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Ex-Trump NSC Official to Testify at Thursday's Hearing; Bannon Contempt Trial Begins Today After Jury Seated; The Good, the Bad, the Middle: Making Sense of Economic News; Dems Furious at Manchin for Sinking Biden Agenda. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 19, 2022 - 06:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, July 19. Brianna is off. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here with us again this morning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Thank you so much for having me once again.

BERMAN: It is great to have you here.

COLLINS: Letting me come back.

BERMAN: Yes, you're here all week. It's very exciting.

First new on CNN, a new witness for the January 6th Committee. CNN has learned that former Trump National Security Council official Matthew Pottinger will testify publicly at the next committee hearing in prime time on Thursday.

Pottinger resigned in the immediate aftermath of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. He will appear alongside former Trump White House aide Sarah Matthews.

COLLINS: Also today, opening statements are expected in the federal trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for his refusal to cooperate with the January 6th Committee. He's charged with two counts of contempt of Congress for flouting subpoenas from the committee.

The trial is expected to move quickly, and the government's case might even take just one day.

Let's go first this morning to CNN's senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz. Katelyn, thank you so much for joining us. And of course, let's start with Matthew Pottinger and these details. Because obviously, he was a pretty critical figure in the West Wing. He may not be this household name, but he is certainly someone who had quite a bit of influence inside the West Wing.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So Pottinger was the deputy national security adviser. That's a really high-ranking position. He is going to be alongside another person who was pretty high up in the White House, the former White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews. They're both going to be live witnesses that we have been able to confirm for Thursday's prime time hearing.

And as you guys mentioned, it's very notable. Both of these people resigned in the immediate aftermath of January 6th. So they're not likely to be very friendly witnesses to Donald Trump or what happened there on January 6th. They are likely to be able to -- they won't be mincing words, we don't expect, whenever they're testifying.

But we do know from the committee members who've been previewing this hearing over the weekend in recent days that they want to take us inside the White House, minute by minute. One hundred eighty-seven minutes in total, where Donald Trump was doing nothing. They are going to hope to illustrate that. Not just with these live witnesses, but with witnesses that they have videotaped. We've been seeing all of these depositions.

There are lots of people that were in the White House that day that have sat for testimony. So, all of that is going to come together in this prime-time hearing.

And you know, I was in court yesterday for Bannon -- Bannon's trial, jury selection. And I was shocked to see how many potential jurors had really watched closely to Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, knew her name. She, too, was not a household name before she testified. So we're going to see if the committee can re-create that sort of impact that they had with Hutchinson with this hearing on Thursday.

BERMAN: Interesting connections between these two events happening at the same time. Let's talk about the Steve Bannon trial. Jury selection. They're narrowed it down. They're going to pick a final pool of 12 from the 22 they have. What happened yesterday? What are we expecting today?

POLANTZ: Well, yesterday, there was a question that Bannon had raised, his team had really tried to argue maybe they wouldn't be able to find enough jurors out of this pool of D.C. residents; but, indeed, they were able to.

They interviewed many, many people, almost 40. They were able to find 22 who pledged that they would be able to be unbiased that didn't have any apparent conflicts of interest.

And so just this morning, we're teed up. Those 22 people are going to come back. It's going to be narrowed down to your pool of 12 jurors and two alternates.

And then we're going to be into opening statements really quickly. And what we expect to hear from that is that prosecutors, they believe they have a pretty straightforward, succinct case. As you said, maybe just today it will take. Maybe they'll have two or three witnesses. They believe it's pretty cut and dried.

Bannon got the subpoena. He didn't show up to testify or to turn over documents to the House. On the defense side, we're still not completely certain exactly what

they're going to want to argue. But one of the things that they floated yesterday as a possible argument, some possible evidence, is that maybe that deadline for his subpoena wasn't hard and fast. Maybe it was a little bit more movable than prosecutors want to prove.

So we're going to see how it goes, but it's totally possible this trial moves so quickly we do have a verdict or some sort of conclusion to it before the prime-time hearing on Thursday.

BERMAN: That will be --


BERMAN: That will be fascinating.

All right. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.

Kaitlan Collins, while we have you here, you of course, the chief White House correspondent now, but you covered the Trump White House, as well. Matthew Pottinger, Sarah Matthews, they were people very present, very much around that you, I am sure, had a lot of contact with.

COLLINS: Yes, and they're not household names. They're not like a Steve Bannon or a Jared Kushner or someone that people might recognize right off the bat. But for those of us who covered the White House, we know them very well.

Matthew Pottinger had a really big role in COVID-19, in the pandemic. He was one of the few people in the West Wing who was actually wearing a mask at the beginning when other people were refusing to do so.

But he had this prominent position. He served under Robert O'Brien. And there was this time around January 6th where there was a moment where multiple senior officials in the West Wing nearly all quit together.

Matthew Pottinger was one of the ones who actually did resign after what he saw what Trump had posted about Mike Pence. But one thing that I think is going to be interesting and what we might hear him talk about, what we'll likely hear him talk about on Thursday is there was a moment on January 6th, in this 187 minutes, that the committee is going to be exploring, where Matthew Pottinger actually got a call from a friend about the National Guard still not showing up at the Capitol. He actually went to the Oval Office to figure out what was going on.


Trump was not in the Oval Office. He was in this small study that is right off the Oval Office, where he frequently sat. But Matthew Pottinger did run into Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, of course, and he talked to him about it.

And so I think that is going to be an interaction that you'll see him talking about.

Sarah Matthews, for her part, was a top deputy to Kayleigh McEnany, who was also involved that day, obviously.

BERMAN: Again, people who may not be household names but definitely have a story to tell and most likely saw quite a bit.

COLLINS: Similar to Cassidy Hutchinson, who of course, she was not a household name. She was known to us at the White House, and look what she said in her testimony.

BERMAN: Yes. She is a household name now.


Well, last night in Uvalde, Texas for about three hours, furious parents and members of the community confronted school board members, demanding the resignation of the school district superintendent, calling for the school district's police chief to be fired. And even threatening to keep their kids out of school until officials can fix campus security.


BRETT CROSS, UVALDE VICTIM'S PARENT: Are you going to fire him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That will be a decision we will take the report into consideration. It will be a closed session decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Internet clear as day! Wake up!

CROSS: All right. Well, I'll tell you this. If he's not fired by noon tomorrow, then I want your resignation and every single one of you board members; because y'all do not give a damn about our children or us. Stand with us or against us. Because we ain't going nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter has nothing to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was the last dress that all my friends saw me on. Most of those kids were my friends, and that's not good. And I don't want to go to your guys' school if they don't have protection.

JAZMIN CAZARES, UVALDE VICTIM'S SISTER: How am I supposed to come back here? I'm going to be a senior. How am I supposed to come back to this school? What are you guys going to do to make sure I don't have to watch my friends die? What are you going to do to make sure I don't have to wait 77 minutes, bleeding out on my classroom floor just like my little sister did.

I know there's nothing you can do to bring my sister back, but maybe, just maybe if you do something to change this, you can prevent the next family from losing their child.

RACHEL MARTINEZ, UVALDE PARENT: You need to clean house. You need to start from zero. Hire experienced, trained officers. My daughter Leila (ph) is so terrified of the thought of having to return to school in just a few short weeks that she comes to tears.

What will you tell her? What answers do you have for her fears when she only feels safe at home? Or next to us, her parents?

I can assure you that my children are not mentally prepared to return to campus. And my husband and I are unwilling to send them.

VINCENT SALAZAR, UVALDE VICTIM'S GRANDFATHER: I lost a loved one right here, my only granddaughter. I can hold myself together now, because I've done my crying. Now it's time to do my fighting.

And you have seen me in the papers, and you will see me in the papers a lot more. Because this isn't the end. This is just the beginning of a war that you guys created for our children.


COLLINS: Well, as much of those families have been left in the dark about the response, you can understand why they were so angry last night.

Up next, we will speak with Berlinda Irene Arreola and Angel Garza, the grandmother and father, step-father of the Uvalde shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza. We'll tell you what they want to see happen, next.

BERMAN: So a new brand-new CNN poll this morning, it finds that 75 percent of Americans say inflation and the cost of living are their top economic problems.

Eighty-two percent of Americans feel current economic conditions are poor. And nearly two-thirds of Americans feel that the economy is in a recession right now.

So, obviously, people feeling things in a negative way, but what are the actual economic signs that are out there? What are the measurements actually telling us?

We're joined this morning by CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon.

And Rahel, there are some conflicting signals. As obvious and bad as inflation is, there are some somewhat positive signs. So let's lay out the good, the bad and sort of the ugly here.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It seems like every day economists and Wall Street tries to decide, are we heading towards a recession? And every day, it seems like we get sort of conflicting data. Some on the more encouraging side, some on the more worrisome side. So we wanted to provide a sort of bird's-eye view of what we're seeing in the economy.

So on the encouraging side, in terms of signs of strength, jobs is a huge one. Jobs is a huge one, right? I mean, we have unemployment at 3.6 percent. That's practically a 50-year low.


Also really strong demand for workers. So that's a sign of strength.

Consumers are still spending, so that's also a really good sign. We've seen this from the banks as they reported earnings yesterday and last week. Consumers overall still spending. JPM said that consumer spending is up about 15 percent compared to last year; 34 percent for categories like travel and dining. So that's a good sign.

And by the way, in terms of spending, Americans still have more cash in terms of their checking and their savings accounts compared to before the pandemic. Of course, that is not for every American. But by and large, people are still sitting on my cash.

BERMAN: It's so interesting, because normally, these three things alone would be boom times for an economy.


BERMAN: But there are worrisome signs?

SOLOMON: Exactly. And there are some that are sort of in the middle that have folks worrying is that a good sign, or is that a bad sign?

One is the housing market, right? I mean, if you already own your home, you're probably sitting on quite a bit of equity. You're probably sitting on quite a bit of wealth just there.

If you are looking for a home right now, well, home prices are still elevated and by the way, borrowing costs are going up. So that's on the more worrisome side in terms of rates, right?

And we know that his is happening, of course, as the Fed tries to lower inflation. So it's raising interest rates to try to cool spending as it makes borrowing more expensive. So that's that.

Also worrisome, sentiment. I mean, sentiment, as we just saw in that pool that you --

BERMAN: Brutal.

SOLOMON: Exactly. That you just pointed out, John. Sentiment is near all-time lows. We saw a slight pickup in last week's University of Michigan consumer sentiment report, but still pretty much near all- time lows.

And of course, the bell of the ball for the worrisome side is inflation. So this is sort of what we're dealing with. I mean, inflation is such a big problem that it's really clouding some of the other more positive, encouraging signs of the economy.

So how do you make sense of all of this? OK, so Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's, told me yesterday that, look, "near record-high gas prices and surging inflation, the lingering nightmare of the pandemic, and our stark political divisions are a heavy weight on the collective psyche. But as long as households have jobs and lots of cash in the bank, and they do, they will keep on spending, and the economy will avoid recession." Here's hoping.

BERMAN: That is so interesting. It's so great to see all this laid out at once. Because there's just a lot of nuance right now.

SOLOMON: There is.

BERMAN: And everyone just hoping this side outweighs this side.

SOLOMON: Here's hoping. And I'm sure a lot of people, after watching this are hoping that my penmanship gets better in the years to come.

BERMAN: This is terrific. I can't read my own handwriting, let alone, you know, worry about anyone else's. Thank you so much, Rahel. That was terrific.

So Senator Joe Manchin firing back at criticism from fellow Democrats accusing him of sabotage with the president's agenda.

And September 11 families urging former President Trump to cancel a Saudi tour event, golf tour event at his golf club. What he's saying in response.

COLLINS: And the singer Ricky Martin is facing allegations of domestic violence that are leveled to him by his 21-year-old nephew. We have the latest developments on that, just ahead.




SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I haven't walked away from anything. And inflation is my greatest concern because of how it's affecting my -- my state, people in my state and all over this country.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When the Democrats are saying you sabotaged the Biden agenda, what do you say to that?

MANCHIN: Well, you know what? I've been around for a long time. People say things sometimes they might not mean, and I don't take it personal.


COLLINS: Senator Joe Manchin dismissing criticism that he torpedoed President Biden's domestic agenda after he was criticized by several members in his party after he said he could not back the climate or tax provisions with inflation as high as it is right now.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin was very frustrated with that, telling CNN, quote, "My major frustration is I think Joe should have made his position clearer a hell of a long time ago." He faulted Manchin for, quote, "letting this drag out -- this thing drag out for six or seven months of this year." To talk more about what is happening and this divide in the Democratic

Party and joining us right now is the former senior adviser to Senator Manchin, Jonathan Kott. And Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a CNN contributor and Detroit's former health director. He also served on the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Health Care.

Thank you both for joining us this morning. And Doctor, I'd like to start with you, because you say that, basically, your view of this is that Democrats who are now upset with Manchin got played by him?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is the second major legislation that we've seen Senator Joe Manchin tank in as many years. And if you look at the Biden agenda, if you look at all the things that were included in Build Back Better, all of the things that would have made people in West Virginia feel a whole lot better, given where we are with inflation -- whether it's making sure that they're not paying an arm and a leg for their kid's child care, or putting money literally in the hands of parents -- all of these things would have been good for people in West Virginia.

But this is the second time we've seen Manchin buck on this, and the only people who seem to approve are Republicans in West Virginia. He's got a 9 percent approval rating. It's hard not to read this as him bucking the party to secure his political future in West Virginia.

BERMAN: Jonathan.

JONATHAN KOTT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO SEN. MANCHIN: I've known Joe Manchin a long time. He doesn't really care about political parties. He does what he thinks is best for the people of West Virginia. He goes home every weekend. His phone -- I don't know how his phone battery doesn't die by, like, 11 p.m., because he gets calls from 304 numbers all day long. He does what he thinks is best.

He told me when I first started working for him, he said, buddy, if I can't go home and explain it, I can't vote for it. He's been concerned about inflation for a long time. He was one of the first people raising the concerns.

I will point out, he didn't walk away. He has said this repeatedly. He said it on Friday on Hapi Kerschel's (ph) show. He said it yesterday in the halls to Manu. He hasn't walked away. He's just concerned about inflation. The last inflation report number came out. It was higher than expected. He wants to see what these policies -- what the policy impacts would have on inflation.


And he said, why don't we take a little bit of time, talk to some experts, see if we can get the next inflation report that comes out, I think, August 10, and then let's go from there.

But I'd also point out, we're on the verge of getting something historic done. These are things that Democrats have been trying to do for years. Also we just passed the first major gun -- bipartisan gun legislation

in probably 20 or 30 years. We should be celebrating those victories, as Democrats.

COLLINS: And Doctor, to that point, you know, if just what Manchin has said he would support gets past, negotiating drug prices, extending these health care subsidies and expanding them, that is still really significant and would have an impact on a lot of Americans.

But I think it seems like it's less, because it was presented with that giant package that you're talking about that had so much included with elder care, child care, climate, all of these tax provisions, as well.

EL-SAYED: Yes, look. I'm all for that. Right? But imagine going to Thanksgiving dinner, and you're expecting a turkey dinner. And somebody serves you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Well, look, you still had dinner, but it wasn't what you were expecting. And when we look at where we are, given how far underwater President Biden is, a lot of that is because there has been a promise made. You think about the young people who turned out in droves. Record numbers of young people turned out in 2020 to unseat Donald Trump. Look at what is motivating them now.

You look at the laggard response on -- on the issue of abortion. You look at the preemptive declaring of victory on the gun rights issue. And you look at climate and this issue that young people are facing down on the horizon that's looking extra bleak right now.

And it just doesn't look like much. It looks like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And so if we want young people to show up in '22, if we want them to show up in '24, we've got to deliver on the promises we made. And right now, there is one obstacle, and that is -- that is Joe Manchin.

BERMAN: You know, Jonathan, what about the criticism from Dick Durbin, that Joe Manchin, Senator Manchin left them hanging -- I won't say walked away, because I understand he says he doesn't walk away -- but left them hanging on his own proposals. Couldn't he have told them six or seven months ago that he wasn't going to be there?

KOTT: I don't think he was saying he wasn't going to be there. He said he wanted to get it right, rather than get it fast. He's been concerned about how inflation is rising. And he's looked at factors that have changed. And that's what he's doing. So what may have been true in the world six months ago isn't true today. Things have changed. He looks at those. He wants to see what's right and what's best to do right now.

And I would also point out, Joe Manchin never promised anybody a turkey dinner. Right? Like, these were promises that progressives made in a campaign in a primary that they lost and they continue to lose.

And there's a reason they continue to lose seats. Because they promise things that don't actually come to fruition. And it's very easy to campaign. It's very easy to go out and tweet. It's a lot harder to govern.

Joe Manchin never promised anybody anything. He said he would do what was best for the people of West Virginia and what he thought he -- was best for the country. And that's what he's continuing to do.

And I do think Democrats should sit back. Look at everything we've accomplished. Some of the most historic things in the first two years of the Biden presidency. And get out there and talk about that stuff and not complain every day on Twitter about what they didn't get. They should be celebrating the big victories.

COLLINS: Doctor, what's your response?

EL-SAYED: You know, Jonathan, it is hard to govern when you have members your own party that aren't willing to get with your own agenda. This is President Joe Biden's agenda. This is not Bernie Sanders' agenda. This is not AOC's agenda. This is Joe Biden's agenda.

And the other Joe, Joe Manchin, is the reason that that agenda seems to keep hitting a brick wall based out of West Virginia. The other point we have to make here is a lot of this is focused on the fact of who Joe Manchin is.

Joe Manchin is a coal baron from the state of West Virginia. So much of the opposition on climate change reform, which by the way, is the reason that we continue to run out of oil, why gas prices are so high is because we have not invested in renewable energy.

A lot of that goes back to who this person is. Please stop apologizing for somebody who has put his own personal agenda ahead of the country's agenda, ahead of his party's agenda.

KOTT: He hasn't put his own personal agenda ahead of anything. He's doing what he thinks is best for the people of his state. And that's what elected officials are supposed to do.

EL-SAYED: It seems like what's best for his back pocket. But we'll agree to disagree on that.

KOTT: Having known him for a pretty long time, I know he doesn't care about that. He cares about the people.

COLLINS: Jonathan Kott, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, thank you both for joining us this morning to talk about that. Obviously, something Democrats will still be talking about on Capitol Hill for the next several weeks.

Meanwhile, hours from now, Twitter and Elon Musk are going to have their first court hearing over Twitter's push to force the billionaire to make good on his promise to purchase the social media company.

Plus --





BERMAN: Crazy pictures. What do you do when huge waves wipe out your wedding? The bride and groom join us ahead.



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