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DOJ Moves Signal Probe May Be Aiming Squarely at Trump, Oval; 2020 Election Deniers Finding Success in Recent Primaries; Parkland Families Describe Stolen Futures at Death Penalty Trial. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired August 04, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KARL ROVE, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF (voice over): -- to help them navigate this.
And it happened to both of us in part because our parents didn't get help.
JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: What impact did that have on you?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a lot, you know? And Karl and I actually bonded around that issue and we've done some work together around suicide prevention, suicide awareness. And I try to talk about mental illness wherever it's germane in these conversations because we have to de-stigmatize it. That's why people don't get help.
So, Karl and I both feel passionately about, but the bigger thing, John, in some ways is, we are first humans, right? We share a common humanity. And we could go to battle stations in our politics and in public life, when, in fact, there's more that we share than divides us. And that's what I hope people take away from these podcasts.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That was our conversation with David Axelrod.
And speaking of John Legend, he and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, are now expecting their fourth child. Teigen making the emotional announcement on her Instagram page saying the last few years have been a blur of emotions and that she breathes a sigh of relief every day she hears a heart beat.
Of course, this announcement comes nearly two years after she suffered a pregnancy loss at 20 weeks of their third child. So, congratulations to them.
And New Day continues right now.
Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, it's Thursday, August 4th. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Avlon in for John Berman.
AVLON: Good morning.
KEILAR: Good morning.
So, this morning, the new CNN reporting suggests the criminal investigation into the January 6th insurrection is getting ever closer to Donald Trump himself. Sources say Patrick Philbin, former deputy White House counsel, has been subpoenaed by the Department of Justice. That comes on the heels of his former boss, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, also being served with a grand jury subpoena. As one of the two Republican members of the January 6th committee puts it, quote, this is probably bad for former President Trump.
AVLON: Also first on CNN, the Secret Service may temporarily disable text messaging on employees' cell phones as the agency scrambles to respond to concerns it may have erased messages relevant to the investigations into January 6th.
Joining us now, Maggie Haberman, CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent for The New York Times, as well as Daniel Goldman, former federal prosecutor, he's lead counsel in the first impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, also running for Congress in New York's 10th congressional district. Great to see you both.
Let's start with you, Dan. What do you make of this Philbin being called in front of the grand jury, what are the stakes?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Look, Pat Philbin was right next to Pat Cipollone in almost everything that happened in the White House counsel's office for the last several years of the Trump administration.
And what is clear to me is that the DOJ is a ratcheting up their investigation. Pat Cipollone, we know from the January 6th committee hearings, has very relevant information to what Donald Trump was doing in the lead up and on the day of January 6th. And the fact that they are subpoenaing him so soon in an investigation indicates that they are starting to circle around Donald Trump.
KEILAR: You, Maggie, have some fascinating reporting out this morning that looks at how John Eastman, and this is based on emails that you obtained, was trying to continue on with trying to overturn the election after the insurrection and even after Biden's inauguration.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. John Eastman sent an email to Rudy Giuliani and a few others on inauguration day, a few hours after Joe Biden had been sworn in, including his bill for $270,000 that he was trying to get from the campaign for what he had done in December and January to try to thwart the results of the election and also to pitch forward future investigations.
He wanted to go after the Georgia Senate runoffs and said explicitly in the email this will help us, quote/unquote, gather proof of fraud. He said they had -- a lot of them had, quote/unquote, staked our reputations on these allegations of voter fraud, implicit in that is that they didn't produce evidence to suggest that voter fraud was real. And he made this whole pitch for continuing to go forward.
It is shocking that he wouldn't move off of this. It was also stunning -- I know this is not the central point here -- but he had told some campaign advisers, according to our sources, that he was working for free and then at the same time was trying to set up a payment track with another lawyer and ultimately submitted a bill which as we understand was not paid eventually, but it's not dissimilar to Rudy Giuliani whose help he was seeking who tried getting money himself with an associate sending an email in November 2020.
Now, I should note that Rudy Giuliani denied this to me until I presented him with the email and then he claimed he didn't know anything about it.
AVLON: Well, Daniel, I mean, this is -- this is stunning, but all too typical, right, somewhere between delusional and desperate. What's your take on Maggie's reporting here?
GOLDMAN: Well, the thing that jumps out to me is this is really the first information at least I'm aware of that any -- there were any allegations, any conspiracies to attack the Georgia runoffs on January 5th, which, of course, is those two Democratic victories gave the Democrats control of the Senate and a lot of Republicans believe that Donald Trump's attack on the November 3rd election caused some of those problems.
But no one ever said there was anything -- no one thought there was anything. And what it just goes to show is this was all made up, November 3rd was made up, January 5th was made up, there was nothing here, there was no proof and most importantly everybody knew it.
That is a conspiracy. When you are -- when you have knowledge that the allegations you're making are completely bogus and you're trying to overturn an election, you're trying to interfere with an election, and you know you are, that's a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
KEILAR: And as we were saying, all of this is happening as the DOJ investigation gets closer and closer to Donald Trump. How much closer is it to the former president than it was a week or two ago?
HABERMAN: I don't think it's different than, you know, in the last two weeks, right? I mean, I think -- and I think we should note that we don't know that there is a specific investigation into Trump. We know that there are two sitting grand juries that relate to issues around January 6th and its lead up.
I believe the one that a lot of people have been called to, Marc Short, Pence's former chief of staff, Greg Jacob who was also a lawyer in the White House, he was Pence's general counsel, they testified a few weeks ago or two weeks ago. That one, I believe, is about the fake electors and that is a plan that the DOJ is looking closely into.
GOLDMAN: Can I just provide a little bit of perspective? I think we make too much of a big deal about whether there is an investigation into Donald Trump or not. When you have a witness come in as the prosecutor, you are going to ask them everything they know about the whole scheme, whoever that involves, and maybe that's Trump, maybe that's Meadows, maybe that's somebody else, but you are not going to sit there and say, okay, I'm just going to ask you about Mark Meadows but I'm not going to ask you about Donald Trump. We know from Cipollone's testimony that he has a lot of information about Donald Trump.
Now, there may be privilege issues that they're going to have to wade through, it may not happen next week, but this myth that, oh, it's not an investigation into Donald Trump because they haven't declared it to be into Donald Trump isn't --
HABERMAN: That isn't what I said.
GOLDMAN: No, I didn't mean to say that.
HABERMAN: I want to cut you off for a second because this is actually something that happens with journalists a lot where we get pulled to say something more than we know. And I would hold up as an example, the fact that, as my colleagues reported yesterday, Rudy Giuliani apparently is not getting indicted in the Southern District. We were told for months and months and months an investigation was leading toward him and now that's not happening. So this is --
GOLDMAN: I didn't mean to say -- no, you're absolutely right as a journalist to say you don't have evidence. That's not my point. I'm saying as a former prosecutor, if I have Pat Cipollone come in, I'm going to ask him about Donald Trump.
HABERMAN: Oh, sure, there is no question. And a lot of the questions were about Trump. I mean, listen, as we understand, it when Greg Jacobs was questioned, when Marc Short was questioned, obviously with Pat Cipollone, they are not asking Pat Cipollone about his election work, they're asking Pat Cipollone about Donald Trump. There's no question about that. You are absolutely right.
I do just want to make clear to people watching that this is why we make clear what we know and what we don't know.
GOLDMAN: Exactly, and that's important.
AVLON: Important clarifications and also I think reflecting your different roles.
AVLON: You're a journalist, you are expressing your experience as a former federal prosecutor and looking into this circumstance.
I want to take the whole theme of conspiracies and depositions and digital evidence and bring it to Alex Jones, because there was a bombshell revelation in his trial yesterday regarding the fact that two years of his text messages on his phone are now in possession of the lawyers on the other side and there's some indication or expectation that the January 6th committee will ask for them. Given the centrality of Alex Jones' role in the January 6th insurrection, his contacts with people in the orbit of Trump at the very least, even the Oath Keepers, Maggie, what's your expectation -- I'm not asking you to get over your skis, but given the reports you've done around Alex Jones, what questions could this clear up?
HABERMAN: Well, many. I mean, look, we know that Alex Jones claimed to people after January 6th that he had some communication with the Secret Service. Now, Alex Jones, as we saw at this trial in the last few days says a lot of things that aren't true. So, it's impossible to know at least just from looking at it from afar what's what. So, finding out what's in those text messages and, again, that could still be saying things that aren't true in text but at least it would give investigators more of a roadmap to try to figure out what was actually happening.
If you look at the January 6th select committee, Mark Meadows' texts provided the clearest roadmap of anything that they have had that they have been looking at so far, at least in terms of what they presented publicly. We don't know what they have otherwise. And so I think this falls in a similar category.
KEILAR: Here is the bombshell moment, you have to see this, in court where he realized they have his texts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK BANKSTON, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Jones, did you know that 12 days ago -- 12 days ago -- your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you've sent for the past two years, and when informed, did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way, and as of two days ago it fell free and clear into my possession and that is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn't have text messages about Sandy Hook. Did you know that?
ALEX JONES, HOST, INFOWARS: I told you the truth. This is your Perry Mason moment. I gave them my phone --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Jones, you need to answer the question.
BANKSTON: Did you know that this happened?
JONES: No, I didn't know that this happened. But, I mean, I told you I gave them the phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What do you think of that moment, Daniel?
GOLDMAN: That is a Perry Mason moment. You don't get that very often in a trial where all of a sudden you've got a witness that he has no idea what's coming to him. But, look, this just goes, I think, to the broader issues. Alex Jones has a lot of influence on the far-right and he admitted in this trial that Sandy Hook was real. He spent years denying that Sandy Hook happened.
And I think we need to reemphasize the disinformation that is coming from the far-right, Alex Jones, John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani. It is a scourge right now on our democracy. It is undermining truth, as Maggie says and journalists are pointing out what is true, what is not true and that's important.
But let's take a step back because there is an outright attempt to mislead the American public from Alex Jones and others on the far- right and it's a real danger to what we have going on, the big lie being the best example of it.
KEILAR: There's a reason why Alex Jones is in both because people will draw a line, and your colleague, Elizabeth Williamson, does this in her new book, a line between that sort of nexus of all those conspiracy theories or the origin of them, I should say, and what we have seen born of that going into January 6th. It's really something to pay attention to.
HABERMAN: And that's an excellent book.
KEILAR: It is an excellent, excellent book, yes, and we are going to be speaking with her.
Maggie, thank you so much. Daniel, thank you.
Tomorrow, join Drew Griffin as he talks with people who know Alex Jones, the CNN special report, Megaphone for Conspiracy, begins at 11:00 P.M. Eastern.
AVLON: All right. This morning, we've got more vote counts coming in overnight from Tuesday's key primary races in Arizona and Washington, election denialism being put to the test.
Joining us now to break down where things stand, CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten. I like the hand gestures, as always, my friend.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Thank you.
AVLON: What's coming overnight? What's the latest?
ENTEN: All right. So, let's just take a look at where we are right now, the Trump-backed candidates in the major races on Tuesday. Look, in Arizona for senate, attorney general, secretary of state, Michigan, governor, U.S. House, 3rd district, all of these candidates backed by Trump, they're winners.
Right now, where are we uncalled? We are uncalled in the Arizona gubernatorial race and in Washington the U.S. 3rd and 4th district.
So, Let's take a look at where we are in those races right now. So, here we go. These are the latest results. In Arizona in that gubernatorial contest, right, Kari Lake, who is backed by Donald Trump, she is ahead right now but, again, 82 percent of the estimated vote in, close race here, it's within two points. We can't call it.
Let's jump over here, the Washington House 3rd primary. Remember, this is a top two primary, so the top two candidates go on to the general election. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Donald Trump, she is right now in second place, but, again, we can't call it.
Let's jump down to Washington House 4th district, Dan Newhouse, another incumbent Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump, he is in first place right now. Again, though, you have to be in the top two but we don't have enough vote in at this particular point to call it.
AVLON: Fascinating. We will get those numbers coming in, but real implications for those two things, especially with top two.
Let's go to the fates of the ten House GOP members.
ENTEN: Right. So, let's just take a broader look out right now, get a pretty good understanding of the primary outcomes of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. We know two of them have already lost. We know four of them have retired. Only one, David Valadao, who is in the top 2 in California won, the primary uncalled for for those two Washington members, and Liz Cheney, she has a primary later this month right now.
Chances are she will lose.
So, basically there's only one who has won, maybe they will end up being three or four but probably one to three at this point.
AVLON: And we should say, Peter Meijer, a very close race, and complicated by the fact the DCCC spent --
ENTEN: Less than five points.
AVLON: Yes, and the Democrats spent money in that.
Okay. Let's go to the heart this have election denialism.
ENTEN: This goes to the heart of it. What is going on in these Republican primaries? So, did Biden legitimately win enough votes for the presidency among Republican, Republican leaders? Just 35 percent of Republicans say yes. It's not a big surprise that these, quote/unquote, election deniers are winning all of these races, these Trump-backed, because if there is one myth out there, it's that the Republican Party is running away from Donald Trump. It may be walking away slowly, like I am to John right now, but the fact of the matter is it's not running away, Trump is still a very popular figure within the Republican Party.
AVLON: That was genuinely creepy, by the way.
ENTEN: You know me, I'm sometimes genuinely creepy at about 7:00 A.M. in the morning.
And here is the other question that gets to it. Should the GOP be accepting of those who have voted to impeach Donald Trump? Only 35 percent of Republican, Republican-leaners say that the party should be very or somewhat accepting.
AVLON: Before we go, we have got to dig into Kansas because this was so high stakes, confounding conventional wisdom. What lessons did they learn as you dig into the data?
ENTEN: Abortion can drive Democratic turnout because, here, look at this, Democratic turnout in the Democratic primary up 79 percent in Kansas, in all of the states, it was just up 11 -- it was down, excuse me, down 11 percent, up 79 percent in Kansas among Democrats.
AVLON: Midterms, primaries, it's all a turnout game.
ENTEN: It's a turnout game.
AVLON: Harry Enten, thank you very much.
ENTEN: Thank you, sir.
AVLON: All right. Senator Kyrsten Sinema leveraging her position as the lone Democratic holdout in the effort to get a massive climate and health care bill passed.
KEILAR: And emotional testimony from the families of Parkland Shooting victims at the gunman's death penalty trial. The parents of one victim are going to join us next.
KEILAR: This week, families of the victims of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglass School shooting in Parkland, Florida, gave heart-wrenching testimony in the death penalty trial of the shooter, and here is some of it.
ANNIKA DWORET, MOTHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM NICK DWORET: Our hearts will forever be broken. We will always live with excruciating pain. We have an empty bedroom in our house. There is an empty chair at our dining table.
VICTORIA GONZALEZ, GIRLFRIEND OF PARKLAND VICTIM JOAQUIN OLIVER: Joaquin Oliver, a name etched into the depths of my soul. When I met Joaquin, my life was instantly shape-shifted, transformed into wonder. I remember having visions of beings birthed from stars and questioning my belief completely of life. He taught me magic. Joaquin was magic.
PATRICIA OLIVER, MOTHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM JOAQUIN OLIVER: All these things have been taken away. His friends, I didn't know he had that many friends, girls, boys, little kids, they all miss him endlessly. I feel in my heart the suffering they all endured since the day he was taken from us.
KEILAR: And we're joined now by Joaquin's parents, Manuel and Patricia Oliver.
Patricia, we see you testifying there and you're here again reminding us, as you always do, what was lost on that day, just from your family. What has this been like for you going through this trial and testifying?
P. OLIVER: This is the worst moment after Joaquin died that we have been going through. That same day, I have to hear the medical examiner talking about his autopsy. That was the worst day.
KEILAR: Does it bring it all back?
P. OLIVER: Oh, worse, because you have details that you didn't have before.
KEILAR: You're learning new things in court.
P. OLIVER: Yes. A lot of things that you can't even imagine that are evidence.
KEILAR: But as you always do, you feel compelled and you have this responsibility to carry on for your son and be there for him through this moment. What are you hoping to achieve, both of you?
MANUEL OLIVER, FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM JOAQUIN GUAC OLIVER: Well, we can't -- can't answer what we want because we are in the middle of the trial. There is not much that we can say for obvious reasons.
But do you know what, we -- we remember Joaquin every single day in different ways. We remember the happy Joaquin and we are going to continue doing that forever. So, we're good. We're going to close this chapter at some point and we're going to keep on doing what we do.
KEILAR: Today is his birthday.
M. OLIVER: It is.
P. OLIVER: His 22nd birthday.
KEILAR: He would be 22.
M. OLIVER: He would be 22.
KEILAR: What would you be doing today?
M. OLIVER: What we are doing today is that we are bringing Joaquin to the biggest party that he ever had. We are in partnership with Roblox, the Shepherd Fairy, we're doing this amazing metaverse with Joaquin's avatar hosting his own birthday and millions of kids will have access to this universe that is safe and it's an example of what the actual kids are trying to do.
So, if you don't fix the problems in our society, we need a build a new society, right? So, this is a way to do it and this is what the future is bringing to this nation.
KEILAR: You're wearing a beautiful new T-shirt designed by Shepherd Fairy. You're calling his nickname obviously Guac and this is the Guac-a-thon that you are doing today.
This phase of this trial is about death versus life in prison. You want to see the shooter get the death penalty. Today, the jury is actually going to the high school. They're going to the cordoned off high school. What do you hope that they take away from their visit?
P. OLIVER: Emotions.
M. OLIVER: Yes. I mean --
P. OLIVER: Emotions.
M. OLIVER: -- regarding about human. We are all humans and we all have -- we react. I think that's part of the reason for the school, but, again, this is something that we shouldn't get that involved.
P. OLIVER: Emotions is the only thing that we should say and just wait for the trial to keep going and finish it and, you know, whatever happens is what has to happen.
M. OLIVER: And it's been changing us. I mean, you have seen us doing other things nonstop since the last five years. And we were, of course, knowing that this moment will arrive, it's a moment that is part of a process.
The most important thing here is what happened to our son, the way he suffered that day and what are we capable of doing after that. That's what really matters here. Because, again, these chapters are going to be closed and Patricia and Manuel are going to still be doing things, and the other families too.
So, I would rather stay in that element of knowing what I do instead of guessing what others are feeling or are going to do.
KEILAR: I'm so sorry for the effect that this phase of this process is having on you and I thank you for talking about it. It's beautiful what you are doing for Guac today and thank you for sharing that with us, both of you.
M. OLIVER: Thank you very much. I will see everyone at the Guac-a- thon event. This is going to be huge. We're expecting more than 8 million gamers to be part of this party.
KEILAR: It's amazing.
P. OLIVER: And (INAUDIBLE) and support Joaquin's legacy. Joaquin will be happy and Joaquin is happy today because he always celebrates his birthday at his best and we will do that for him as well.
KEILAR: Thank you both.
M. OLIVER: Thank you.
KEILAR: We will be right back.