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Committee to Label Trump as 'Clear and Present Danger'; Worker to FBI: Trump Told Me to Move Boxes After Subpoena; Voters Split in Their Vote for Congress as Midterms Loom; Russian Shelling Overnight as U.S. Pledges Support; Fishermen Indicted after Caught Cheating at Ohio Tournament; Alex Jones Gloats as Jury Awards $1B to Sandy Hook Families. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired October 13, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New evidence, new testimony. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.
That is the promise from the House January 6th Committee as it holds its last public forum before the midterm elections.
And it comes as there's new reporting in a separate investigation, the Mar-a-Lago documents case. CNN is told Donald Trump directed an employee to move boxes at Mar-a-Lago after he received a subpoena for classified documents. This does raise questions about possible obstruction.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: First, though, we start with today's January 6th hearing, during which the committee, we're told, will try to hammer home that Trump remains a clear and present danger to the United States.
CNN's Sara Murray has the latest on this. Sarah, we're expecting this to be their closing argument.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. While we are not expecting to see live witnesses at this hearing, we do believe that we will see new video, as well as new emails from the Secret Service.
MURRAY (voice-over): The House Select Committee investigating January 6th preparing its closing arguments ahead of the midterms.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): There's some new material that, you know, I found, as we got into it, pretty surprising.
MURRAY (voice-over): Sources say the committee will use today's hearing to hammer home that former President Donald Trump is still a clear and present danger to democracy.
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY UNDER DONALD TRUMP: I do think that he poses a threat to democracy. He failed to act that day. He had every opportunity to call off the mob and condemn the violence. We've seen from taped testimony from several of my colleagues that folks were pleading with him to do that, and he didn't ever pick up the phone once.
MURRAY (voice-over): The committee may present new evidence from witnesses who were in Trump's cabinet, including former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; former secretary of treasury, Steve Mnuchin; and former transportation secretary, Elaine Chao. Chao resigned from her position on January 7.
Evidence could be presented from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's wife, Ginni Thomas. The committee questioned her about her false allegations of election fraud after the 2020 presidential election.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MI): We still have significant information that we've not shown to the public that's available to us.
MURRAY (voice-over): The committee is also preparing to present new communications from the Secret Service, after the agency recently turned over more than a million communications. An official with the Secret Service also telling CNN that agents did reach out to members of the Oath Keepers prior to the Capitol attack, as part of standard intelligence and response duties.
The committee will try to argue links between Trump's inner circle and far-right extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): The inner circle includes the people that he pardoned between the election in November and January 6th: Flynn, Stone, and Bannon. I call them the FlynnStones. Then absolutely, there is abundant evidence that we are going to present about, for example, Stone's enmeshment with domestic violence extremist groups.
MURRAY (voice-over): Trump staunch ally Roger Stone's communications with these groups is under the committee's scrutiny. CNN obtained clips from a documentary that followed Stone for portions of about three years. In a clip, Stone is heard advocating for violence before January 6th.
ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: Excellent. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tonight. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the violence (ph). (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the voting. Let's get right to the violence.
MURRAY (voice-over): The director tells CNN Stone was in constant contact with the Proud Boys.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Did he spend a lot of time with members of the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, or any groups like that? QAnon people?
CHRISTOFFER GULDBRANDSEN, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER, "A STORM FORETOLD": Proud Boys, you mean. Yes. I mean, Proud Boys, he's very close to the Proud Boys.
(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now even after today's hearing, the committee is going to have unfinished business. It needs to complete its final report. And it also has to decide if it's going to make any criminal referrals to the Justice Department -- Brianna .
KEILAR: All right. We'll be waiting for that. Sara Murray, thank you for that report.
BERMAN: New developments this morning in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation. A source tells CNN that a Trump employee told the FBI about being directed by the former president to move boxes of documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence.
This after Trump's legal team received a subpoena for classified documents.
Want to bring in CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz. This is new reporting which gets to the center, in some ways, of this investigation, Katelyn.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. So this comes from our Pamela Brown and according to a source speaking with Pam, a person did tell the FBI that Donald Trump had given the instruction to move boxes out of a basement storage room at Mar-a-Lago and into the residence.
This was after the spring whenever a subpoena had come in, demanding that all of the classified records that were being kept at Mar-a-Lago needed to go back to the hands of the federal government.
So it's a notable development here, that the FBI would be learning this about a direction from Donald Trump. Also important when.
But the other thing about this is how the FBI heard this. According to Pamela's reporting, this person initially did speak to the FBI and denied handling boxes. Then the FBI was able to get footage out of Mar-a-Lago showing on surveillance tape that boxes were moved, and then changed their story -- John.
BERMAN: So you can see where the videotape evidence plays into this. How much does it matter that apparently this request by Donald Trump came after the subpoena for documents?
POLANTZ: Well, John, remember one of the things that is under investigation here is obstruction of justice. And that is something that we know that the Justice Department has been looking for.
And the moving of boxes out of that storage room and the concealing of them, potentially, has been salient to investigators. They've noted that that is something that could become part of their obstruction investigation.
So the timing of this is very, very important, especially for that part of what they're looking at -- John. BERMAN: Significant new piece of information. Katelyn Polantz,
terrific reporting. Thank you.
KEILAR: Joining us now to talk more about this, CNN legal and national security analyst and former senior associate general counsel to the Office of the Director of Intelligence, Carrie Cordero.
How significant is this news, Carrie?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's an important piece of information, Brianna, but it is not dispositive of where the investigation and the case will eventually take us.
So it's an additional piece of information. It's a new witness that we are learning about that is potentially helping to build the case that would qualify under obstruction. So obstructing this particular investigation if there was a direct order to move documents out of the way, presumably out of the vision and reach of the U.S. government, which was trying to retrieve them.
But it still raises a lot of questions for me, Brianna. No. 1, who is this witness? Is this somebody who is credible? A Trump employee, as the reporting describes, could be a lot of things. That could be just an employee of Mar-a-Lago, who is a person who was directed to just physically carry boxes but maybe they didn't know what they were.
Or on the other end of the spectrum, it could be someone who was employed as a lawyer for Trump, or a senior adviser, or one of his senior post-presidency advisors or staff members, in which case that person would be much more knowledgeable about the broader scope of what was going on and what was being directed to do.
KEILAR: If someone is asked directly by Trump to move documents after he receives a subpoena, and if there is video evidence of boxes or documents being moved, is that pretty open/shut obstruction or not?
CORDERO: I think the video evidence, in particular, is going to be important, because if they establish -- there's different pieces here.
So there's the service of the subpoena. Obviously, if somebody is affirmatively directing that that be thwarted, that would help to build the case of obstruction against him, in particular, and potentially, the other people who facilitated that.
Then there is the actual physical movements, which it sounds like there's video evidence of.
And then there's the credibility and corroboration of individuals who are willing to provide, under oath, testimony that he gave that order. And that's the piece that I think this reporting still raises questions about. Who is that person? Are they credible? Did they previously -- were they previously truthful to investigators, and then not truthful?
So there's a lot more, I think, still to learn about the nature of those witnesses and whether or not investigators have other witnesses who are saying the same thing.
KEILAR: Carrie, it's always great to get your insight. Thank you so much.
BERMAN: All right. With less than a month to go until the midterm elections, new CNN polling out this morning about where the contest for control of Congress stands.
CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten with us now. All right. Where do we stand?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: What a question. All right. Choice for Congress. Take a look here. We've got our registered voters. We've got our likely voters. And what we see is no clear leader. But Democrats at 46 percent, Republicans at 43 percent among registered voters.
And among likely voters, interestingly enough. there's no gap. It's still that 3-point margin, though both Democrats and Republicans gain a few percentage points here. Fifty percent for Democrats to 47 percent for Republicans.
BERMAN: All right. A three-point margin for Democrats. Historically speaking, where would it put them, and what does history tell us?
ENTEN: Yes. So I took a look at CNN polling in late September, early October, generic ballots dating back since 2006, and then I compared it to the eventual net House seat gain.
Right now, we're at plus three Democrats. The closest sort of comparison to that over time is back in 2014, when Democrats were ahead by an average of two points in polling at this point, in CNN polling; and that was a GOP gain of plus 13 seats on the net.
This doesn't look like 2018, when Democrats were well ahead, or 2006, when they were well ahead. This doesn't look like 2010 either, where the GOP was well ahead.
This looks much more like 2014, which would essentially correlate to a good result for Republicans, one in which they would take back the House. They need a net gain of five to do so. But not an amazingly awesome night.
BERMAN: Enough to lose control of Congress for Democrats but maybe not a tsunami, as it were.
ENTEN: Yes. A little wave perhaps.
BERMAN: So CNN did something really interesting with this poll, which is that we oversampled competitive districts, some of the districts where we think the races could determine the control of Congress. What did we find there?
ENTEN: Yes. So again, this is the choice for Congress in these top -- these sort of 50 competitive districts among likely voters. And what do we see?
We see that Republicans, in fact, in these competitive districts are up by five points. These are ultimately going to be the districts that help -- help sort of tell the story of whether Republicans take back the Congress.
And I will note, the 2020 presidential result in these districts was that Joe Biden won these districts about by four points. So this is a clear shift in these more competitive districts that ultimately are the ones that truly matter, John.
BERMAN: That is really interesting. That is a palpable swing in these areas alone. We'll see what that translates to.
We talked about the fundamentals a lot, Harry, the things that tend to drive midterm elections. Where do they stand?
ENTEN: Yes, so if the GOP wins Congress, policies in the U.S. will move in the right direction, 51 percent say that nationally, compared to the wrong direction, 48 percent.
In the competitive districts it's an even wider split: 56 percent say that the policies would move in the right direction, 43 percent say the wrong direction.
And you'll note here, I have this little note. We polled Arizona and Nevada earlier and, essentially, we saw a similar margin. Seven to 11 points, a plurality of likely voters in those previous polls agree that policies -- the GOP policies would lead the country to be better off.
So even if the race is tight on the generic ballot nationally, if you look at those fundamentals, they are considerably better for Republicans.
BERMAN: They like the idea of a Republican Congress, in theory, when it comes to policy.
ENTEN: Enthusiasm. So this is something I look at to get an understanding where turnout will necessarily fall. Extremely enthusiastic about your midterm vote, back in 2018 at this point, it was 33 percent. Now, it's 28 percent. A little bit lower.
But here's the thing I'll note. It's significantly higher than it was in October of 2014 or October of 2010. So if we're thinking about turnout -- remember, last time we had record turnout for a midterm -- it seems like we're going to be closer to that than a lower turnout, which shouldn't be so surprising. Because voters are just really enthusiastic.
BERMAN: A high turnout environment, we like to call it in the business.
ENTEN: Yes. I like environment. I love all these weather sort of things that are going on.
BERMAN: Harry Enten, thank you.
ENTEN: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: Nice to see you.
ENTEN: Nice to see you.
BERMAN: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ordered to pay for his words. A Connecticut jury awards nearly a billion dollars in damages in the Sandy Hook trial.
An embattled L.A. City councilwoman resigns in the wake of racist remarks that were caught on tape.
KEILAR: And the mayor of Mykolaiv says the Ukrainian city was massively shelled overnight. There's a desperate search underway for those missing in the rubble of a residential building.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
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JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: And nobody wants to see this conflict escalate any higher than it already has. It's already visited way too much violence, and death and destruction on the Ukrainian people.
That's why we're going to be focused on making sure we continue to get Ukraine the kinds of capabilities they need to succeed on the battlefield so that, if and when it can get to a negotiated settlement, that Mr. Zelenskyy has the leverage he needs to be successful in that negotiation.
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BERMAN: That was John Kirby from the National Security Council, responding to the increased Russian strikes on civilian areas in Ukraine.
New overnight, the mayor of Mykolaiv says a five-story residential building was shelled. You can see the damage right there. At least seven people are missing in the rubble. We are told rescuers did pull out a child.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
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BERMAN: Let's go to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, who's live in Kyiv this morning. Fred, what more do you know about this attack on Mykolaiv?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, John.
Well, the authorities say that there was really a barrage of rockets and missiles that hit that town of Mykolaiv. And the one thing that we're focusing on that really caught our attention is the fact that the Ukrainians say that it was S-300 rockets that were used.
Now, those are normally missiles that are used to shoot down airplanes. They're surface-to-air missiles. And if you use them against ground targets, they're very inaccurate. And of course, if you use them against ground targets in a residential area, it really maximizes the chance there could be civilian casualties.
We're mentioning the Ukrainians are saying that they pulled one -- a 12-year-old boy, I think it was, from the rubble. There are other people still -- who are still missing. The Ukrainians also say, unfortunately, by now they have confirmed that at least one man has been killed in that strike. But again some people are missing once again.
This also meshes with the fact that the Ukrainians are saying they need those modern air defense systems to prevent exactly something like this happening. In fact, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the country's president, told European lawmakers earlier today that Ukraine only has about 10 percent of the air defense capabilities that they need, John.
BERMAN: Fred, what do we know about these kamikaze drone attacks on Kyiv or near Kyiv where you are, just in the last few hours?
PLEITGEN: In the Kyiv region, in the Kyiv oblast, in several places, there were these kamikaze drone attacks. We did hear air-raid sirens throughout the night and especially yesterday evening, as well.
The authorities are saying some of those strikes happened in the early morning hours of today. They also say that it was Iranian-made kamikaze drones that were used.
Now one of the strikes is actually in the Bucha region, obviously one that our viewers will know very well. It was one of the places that the Ukrainians took back from the Russians at the beginning of the war.
The Ukrainians say that some infrastructure was damaged there. There was also a drone that came down in the Mykolaiv region. That is West of the capital of Kyiv. It's unclear what the damage is there.
So far, the Ukrainians are saying no people were harmed in those. But of course, John, one of the things that the Ukraines [SIC] have been saying all along is that the Russians are targeting key infrastructure, especially energy infrastructure.
John, it obviously makes it very difficult for them to provide their people with electricity and with heating, as well, even though the Ukrainians have told us that they are working very quickly to restore a lot of that.
Still, what a dangerous situation. You can really feel that blitz that the Russians started on Monday certainly is continuing -- John.
BERMAN: Very dangerous situation. Frederik Pleitgen, you and your team, please stay safe.
So Alex Jones gloating as a jury awards nearly $1 billion to Sandy Hook families.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got ways to fix.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
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KEILAR: Two fishermen now indicted after being caught cheating in a professional fishing tournament. They're facing felony charges. We have details next.
BERMAN: Two fishermen at the center of a cheating scandal that rocked the world of sport fishing have now been indicted on multiple felonies.
Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky were set to win nearly $30,000 in prize money at a major fishing tournament in Ohio last month when they were disqualified after it was discovered that their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets. This is the moment they were caught.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here! (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Runyan and Cominsky each face felony charges of cheating,
attempted grand theft, and possessing criminal tools; and a misdemeanor charge of unlawful ownership of wild animals.
Brianna Keilar, this story, I think, has caught your attention, captivated your imagination almost more than any other.
KEILAR: I know, and I don't know why, but I find it so interesting. And it makes sense that they've been charged, because it's big money.
I think there was an earlier tournament, and this suspicion has been hovering over these gentlemen for some time. But there was an earlier tournament where they -- one of them had estimated that they had hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings.
So it's not just fishing. It's like big business. And so they can get in big trouble for it.
BERMAN: Yes. And to me, you know, there's cheating or there's trying to get an edge, right, by maybe using equipment that's not allowed or something like that. This is stuffing the fish with weights. This is -- the allegations here are just blatant stuff.
KEILAR: Yes. Also, I mean, if anyone knows what a fish weighs just by eyeballing it, it's probably a fisherman, right?
BERMAN: Yes. We call it big-boned. These fish were big-boned. Not overweight. They were big-boned.
KEILAR: Husky. Husky fish.
BERMAN: Husky fish.
KEILAR: No. No, they weren't.
All right. So this morning, a jury deciding that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay nearly $1 billion to Sandy Hook families and a first responder for spreading the lie that the mass shooting was a hoax.
During his InfoWars broadcast, while the verdict was being read, Jones called it a joke, and he asked his audience to send him money.
CNN's Jean Casarez now joins us with this. I mean, shameless.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The jury was deliberating on defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It was six jurors deliberated for three full days. They had to be unanimous. They spoke through their verdict, and their message was loud and clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.
CASAREZ (voice-over): A stunning verdict in Connecticut. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a moment years in the making.
CASAREZ (voice-over): And nearly a decade after the Sandy Hook school shooting.
NICOLE HOCKLEY, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM DYLAN HOCKLEY: This is sending the right message. That people are good and that good does prevail.
CASAREZ (voice-over): A Connecticut jury of six unanimously decided right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $965 million in compensatory damages to 15 plaintiffs. Fourteen are family members of victims, and the 15th is an FBI agent who responded to the shooting scene.
CHRIS MATTEI, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: A jury representing our community and our nation rendered an historic verdict. A verdict against Alex Jones's lies and their poisonous spread, and a verdict for truth and for our common humanity.
ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST/TALK RADIO HOST: The whole thing was fake.
CASAREZ (voice-over): The InfoWars host spent years spreading disinformation about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, which left 20 children and six educators dead, calling the shooting a hoax and alleging the families involved were crisis actors.
During four weeks of emotional testimony, family members of the victims described how they had been harassed over the past decade.
HOCKLEY: I got sent pictures of dead kids, because I was told that, as a crisis actor, I didn't know really what a dead kid looked like.
FRANCINE WHEELER, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM BEN WHEELER: And she said, "Who's that?"
And I said, "That's my son, Ben. He died in his first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook school."
And she said, "What?"
I said, "Yes, he died at Sandy Hook."
And she said, "You're lying. That didn't happen."
CASAREZ (voice-over): Plaintiffs and their attorneys were visibly emotional when the jury's decision was read. One of them, Robbie Parker, the father of 6-year-old victim, Emily.
ROBBIE PARKER, FATHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM EMILY PARKER: The payoff for me was being able to take Emily's story back. Being able to, throughout all of this mess, remind people about who she was and what she meant to me and her mom and her sisters.
It's not just the families that are on this lawsuit that have been victims of Alex Jones. There are numberless amount of people in this country, even his own listeners, that have fallen victim to Alex Jones. So I think this number represents more than just us.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Jones did not attend the verdict. Instead, he was streaming it live.