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New Day

Justice Department Looking at Trump's Actions in Criminal Probe; Dueling Trump and Pence Speeches Highlight Divide in Future of GOP; From Food to Gas, Americans Squeezed by High Inflation. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired July 27, 2022 - 07:00   ET



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And as you can imagine, a playoff-like atmosphere there last night at Citi Field, and Aaron Judge wasting no time getting the Yankees on the board with this league-leading 38th homerun of the season. Judge is currently on pace to hit 63 homeruns, which would break Roger Maris' Yankees record.

The Yankees were up 2-0 after the top of the first. Mets though answered quickly with four of their own in the bottom half. Eduardo Escobar crushing a two-run homerun.

Check out this one-handed grab by the fan, held on to his beer the entire time. He was pumped up after that, as were Mets fans winning that opener of the series 6-3.

All right, and how about Aaron Rodgers, sure knows how to make an entrance, the league MVP strolling up to work at Packers training camp in Green Bay with slicked back hair, jeans and a white tank top. Rodgers looking exactly like Nicholas Cage did in the movie Con Air.

Now, guys, he didn't talk yesterday so we don't know why he did this, but I guess anytime you can look like Cameron Poe, you do it.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: why do you think he did it, Andy?

SCHOLES: Maybe he was flipping through the channels and he saw Con Air and he was like, yes, you know what, I kind of look like Cameron Poe there. Maybe I should just do it for fun.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Maybe he will cycle through Nicolas Page movies, Face Off.

SCHOLES: Lots of looks, yes.

BERMAN: Andy Scholes, great to see you. Thank you very much.

New Day continues right now.

All right, Good morning, everyone, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday, July 27th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. And this morning, a criminal investigation into the January 6th insurrection is moving closer to former President Donald Trump. CNN reports key witnesses subpoenaed by the Justice Department in recent days include two top aides of former Vice President Mike Pence who were asked specifically about the fake electors scheme and the role of Trump's lawyers.

In addition, The New York Times and The Washington Post report that federal investigators in April received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump administration, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Attorney General Merrick Garland called the DOJ's January 6th investigation the most wide-ranging in its history. He says they will go where the evidence takes them. Criminally charging a former president, of course, would be unprecedented.

KEILAR: Now, these revelations are coming as The Times reports on previously undisclosed emails among Trump advisers admitting their fake electors scheme was indeed fake, quote fake, in fact. And former Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller telling the January 6th committee that despite what Donald Trump says, there was no order to have National Guard troops at the ready on January 6th.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be crystal clear, there was no direct order from President Trump to put 10,000 troops to be on the ready for January 6, correct?

CHRIS MILLER, FORMER ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: No. Yes, that's correct. There was no direct -- there was no order from the president.


BERMAN: All right. With us now, Maggie Haberman, CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent for The New York Times on two huge bylines this morning, Maggie. So, nice to have you here with us.

First, I do want to ask about your reporting that, as part of this grand jury investigation that these witnesses have been asked specifically about Donald Trump and his actions. This is something that's new. Look, we didn't even know that they were calling witnesses from within the White House a few days ago, now we know they're having witnesses and they have been asking about Trump. The significance?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, John, it certainly gets closer to former President Trump. It doesn't -- I want to be clear on this. We don't know that there is a specific investigation into Donald Trump, but all of these investigations relate to things that either he, you know, helped put in motion or encouraged. And so these are witnesses who are being asked about conversations with him.

It does suggest that the DOJ is moving closer to the former president. It does suggest that they are taking very seriously examining all aspects of this. I think the phone records piece, too, John, is very significant. I think this looks at who was talking to whom, exactly what was taking place around that time, you know, I think all of this, you know, just suggests, again, that there is steady movement toward former President Trump.

What that looks like, as you say, it would be unprecedented if there was an actual indictment, but there is definitely an investigation under way.

KEILAR: Yes. Because if you're going to walk backwards from an indictment obviously, DOJ would have to be looking at President Trump's conduct around or on January 6th, but at the same time it's been a long time coming that they would have gotten to this point, Maggie.

HABERMAN: Look, they've been very methodical about what they have been doing, Brianna. I think that we have seen that. It certainly is 18 months and I think since the riot at the Capitol on January 6th, and I don't think a ton of information has changed about that, but I think that, as you saw Garland say, this investigation is unprecedented in scope.


They are looking not just at what was taking place in the White House but how those various pieces overlap with the rioters if they do, how the pieces overlap with this, you know, so-called fake electors scheme.

And so I think that they are looking at how these various pieces of puzzle fit together and how those pieces relate to Donald Trump specifically.

BERMAN: Yes. And we've used careful language, Maggie. We are not saying they are investigating the president, or we know that. You are not saying that. But there is reporting now that they are asking about things that he was involved in. And that's different, very different, than we knew at least even a few days ago.

Maggie, your other reporting here, I want you to describe it and then I can read some of the emails that you revealed to the American people for the very first time. These are emails between Trump advisers and other people out there in the states having to do with what they called the fake electors scheme.

HABERMAN: So, John, this is a tranche of emails that Luke Broadwater and I reviewed and there were dozens of pages in which you have these lawyers who were working with a wing of the Trump campaign, there appear to be people who didn't know anything about it, both within the White House and on the campaign, but working within this wing to try to figure out a way to send these slates of, quote/unquote, fake electors to Congress on January 6th.

Why do we use the word fake? Because one of the lawyers in this email tranche working out of Arizona used the word fake in quotes to describe these electors saying they would be, you know, fake because they would not be legal under the law, which says they had to be approved or signed into -- recognized by the governor.

Now, the lawyer did go on to say that he thought that legally this was acceptable to continue with this plan, but the fact that he wrote all of this is going to raise all kinds of questions about exactly what people thought they were doing.

And the other point I'd raise, John, is folks involved in this scheme have suggested they were doing this as a contingency plan, that this was just -- if court challenges came through, then they had this slate of electors. These emails reveal that these lawyers were talking about keeping this under wraps as long as possible and out of the media's view. That doesn't sound like it relates to a court challenge.

KEILAR: No. And also there were people very committed to the election lie who were queasy about this, right, Maggie? You report this, Doug Mastriano, who was a state senator then, now running for governor in Pennsylvania, hugely committed to the election lie and he was concerned.

HABERMAN: Right. There's an email where Christina Bob who at the time was working for OAN News, now works with one of Donald Trump's political entities, sent an email to others saying that Mastriano, who is now the GOP candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, who was one of the points of contact they were looking for these slates of electors, that he needed reassurance, that he needed a phone call from Rudy Giuliani, he needed to be reassured that this was, quote, A, legal and, B, essential to strategy. That's also very telling, as you say, about people's concerns about what they were getting involved in.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, great to see you. Thank you for sharing your reporting with us.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in CNN Political Commentator and former Trump White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin, CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon and CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen with us as well.

Alyssa, what do you think about now that DOJ is looking specifically and asking questions about Donald Trump's conduct?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a significant development and I think Marc Short, former Vice President Pence's chief of staff, and Greg Jacob actually sitting down with the grand jury and testifying is a hugely significant step.

I've said this before, but Marc Short is basically Pence's eyes and ears. Pence is very -- a studied practiced politician who does things like have their chief counsel and their chief of staff with them in virtually all meetings.

So, Marc Short had tremendous visibility into every step of this pressure campaign leading up to January 6th and would be able to speak to that. I think that -- and then you pair that with what the attorney general said and we could be moving -- this is the most confident I've felt and I'm not the lawyer at the table -- that we are moving forward a potential indictment of the former president.

BERMAN: And we will get to the lawyer. While we have you, has the DOJ talked to you?

GRIFFIN: They have not spoken to me. I am aware of other White House officials who have been reached out to by DOJ and are planning to cooperate.

BERMAN: Oh, really?


BERMAN: Can you tell me more about that because that was my follow-up questions? We know Marc Short, Greg Jacob, we literally don't know a single other person.

GRIFFIN: I don't want to get ahead of their announcements but I think you could piece it together based on who has testified before the January 6th committee. Again, these are not -- these are related but separate track investigations and I think Doj is keeping an eye on who is coming before January 6th and who may have helpful information.

BERMAN: But you have knowledge that DOJ is reaching out to some of the people that we have seen who appeared as part of the January 6th committee presentation?

GRIFFIN: Yes, that's my understanding.

KEILAR: So, when you hear Democrats frustrated that DOJ hasn't done enough, hasn't been fast enough, do you share that concern or -- knowing what you know, do you think that actually they're farther ahead?


GRIFFIN: I think that they're probably -- I think that they're maybe on a bit of a different track. I think there are places that the January 6th committee was probably moving faster and had more information but I think it's a bit of a myth that DOJ isn't far along in this investigation and isn't doing a wide reaching and methodical investigation.

That said, as somebody who worked in the executive branch and is extremely cautious about DOJ seeming partisan, I think it's incredibly critical that they move quickly before the former president is an announced candidate. Just seeing how the political and media tea leaves are going to fall, if he is an announced candidate, I think it's much, much harder to pursue something.

BERMAN: Sorry, I didn't mean -- there was a bit of --

KEILAR: She told us the (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Hang on one second. I want to go back. And, again, I did not know -- that's new to me -- that DOJ is reaching out to other people, including January 6th witnesses. So, that is a bit of new news. If we can go back, Norm, to the news that we thought we were going to be talking about this morning, which is asking questions about Donald Trump of these witnesses. What does that signify in terms of where this investigation is and potential jeopardy for Trump and others?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: John, I think it signifies a deepening jeopardy. We have talked together on New Day for well over a year now about the prospect that DOJ was going to move. Because if you just look at what's public record, the overwhelming evidence of misconduct by the former president and those around him, the clarity of these laws, the finding by a federal judge in California that there were likely crimes going into the January 6th hearings, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding in Congress.

The Greg Jacob and Marc Short testimony fits into that mosaic perfectly. By themselves, it would be harder to plot their trajectory. But when you connect all the dots it really points to liability. That is not a guarantee of charges or conviction. And you have to put it together with something else we've discussed a lot, the Georgia investigation, where there is an even faster acceleration. So, you see a pincers movement on Donald Trump, and perhaps this will be the occasion in which he cannot dodge criminal liability.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I mean, people obviously -- we do want to pump the brakes before making any assumptions but people point out that an indictment of an ex-president is unprecedented, so is what he is credibly accused of, which is interfering, trying to overturn an election. So, that's appropriate.

I think folks who have had a rooting interest in the outcome of an indicted president, which isn't good for the country, let's be clear, I think have been frustrated at times but have not appreciated the fact that the DOJ can and should be operating in its own pace beneath the surface of things.

There are folks -- let's just make the point, well, gosh, if Trump declares, will that derail this investigation? We have seen that attempt to play the refs before and I think that's precisely what the DOJ cannot allow. This needs to be without fear or favor and that means not having your calculus adjusted by political announcements.

KEILAR: Merrick Garland is clear he's not going to do that. Donald Trump might mess with that a little bit if he's looking at these headlines today, this might change his calculus on getting in sooner rather versus later.

AVLON: It might, much to, I think, the dismay of Republicans who desperately want him to stay out of the race.

KEILAR: Kevin McCarthy.

AVLON: Kevin McCarthy in particular, who says -- he has spoken to Donald Trump about this.

Again, I think the key point is we've seen a lot of mistakes made in our culture (ph) when people politically get in the heads of people in positions of law enforcement. That can't happen.

EISEN: So, the flipside, John, is on whether it's good or bad for the country, I think it is good for the country after these very difficult Trump years for the rule of law and for normalcy in America to have accountability. And it's good for the world. The world is watching us. Is there a person in the United States who is above the law or is everyone subject to it?

AVLON: I think the important point is just people should not be cheering from their respect partisan ramparts about the indictment of an ex-president. Accountability is key for justice and for healing and for reconciliation, but that is a serious moment for the country.

BERMAN: If we can, I want to focus on the new reporting about who was being asked and what they're being asked about and try to figure out who else they might talk to. Now, Alyssa, this is a different question. If you wanted to get to what was going on in Donald Trump's head and potential criminality there, you've talked to Marc Short and Greg Jacob, who else might you try to talk to?


GRIFFIN: Very creative way of asking that.

BERMAN: People senior to Short and --

GRIFFIN: No, and it's a worthy discussion. Well, I don't know that you're going to get much senior to Short unless you're calling in Mark Meadows. But I would say this. I think that a lot of what I perceive DOJ to be focusing on is the pressure campaign and the weaponizing of government and the Department of Justice heading up to January 6th.

Obviously, there is this separate track of, you know, obstructing the official proceeding, the violence and all that, but I think really things like the fake elector, this plot to say that the vice president could use powers he couldn't and communications that could have been had as part of that pressure campaign.

So, I think you can get a sense of who might have knowledge around that. The former chief of staff is someone who is important in that, Pat Cipollone is someone who is important in that and that he had visibility on it. But, again, we have heard from people senior mid- level staffers who have had insight into this.

BERMAN: So, that's what I was getting at, Meadows, Cipollone, Norm. Can DOJ, would DOJ try to get them in? On Meadows -- again, DOJ operates in a different way than the state of Georgia. You are not going to bring someone in or subpoena them if they might be a target, right?

EISEN: It's very unusual in federal prosecutions. It does happen. The Department of Justice manual has provisions for how you go about it if someone is a target. It's unusual. I doubt that Meadows has been called in yet. Cipollone is in a completely different category. He has knowledge, his executive privilege claims, as somebody who helped administer those claims in a White House, his executive privilege claims are weak. DOJ won't put up with the same kind of bargaining that he did with the January 6th committee.

But just looking at the itinerary of witnesses who we have seen testify publicly, Bill Barr is going to have important information, he is a willing participant. We've seen the Trump campaign individuals who appeared before Congress. They are likely to be brought in. And anyone who can establish that Donald Trump knew he had lost the election, he knew there was no legal basis for these phony electors and yet he attacked nonetheless, culminating in that horrible violence and calling out the vice president.

That is the single most unforgivable thing to me, the 2 2:24 tweet. The Capitol is under assault with murderous intent, I believe, Donald Trump. So, those witnesses are the ones DOJ is likely calling in.

AVLON: Look, I think one of the things that became very clear from the January 6th commission is every single Republican administration official under oath said that they knew the election was free and fair and many of them told Donald Trump. What's significant about Maggie's reporting and the emails that were pulled out is many of the people scheming with these fake electors knew they were fake.

BERMAN: What's the tip, that they used the word fake?

AVLON: The emails, yes, exactly.

BERMAN: When they write fake --

AVLON: That's the tell. But I think there's --

KEILAR: Not only, but also said perhaps we shouldn't use the word, fake.

AVLON: Yes, smiley face emoji.

There is a temptation, by the way, to say this is the gang that couldn't shoot straight. I think that diminishes what they were trying to do, however incompetent.

BERMAN: All right. Friends, don't go anywhere, much more to discuss with you, including you brought up Mike Pence. The now, I guess, fight within the Republican Party between the former president and his former vice president on full display. There were some similarities between the two on issues, but as you're going to see right here, the tone in two speeches they each gave yesterday was very different.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I always say I ran the first time and I won, then I ran a second time and I did much better. We got millions and millions more votes. And you know what, that's going to be a story for a long time.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Now, some people may choose to focus on the past, but elections are about the future.

TRUMP: Our country is going to hell and it's going to hell very fast. It's a very unsafe place.

PENCE: Conservatives need to be focused on the challenges Americans are facing today and offer a bold and positive agenda of solutions for the future.

TRUMP: We are a failing nation. We are a nation that in many ways has become a joke.

PENCE: Now more than ever, we need leadership and vision.

But in order to win, conservatives need to do more than criticize and complain.

TRUMP: Now we have the January 6th unselect committee of political hacks and thugs.

PENCE: We've all been through a lot over the last few years, the global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation's Capitol and a Democrat administration seemingly intent on weakening America.

TRUMP: If I renounce my beliefs, if I agreed to stay silent, if I stayed at home and just took it easy, the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately.


It would stop. But that's not what I will do.

PENCE: I don't know that our movement is that divided. I don't know that the president and I differ on issues, but we may differ on focus. I truly do believe that elections are about the future.


KEILAR: I mean, the contrast is pretty outstanding there.

I want to zero in on something Pence said at the end, though, I don't know if our movement is divided, which brings me to the question, Alyssa, is anyone behind Pence? Because maybe they aren't divided but maybe he doesn't have anyone following him.

GRIFFIN: I would say this, I still have bullish that there could be a lane for Pence. It's a small one. It's a narrow lane. But I think if anyone has come out looking strong, principled and like a true leader out of the January 6th committee hearings, it is the former vice president. He's never going to win over ultra MAGA. And I think if he tries, it's kind of a waste of his time. But I do think that there is a lane for him.

But I think what was stark for me, honestly, that could have been a split screen of their entire administration. I worked for both of them. I traveled with Pence where he would give hopeful, thoughtful policy-driven speeches about solutions, and then the former president would go any which direction airing his grievances. So, I'm hoping that after maybe the four years of the exhaustion associated with Trump, that perhaps a slightly more hopeful message is what people want.

BERMAN: What do you see there, John?

AVLON: Look, I mean, obviously the movement is divided because, you know, half the president's supporters wanted to kill Mike Pence. That's a good sign of some decent division. I agree with Alyssa, there could be a lane for Mike Pence because he has proved to be a decent and honorable man and there could be some evangelicals who don't buy into the cult of MAGA who see him as someone who could have continuity with policies but not with the personality.

What struck me really though is how much Donald Trump is just playing the greatest hits to a half-empty arena in his mind. It's always about Donald Trump. But that's a cut and paste from the American carnage speech from his convention. Go back and look at his praise of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and he talked about how America looks and foolish. It's the riff, run down America to elevate himself except it rings hollow now.


EISEN: Looking at the two of them through my trial lawyer eyes, Pence had energy, he has conviction, he's come out of these hearings looking like the hero that he was on January 6th. It seemed like Trump had low energy and he almost didn't believe the things he was saying. He said them so often that even he is not convinced. We know he is a con man, Washington Post said lied over 30,000 times. I think we've got a few more fabrications in that mash up.

KEILAR: All right. Norm, Alyssa, John, thank you so much.

So, today, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates yet again. We are going to discuss the potential ripple effects across the economy.

Also, prices are getting supervised at McDonald's, why it's not stopping customers from lining up.

BERMAN: A new study from the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, what we are now learning about how it all started.



KEILAR: Supersized prices at McDonald's are not stopping customers from lining up. Sales at U.S. stores showing a 3.7 percent growth in the second quarter. The franchise chocking that up to incremental price increases and value-added items on the menu.

BERMAN: This morning, the nation's high inflation is hitting Americans hard. Some people tell us they are struggling to find ways to make it through another month.

CNN's Natasha Chen spoke to a lot of people to find out what they're going through. Natasha? NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, here in California, we're known for having the highest average gas prices in the country. And while prices have dropped a little in the past month, AAA says today a gallon of regular here is still averaging $5.68. That means high prices, people are trying different, creative ways just to get by.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was not expecting this, you know.

CHEN (voice over): An unexpected car accident, an unexpected loss of her full-time job, just before an unexpected rise in food and gas prices have all created an entirely different life than what Ana Duron was used to. She now turns in recycling for cash and works part-time as a caretaker for a resident of a senior center to add to her unemployment check, but that barely covers the bills.

ANA DURON, STRUGGLING TO PAY BILLS: This is my mortgage, $825.24 and this is my car payment of $482.99.

CHEN: And those are some of the fixed costs.

She lives in Riverside County, where the metro area's annual inflation rate in June was likely around 10 percent, higher than the national average. That's because people moved to the relatively more affordable Inland Empire during the pandemic, driving up population and demand for goods and services.

LEO FELER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, UCLA ANDERSON FORECAST: Not only have prices gone up but folks in the Inland Empire can't really shift to saying, well, I guess I will be able to work from home a little bit more in response to higher gas prices, right? They are the types of workers that generally have to actually commute into their workplaces.

CHEN: And Duron needs to drive for her work as a caretaker. Filling up her car a month ago cost her $95. And groceries --

DURON: I don't by meat. I just eat tuna.

CHEN: She had to take out money from his 401(k) to cover credit card debt and sold jewelry that she bought for herself when times were better.

DURON: I don't want to go bankrupt. I don't want to lose my house. I don't want to lose my independence or the little spirit that I have to make my own payments.

CHEN: But it's hard to keep up good spirits when she has to rely on weekly charity.

DURON: Normally, I tend to get here like 20 minutes until 7:00 so that I can be in line.


CHEN: Duron is not the only one trying new things to make ends meet.