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Secret Service Only Able to Provide One Text Message Related to January 6th Insurrection to House January 6th Committee; Dan Cox Wins Republican Nomination for Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate; Democratic Organizations Spending to Boost Trump Supporters in Republican Primaries across U.S.; WH: Biden Announcing Actions to Confront Heat, Boost Wind Power Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2022 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking the news overnight that the Secret Service was able to provide just one text exchange to the January 6th Committee.


BERMAN: Just one after a request from the Homeland Security inspector for a month's worth of personnel records. This is according to a letter obtained by CNN, and it concerns text messages sent before and around the attack on the Capitol.

The National Archives has asked the Secret Service separately to investigate all this, saying they are aware of the, quote, potential unauthorized deletion of agency text messages.

COLLINS: And, John, the committee has gotten thousands of documents, pages of documents, related to January 6th, but it's not the text messages that they're seeking. They got one of the messages, but they are seeking many more. And a Secret Service spokesman told "The New York Times," it's likely those phone records will never be recovered. It has prompted many questions about the agency's transparency and its credibility.

So joining us now to talk about this is CNN's senior justice correspondent Evan Perez, and Arick Wierson, former media adviser to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was a deputy commissioner in the New York City's Department of Information, Technology, and Telecommunications, so obviously can help us answer a lot of these questions.

And Evan, I want to start with you, because this has raised so many questions about what's going on, and why, if you can recover one message, where are the rest of them?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And, look, this letter that Jamie Gangel obtained indicates also that the committee, the committee asked the Secret Service to preserve these records on January 16th. Again, this is before the so-called migration, this is before the devices were being changed over. This is what the Secret Service says is the cause of this deletion of these text messages.

But what was being requested was all of these communications for 24 people at the Secret Service. We don't know exactly who those people are, but there are people who would have been in key positions to know what was happening in those days before January 6th and, of course, on that day. The only message that apparently was preserved, that they were able to preserve, was one from the chief of the Capitol police asking for help from the uniformed division of the Secret Service.

So, as you say, it is raising really major questions about exactly what was done with this, why it was deleted, even before -- given the fact that, right, that they already were asked to preserve. And according to the Secret Service, by the way, it's up to each individual member of the security -- the Secret Service to preserve their own messages, apparently.

BERMAN: Arick, stand by for one minute, because we do have questions about the technical aspect of it, as in can you really delete stuff like this forever? But Evan, just on the timeline, because you keep alluding to it, to be clear, and this is from CNN's own reporting that you're a part of, Congress told the Secret Service it needed to preserve and produce documents related to January 6th. They made the request on January 16th, and then again on January 25th. But the migration where these texts may have been deleted didn't happen until the 27th.

PEREZ: And keep in mind, when we first -- part of the reason why this is continuing to be a story is the Secret Service has not been clear and up-front in their explanations. And the first time they responded to all of this, they said that the messages were deleted, but only -- this was before they even got a request, right? But this is a request from the inspector general. So now we find out that really the deletions would have occurred after they were told to preserve all of these records. And that's a major issue.

BERMAN: Especially with the investigations, depositions, anything like that, that's something that is just not supposed to happen.

COLLINS: And it's not like January 6th happened and no one thought, oh, nothing is going to come of this. Everyone that day realized that was going to spark some investigations, it was going to raise a lot of questions. Arick, though, I think one question that people have is, we're living in 2022, it seems like in this day and age nothing is ever really deleted, everything is able to be recovered. But it sounds like what this Secret Service spokesman is saying now to "The New York Times" is they actually don't think they'll be able to be recovered.

ARICK WIERSON, FORMER NEW YORK CITY'S DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Yes, it really strains credulity. This is sort of like -- I was talking to a senior security officer at a major investment bank yesterday about this, and he likened this, this is like winning the lottery, being hit by lightning all on February 29th. Is it possible? Potentially. But the odds of this, it really reeks of, at best, extreme negligence, at worst a cover-up.

BERMAN: And what else do you see going on here, Arick? And specifically with the idea of, in this day and age, can stuff really get erased forever?

WIERSON: Not really. In fact, I would argue this -- if there is a real sort of real third party serious effort to do what is called forensic imaging, where you go into these devices and look at the tel codes and talk to, if they were using iPhones as been reported, they talk to Apple and they really find out that this stuff is really gone, that in and of itself is pretty incriminating, because that means it wasn't just a run of the mill bureaucratic administrative technical bungling.


This was something that was done with purpose, probably with mal intent. And so I would say that if indeed it's really gone, that's actually much more alarming than if it has just has been sort of erased through sort of a, as they're saying, a general technology upgrade or migration.

COLLINS: And Evan, one question this raised for me, if you give the Secret Service the benefit of the doubt, and they do come up with a credible explanation of what happened to these messages, they have also confirmed they did not conduct their own after-action report following January 6th. This is only happening because of other committees and other investigatory things that are looking at this. Based on what happened on January 6th, pure craziness from an understatement, why would they not have launched their own after- action report into what happened that day, what went wrong, and what they could have done better?

PEREZ: We've heard multiple explanations for that. One of the things that they say is that in the end, they were successful. The Secret Service views what happened, how they handled their part of this, as a success because Mike Pence was successfully evacuated, Kamala Harris, of course, was evacuated when they found a bomb at the DNC nearby the capitol. So to them, they feel that things went well. But if you look at the video, right, from that day, and you see how close these protesters came to the vice president, again, minutes, right, just a few yards away from where he was --

COLLINS: And the nuclear football.

PEREZ: Right, exactly. And the fact that the incoming vice president gets brought into a building where there was a bomb sitting outside, that is not -- doesn't sound to me like it's a pure success. And you would think that the Secret Service would at least want to say, hey, let's review how we narrowly avoided disaster. And that's what kind of strains credulity here, and that's why the inspector general has been doing this investigation, and why they're so frustrated, they say, with what the Secret Service has been doing to not cooperate, according to the inspector general.

BERMAN: These questions certainly remain. Evan, we know you'll be pressing. Very nice of you to join us in person this morning. It's a rare occurrence. You know it is a big story if Evan is here.

COLLINS: So honored. BERMAN: Arick Wierson, thank you for being with us as well.

COLLINS: Eric, thank you as well.

Meanwhile, the candidate backed by former President Trump has just won the Republican nomination for governor in Maryland. State lawmaker Dan Cox is hoping to replace the current Republican Governor Larry Hogan. He's term limited, so he can't seek reelection this year. But they are a tale of two very different kinds of Republicans. Cox is the one who urged Trump to seize voting machines. He chartered buses to the Capitol on January 6th, to the January 6th rally, and he also tweeted while the insurrection was under way that, quote, "Pence is a traitor." His win last night is now raising major questions about the implications, what it means not only for this election coming up in November, but also for 2024.

So, joining us now to tell us all of that is the CNN political commentator Scott Jennings. Scott, thank you for getting up early with us, as always. And I wonder, what is your takeaway from his win last night?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, it's not surprising that in a party where you've got a sizable chunk of the voters who believe what Donald Trump says about the 2020 election that some candidates who believe that would win primaries. So that's not surprising.

What I am shocked by and, frankly, appalled by about this primary and several others is how much money Democrats are spending to get these people elected in Republican primaries. The Democrat establishment spent over $1 million to boost Cox. In fact, they spent more than Donald Trump did to get this guy the nomination. They have done it in California. They have done it in Colorado. They have done it in Illinois. And you go around the country, and you see Democrats spending millions upon millions to get these election deniers, these fringe candidates, nominations in Republican primaries.

So one of the takeaways I have, Kaitlan, is if Democrats are going to go on TV and say that Trump and all of his candidates who believe what he says are threats to democracy, how can they defend spending millions to get somebody like Cox the nomination in a state like Maryland that has had a very, you know, a good governor in Larry Hogan who has been a Republican that Democrats say, hey, we like Larry Hogan, but yet they've spent millions to go the opposite direction of Larry Hogan.

BERMAN: The implication being that the Democrats think that these types of candidates will be easier to beat in November. That would be the implication about what they're doing there.

Scott, as a Republican, though, are these the types of candidates you prefer to see? Do you think it's good for your party to have someone like this as the nominee in Maryland?

JENNINGS: No, of course not, because you take a state like Maryland, and you see what kind of governor they were willing to elect in Larry Hogan as a Republican.


This guy is obviously -- he obviously doesn't have that same profile, and it's not likely that he will win. However, in some of these other states, the Democrats may be the dog that caught the car. Pennsylvania is a good example. Mastriano, we had a conversation on the air about Mastriano one morning, John. That's not the kind of candidate that I would prefer because I think it is not good for the party long-term. But there are reports in Pennsylvania that he is now competitive with Shapiro in that governor's race. And Democrats spent liberally to get Mastriano the nomination over there.

So I don't know if Cox is going to win in Maryland, and I don't know if he's going to be competitive. But somewhere around the country, one of these Democrat-backed election deniers is going to win a race that they -- this is going to backfire somewhere, and the only people they have to blame, the Democrats, will be themselves. So no, I don't prefer it. I don't think it is good for the party. But there has to be some acknowledgement here about who is spending millions to boost these people and, therefore, boost their views, which I think are corrosive to the party.

COLLINS: And it's also, of course, raising questions, if you're a Democratic donor, did you intend for your money to be used for that, probably to go to Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.

JENNINGS: Yes, yes.

COLLINS: I would say probably not. But I do want to get your take also on what is happening in Arizona, where there is also this battle playing out between the establishment and people who back former president Trump's lies about the election. You saw the Arizona GOP censured Republican Party chair Rusty Bowers. He is, of course, someone who testified before the January 6th Committee. He kind of became this central figure, talking about the pressure that he faced. So, Scott, what is your reaction to that?

JENNINGS: Well, another state where Democrats are meddling in that gubernatorial primary. They're backing Lake over Robson, who is, I think, a good candidate. Lake is slightly ahead. Trump is for Lake. The Democrats are for Lake, apparently. But that speaker of the House did the right thing. He did sort of what Mike Pence did in Washington. He did the right thing. He's been someone that has stood up for our constitutional order and our democratic process and the rule of law, and now he's being punished by his political party. And the kinds of people who want to punish him are backing Lake in the Arizona gubernatorial campaign, and that's who the Democrats are backing in Arizona.

You just raised the key issue. I'm just going to give a quick public service announcement. If you're a Democrat donor watching this show this morning, and I know you're out there, your money is being spent to back these election deniers, the people who are against our democratic process in Arizona and other places. And you should call your committee and tell them it's not acceptable. I understand the tactic. It was pioneered by Claire McCaskill in 2012. I get it. It was all fun and games back then. But do you think it's fun and games now? I don't. And I don't think you do either. So PSA, don't have your money going to these people who are corrosive to our democratic future.

COLLINS: Scott Jennings, with a public service announcement at 8:12 a.m., and we thought you were just coming on to share your wisdom.


BERMAN: No, he brings his A game. Scott Jennings brings his A game. And he was asleep like 45 minutes ago. He didn't know he was going to be on T.V. and he woke up to this. And we appreciate it.

COLLINS: And still delivered.

JENNINGS: I'm sorry, what happened? I blacked out. I blacked out. What happened? What just happened?


COLLINS: We'll fill you in later. Thank you, Scott.

Meanwhile, today, President Biden is set to outline new efforts to combat the climate crisis. We are going to be joined by his national climate adviser next.

Plus, the FBI and NSA directors are warning of foreign election interference ahead of the midterm elections, and we'll have more on what that warning entails.

BERMAN: And two young girls, it looks like they're being snubbed by a character at the Sesame Place theme park. The viral video that now has the park apologizing.



COLLINS: In just a few hours from new, President Biden will announce he's taking new steps to combat the climate crisis. One thing he's not expected to do yet is declare a national climate emergency.

Joining us now for a preview on all of this is President Biden's national climate adviser Gina McCarthy.

And, Gina, you're normally standing where I am, usually, but thank you for joining us this morning.

And I'd like to start off, what are the executive orders that President Biden is going to issue? What do they do?

GINA MCCARTHY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL CLIMATE ADVISER: Well, first of all, President Biden is going to be traveling to Massachusetts to an old coal-fired power plant to show what the clean energy future looks like, right now. That transformation and that plan is moving away from coal, it is closed, and it is going to become actually a clean energy manufacturing operation, so that we can have offshore wind, like new announcements that the president is going to make in the Gulf of Mexico, to actually move forward with offshore wind that in this country is booming.

So the president is going to make it clear that climate change is an emergency. He's going to make it clear that just because Congress couldn't get it done, he is going to move forward with every power available to him to make the change and the shift to clean energy, because it is important.

Look, we're going to go to the breaking point and we're all going to be melting because of this heat, like 10, 100 million people across the world. We have to recognize that this is a problem for our health. It is also an opportunity, however, to grow good jobs and strengthen our economy and make us more secure. And so, that's what today is all about.

And make no mistake, the president isn't going to take no for an answer when it comes to climate action. This is an emergency and he's going to treat it as such.

COLLINS: And, Gina, if he's going to treat it as an emergency, we are told he's not going to declare a national climate emergency. Why not?

MCCARTHY: Well, that's just not the announcement today. The announcement today is going to be about the -- making the case that climate change is an emergency, outlining actions that we're going to be moving forward over the coming weeks. And the president will make very clear again that this is an emergency and we are going to act, the president is going to outline that at his pace.

COLLINS: But, I guess wouldn't it help bolster your argument that it is an emergency if the president declared a national climate emergency?

MCCARTHY: Well, the president has a number of authorities it can use and he's going to work through those and make those announcements.


But make no mistake: he's not shying away from climate being an emergency. And he is making it clear that he's going to move forward. He's also calling on states and local communities to really engage in this issue because we need this transition to clean energy accelerated.

This is about our health. This is about our communities. This is about growing our labor force. This is about saving families' money.

So, this isn't just about the emergency. It is about the opportunities that clean energy brings. So the president will move and he will move fast.

COLLINS: Gina, on that front, you know, one thing that has happened in recent days that is driving a lot of what we're also seeing today from the president is Senator Joe Manchin, who came out and said right now, he cannot support and move forward with increases in federal spending for clean energy or methane emission penalties until inflation comes down.

And so, does not declaring it an emergency have anything to do with maybe trying to get Manchin to come back to the table?

MCCARTHY: No. It doesn't. I mean, Congress will do what Congress does. And so, hopefully, if they get around and they can manage to do it, more actions on Congress would be helpful.

But the president is no longer sitting around waiting for that. This is his time to act and he's going to take that time. So this is all about him, making the case, not just to shift away from the fossil fuels of the past, but to look at the opportunities across the country that are growing, and how do we accelerate that moving forward.

So we are going to stay strong action, the president is going to announce those actions, and you'll see them rolling out over the next few weeks.

COLLINS: Okay, over the next few weeks, that's something people will be looking forward to.

Gina, when it comes to this -- you know, there has been a lot of focus on Senator Manchin lately understandably.


COLLINS: But it is not just Senator Manchin because the Supreme Court also recently dealt a major blow to the Environmental Protection Agency's, the EPA's power, to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change.

So in your perspective, without Congress, or the courts, do you feel limited in what you can do on climate?

MCCARTHY: Well, the court did make a decision that we were disappointed in, but it is in no way a deal-breaker. It related to a single section of the Clean Air Act. It did narrow some abilities.

But EPA has every ability in the world to continue to regulate in a way that recognizes the pollution that is associated with the burning of fossil fuels, and that advances the opportunities for clean energy.

So regulatory action is still strong, we are going to move not just with EPA, but with others. And as you'll see today, when the president makes his announcement, we're going to be moving forward with investments, not just only in the bipartisan infrastructure law, which the president managed to get passed to advance efforts to protect people from heat stress, and to move forward with labor protections.

So we are still going to regulate and we're going to regulate strong, and part of the efforts moving forward will be to make sure that we expedite the process of regulation, which can actually enhance that shift away from polluting sources to our clean energy future. COLLINS:

Gina, the president has pledged that to the rest of the world, he's told them -- other world leaders this, that the U.S. will cut emissions in half by 2030. With no legislation, is that goal still possible?

MCCARTHY: Well, we believe that it is. And that's part of the challenge that the president is opening up for us and the opportunity. We have to look over the next weeks at what is the best strategy to use absent congressional action, and still hope that Congress continues to take up that mantle.

But the president isn't waiting. He is not going to sit back idly. That is not his style. It never has been.

He was one of the first congressmen to ever speak to the issue of climate and push for action on that. And it continues to be one of the things that keeps him motivated and energized about the opportunities ahead. So you can bet we're not going to sit around waiting for Congress, but we are going to use every tool we can to develop plans that actually achieve those goals.

So don't cut them out yet. We are seeing advances in acceleration in clean energy that no one ever anticipated. And electric vehicles, and offshore wind, we are going to keep moving forward and we're going to do everything we can to meet those goals. And show the international community once again that the United States is leading on climate change.

COLLINS: Gina McCarthy, thank you for joining us this morning, and we'll be looking forward to what those next executive actions are going to be.



COLLINS: Up next, we have Don Lemon here, we'll talk about a big interview that he had last night, and a controversy that is under way as people are raising questions about what happened at a children's park.

BERMAN: He knows how to deal with the heat, seersucker. Seersucker is the answer.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Old school.

BERMAN: All right. Flames breaking out at the Hoover Dam.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not good. Okay. The Hoover dam just exploded.



BERMAN: So, this is a heart breaking video from what should have been a special moment for two young black girls. Now, when you look at this, it looks like they were ignored by a character in a parade at a Sesame Place theme park in Pennsylvania as the character acknowledges other park visitors nearby.

Joining us now is the host of "DON LEMON TONIGHT", Mr. Don Lemon.

LEMON: Good morning.

COLLINS: Good morning.

BERMAN: The video is what the video is.