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Committee to Label Trump as Clear and Present Danger Today; Worker to FBI, Trump Told Me to Move Boxes After Subpoena; Questions Swirl Over What Caused Crimea Bridge Blast. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired October 13, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: How are you going to prove anybody wrong?
ANNA SOROKIN, FAKE HEIRESS PROFILED IN NETFLIX'S INVENTING ANNA: Well, I'm still in my criminal parole, I'm still with ICE, and I'm trying to comply with all the rules and restrictions they're placing on me, and just kind of change the narrative.
TAPPER: What's your case to immigration for why you should get to stay in the United States after everything that happened? Why should the American people let you stay here knowing how effectively you conned and fleeced so many Americans already?
SOROKIN: Well, I feel like I deserve a second chance. It was one mistake that I have made and I served my time. And I feel like I should deserve a second opportunity.
TAPPER: Do you think there's something about the United States where we are fascinated by con artists, grifters, liars? Is there something that we like, that we find interesting?
SOROKIN: I would say so, yes. I was thinking if I were to, I'll be prosecuted for similar crimes in Germany, I don't think people would really care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You can check out more from what is a fascinating interview on cnn.com.
And New Day continues right now.
It is Thursday, October 13th. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.
Almost two years after the Capitol riot, Donald Trump remains, quote, a clear and present danger to democracy, that is what today the January 6th committee plans to hammer home in their first public hearing since July. It's likely to be the last before midterm elections. And the panel is said to be treating today's hearing as a sort of closing argument. No live witnesses but there will be some new evidence and some new testimony, some of it from members of Trump's own cabinet.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, a significant, new development in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation. A source tells CNN that Trump himself directed an employee to move boxes of documents out of a basement storage room at Mar-a-Lago and this was after he received a subpoena for classified documents. And this does raise questions about possible obstruction.
KEILAR: First, today's hearing, let's bring in CNN's Katelyn Polantz on what we can expect here. Katelyn?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Bri, there's two things that the committee can do here today. They can tie it all together around Donald Trump's state of mind, everything that they've learned so far. They can also surface new information that they've been gathering, they've been hard at work since the last public hearing.
So, since the last hearing, the things that they are poised to potentially bring out today, they have now a million more communications from the Secret Service than they had before, they've also spoke to multiple cabinet members about their reaction to Donald Trump on January 6th and in the aftermath, what they wanted to do with the president.
They also have gathered documentary footage that has never before been seen, especially related to Roger Stone, that longtime adviser to Trump. And so the big idea could be very clear here now that, right now, as we're headed into the midterms, that the House select committee wants to argue Trump is still a danger to democracy, as he was at that time, too.
KEILAR: What new evidence do they have that could be most damning to Trump?
POLANTZ: Well, Bri, we're going to have to see what anecdotes are going to stand out today from what they've gathered. We don't expect there to be any witnesses to testify live. But if we look back, the most damning things that they had gathered in all of these hearings so far that we are likely to hear about again today is that Donald Trump knew his supporters were interested in violence, he knew they were armed, he wanted to potentially join them at the Capitol and many, many people around him told him, you need to do something, you need to stop this, and he did not.
KEILAR: Katelyn, thank you so much for that report.
BERMAN: This morning, a Texas family of five has been sentenced for storming the Capitol on January 6th and entering the building by climbing through a broken window.
CNN's Whitney Wild is live outside a U.S. district court with the details here. Whitney?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, they also were accused and now have been convicted of eventually entering a Senate conference room. They were among the first to enter a building. So, this was a significant case. They are also the largest family to be sentenced together among all of these January 6th insurrection cases.
So, Munn family is facing -- the parents, at least, are facing 14 days behind bars, their three adult children facing home detention and probation. The oldest of their children, Christie, is facing 90 days of home detention, in addition to probation. She's a mother of three. The judge in this case, Beryl Howell, said that she should have known better. She should have known that she was engaging in criminal activity.
And Christie was apologetic in her final remarks, saying, I wish I had slowed down, I very much want to give a better example for my siblings. John?
BERMAN: So, Whitney, has the family said why they were even at the Capitol on January 6th to begin with?
WILD: Well, the mother, Dawn, has said that she was looking for answers. Here's a quote from some of her remarks. I was looking for somebody to show me proof that our election was going to be secure. If we don't have a secure election, we don't have a country. This is a country by the voice of the people.
Then she went on to say there's no question that can justify disrupting the democratic process however, but they -- again, saying that they were trying to search for answers and, apparently, the way that they thought they would do that was by climbing through a broken window at the Capitol. John?
BERMAN: Amazing. All right, Whitney Wild, thank you so much for this reporting.
Back to the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, CNN reporting that Donald Trump himself directed an employee to move boxes of documents out of a basement storage room at Mar-a-Lago. This was after he received a subpoena for classified documents.
With me now is Attorney and Deputy Executive Director at the James Madison Project Bradley Moss. Counselor, thank you so much for being with us.
If I can step back for a minute here, what constitutes obstruction in an investigation like this?
BRADLEY MOSS, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JAMES MADISON PROJECT: Sure, John. So, basically, it's a knowing, it's a willful act to try to conceal, to try to prevent the lawful government authority from finding the information or from securing the documents they are authorized to obtain.
So, in this case, obviously, there was a subpoena in MAY of this year. DOJ -- sorry, the FBI served that onto the Trump team. And if the reporting that both CNN and The New York Times is accurate, Donald Trump himself had instructed aides not only to move documents but to move documents into his personal office. And there's not only witness testimony, either one or potentially two different individuals, but there's video surveillance that corroborates it. That is the essential core element of obstruction.
BERMAN: All right. To be clear, the movement or the request to move the documents came after the subpoena for classified documents. Why is that so important in the timeline?
MOSS: Sure, absolutely. That is the core part of how obstruction would take place, that he was put on notice, his team was served with a subpoena, you have X number of days to turn over these documents, particularly documents with classification markings. Whatever he may have thought about whether or not they were declassified as a matter of law, they still had the markings.
So, he was legally obligated to either, one, turn over those documents or, two, move to court to quash the subpoena. He did neither. He -- again, if the reporting is accurate, he had those documents relocated so the government could not find them, turned over, whatever he did turned over in June, and had one of his lawyers sign a statement saying, we've given you everything, which we found out in August was not accurate.
BERMAN: Yes, that is the reporting, that a witness testifying, apparently, that Donald Trump ordered the boxes moved after the subpoena came in.
What could the possible defense be for Donald Trump and his legal team here?
MOSS: Sure. So, what I'm expecting to hear, if we ever do hear some kind of defense from the Trump team, is an element of, one, these testimonials, this witness testimony is not credible. We know from some of the reporting that at least one of these witnesses, if there were in fact two, had changed their story at one point.
Originally, they denied that anything like this had gone on, then they changed it in the second round of witness interviews to say, yes, Donald Trump was the one who personally instructed me and others to move these documents. So, there's going to be an issue of credibility. There's going to be an issue of what the video surveillance truly shows. Obviously, it's not going to be able to show what was in the boxes if boxes were closed up, if there was tops on it, there will be an issue of whether or not we can tell what was inside those and whether or not there's a sufficient corroboration.
That's going to be the key for the Trump team here, is to try to just poke holes in it, saying, you don't actually have it all. You have got circumstantial inferences but no actual proof.
BERMAN: I also imagine at issue will be the specific language that Donald Trump allegedly used when he asked the boxes to be moved and to where. Bradley Moss, it really is an interesting development. Thank you so much for sharing your insight. MOSS: Have a good morning.
KEILAR: Nearly $1 billion, that is how much a Connecticut jury decided to award to eight families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, as well as a first responder, from right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after he falsely claimed they were actors who had faked the entire tragedy. He told his millions of listeners that the massacre that killed 26 people, including 20 small children, was staged as part of a government plot to take away Americans' guns.
Family members were overcome with emotion as the verdict was read aloud. They shared their reaction to the jury's decision with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the first number came out for Robbie, I realized this was going to be something historic. And the -- it was just -- the rush of feelings and emotions was just completely overwhelming. And I don't -- I think I missed a lot after that, because I was just very much in this sort of , oh my gosh, they are sending a message here and this is going to create change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so thankful for the really, really strong message that was hammered down by the jury today, not just for Alex Jones but for anyone who has a sick aspiration to be like him.
BILL SHERLACH, HUSBAND OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM MARY SHERLACH: The message is a very strong one in terms of a -- you know, a risk/reward tradeoff for trying to do anything like this in the future.
KEILAR: Joining us now from outside the courthouse is New York Times Feature Writer Elizabeth Williamson, she is also the author of Sandy Hook, An American Tragedy and the Battle for the Truth. She has been covering this case since the lawsuits were first filed, and she was in the courtroom when the jury delivered this verdict.
What did you think? What was it like when this verdict was read?
ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON, FEATURE WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Hi, Brianna. It was really stunning. I mean, it was absolutely silent. You could have heard a pin drop. Other than the voice of the court clerk, there really was no sound in the room. I think both sides were really stunned at the size of this verdict, and as the families have said, the message that this jury was sending. KEILAR: And in the meantime, as the verdict is being read, Alex Jones is simulcasting and mocking it. Do the families worry that they aren't going to get paid? And I question this because, obviously, this payday for Alex Jones is something that would be a deterrent from something like this happening again.
WILLIAMSON: Yes. For Alex Jones and his InfoWars empire, this is a ruinous financial verdict. This would spell, if they were ever able to collect even a portion -- a large portion of this, this would spell the end of his business.
But it's interesting to me that none of the families expressed that I have spoken with or even during the proceedings expressed any sort of worry that they wouldn't get paid. For them, this really was about signaling to the rest of us that there is a sick phenomenon going on in our society and that the spread of disinformation and false narratives is rampant right now. And in the decades since the Sandy Hook shooting, this has only grown.
And that is really what they were most interested in conveying with these lawsuits and the jury, they hoped, was conveying with this verdict.
KEILAR: Yes. And, look, that's what your book is about. It goes even beyond Sandy Hook, right? This is an epidemic even beyond this.
You've been watching the families go through this, Elizabeth. What has struck you about what that process has been like for them?
WILLIAMSON: The thing that always strikes me about them, and then watching them in the courtroom for these four weeks, they have such grace and sort of infinite patience. I mean, they have gone through the worst that any family member can imagine. And then there was this secondary trauma inflicted by people who denied that loss. So, they kind of feel like they've walked through it and they are ready to wait and to continue and to fight for the justice that they feel is due them.
It took them many years to stand up to this because they were afraid of sort of poking the bear here. So, they didn't complain and they tried to keep a low profile as this abuse was mounting over these past years. But then they finally had enough in 2018 and filed these suits. And so they are ready to wait until the end here, because it's really important for them to stand up to this kind of disinformation and these lies.
KEILAR: Yes. They have drawn these bright red lines around themselves with these lawsuits, and America has certainly taken note.
Elizabeth, thank you so much for being with us, Elizabeth Williamson with The Times. We appreciate it.
The Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv massively shelled, that is what the mayor said, overnight, and now first responders are rescuing people trapped in the rubble. And a NATO official warning that a nuclear attack from Russia would trigger -- would likely trigger a physical response from Ukrainian allies and potentially NATO itself.
BERMAN: The Supreme Court taking up a copyright case involving an image of Prince. We'll take you through some other high profile cases connected to music that did make their way up to the Supreme Court.
KEILAR: The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv saying it was massively shelled overnight in another round of strikes from Russia. He says two have died so far. Rescue efforts are under way, like this one here, first responders pulling a child from beneath the rubble before taking that child away in an ambulance. The mayor says two of the upper floors of a five-storey building were destroyed. And then in another nearby city, the mayor announced 30 high-rise buildings and many houses were damaged, thousands of families are without electricity.
Also this morning, eight people have been detained by Russian authorities following this explosion on that key bridge that was Russia's only connection between Crimea and the Russian mainland. Experts though are still analyzing the video footage. They're trying to figure out how the attack occurred.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From three different angles, surveillance video catches the moment of the Kerch Bridge explosion. Video experts have played and replayed to figure out what happened. What is certain is the explosion maximized damage, detonating between two bridge supports and causing the span to collapse into the water below. Satellite images clearly the impact of the bridge, a vital link between Russia and Crimea.
CHRIS COBB-SMITH, FORMER WEAPONS INSPECTOR: There's lots of other, let's call it, variables put into the mix, which meant that the detonation happened at exactly the right time and in exactly the right place.
LIEBERMANN: The low quality surveillance video played frame by frame at the moment of the blast raises many questions.
COBB-SMITH: We can't tell from that video footage whether that vehicle -- whether it was that vehicle that detonated and caused this explosion.
LIEBERMANN: It's unclear whether it was a truck that carried the explosives or an undisclosed weapon, perhaps a missile or drone, that struck the bridge in the darkness and caused the fireball. Chris Cobb- Smith says it's unlikely the explosion came from below the bridge.
COBB-SMITH: It certainly had been a blast that affected the span that still remains. There's a dip there. So, there's been some sort of overpressure definitively on the road. And there's also signs of you can call it soot, if you like, or signs of burning, which aren't evident on the underside of the bridge.
LIEBERMANN: The scan evidence makes it less probable that Ukrainian Special Operations Forces connected explosives to the bridge or that the attack came from a boat on the water. The bridge is hundreds of miles from Ukrainian controlled territory by land or by sea both patrolled by Russian defenses so no explanation is without its problems.
But Ukraine has shown its military capabilities before, flying helicopters in and out of Mariupol while it was under assault and attacking the Saky airfield in Crimea, an operation that still hasn't been thoroughly explained.
The Kremlin immediately blamed Ukraine for the attack.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Here, as reported, we have no doubts that this is a terrorist attack aimed at the destruction of the critical infrastructure of the Russian Federation. And the authors, executors and masterminds are the secret services of Ukraine.
LIEBERMANN: The U.S. has been tight-lipped about the Kerch Bridge explosion.
JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We don't really have anything more to add to the reports about the explosion on the bridge. I just don't have anything to contribute to that.
LIEBERMANN: The Ukrainians claim they don't know what happened.
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I really don't know who blew up the Kerch Bridge. I wouldn't exclude it's the Russians, it was something inside of Russia because this bridge is so heavily protected from all sides.
LIEBERMANN: But experts say it would be unlikely for Russians to target their own critical infrastructure. Russian state media said eight people have been detained over the explosion. All that's missing now is a convincing explanation.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): As for what type of explosive, that too remains unclear from the available evidence, but it would have to be something the creator of the bomb knew would get through or at least had a reason to believe would get through Russian inspections, even if they're not thorough inspections. So, perhaps a fertilizer bomb, it was loaded onto a truck perhaps with a sort of accelerant.
One thing experts do seem to agree upon is that the bomb itself was large, perhaps even very large, that lends credence to a truck bomb theory, something that could carry an explosive of that size and perhaps moves us away from a drone or a missile but simply wouldn't have a warhead that size. John and Brianna? BERMAN: All right. Oren Liebermann, our thanks to you for that.
A senior NATO official is warning that a potential Russian nuclear strike would almost certainly trigger a physical response from many allies, potentially from the NATO alliance itself. The comments relayed to reporters from a NATO press officer came as defense ministers met to discuss how best to help Ukraine.
As Russia continues its aerial bombardment of Ukraine, Putin has been making veiled threats that a nuclear strike is on the table.
With me now is retired Army Major Mike Lyons. Great to see you, Major. I appreciate it.
This is a sense of where the Russians have been hitting in Ukraine over the last few days. I do want to talk though about these nuclear threats.
Now, to be clear, U.S. officials, they say they don't think that Russia is about to use nuclear weapons but what they say is they are listening to these threats and taking them seriously. You worked in this field. So, talk to us about, in theory, how Russia might use tactical nuclear weapons.
MAJ. MIKE LYONS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): So, a tactical nuclear weapon is really a border weapon. It only has range of anywhere between 15 and 20 miles, but it has tremendous destruction capability. So, you look at a situation where Russia currently has a doctrine that says we escalate with nuclear weapons to de-escalate should we be attacked conventionally.
So, the way things that are shaping out right here, you see Russian troops on this side of the Dnipro River. And I think what you're going to see will happen, as they eventually get pushed across here, that Dnipro River becomes this natural boundary that now Russia will claim that they can fire nuclear weapons into this area, tactical nuclear weapons, that would render that area useless, you won't be able to have any kind of offensive operations there, but it will also keep Ukraine troops out of it.
I think the target will be Ukraine military.
And that's what tact nukes does. It kind of fixes the conventional force in play, it doesn't allow them to move because of the destruction capability that they have.
BERMAN: Now, to be clear, no one is saying that this will happen. This is just a suggestion of how Russia could use these weapons. And it would be to take this entire area off the battlefield, some ways take it off the Earth, when you're talking about tactical nuclear weapons.
Again, you were in this field in the '80s. What was learned or what did the U.S. think ultimately about whether nuclear weapons could be used in a limited way?
LYONS: Well, we recognize that the tactical nuke really wasn't the deterrent we thought it was going to be. We planned for something like this. We had tactical nukes well-positioned forward in our units in Germany at the time and then we were going to use them in a retreat and withdraw as Russian troops were coming. We were outnumbered six to one at the time, ten to one in artillery. So, we had no expectations.
We needed the nuclear weapons to keep the Russian troops from potentially coming towards us, because, again, it renders that land worthless as the Russian troops come through that nuclear wasteland, so to speak, they're going to be exposed to radioactivity and that's going to increase their casualties.
BERMAN: And also the idea of a limited nuclear use, it was sort of determined there was no way to limit it, that once you start, it just rolls out of control.
LYONS: Yes, escalating, and then that we go from tactical nukes to strategic nukes.
So, how are these nuclear weapons going to be delivered? If they are delivered by artillery tubes, that's one thing. But now, they start being delivered by submarines or they start coming from the air. That changes them. They're no longer tactical nukes. Those are strategic nukes. Those are going to be larger weapon systems and those can go much deeper in Ukraine.
BERMAN: Let's go back to what's been actually happening. We've seen the Russians hitting Ukraine all over the country from the air. The Ukrainians claim they're shooting down about half of the Russian missiles that are coming in. We don't know if that's an accurate number or not. But what would the Ukrainians need in order to defend themselves?
LYONS: Well, they need more advanced air defense platforms. They just won't get them in time. We're claiming we're going to send some of them SDAMs (ph). We're going to send them the T SLMs. We're going to send them better systems.
But the bottom line is Russia is using these supersonic missile systems as well as even the hypersonic missiles. There's no capability for them to shoot those down. I think that these numbers have been highly exaggerated because it doesn't appear that there's enough air defense assets even in country to take care of those things, to take care the amount of missiles that they're firing right now.
BERMAN: Major Mike Lyons, great to have you, as always. Thank you very much.
A new study this morning that reveals what can be done to prevent brain injuries in football. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us ahead.
KEILAR: And hours away, the final hearing before the midterms from the January 6th committee, a Reality Check on how we got here, next.