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The Situation Room
Rudy Giuliani Defiant After FBI Raid of Home, Office; Gaetz Paid for Sex with Minor, Wingman Says; Biden To Restrict Travel from India Amid Coronavirus surge; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Responds to GOP Criticism of Her Fist Bump with Biden, We're not Sworn Enemies; Crush at Israeli Religious Festival Kills 45 People. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 30, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Senator from Maine, Susan Collins and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Senator John McCain. That's at 9:00 a.m. in noon on Sunday. Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. I will see you on Sunday morning. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in the Situation Room.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.
Happening now, Rudy Giuliani defiant as the criminal investigation of the former president's longtime personal lawyer intensifies. Just a short while ago, Giuliani railed on the radio about the FBI search of his home and office in connection with his activities in Ukraine. He suggested it was unfair and driven by politics, and he appeared to accuse federal prosecutors of corruption.
Also, this our growing legal peril for GOP congressman Matt Gaetz. The Daily Beast reporting now that a Gaetz associate wrote in a letter that the congressman paid for sex with multiple women, including a 17- year-old. A Gaetz's spokesman denies that.
We're also following a new U.S. response to the COVID catastrophe unfolding right now in India. The Biden administration now set to ban most travel from India starting Tuesday, amid fears the explosion of cases over there could spread here.
Let's start our coverage this hour with our justice correspondent Jessica Schneider. Jessica, you're tracking all the late breaking information on Giuliani and the legal scrutiny he's under tonight.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JJUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, Rudy Giuliani is not staying quiet. He is speaking out on TV, on his radio show and railing against the raid that agents conducted on his home and office. And we're learning tonight the feds are zeroing in on Giuliani's role ousting Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
And what really seems to be a replay of the feud that played out during Trump's first impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): New details about the investigation into Rudy Giuliani and what exactly investigators are searching for.
The New York Times now reports at least one of the search warrants served Wednesday sought information related to the former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
The same Marie Yovanovitch, former President Trump fired in April 2019 and who testified as a witness in his first impeachment trial.
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray and shady interests the word of -- the world over has learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.
SCHNEIDER: Investigators want to determine if Giuliani worked to get Yovanovitch ousted from her position just to help Trump or also to benefit Ukrainian's interest as he sought dirt from them on the Biden's, it's all part of the long running criminal investigation into Giuliani and an inquiry into whether he worked as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine, while also serving as President Trump's personal attorney.
Federal agents served a search warrant on his apartment and office Wednesday, seizing several electronic devices.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: What about 6:00 in the morning, there was a big bang, bang, bang on the door. And outside were seven, seven FBI agents with a warrant for electronics.
SCHNEIDER: Giuliani insists he has never acted as a foreign agent.
GIULIANI: I can't believe that these people would actually think I would do something like this. But obviously the assistant U.S. attorneys hate me. And they hate Trump, which is probably -- just probably the whole thing. I mean, to believe that I'm some kind of Russian agent.
SCHNEIDER: Giuliani's lawyer is also strenuously denying a report from the Washington Post that the FBI warned Giuliani and other Republican officials in 2019 that the Russians were feeding them falsehoods. Specifically, that a Russian influence operation was intent on sending out disinformation damaging to then presidential candidate Joe Biden.
CNN has not confirmed the report.
He never received any such briefing. Giuliani's attorney told CNN. Giuliani was a prominent figure on the 2020 campaign trail for Trump and repeatedly floated false information about the Biden's ties to Ukraine.
GIULIANI: The amount of crimes that Democrats committed in Ukraine are astounding. And when you say investigate and call Hunter Biden, I mean, Joe Biden was the guy who did the bribe. And Joe Biden was the guy who took the bribe in order to protect Burisma. (END VIDEO TAPE)
SCHNEIDER: And Rudy Giuliani was also repeatedly asked last night if this criminal probe could be about more than just a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act but Giuliani saying that he has not been told anything about the investigation by the feds. But this probe it could be broad. We know that warrants have also been executed against Giuliani's assistant and also his fellow lawyer Victoria Toensing who also had dealings with Ukrainians. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jessica, thank you. Jessica Schneider with all the late breaking developments.
So, joining us now Congressman Jim Himes, a Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
As you know, Giuliani is completely denying he even got a briefing. But how concerning is it that according to The Washington Post, Giuliani ignored the FBI warnings that he was the target of a Russian disinformation campaign?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, if the reporting is true, Wolf, that a number of people got defensive briefings, Senator Ron Johnson has acknowledged that he did. Giuliani apparently is denying that he did. You know, that's, to me, that's not the critical thing in the story here.
The critical thing in the story here is that Rudy Giuliani for the last several years, whether he was witting, or unwitting, has served the purpose of the Russians by out of thin air, making allegations and you just ran some of them, you know, oh, Joe Biden took a bribe, he paid a bribe. There's not a shred of evidence for any of this.
And actually, even that, even that there's nothing there, pales in comparison, quite frankly to the coup, that Giuliani was instrumental in trying to lead against our democracy. Nobody other than President Trump himself was as aggressive in promoting the bald-faced lie that the election was stolen as Rudy Giuliani.
Now, we're going far afield here, but for Giuliani to say, Oh, well, this is unfair. Guess what, buddy, you might be charged with a violation, I guess, of the foreign agents, FARA. Maybe you'll be charged with that. But justice will never be delivered to you because you're not going to get charged for being one of the ringleaders of the most serious insurrection against our democracy since the Civil War.
BLITZER: The Foreign Agents Registration Act, FARA, as you point out, this follows the raid on Giuliani's home and office and in a separate investigation, which the New York Times is reporting, is looking into the role that he played in ousting, allegedly, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. If Giuliani was illegally doing the bidding of foreign agents, in that regard, what national security questions and you remember the Intelligence Committee, what national security questions does that raise?
HIMES: Well, if he was doing the bidding of the Ukrainian oligarchs, who he was all wrapped up with, and trying to oust Yovanovitch because she was serious about addressing Ukrainian corruption, that is quite likely a violation of the law. So, then you ask the next question, which is, what else did he do? What else did he promise? Remember, this is a guy who had, you know, daily, minute by minute access to the president of the United States. We know that the president of the United States because he was impeached for it, it was perfectly willing to use a public resource, United States foreign aid, to try to extort the Ukrainians into providing fanciful dirt on the Biden family. The President was willing to do that, and he was impeached for it.
So, it does pose the question of what else were these guys willing to do? And I -- I'll tell you what, I get it. Giuliani is running the Trump playbook here. When you when you get attacked, you deny everything you say it's only because these people hate Donald Trump.
Look, we know who Rudy Giuliani is. We know, you know, look at Sidney Powell. Remember, Sidney Powell, his partner standing there at four seasons total landscaping, when she was sued in a civil court for propagating this lie that the president -- President Trump had had the election stolen from him. What was her defense, her defense was no reasonable person would believe that that was true?
You know, Giuliani knew exactly what he was doing. And he was willing to put at risk American democracy, for his own advancement, for his own relationship with Donald Trump or whatever else he was getting out of it.
BLITZER: Speaking of the former president, how likely is it, Congressman, in your view, that this investigation into Giuliani eventually leads to legal ramifications for Trump?
HIMES: Well, it's very, very hard to know, Wolf. You know, it's an interesting question of whether Giuliani if he's in real trouble, and he could be we don't know, you know, the FBI doesn't talk about the nature of investigations while they're underway. If he's in real trouble, I have to assume that one of his get out of jail free cards would be to say, Well, let me tell you what I know about Donald Trump. So that's a possibility. But it's a pretty speculative possibility.
But as you know, as you can sort of tell as a guy who was in the chamber on January 6, here's what's sad about that, you know, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, any number of people, including some of my colleagues, who perpetuated this lie that the election had been stolen. They're not going to face justice for what maybe not legally speaking, but certainly by any definition is a treasonous act. They're not going to face justice for that.
The several hundred people who have been charged for actually taking them up on their offer for believing the lie that they knew is a lie, they're now all being indicted, hundreds of indictments being issued against those folks who actually did breach the Capitol.
And you know what? They're not going to be represented by Alan Dershowitz. They're not going to have high priced white shoe law firms defending them. But people like Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump and the many, many people who aided and abetted that attack on our democracy, they'll lawyer up and at the end of the day, they're not going to be the ones to suffer accountability.
BLITZER: Yes, more than 400 people have already been charged in connection with the insurrection on January 6. Congressman Jim Himes, thanks so much for joining us.
HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's get some more in all of this. Joining us the former US Attorney, CNN Senior legal analyst Preet Bharara, and former FBI Special agent, Asha Rangappa. She's a CNN legal and national security analyst.
Preet, Giuliani is accusing the Southern District of New York, you used to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was once the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He's accusing the SDNY of corruption, saying obviously, the Assistant U.S. attorneys, in his words, hate me. What's your reaction to that as someone who led the SDNY?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The whole situation is sad. It's sad that there was evidence that the prosecutors in that office believed was sufficient to get a search warrant. It's sad that it may be the case, based on what we've seen so far, that Rudy Giuliani may be getting charged criminally by the office he used to lead. And then it continues to be even sadder, that he's adopting the tactics that he knows so well, when he was a prosecutor.
I mean, the number of times that Rudy Giuliani was accused of leaking or stunts or bringing cases because he was trying to pave his path towards the mayor's office in New York City, are legendary. And so, he knows what the nature of that office is. He knows what the screening process is for hiring people. He knows the training they have. And he knows that the ethical compass that the folks in that office have, and have had for decades, and decades.
He also knows that you don't make a case out of hate him, you know, manufacture probable cause out of hate. You need to have actual documentation. You'd have actual proof. It goes through multiple layers of review, both in the Southern District of New York to get a search warrant of this nature, and to the Department of Justice, and a federal judge. And so, at the end of the day, you know, you discount what people who are target's say, you know, what he says out of court doesn't really matter that much. He may or may not have an opportunity, depending on whether charges are brought to make his arguments in court. He has name calling that, you know, he uses at his disposal, and the Southern District of New York prosecutors have a legal document that has passed muster in scrutiny and multiple layers. And so, you know, I think he's doing what he has to do to try to deflect, I don't think it's very effective.
BLITZER: That's why they showed up at his home and office. Asha, The Washington Post, as you know, is reporting that the FBI actually warned Giuliani he was being specifically targeted by the Russians. You're a former FBI agent, what would that briefing look like? Does it make Giuliani's actions after that warning, even more concerning?
ASHA RANGAPPA. CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. So, for violations are one of the few criminal violations that are investigated typically by the counterintelligence division. And that's because they involve foreign influence and foreign intelligence operations. It's not unusual for people in positions of power to be targeted. That's the point that intelligence services are trying to use them to further their own interests.
And so, the FBI -- when the FBI gives a warning they're doing, they're trying to do two things. First, they're trying to neutralize any kind of covert operation that the intelligence service or foreign government might be trying to do, or to bring it to light by making the relationship transparent.
But importantly, Wolf, the second goal is to watch what the person does after because if they continue that relationship, then they are doing that knowingly, and that's really important for the foreign violation. Because a foreign violation, you can't investigate somebody or prosecute them if they were unwitting. You have to show that they were willfully acting at the direction and control of a foreign principal.
And so, his continuation of his activities would indicate that and they would not be at a point where they're doing a search warrant, if they weren't sure of that fact.
BLITZER: And as you know, Preet, the New York Times also reporting that the Giuliani raid was looking for actual evidence of his campaign to push out the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the question is whether Giuliani was working for Trump or for foreign interest. But could the former president, former President Trump be implicated here?
BHARARA: Yes, that's hard to say. I think there's a lot of -- it was getting a little bit ahead of ourselves now, but by thinking about what the President did or did not know, as an initial matter, I think we need to see what evidence there is of what Rudy Giuliani was doing, as you point out, you know, whether his interests were in favor of the President, or foreign interests or maybe those interests overlapped as possible because there's a lot of discussion about how the President and others felt about that Ambassador.
And then the next question will be, depending on what Rudy Giuliani is accused up if he's accused of anything, what he's prepared to do with respect to giving information about what the President knew, what the President did, what the former president -- and what the former President directed.
So I don't know yet as the congressman said, there's some speculation on that. But I think until we know more and get some more reporting or some more court documents, or court proceedings, reserved judgment.
BLITZER: We'll stay on top of the story, obviously very, very significant. Preet, Asha, thank you to both of you.
Just ahead. New trouble right now for Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida. We're going to have details of an incriminating letter, adding new fuel to a sex scam.
BLITZER: There are new developments tonight of the ongoing investigation at the Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. The Daily Beast says it has obtained a letter from a central figure in the probe who wrote that he and Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including a minor who was 17 years old at the time.
Our congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles is working the story for us. Ryan, the problems that seem to be mounting for gates. What more are we learning tonight?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's the drip, drip, drip in this scandal surrounding the Florida congressman and this letter comes from Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector and close associate and political associate of Gaetz. This letter obtained by the Daily Beast.
Now CNN has not been able to independently corroborate the contents of this letter, but it is pretty damning. And it is remarkable that Greenberg would put all of these admissions of criminal conduct into a letter. This is what he says at one point, this letter sent to Roger Stone, the former Trump associate asking for Stones' help and soliciting a pardon for Greenberg. He wrote, quote, my lawyers that I fired know the whole story about MG's involvement mg being Matt Gaetz, they know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with a girl who was underage. That letter to Stone came on December 21.
Now, Roger Stone told our Chris Cuomo that he knew nothing about this letter that he never solicited a pardon on behalf of Greenberg or Gaetz, and he doesn't know what Greenberg is talking about. And Gaetz himself is also pushing back on these allegations in a big way. In a statement to CNN, he said, quote, Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult. Politico has reported that Mr. Greenberg's threats to make false accusations against others, and while the Daily Beast story contains a lot of confessions from Mr. Greenberg, it does not add anything of substance, and certainly no evidence for the wild and false claims about Representative Gaetz.
In fact, the story goes some way to showing how Representative Gaetz was long out of touch with Mr. Greenberg and had no interest in involving himself in Mr. Greenberg's affairs.
But still, Wolf, this letter is a part of this investigation into Gaetz, and it shows how these legal troubles for the Florida congressman continue. Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, we have between the alleged letter the alleged Venmo transactions, it would appear there's a lot of federal -- a lot there for federal prosecutors to work with, as far as we know is Greenberg, for example, still cooperating?
NOBLES: Well, Greenberg's attorneys did not respond to a comment. They chose not to comment about this latest Daily Beast story. But we do know that there are ongoing negotiations with Greenberg's attorneys and federal prosecutors to come up with a cooperation agreement. They have yet to set the date for that or those plea arrangements for Greenberg. But as far as we know, Wolf, that cooperation is expected to happen. And that is part of the reason that there was so much trouble for Congressman Gaetz.
BLITZER: All right, Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill. Thanks very much. Let's discuss with the state attorney for Palm Beach County in Florida, Dave Aronberg. Dave, thanks so much for joining us. What do you make of this latest turn of events involving congressman gates and his one-time ally?
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, good evening Wolf. We prosecutors love it when criminals are stupid. And Joe Greenberg is the poster child for that. I mean, he wrote out a full confession and sent it to Roger Stone, the self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone, and then he took a picture of it and saved it into his phone where the feds surely got it.
And this confession can be used against Greenberg in court which raises the stakes for him to get a plea deal with federal prosecutors. But it cannot be used to prove child sex trafficking against Matt Gaetz. That's the irony of this whole thing. It would be inadmissible hearsay.
I think the significance of this though, is that it shows number one how badly Greenberg wants to flip on Matt Gaetz. I think he may have released this into the public as a way to try to pressure prosecutors to come a better deal because the best way for prosecutors to prove a child sex trafficking case against Gaetz is to use Greenberg as their star witness.
And secondly, this whole thing does hurt Matt Gaetz in the court of public opinion. And the most salacious detail, Wolf, is that he says that they stopped communicating with the 17-year-old girl when they realized she was underage. But surely after she turned 18, they went back to proposition her again, gross.
BLITZER: What do you make of the fact that the Roger Stone is now involved in this in this whole thing, Dave?
ARONBERG: Roger Stone, the self-described dirty trickster. He's the master of the Dark Arts. This is who you go to when you can't go through the proper channels, especially if you're on the far right. He reminds me of the wolf from the movie Pulp Fiction, not the good wolf from the Situation Room, by the way.
He knows that you do not need a confession to get a pardon, especially not under the Trump administration yet. He demanded one from Greenberg. And I think the reason why he did was that stone goes in and out of trouble a lot. And this is maybe some leverage he could use in the future.
Just something he would have handy in case the Biden Justice Department decided to investigate and prosecute Stone for something well, he could say look, I've got information on Joe Greenberg, look, I've got information on a sitting member of Congress.
A bigger question is why Greenberg would send it to Stone, I guess maybe just wanted to pressure Stone, Gaetz and Trump to give him a pardon because he thought that Gaetz was their buddy.
BLITZER: The Florida State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Dave Aronberg, thanks as usual for joining us.
ARONBERG: Thanks Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up as crematoriums overflow in India right now. The Biden administration is about to crack down on travel to the United States from the world's worst COVID-19 hotspot, stay with us. You're on the Situation Room.
BLITZER: The Biden administration is taking dramatic new action aimed at protecting the United States from the devastating explosion of COVID-19 cases in India.
Let's got to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, what are you learning about this decision?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, this isn't going to go into effect until Tuesday, but the White House has announced today that, yes, they are going to be restricting travel from India. They say it's because of that spike in COVID cases that you just referenced, but also because what's happening in India is there are multiple variants, according to scientists. And so that is also of concern to the White House, as they are still figuring out do certain variants have less protection when it comes to the vaccines? What does that look like? How does it spread? Those are still questions that they want answered. And so President Biden said in a formal proclamation tonight that the -- based on the advice from the CDC, they feel that it's best to restrict travel from India at this time.
But there are a few important things to note in addition to the fact that it doesn't go into effect until Tuesday, Wolf, that's that this is not applying to U.S. citizens. This is for non-citizens who have been in India for the last 14 days, similar to those other travel measures. It also doesn't apply to humanitarian workers as well. That has been a big concern, as you've seen those hospitals there are overwhelmed.
And for U.S. citizens who can still travel back and forth, they still have to follow those international testing protocols, where you have to have a negative COVID test, Wolf, before you get on the plane. You have to quarantine if you haven't had a vaccine yet. You also have to have another negative COVID test after that quarantine happens.
And so those are still in place. But, clearly, Wolf, this was ramping up, because you had heard several public health experts calling for these kinds of travel restrictions with India given, they are now having over a third of the nation's global daily new cases. Those are major concerns that are happening here in the White House.
So, really, a new question is going to be what happens in India going forward, how does it progress and how long do these travel restrictions stay in place as the administration is trying to work with India to help them get their pandemic under control -- get the pandemic in their country under control.
BLITZER: A true disaster over there. All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much.
So, let's go to India right now where CNN is on the ground documenting the horrors of the country's record shattering COVID crisis. Our Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is joining us right now.
You're in New Delhi, Sam. You've been seeing bodies piling up as critical supplies run out.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sadly, we have, Wolf. And I think one of the key issues here is that the official death toll, for example, in the city of New Delhi stands at about 375, but we know from our own very traumatic visits to crematoria, that the figure is at least among those being burnt at pyres among the Hindu population at about 600 a day, and that's not counting Christians and Muslims.
So, there is a dissonance with the amount of -- with the statistics, but also there remains a really catastrophic shortage of oxygen in particular, the very stuff of life for this city for human beings. This is what it looks like now on the outskirts of Delhi, Wolf.
KILEY (voice over): A sensor reveals dangerously low levels of oxygen, stifled by COVID-19, this canister of gas buys this patient time. All of these patients arrived barely able to breathe. This isn't a medical clinic. It's a tent on the outskirts of India's capital run by volunteers.
Without the initiative being shown by these volunteers from the Hemkunt Foundation who are providing oxygen on the street on the outskirts of Delhi, they say many dozens, perhaps over 100 patients would be in deep trouble medically now. They already had one death just over there earlier on today. They've treated over 100 people who have come in desperate for oxygen, unable to breathe.
And it's all about this, the supply of these oxygen cylinders. It's a 300-mile drive each way to get one of these filled and brought back to Delhi.
They cost about $25 when filled. How easy has it been to find oxygen?
INDLERPREET SINGH, HEMKUNT FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER: Oh my God, trust me, this has been the toughest thing we have to say.
KILEY: with COVID-19 infections and numbers of deaths breaking records daily in India, many patients in Delhi have given up on hospital treatment, where they know that oxygen is scarce and beds often shared.
Pankaj Chandarwal said he was turned away by three hospitals. He took off his oxygen mask demanding to be heard.
PANKAJ CHANDARWAL, COVID-19 PATIENT: But they are just not entertaining anything and they're just refusing all the things.
I cannot tell whom I can blame. It is both the government and the hospitals also.
KILEY: Bottled oxygen is mostly produced outside Delhi. And neighboring states are prioritizing their own needs. And so the city gasps and many die unrecorded in their homes.
Titinja Shunti (ph) collects the bodies of patients who die at home. He'll pick up three in this one-hour run. Many are even afraid to take their dying loved ones to hospital. Prashant Sharma (ph) family decided to keep his grandmother at home.
PRASHANT SHARMA, MOURNER: We were scared seeing the condition around. So we got scared if we took her to hospital, who is going to be in touch with her, who is going to give us the information, exactly the information what is going on within the hospital?
KILEY: India's government has promised a vaccination campaign with renewed vigor. But with around only 2 percent of the nation inoculated so far, that's cold comfort here.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KILEY (on camera): Now, Wolf, there is supposed to be a restart of the vaccination campaign for people aged 18 and over, but at least in four states, possibly many more, the leadership is saying they don't have anything like enough vaccines.
And here in New Delhi, the chief minister is saying, please don't come in queue at the vaccination centers, there will be no jabs for you.
BLITZER: Yes. I think only about 2 percent of the people of India have actually been vaccinated. It's an awful, awful situation. Stay safe over there, Sam. We'll be in touch. Sam Kiley reporting.
Just ahead, new fractures emerging inside the GOP exposed as the number three House Republican, Liz Cheney, lands in hot water for greeting, just greeting the president of the United States.
BLITZER: The very simple act of simply greeting President Biden when he arrived for a speech to a joint session of Congress this week has landed a top House Republican in some trouble with some members of her own party.
Let's discuss with our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Senior Commentator, the former Ohio governor, John Kasich.
Governor, what does it say about the Republican Party, your party right now, that Congresswoman Cheney, a member of the leadership, has to explain herself because she greeted the president of the United States?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wolf, before I respond to that, I just want to tell you sitting here in the studio listening to the anguish and the cries of the people in India, you know, it's so terrible. And we all live in this world together. I just hope there's something we can do to help them, as I know you do and I know Gloria does.
In regard to Liz Cheney, I was invited to the White House when Obama was president, getting ready to leave, to talk about the transpacific partnership agreement. And they actually called my office when I was governor and they said, would it be okay if you sat next to the president? I'm like what kind of a question is that? That's how things have deteriorated in that town, that Republicans don't even want to be seen with the president.
And so Liz Cheney instinctively recognizing the president of the united states makes all the sense in the world. I mean, and here you've got Republicans fighting with one another when you have Joe Biden beginning to launch the most massive movement towards big government and sky high taxes and they don't even have time to talk about that because they're fighting amongst themselves. It's just crazy.
I'll tell you, if they keep this up, they're going to jeopardize their ability to win the House in 2022.
BLITZER: Gloria, two Republican lawmakers have now told CNN that Congresswoman Cheney's comments this week were, in their words, not helpful in any way, shape or form. Republican Senator Josh Hawley previously said Cheney was on an island. Is he right?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He might be right. I don't know if she's on an island, but she may be digging a moat around herself. And I think she's maybe doing it intentionally. I talked to a Republican today who said, look, it's not helpful because every time she's asked about Trump, she answers how she honestly feels. And they believe in the House caucus that either you're with them or you're not. And if you're not with them in your attitude towards Donald Trump, then you ought not to be leading the caucus.
I think Liz Cheney is thinking about bigger things. Perhaps she's thinking about a run for the presidency. She's not shy about how she feels about Donald Trump. But, internally now, Republicans in the House have a problem. Do they keep her as a leader or not?
BLITZER: What do you think, Governor Kasich?
KASICH: Well, if they throw her out, that would be the dumbest thing in the world. And, look, she has a right to have an opinion about Donald Trump. The guy cost them the Senate, the House. He couldn't win those seats down in Georgia. I mean, what the heck are we talking about here?
And so she's -- I think she's very rational. I think she is not shy about expressing herself. Because, frankly, at the end of the day, it's about being honest with yourself and looking at yourself in the mirror and feeling good about it. That's what I think this is all about. Good luck to her.
And I've said before, I'd love to go and campaign for her. I'd either campaign for or against her, whatever would help her to win.
BLITZER: Gloria, you have some new reporting on the former vice president, Mike Pence.
BORGER: Well, Mike Pence is somebody out there who is, in a way, while embracing Donald Trump, he's also pulling back from Donald Trump.
I spoke with a source familiar with how he is feeling. It's clear from my reporting that that relationship will never be back the way it was. And what happen you're going to hear from Mike Pence more and more again, because he does want to run for the presidency, is this source said Mike used to talk about what Trump did. Now he talks about what we did.
So separating himself a bit, understanding that he needs Donald Trump if he's going to be successful.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Thank you very, very much.
Coming up, a disaster strikes a huge religious festival in Israel, leaving at least 45 people dead, including Americans. We have new details.
BLITZER: We are learning more of a crush in a religious festival in Israel that killed 45 people. CNN's Hadas Gold is on the scene for us.
Hadas, the State Department now says multiple U.S. citizens are among those killed in the stampede overnight.
Tell us what happened.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just behind me is the entry way to the hill. At the top is the tomb of the ancient rabbi. And every year, the Lag B'Omer festival, tens of thousands of orthodox Jews come here to celebrate, with bonfire, singing, dancing, praying all night long. But last night, it turned tragic.
Around 1:00 a.m., on the ramp way that's leading out of the grandstand areas, there was a mass of people, a crush of people, people falling one over another and tangled of bodies leading to 45 dead, 150 people injured.
As you know the U.S. State Department is confirming that U.S. citizens were among those killed. An official is telling CNN they expect about five of the 45 dead will be named as U.S. citizens.
Absolutely tragic event here and the shock today is turning into anger. People are questioning how did it happen and why?
Every year, this event takes place of tens of thousands of people crowding in essentially a small space. And just looking at the video and images last night, it gives you an idea how crowded it was last night. And actually, the head of -- the former head of the regional council here was telling Israeli media he was waiting for an event like this to happen. When something did not happen, he breathes a sigh of relief. He said, the writing was on the wall and nothing had been done to prevent this from happening in the past.
The attorney general launched an investigation into this. There are still a lot of questions to be answered as to how so many people were allowed up in this mountain and where was the police control of the crowd control.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now calling for Sunday a national day of mourning here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Hadas Gold, on the scene for us, awful, awful situation. Thank you.
And stay with us. More news right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: The new CNN's original series, "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT" premiers this Sunday. It looks at how late-night TV not only keeps laughing but also shapes how we see the world.
CNN's Tom Foreman shows us how late-night TV has evolved over the years.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before Letterman and Leno, Kimmel and Colbert, like a man who could see the future --
JOHNNY CARSON, LATE NIGHT HOST: Sis boom bah.
FOREMAN: -- there was Johnny Carson.
CARSON: Describe the sound made when a sheep explode.
FOREMAN: Carson did not invent late night, but he was the king.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnny created the system where he took each joke and put it on the board that went across the Lincoln studio. So that way he could edit while he was performing.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS, AUTHOR, COMEDIAN, "THE VIEW": Johnny Carson was not black or white or Asian or nothing. He was funny.
JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: He was just part of culture. Johnny Carson came with the TV set.
FOREMAN: When he stepped down --
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN/TV HOST: I have the same thing.
FOREMAN: -- a rush to take over the tonight show was its own "Game of Thrones." Joan Rivers thought she had it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why wouldn't she? She was the heir apparent.
FOREMAN: But others did, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leno was the company man. Letterman is the genius in the tower.
FOREMAN: The shake-ups were seismic. New arrivals like Arsenio Hall were changing the game. Everyone was coming to play.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: We deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Yes, you do.
FOREMAN: Political comedy got serious just as politics got absurd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jon Stewart became the voice of sanity and the voice of reason. "The Daily Show" put him in the role of straight man.
FOREMAN: And the evolution never stopped.
CONAN O'BRIEN, "CONAN", TBS: Lorne (ph) called me up and thought, Conan will have good ideas. He can be the producer.
FOREMAN: Bringing a steady flow of new faces.
SAMANTHA BEE, COMEDIAN: If they have their way, frivolous lawsuits will be a thing of the past.
FOREMAN: And new ideas.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: I didn't stand up and do a monologue. I didn't wear a tie. I mean, everything we did was wrong.
FOREMAN: Late night rose in the 1950s a little more than a throw away for the TV business. Now, almost 70 years later, it is still getting the last laugh.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: CNN's Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
By the way, my most memorable moment of late-night TV was back 30 years ago, March 1991, after the First Gulf War when I was then CNN's Pentagon correspondent and Johnny Carson invited me on "The Tonight Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: My own next guest was a real respected journalist with a lot of expertise of Middle East, and like a lot of journalists and reporters, he was known by his peers and his buddies, but not generally on the general public. He was thrust in the spotlight all over the world. There's probably nobody in the country who doesn't know who he is.
Would you welcome, please, Mr. Wolf Blitzer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Brings back a lot of memories.
The all-new CNN original series, "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT" premieres Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
I'm really looking forward to watching it. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.
Remember our new time at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.