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Watchdog Says, Secret Service Erased Texts From January 5th, 6th; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Deals Blow to Biden Agenda by Ending Climate, Tax Talks; Biden Faces Crucial Day of Meetings in West Bank, Saudi Arabia. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired July 15, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Was discussed.
And it's amazing that 25 years later after Oz (ph) basically debut on HBO, we're getting another version where we get to see Christopher Maloney. He's maybe the only person besides Tom Brady who actually looks better the older he gets.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We will have to see if his equipment helps their equipment.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Well said.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Guys, thank you very much.
New Day continues right now.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, it is Friday, July 15th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.
And this morning, the Secret Service pushing back, denying doing anything malicious after a government watchdog report claimed the agency erased text messages from January 5th and January 6th, 2021 after investigators had requested them.
KEILAR: The Secret Service claims any lost data was due to a planned tech migration and that the texts investigators wanted were not actually among those that disappeared.
Let's bring in former federal prosecutor and lead counsel in the first Trump impeachment trial Daniel Goldman, he is now running for Congress in New York.
BERMAN: Daniel, what do you see here? What we know is that a Homeland Security inspector general asked for these text messages, and now we are learning from this homeland security inspector general, it's a letter from this person, saying that they were destroyed, according to them, after this request. What does that tell you?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SDNY: Well, first of all, let's remember these letters are not written lightly to Congress. I am sure that the inspector general notified the Secret Service that they would have to send this letter if they did not get better compliance, and they didn't. But more importantly and to the point, there are a lot of questions that this raises. They claim that it was a phone migration system, but were the only days of texts that were erased January 5th and 6th? That seems very unlikely that that is due to the phone migration.
Second, I would want to understand when this happened. Because what the letter says is that these text messages were requested by the I.G. as part of their investigation into January 6th and that after that request, these texts were deleted. Now, that raises a lot of suspicions as well because you should freeze everything when a request is made by any lawful investigator.
And then, finally, it raises a lot of questions as to whose texts were deleted. Was it Tony Ornato, who was a Secret Service official who came on board as a political appointee as deputy chief of staff? So, there's still many questions to answer, but it is very suspicious, especially because of the critical role that the Secret Service played on January 5th and January 6th stopping Donald Trump from going to the Capitol, scurrying Mike Pence out of the Capitol when he was under serious threat.
Many, many questions have to be directed at the Secret Service. The I.G. was trying to do that and somehow the Secret Service has not been complying to the I.G.'s satisfaction.
KEILAR: Because there's also a perception problem here at the very least with the Secret Service, right, Daniel? I mean, we recall now something that we've learned from the hearings, Mike Pence, we saw photos of him standing outside of his vehicle once he had been whisked away from the Senate chamber and we heard testimony that he had said to his lead agent, I trust you, but you are not driving the car. He didn't want to get in the car because he was afraid he might get whisked away from the Capitol and would be unable to actually certify the electors.
GOLDMAN: Right. Mike Pence was incredibly suspicious of what was going on. And the fact that he rejected the Secret Service's order to get in the car for his own safety says a lot. But it also goes to the fact that Donald Trump has destroyed our institutions and the trust that we have in our institutions because he politicized every apolitical institution that we had, the Department of Justice, the Secret Service, the intelligence community.
And what we need to do is restore confidence in these institutions because it very well may be that there is a legitimate explanation for this, but as soon as we hear it, we suspect the worst because we know that Donald Trump was the worst. So, it is unfortunate that we're in this situation and we need to be suspicious of every single thing that has happened in that administration and that he has touched.
BERMAN: On other bit of new reporting overnight, Daniel, which is that a D.C. Metro police officer -- the January 6th committee tells CNN that a D.C. Metro police officer has confirmed the testimony surrounding what happened in that limousine on January 6th when Cassidy Hutchinson says she heard that Donald Trump wanted to have the Secret Service take him to the Capitol. So, the significance of a D.C. Metro police officer confirming that?
GOLDMAN: Well, look, I think the only defense that the Republicans and -- it's not the Republicans, it's the Donald Trump acolytes, have had to Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony is to question this one specific incident. They're not questioning the rest of her testimony, which is so damning, and also rings so credibly.
So, they're trying to pick and choose what aspects of her testimony they don't believe but we're led -- we're left with a pretty clear picture that she was credible. This confirms her credibility by the Capitol police officer and we've heard the Secret Service, you know, through off the record or background sources has said that some people will dispute what she said, but we have yet to hear from those people. And it's unclear to me whether that's because they have not been asked by the January 6th committee or if, in fact, they don't have testimony that contradicts her.
But even if they do contradict her, let's hear that she is relaying what she heard from Tony Ornato and she doesn't have firsthand knowledge, she's not vouching for the credibility of what Tony Ornato says. So, let's bring Tony Ornato in and let's see what he has to say. If they want to dispute what Tony Ornato said, then let's hear it from him.
BERMAN: Daniel Goldman, very nice to see you this morning. Thank you very much.
GOLDMAN: You too, John.
KEILAR: So, some major news overnight, Senator Joe Manchin dealing a crushing blow to the Biden agenda, shutting down talks over a new economic package. The West Virginia Democrat says that he won't support the bill's climate or tax provisions seven months after initially upending Biden's Build Back Better plan back in December.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is live for us on Capitol Hill with more on this. This is news certainly that Biden did not want to receive as he's overseas.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHNGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Brianna. This is a huge blow for Democrats and the Biden White House and what many saw as the final stages of this these negotiations. And this certainly is an abrupt shift for Senator Joe Manchin. Sources telling CNN that Manchin previously, and throughout these negotiations, he had been in support of these provisions, so, again, a huge blow for a key part of President Biden's domestic legislative agenda.
Now, Manchin and his staff informing the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, that they are not on board with the energy and the climate provisions as a part of this bill and not on board with the supporting raising taxes on America's wealthiest and corporations, and his office pointing to rising inflation as the reason for this about-face.
Now, this, of course, has set off Democrats reacting in anger, shocked and stunned by the news, also climate change activists importantly and Senator Wyden, chair of the finance committee, who helped write this bill, he says, quote, I'm not going to sugar coat my disappointment here. This is our last chance to prevent the most catastrophic and costly effects of climate change. We can't come back in another decade and forestall hundreds of billions if not trillions in economic damage and undo the inevitable human toll.
Now, Democrats, of course, they are left scrambling, trying to pick up the pieces, getting back to the negotiations in the days and weeks ahead, Brianna, but, of course, they had wanted this to pass before midterms, a difficult midterm election ahead for them. They had already scaled back this bill significantly to win Manchin's support and it seems that, as of this morning, they're going to have to do that even more.
KEILAR: All right. Sunlen Serfaty live for us on Capitol Hill, thank you.
BERMAN: All right. Here with us now, Errol Louis, Scott Jennings.
Errol, Joe Manchin once again blocking the Biden agenda.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes. And there's a much larger problem, of course, and this sort of gets to the issue here, which is that we have a somewhat broken system. Where, look, the election of the Biden administration as well as the Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress, it's sort of the apex of tens of millions of votes and climate was at the center of all of that.
And what we have in our broken system is one single senator who doesn't just represent special interests but is himself a special interest.
You have a senator who made, I think, about a half million dollars every year from his family-owned coal business, some of the dirtiest fuel that's imaginable, has cost West Virginians far more than they should be paying for electricity. And out of his own personal political and financial interests he has held up this large agenda that tens of millions of people voted for. We have a system that's unable to prevent that from happening. That's a real problem.
KEILAR: What do you think?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I like Errol a tremendous amount, so I'll say this with all due respect, the system is not broken, this is how it's designed to work. It's a 50/50 Senate. The American people sent 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, they have a nominal majority because they have the tie breaker, but this is what the Senate is supposed to do. That's why they all have two to represent the interests of that state. It's not a population-based chamber, it's a state-based chamber. And so I think he's doing that. Also it may be that if they take a step back and examine Joe Manchin's words that he's saving them from themselves. Inflation is a major problem. We may be headed into rescession, the wrong time to raise taxes. He has a difference of opinion with Joe Biden than the more liberal members of his party about what you should do in those economic circumstances. I think he said last night, look, if you want to go down this road, go elect more liberals. He doesn't view himself as a liberal and there aren't 51 liberal votes in the Senate. There may be 49 but there is certainly not 51.
LOUIS: That's not problem. He is not representing any kind of public interest because he is representing his own personal finance interest.
JENNIGS: He thinks it's in the interest of his state and he thinks it's in the interest of people who are worried about inflation.
LOUIS: It's an interest of his family and his of own pocketbook, primarily. And if he was concerned about inflation, the fact of the matter is inflation is fueled by energy costs. Energy costs, they pay some of the highest electric rates in the country in West Virginia. Why? Because they're using dirty coal about, which is the most expensive way to generate electricity.
JENNINGS: If you polled his views on this and Joe Biden's views in West Virginia, who do you reckon would win?
LOUIS: Well, look, I understand the political logic of it. Joe Manchin is going to look out for Joe Manchin. His political and his personal financial interests are now sort of superior to the needs of the entire planet and the needs of the administration and of the party and of the whole country. That's what makes it feel like a broken system.
JENNINGS: At a time when he have we have massive energy spikes for every day consumers, I do think there is some logic in what he said about putting the climate agenda on the backburner while we sort out our short-term energy cost issues. I mean, they're dealing with this in Europe as well. I mean, they're burning coal in Germany now because they're bracing for the economic impacts of their energy shortages as well.
So, I think to put this all on a personal vendetta or a personal sort of -- I just don't think it's true. I think the people of his state expect him to act this way.
LOUIS: Well, I don't know if the people of his state expected him to string people along for months and months, which is the reporting here apparently that, you know, he acted as if he was going to be bargaining in good faith and then at the last minute said, no, the whole agenda is dead. Everything I said about trying to sort of support renewables, electric cars, any kind of climate change legislation was all a big sham and I will go continue to make money from dirty coal.
BERMAN: And there are questions about if Chuck Schumer, how he let it go on this long if this ultimately -- JENNINGS: That's a core issue. I mean, if you are a Democrat, you want to be mad at Joe Manchin, maybe also ask yourself is Chuck Schumer doing a good job leading your -- albeit small, but leading your majority in the Senate? It feels like it may be a little out of control in the leader's office.
BERMAN: Scott, Errol, thank you, gentlemen. Twice, we get like a double feature.
KEILAR: That was great. We need more of you.
BERMAN: All right. Happening now, President Biden in the West Bank where he just wrapped up a joint statement with the Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. Soon, he will head to Saudi Arabia where he will meet with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Let's go to CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer live in Jeddah where a lot of this is going to take place. Wolf, this is a historic trip, literally the trip from Israel to Saudi Arabia, historic in and of itself.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's pretty extraordinary, you're absolutely right, a direct flight between Israel right here to Jeddah, Saudi. We did the same thing just a few hours ago with the White House press traveling with the president. We flew directly on a White House press charter flight from Tel Aviv to Jeddah.
And it's a whole new world as far as what Saudi Arabia is now doing to open itself up a bit to the Israelis. They're certainly not where the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain or Morocco have moved over the past few years but they are taking these very small steps and there is no doubt that President Biden appreciates it, but he's going to try to accelerate that process.
One of his goals while he is here is to try to convince the Saudis to do what these other Persian Gulf Arab states have done, namely have full normalized relations with Israel. And let's see if that emerges from these talks here.
He will be arriving within the next couple hours or so here in Jeddah. He will go into a meeting with the top Saudi leadership. And then they will have a little separate meeting with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that's the controversial meeting given the fact that the U.S. intelligence community concluded that he was involved in the decision to go ahead and murder Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S.-based resident journalist who was killed. And it's caused a huge, huge strain in U.S.-Saudi relations.
Normally, U.S.-Saudi relations over these past several years have been very strong. The Saudis were deeply involved in helping the U.S. strategically, militarily in the Iraq war, Afghanistan, U.S. troops were here in Saudi Arabia, I remember coming here several times meeting with those U.S. troops. But the relationship has deteriorated in recent years in part because of the human rights record of the Saudis and President Biden has been making an issue out of this. We will see how this relationship with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, who is, for all practical purposes, the real leader here in Saudi Arabia, we will see how this meeting takes place and what emerges from it, statements from Mohammed bin Salman, statements from the president of the United States.
But it's really sensitive and it comes after what were some very sensitive talks as you guys know in Israel and the West Bank, including this joint news conference that just occurred with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian authority president. There are very significant differences between the U.S. and the Palestinian authority, but there are some common goals.
And President Biden keeps talking about what he thinks is the ultimate solution in the Middle East, namely a two-state solution, Israel living alongside a new Palestinian state. He keeps talking about what he calls a two-state solution and we heard that come through in the news conference in the joint statement he had with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian authority president.
There are differences between the U.S. and the Palestinians and the Palestinians have been disappointed. They were hoping that the Biden administration would move more quickly to improve relations with the Palestinian authority. That hasn't necessarily happened yet, but they're moving in the direction, including the U.S. providing a lot of financial assistance to humanitarian causes for the Palestinians, including hospitals in east Jerusalem And elsewhere in the West Bank. So, that's significant. They're trying to improve the relationship. We will see how far that goes.
There's certainly a lot going on for the president of the United States. He has got so many domestic issues when he gets back home. But here, there is a lot of foreign policy and national security issues that are really going to be high on the agenda for him.
BERMAN: All right. Wolf Blitzer is in Jeddah, he will be there for The Situation Room at 6:00 P.M. Eastern covering this very important, very delicate trip by President Biden. Wolf, thank you and we will see you later.
KEILAR: Joining us now, CNN Anchor and Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto and former Anchor at ABC News and CBS News Reena Ninan.
Look, there is no way around this. President Biden is going to be in Saudi Arabia with his hat in hand a bit, Jim, and yet he doesn't want to get caught shaking hands with MBS.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, I don't know what this trip is for. I mean, to be brutally honest, either in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, if your primary issue is global oil prices, he has said prior he's not going to be specifically asking for an increase in production. By the way, it's not clear if Saudi Arabia has any room to increase production. He has not made any commitment to raise the specific human rights issue with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. You have this question about whether they're going to shake hands.
Yes, there are direct flights, but in the scheme of things, no discernible progress towards an Abraham Accords-like relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia, full normalization of relations. And then coming from Israel, yes, promise of financial aid but there are no substantive talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. You have an election coming in Israel where you might have a Netanyahu comeback who has zero interest in any negotiations with the Palestinians. So, I don't know what the deliverables are besides saying these are two important relationships for America, which has value diplomatically. But in terms of coming home with something, it's not clear what that is.
BERMAN: By definition, the trip is something of a compromise in terms of human rights. So, by definition you would want something to get from that compromise, right?
SCIUTTO: Absolutely. You would want something. I mean, what could that be? There will be a lot of happy talk and so on. And, yes, to say the two-state solution is important, right, and hear that from the Israeli leader yesterday is important because there are some Israeli leaders who have no interest in a two-state solution.
But, again, by previous standards of U.S. visits to the Middle East when there used to be, for instance, substantive negotiations about a two-state solution, it's just not there.
KEILAR: Reena, how are you seeing this next leg of the trip in Saudi Arabia?
REENA NINAN, FORMER ANCHOR, ABC NEWS AND CBS NEWS: I think this is the most important leg. This is the most important part of this trip.
And sometimes a president picking up a phone with a leader he has zero diplomatic contact or relations with, these quiet, closed door meetings where you don't have to worry whether you're doing a national sword dance or if you bowed too deep to the king and then everyone blows it up in the media, this is important what happens behind closed doors.
And, honestly, I hope we don't hear about what happens behind closed doors if this works out between us journalists, as much as I love to hear it, because there has to be quiet back channel diplomacy for this to happen.
What is different? I agree, Jim. I mean, how many times have we talked about Saudi normalizing relations with Israel over the past couple of decades? I will believe it when it happens. But what is different now is what the Trump administration, the big win they were able to get in foreign policy in the Middle East was these Abraham Accords, Morocco, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates. Saudi must have sort of agreed to some of this with a wink and a nod but they can't have a deal with Israel unless the Palestinians are on board. And what Biden said today, which stood out to me in that speech in Bethlehem, was he said, we cannot negotiate every single issue. And I think he's also saying to the Palestinians, look, I'm giving you this aid, I want to help you but you have got to help yourself on this too.
BERMAN: You spoke to Jamal Khashoggi before, not terribly long before he was murdered.
NINAN: That's right. Yes.
BERMAN: I mean, you can't put yourself in Jamal Khashoggi's head, but what do you think he would make of this trip?
NINAN: Jamal Khashoggi in that interview at that time, it was when Prince Mohammed bin Salman was newly in power and was jailing all these princes. So, I had him on to discuss -- explain to the American public why he's doing that. And in his words, he said, Reena, there is a Trump effect coming. Essentially, Trump casting a blind eye, not publicly condemning what was happening in Saudi Arabia is going to have implications for years to come, even after he leaves office.
Little did he know that he would pay with his own life in some of those comments and the struggles throughout his last few years. But I think Jamal Khashoggi was advocating this and you're hearing on Capitol Hill within the president's own Democratic Party, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut saying we need to completely redefine what our relationship is with Saudi Arabia.
SCIUTTO: His comments were so prescient when you look back, not just with relation to Saudi Arabia and Trump administration, but turning a blind eye to, for instance, Putin's crimes or China's giving a free pass to incarcerating people in Xinjiang.
And, by the way, when you go to that region now, and this is not just true there, it's also in Europe when I was there for the Madrid NATO summit, is that foreign leaders look at the Biden administration perhaps as a one-term administration.
And they prepare themselves. They don't know what's going to happen in 2024 but they prepare themselves for a turn back to a Republican isolationist view of the world. They are at least preparing themselves for that. Maybe it's a 50/50 bet but they don't think that this is a consistent America as back kind of position, as Biden has said.
KEILAR: Jim, Reena, thank you so much to both of you for talking with us about this important trip. And, of course, you can catch Jim at 9:00 A.M. on CNN Newsroom. We will be watching, Jim.
SCIUTTO: I will be there too.
KEILAR: You have no choice but we do, and we're making the right one.
So, thousands of cancellations and delays making air travel more hectic for passengers, there's some new data that shows where issues are the worst. And documents show an Indiana doctor who helped a ten-year-old rape victim get an abortion did everything by the book but that isn't stopping state officials from investigating her.
BERMAN: The Buffalo supermarket that became the scene of a deadly racist massacre renovated and reopening, but the grief and fear are still there. We will go there live.
BERMAN: So, heading into what could be a new painful weekend for air travel, this summer, hundreds of daily cancellations, thousands of delays that made flying so taxing.
CNN's Pete Muntean live at Newark Airport, this morning branching out from Reagan National, where he has planted the flag so many times before to Newark this morning where one in ten flights has been canceled since Memorial Day, Pete.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It is a big hub, John, also a big hot spot for cancelations. Newark is number one for cancelations since Memorial Day. Airlines put some of the blame here on the federal government. The federal government put some of the blame back on the airlines. Really, a combination of factors and it's passengers that are caught in the middle of all of this.
MUNTEAN (voice over): The summer of travel pain keeps growing with struggling airplanes canceling 30,000 flights since Memorial Day. Now, new data shows where issues are the worst. A FlightAware analysis for CNN shows New York airports leading the nation for flight cancelations. 8 percent of all flights leaving Newark have been canceled since Memorial Day.
KATHLEEN BANGS, FLIGHTAWARE SPOKESPERSON: The pain is not spread out evenly. Some airports have much bigger problems than others.
MUNTEAN: Florida airports take three of the top ten spots for flight delays. A third of all flights from Orlando have been delayed this summer. This new breakdown comes as passengers are packing planes in levels not seen since before the pandemic, but short-staffed airlines say the federal government is also short-staffed at air traffic control facilities.
New York, Newark and Florida really are air traffic control challenges. There're different issues at some other airlines but those two places are really struggling.
MUNTEAN: The FAA puts blame back on airline staffing issues as well as bad weather and heavy air traffic.
JOHN LUCIA, NATIONAL TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT OFFICER, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: We may have to slow the stuff coming out of Florida. MUNTEAN: At its round-the-clock command center in Virginia, the FAA showed us how Florida air space can become clogged with flights, like a traffic jam on a highway.
If you have a couple of thunderstorms right over the center of the state you have limitations on where you can go, especially in the summertime. If you want to get there on time, try to get there before lunch.
MUNTEAN: Airlines argued $50 billion in pandemic aid would make them ready for this rebound.
BILL MCGEE, SENIOR FELLOW FOR AVIATION AND TRAVEL, AMERICAN ECONOMIC LIBERTIES PROJECT: The airline industry is broken right now and it's failing every taxpayer.
MUNTEAN: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tells CNN he is seeing improvements but still expects airlines to do better.
Look, we are counting on airlines to deliver for passengers and to be able to service the tickets that they sell.