinians. That had been - Americans had promised they were going to reopen that. That has been - seen no progress because of Israeli opposition to that opening. Also the Palestinian political office in Washington, that has not yet been reopened.
There's, of course, also very widespread disappointment in how the Americans have handled the investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera Reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh, killed in May while covering an Israeli operation in Jenin. And actually right now at this press conference a lot of the Palestinian reporters who are covering the event, which Shireen would have covered as a report for Al Jazeera, are wearing black t-shirts with Shireen's face on it calling for justice for Shireen. Shireen's family had demanded that President Biden meet with them during his visit, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen, but there will be an expectation from the Palestinians that he will at least mention her.
Some other things that the Palestinians will likely want to hear from President Biden at this podium are even just the words, things like occupation, settlements, things about the blockade of Gaza, and, of course, they will want to hear him talk about Shireen Abu Akleh. Brianna - KEILAR: We'll be watching and listening for that. Hadas, thank you for the repot from Bethlehem. So hours from now President Biden will be meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia. We'll be going to Kaitlan Collins for a live report on that next.
BERMAN: And major news overnight. Senator Joe Manchin dealing a crushing blow to the Biden agenda. We will tell you what happened.
KEILAR: Hours from now President Biden will have his highly- anticipated and controversial meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Just last month he said this about whether he would meet with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to meet with MBS. I'm going to an international meeting and he is going to be (ph) part of it just like there were people part of the discussion today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: But the reality is this. The president is seeking to boost oil flow and reset the relationship with the kingdom, and MBS is a part of that. He is the biggest part of that. Less than two years after Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a pariah.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live for us in Jeddah with more on this. Kaitlan, the White House didn't make this official until last night, and that's no accident.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. They had kind of tiptoed around it. They didn't really want to be as explicit, but yes. This is going to be essentially a meeting where it's President Biden and his counterpart in that meeting will be the Saudi Crown Prince who the U.S. has accused of sanctioning the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
And so, they released this schedule. It says that when President Biden arrives here in Jeddah he is going to do what we had expected, which is meeting with the Royal Family. That includes King Salman, the only leader the president has spoken with from Saudi since he took office.
But then just 30 minutes after that you are going to see this meeting change, and it is going to be lead by the Saudi Crown Prince. That's because it was expected when we were speaking to White House officials about what this was going to look like because the King is not in great health. He wasn't expected to be able to stay in a meeting for really more than 30 minutes at most.
And so, it is going to be this meeting where it's President Biden and the Saudi Crown Prince. And there may be other officials in the room, some of the foreign ministers as well, but mainly it is going to be President Biden and the Saudi Crown Prince in this meeting. And so, of course, that is creating this awkward setup that White House officials have really been bracing for because we did learn also in addition when we got this schedule that reporters will be able to go into the room briefly for that meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. So you will likely see the two of them sitting together in this room.
Now whether what happens while they're on camera, once reporters leave the room remains to be seen, but this is the first conversation, Brianna, that they had since Biden took office because he has declined to speak with the Saudi Crown Prince even though he effectively runs things and, instead, has chosen to speak to the King.
And so, it will be this moment where everyone is watching to see how they handle it and, of course, the White House is trying to use it, saying that this is part of just reality where they do feel like this meeting has to happen. It is a part of dealing with Saudi Arabia because it's a lot easier to work with Saudi Arabia than to not work with them.
BERMAN: All kinds of protocol gymnastics leading up to the meeting itself. Will they shake hands? Will they wave to each other? We're just going to have to wait and see at this point. I mean, you get the sense the president will do what he's going to do, but while he's been overseas, Kaitlan, his agenda was dealt a devastating blow overnight.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia broke off negotiations or at least said categorically he will not support any climate spending as part of this possible deal with other Democrats in the Senate. What's going on here?
COLLINS: This is stunning for the White House, for Democrats who thought they were closing in on a deal with Senator Manchin, and also it's stunning to look at what Democrats were debating and discussing over last year compared to what they are talking about now and just how much this package has changed because what Senator Manchin is saying now what he will support is prescription drug pricing and negotiating that and healthcare subsidies.
Remember a year ago we were talking about a $3.5 trillion proposal that included everything from universal pre-k to climate initiatives, so much in there, dental, vision. All of these things, this really all-encompassing social safety net package that dealt with taxes and climate change, and now it has been changed with these demands of Senator Joe Manchin. Of course, because of that 50-50 Senate he has such power to do this, and this really has dashed the Democratic hopes of getting some bigger package passed before the midterm elections when, of course, right now the conventional wisdom is that Democrats are going to lose. They've got a control of the House, of the Senate, of the White House. They are not expected to main control of the House of the Senate or potentially the Senate but certainly not the House right now.
And so, basically it dashes their hopes of getting this massive piece of legislation passed. And so, it is crushing for the White House given what they were hoping to get passed a year ago but also where they are now and, of course, so many stops in between, including when Manchin counter-offered with a $1.5 trillion plan that was then rejected. And now, of course, he is saying he will only support healthcare subsidies, prescription drug pricing, basically doing away with any chance of them getting anything passed when it comes to climate.
KEILAR: Yes. A huge disappointment for progressives in the party. Kaitlan, thank you so much. We appreciate the report.
BERMAN: So President Biden and the Saudis plan to discuss energy security as Kaitlan was saying. It is a global issue brought into sharper focus by the Russian war in Ukraine. CNN Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward, appeared on Oprah Winfrey's live stream "O Talks" and described more ways Putin's war has changed the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, OPRAH DAILY: What has Ukraine taught you that you didn't know when you learn so much from so many other wars? What has Ukraine taught you?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that the main thing that really strikes you when you're covering Ukraine is that the kind of seismic ripple that what happened in Ukraine with that invasion has had across the entire world but predominantly, of course, across the Western world has been just extraordinary to see.
The only thing that I can think of in my lifetime as a reporter that's been sort of commensurate in terms of galvanizing such a huge international reaction has been the terror attacks of 9/11. And you do have this sense just as you did when you were covering 9/11 that the world has changed now. You know, the world has changed in ways that we are only just starting to get our arms around.
And I think that what I've learned over the years is that it's better to stop trying to predict how the world has changed and try just to focus on telling the stories of the peoples whose lives are so impacted by those changes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, President Biden in Bethlehem with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): between the countries and peoples. And to review what the U.S. can contribute to prepare the atmosphere for a political horizon for just comprehensive, durable peace. We have stressed to Mr. President Biden on the importance of really establishing the foundations upon which the peace process was based, and it was based on the intention legitimacy resolutions and on the basis of the two-state solution around the 1967 borders. Mr. President, after 74 years of enactment (ph), displacement, and occupation, isn't it not the time for this occupation to end and for our steadfast people, again, to gain their freedom and independence and for the hopes of our young men and women, who we cherish and trust their creativity to achieve a promising future without occupation?
In this regard, we say that the key to peace and security in our region begins with recognizing State of Palestine and enabling the Palestinian people to obtain their legitimate rights in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and ending all the permanent status issues, including the Palestinian refugees issue. And a way to that begins with ending the Israeli occupation of our land, the land of State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.
Mr. President, we have respected the resolutions of international legitimacy and signed agreements, and we have committed ourselves to renouncing violence and fighting terrorism in our region and the world. We look forward to steps from the U.S. administration to strengthen bilateral relations by reopening the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, removing the PLO from the U.S. terrorist list. We are not terrorists, and also we look forward to reopening PLO office in Washington, and we are ready to work within the framework of partnership and cooperation to - in order to remove any obstacles to achieving that.
Mr. President, we look forward to the efforts of your administration to turn the page on the Israeli occupation of our land and the acts of racial discrimination appetite against our people and to stop unilateral actions that undermine the two-state solution. We look forward to these efforts to stop settlement (ph) and the central (ph) violence and respect of the historical situation in the Islamic and Christian holy sites, and the Hashemite custodianship and stopping the expulsion (ph) of Palestinians demolishing houses, homes and storming the cities, villages, and camps, and stopping the daily killing and arrests on a daily basis, and holding the killers of the master (ph) journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh. They need to be held accountable because the continuation of all of that will lead to escalation on the one hand and loss of hope for a better tomorrow on the other.