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The Situation Room
Biden Touts Strong Jobs Report, Warns Surging Delta Variant Could Set Back Economic Recovery; Top Trump Ally Spread Election Conspiracies as He Tried To Weaponize Justice Department to Overturn Election; Governor Cuomo Lawyers Launch Fierce Attack on New York A.G. and Accusers; CNN Gets an Inside Look at U.S. Space Force. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired August 06, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Florida, the epicenter of the COVID crisis in the United States just reported a record high case count, more than 134,000 new cases in just one week.
Now, we have new information on the January 6th investigation. The House select committee is considering subpoenas for White House phone records from the day of the riot.
Also tonight, attorneys for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo aggressively push back on the sexual harassment, very damning report as one of his accusers files a criminal complaint.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in The Situation Room.
We begin our coverage this hour with the very latest on the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States. CNN's Nick Valencia is joining us from Atlanta with more. Nick, the state of Florida just reported a new batch of COVID data, and it is clear the situation there is extremely dire.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Florida continues to be the hot spot in this latest surge of cases with new data released by the state health department showing that they recorded more cases over any seven-day period throughout this entire pandemic.
VALENCIA (voice over): Today a major milestone for the country with half the total U.S. population fully vaccinated. But the grim count of COVID deaths is rising fast, a 52 increase over last week's seven-day average. And new tonight, Florida reported more COVID-19 cases over the past week than any other seven-day period during the pandemic. Data published Friday by the state health department, reported 134,506 new COVID-19 cases over the past week. For an average of 19,215 cases each day. One unvaccinated Virginia man reminding people to get the shot before it's too late. TRAVIS CAMPBELL, UNVACCINATED VIRGINIA MAN HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19: I'm so sorry that I made the mistake that I'm able to -- I'm not get vaccinated. Vaccinations are so important, that I could do better as a parent, as a human. And I hope to God everybody else can, too.
VALENCIA: The United States is recording its second highest seven-day average surge for new cases, near willing almost 100,000 a day. The gulf coast region has particularly suffered. Mississippi's top health official giving a dire warning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As everyone is aware, we have seen a phenomenal increase in the number of daily reported cases of COVID. And this is entirely attributable to the delta variant, which is sweeping over Mississippi, you know, like a tsunami.
VALENCIA: In Alabama, one of the hardest hit states, vaccination rates are up slightly. But tens of thousands of shots have already spoiled because not enough people there want the shot.
DR. SCOTT HARRIS, ALABAMA HEALTH OFFICER: We are starting to see some wastage.
VALENCIA: The push to mandate vaccines continues to be a polarizing issue, especially in schools. New Jersey's governor is now requiring all K through 12 students to wear masks. But other school districts in the country have been at odds with their governor over what to do. Florida's governor standing firm on his ban on mask mandates.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you are coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I'm standing in your way. I'm not going to let you get away with it.
VALENCIA: But Florida's Orange County School district is doing what they can to help, tooling school employees they must wear masks. In Louisiana, the emotional toll on front line workers is evident. The state currently has the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections per capita in the nation.
WANDA RIVERS, NURSE: We're stressed because we thought that this was getting better. And now we're working as hard, even harder, than we did a few months ago.
VALENCIA: Heading into the weekend, there are concerns of another possible super spreader event in South Dakota, as 700,000 visitors are expected to attend the Sturgis motorcycle rally, an event that drew fire last year in the state that push back against COVID safety protocols. Republican Governor Kristi Noem tweeting, there is risk associated with everything we do in life. Bikers get that better than anyone. This year, the city says, it will provide free COVID self-test kits.
CHRISTINA STEELE, STURGIS PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: These are just little tests that you get, that you take home. You still do the nose swab, but you have results within about 15 minutes.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VALENCIA (on camera): And in order to stop the spread of this highly contagious delta variant, there is a major push at the local level to increase public confidence in the vaccine, especially among communities of color.
Here along Atlanta's Buford Highway, which is a predominantly Latino district, core community organized relief effort is giving out free vaccines for anyone 12 years old and up. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Nick, thanks very much, Nick Valencia reporting. Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly right now. He has more on President Biden's response to the pandemic, and the economic crisis it's certainly caused here in the U.S. Phil, the president wasn't able to take a victory lap today, despite the economy adding more than 900,000 jobs in July.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was more jobs in a single month in a year. And yet the president framed it this way: equal parts evidence and a warning. Evidence that the sweeping proposals he and his administration have put into place are having their effect are setting the economy up to roar. But also a warning at what is at stake if individuals don't get vaccinated and the delta variant is allowed to spread even further. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: My message today is not one of celebration. It is one to remind us we have a lot of hard work left to be done, both to beat the delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery. We all know what it starts with. And I said again and again, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So we have to get more people vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And Wolf, that's the message we have heard repeatedly over the course of the last ten days. Really the singular focus right now of this White House, getting more people vaccinated. A recognition that for much of the country with low vaccination rates, they are the one, those states are the ones that are driving up the case totals, the hospitalizations and the deaths.
Now, the administration has made clear, they are in the midst of a posture shift. They have made much sharper in how they address vaccinations. Trying to put in place requirements for federal workers to be vaccinated, working with private companies to impose vaccination mandates and administration officials, Wolf, are also making clear they are going to be doing more in the weeks ahead, including the possibility, at least on the staff level, of having discussion about using federal powers possibly to withhold funds from certain entities, most likely long-term care facilities who do not require vaccinations at their facilities.
That hasn't been finalized yet, but it is just a window into all of the different options the administration is looking into right now, a recognition of the concern inside the White House about the delta variant, about the fact that cases and hospitalizations are expected to only rise in the weeks ahead. But also that they know there is a solution. Wolf, they have made clear from the president on down if people just get vaccinated, this could be done away with. Fist, they have to get vaccinated, though.
BLITZER: Yes, it certainly do. This delta variant is very highly transmissible, indeed. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.
Joining us now, the Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. She's the Author, by the way, of a brand-new very important book titled Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Mayor Cava, you are right now in the heart of this outbreak down in Florida. The state just reported, as you heard, a record high number of new coronavirus cases with more than 134,000 Floridians coming down with the virus this past week alone. That's the most during this entire year-and-a-half pandemic. Can you give us an update of what you are facing in Miami-Dade County right now?
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D-FL), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Wolf, it is really terrifying. We have done everything in our power to stem the tide with massive vaccination effort. We geared it back up again, even though we achieved the highest rate in the whole state, at 78 percent of those 12 (INAUDIBLE), but we still, still must push for vaccination and masking as well as the disinfection and the distancing.
So, we're doing everything we possibly can. I just, yesterday imposed a mandatory testing for all county employees. If they want to opt out, they need to show us their vaccination card. In Jackson Hospital is doing a mandatory vaccination and those that won't, they have to kind of isolate and use severe measures to keep them safe.
BLITZER: We're going to fix that audio, Mayor, just standby for a moment. Dr. Wen, what do these new numbers, specifically down in Florida, tell you about the trajectory of this virus right now, this horrible delta variant?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We're in another stage of what appears to be exponential growth. If you look at the curve of where we are, we are going straight up when it comes to number of new infections. We have been there before. We have been through surges before, and we know what happens next. In this case, we do have a number of vulnerable, elderly individuals who are vaccinated, which is great. That means that they are well protected from having severe illness causing hospitalizations and death.
However, we are seeing already in some part of the country that hospitals are again becoming overwhelmed.
And I just want people to be reminded of what that means. That not's just affecting patients with COVID-19. That means that if you have a heart attack or a stroke or if you are in a car accident, then the care that you receive may be compromised as well. And we have been there before. It is just really tragic that we're seeing this repeat all over again.
BLITZER: Is it going to get a lot worse before it starts getting better? What is your assessment, Dr. Wen?
WEN: I think it is hard to know at this point. There are countries that have weathered the delta variant and for unexplainable reasons they had a big surge and then they came down, such as the U.K. and India. But I don't know if that's going to be the case here in the U.S. if, I mean we actually know in this case what will work longer term, medium term. We need to work on increasing vaccination rates.
But even if somebody went to get the vaccine today, and then they're getting their second shot, three to four weeks later then they're fully vaccinated two weeks after that, there is this bump and a half of lag and that's why indoor mask mandates right now is going to be really important for stemming the surge.
BLITZER: You know, it is interesting, Mayor Cava, and I hope the audio has been fixed. The Governor of your state, Ron DeSantis, he's making a lot of waves right now, as he's spreading what a lot of us would consider to be misinformation about masks, has threatened to full funding from school districts of Florida that institute mask mandates. If, for example, a school district in Miami-Dade said, you know what, you got to wear a mask. He's ready to pull state funding from that school district. Has his rhetoric presented challenges as you try to keep your residents in Miami-Dade County safe?
CAVA: Definitely, Wolf. We've got, for example, the Department of Education just put out new rules that parents that don't want their children to be masked in school and the districts that require it will have the option to take a voucher and go to a private school. So, every possible tool to try to minimize the importance of masking is now taking place.
BLITZER: You know, half the U.S. population, Dr. Wen, we're talking about more than 165 million Americans are now fully, fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. This comes as we're learning vaccination cuts the risk of the coronavirus re-infection by more than half. That's a lot more good news about the effectiveness of these vaccines right now. So even if you had COVID months ago, you should still get a vaccine, right?
WEN: Absolutely. And actually, I'm so glad that the CDC came out with this new study today because this is one of the most frequent questions that I get asked. Which is, if I had COVID before, do I still need a vaccine? And also, there are some people who have this mistaken belief that somehow getting the infection and having, quote, natural immunity from the infection protects them better than the vaccine.
Well, now we have definitive evidence, not just laboratory studies which we had before, but now we have definitive evidence from the real world saying that you are -- if patients who are unvaccinated are twice as likely to get re-infected than people who recovered and then got vaccinated.
BLITZER: Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much for joining us. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, thanks to you as well. Good luck down there in Miami-Dade County. It is an awful situation in Florida right now.
Just ahead, we're getting more evidence right now former President Trump's desperate bid to hold on to power. A top Trump ally inside the Justice Department pushed through rather wild conspiracies as he tried to persuade the acting attorney general to undermine the presidential election.
BLITZER: the house January 6th select committee could soon issue subpoenas for White House phone records from the day of the insurrection. That is raising very serious questions about former President Trump's actions as the riot unfolded. For more on that, I want to bring in Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. As you know White House call logs potentially could reveal who then President Trump spoke to as the attack unfolded. How big of a priority should be those -- should be getting those logs? How big of a priority should that be for the select committee?
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, I have confidence that Chairman Thompson and the members of the committee are going to do this in the order, in the manner in which we need to do it. But all along, one of the biggest reasons why we needed to convene, either a commission, which is what we originally wanted to do and in which 35 Republicans supported until Kevin McCarthy tanked that effort for political reasons.
But all along, and the biggest reason why we needed to have this review is because we need to understand what Donald Trump did and didn't do leading up to the riot and insurrection and during it and then after it. It's extremely important that we have the president of the United States that helped incite this insurrection fully understanding what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again.
BLITZER: Got to learn from history. CNN has learned, Congressman, that behind the scenes at the U.S. Justice Department, in late December a top Trump ally was actually pushing a rather wild conspiracy theory that the Chinese used thermometers to change vote results. What goes through your mind hearing the level of disinformation spreading that was inside the Trump Department of Justice at the time, at least among some?
CROW: Well, I mean, how could anybody be surprised by the level of the craziness by some of these folks, right? We lived under this for four years and we're now seven months outside of it. I think people are extremely pleased that they wake up every morning and they're not checking their news feeds and their cell phones as they roll out of bed in fear for what wild thing Donald Trump and his administration is going to do that day. [18:20:09]
People are actually recognizing that government matters, that integrity matters, that character and public service matters, and they're seeing that under the Biden administration. But, you know, this just reminds us all where we were just seven months ago when Donald Trump on a daily basis showed us the level of corruption, the nepotism that was in our government and his administration that we just can't ever repeat again.
BLITZER: Yes. I think you make very important points. Congressman Jason Crow, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all your important work as well. Appreciate it.
CROW: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's lawyers are now pushing back against the sexual harassment allegations that he faces and they're going after the New York attorney general and even Cuomo's accusers. Stay with us. You are in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: The My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell claims he has evidence that China hacked U.S. voting systems prompting a defamation lawsuit by voting machine maker dominion. CNN's Drew Griffin spoke to Lindell about the claims that threaten democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The MyPillow guy?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Mike Lindell, yes, the MyPillow guy is convinced China hacked the election, Donald Trump really won, and Lindell has the absolute proof.
MICHAEL LINDELL, CEO, THE MYPILLOW: They did it in all the states.
GRIFFIN: They changed the votes?
LINDELL: Every single state.
GRIFFIN: And you have the proof?
GRIFFIN: That will show.
LINDELL: Yes. I have the whole data --
GRIFFIN: The actual exchange of votes?
LINDELL: Yes, yes. 100 percent. 100 percent. GRIFFIN: It is, of course, complete nonsense, despite every piece of so-called evidence Lindell has presented so far, three videos, a lawsuit, screenshots he sent to CNN, there is still no proof that the election was hacked and that's according to two dozen cyber experts and election officials contacted by CNN.
LINDELL: A 100 percent evidence.
GRIFFIN: When Lindell released his so-called evidence in videos like this, fact checkers quickly found out it was evidence of nothing. These images are just publically available voter data scrolling across the screen, not proof of election hacking.
So, Lindell changed his story, saying now, the real evidence will be revealed at a cyber symposium, streamed live with MyPillow discounts available throughout. And as further proof, he sent CNN a preview, six different screen shots.
GRIFFIN: You sent us this on Friday.
GRIFFIN: What is this?
LINDELL: That's just one piece of 1.2 billion lines of data from the election, okay? There is -- within that will be timestamps of when it happened. There will be flips in there.
GRIFFIN: So, we sent this to our own experts. He said that it doesn't show any specific actions of any kind election related or not. And it's proof of nothing.
LINDELL: Okay. So, he said that's nothing? Well, he's wrong. Then you didn't hire a cyber expert.
GRIFFIN: We didn't consult just one cyber expert, we consulted nine top election security experts who told us Lindell's screenshots were extremely rudimentary metadata and completely ridiculous.
We also reached to all 15 officials from the 15 counties where Lindell says, without any proof, votes were hacked and switched. Lindell mentioned some of the counties in his videos and lists them out in his counterlawsuit against Dominion Voting. They are counties that use paper ballots counted by systems not connected to the internet. Every one of them told CNN there is no evidence they were hacked by anyone.
GRIFFIN: You identify 15 counties where the votes were switched. We contacted all 15 counties, red and blue.
LINDELL: That doesn't matter.
GRIFFIN: And we couldn't find a single person that said this is even possible. They say you are mistaken. They think you're wrong. The bottom line is they have paper ballot backups that prove that they were not -- LINDELL: Right, that's good. So, you guys went, they let you audit there, they let you do a full audit, CNN? You guys did a full audit on 15 counties?
GRIFFIN: We did what Lindell did not do. We went to Delta County, Michigan, to see how the election was carried out. Trump won here nearly 2-1.
LINDELL: The state of Michigan entry point order Delta County.
GRIFFIN: In his videos and his lawsuit, Lindell claims someone in China hacked the election system here and stole away precisely 3,215 Trump votes and turned them into Biden votes. The Republican county clerk, Nancy Pizewrocki, finds the allegation laughable for one main reason.
NANCY PIZEWROCKI, DELTA COUNTY CLERK: It is never connected to the internet.
GRIFFIN: Not only are they not connected to the internet, the votes are cast by hand on paper.
PIZEWROCKI: We audited three different precincts and they match exactly so --
GRIFFIN: I don't think you really understand how votes are cast, collected and tabulated in this county.
LINDELL: Okay. You know what, I do. But what you don't understand is they can get after they're tabulated. They can get hacked after the fact, which they were because Donald Trump is going to win anyway.
GRIFFIN: But the paper ballots that were passed --
LINDELL: Donald Trump was going to win any way.
GRIFFIN: The paper ballots which were passed --
LINDELL: You didn't do an audit to match them up.
GRIFFIN: -- they were audited against the machine count.
LINDELL: No, they weren't. No, they weren't.
GRIFFIN: In these counties, they were, Mike.
LINDELL: No, they weren't. No, they weren't. Who told you that?
GRIFFIN: The county officials who did it.
LINDELL: Oh, did they tell you that? Well, they're going to have some answering to do.
[18:30:00] GRIFFIN (on camera): Wolf, no matter who it is that comes to the conclusion that there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, whether that be Republican election officials, secretaries of state, judges or even Donald Trump's own attorney general, Mike Lindell's conclusion is they are all wrong. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Drew Griffin doing excellent reporting for us. Thank you very much. Other news we're following right now, Attorneys for the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, they are fighting back tonight. Just hours after we learn one of the Cuomo's current staffer filed a criminal complaint against him. CNN's Erica Hill is on the story.
RITA GLAVIN, ATTORNEY FOR GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: I know the difference between putting together a case against a target versus doing independent fact finding with an open mind. There has been no open- minded fact finding here in this investigation. This investigation was conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An attorney for Governor Andrew Cuomo slamming the findings in the attorney general's report.
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law.
HILL: And the investigators behind it, calling into questions their methods and their independence.
GLAVIN: What we have asked for and are entitled to is the evidence. We're entitled to get the transcripts, the underlying documents that support that report.
This was one-sided and he was ambushed.
HILL: Just hours after learning of the first criminal complaint filed against the governor by a current staffer, identified in the A.G.'S report as executive assistant number one.
ANNE CLARK, SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR: On November 16th, 2020 in the executive mansion, the Governor hugged executive assistant number one and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. This was the culmination of a pattern of inappropriate sexual conduct, including numerous close and intimate hugs.
HILL: Allegations the Governor denies.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): From a woman in my office who said I groped her in my home office. Let me be clear. That never happened.
HILL: His attorney pointing to visitor logs from the governor's mansion and emails that day she says support his claim. GLAVIN: She was at the mansion that day for several hours. She wasn't just working with the governor. She was working with other staffers. Emails that she sent while she was at the mansion reflect that she was joking while she was there. She was eating snacks. And she even offered to stay longer at the mansion when her work was done.
HILL: My client has consistently said and testified that she did not know the exact date, the accuser's attorney told CNN, and she will respond further in due course. Allegations from a former member of Cuomo's security detail identified as trooper number one also raising new questions. At least three county D.A.'s have asked the A.G. for information about her claims.
CLARK: In an elevator while standing behind the trooper, he ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said, hey, you. Another time she was standing holding the door open for the governor. As he passed, he took his open hand and ran it across her stomach. She told us that she felt completely violated.
GLAVIN: The governor will address that allegation himself, and, so, I will let him speak for himself when he does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will he do that?
GLAVIN: I can't give you a timeline, but I know he wants to do it soon.
HILL (on camera): As we wait for that, we did hear back from the attorney general, Wolf, in response to that press conference earlier with the attorneys for Governor Cuomo. The attorney general spokesperson noting, quote, there are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate, Wolf.
BLITZER: Erica, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN Senior Legal Analyst, the former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Preet, your reaction, first of all, to this aggressive attack by Governor Cuomo's team on the New York attorney general, her investigation and some of the women -- some of the accusers themselves.
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is not a surprise. And I should stay at the outset that people who have been accused of things, whether violations of civil or criminal law are allowed to and should be encouraged to defend themselves.
That said, I think they went about it today was pretty weak sauce. They complained about some things related to process and there could be quibbles and arguments ant that. And there will be a back and forth whether or not transcripts should have been shared with witnesses.
But that was pretty small ball staff.
Most importantly I think their defense is essentially falls into two categories. The investigators are in some ways biased and corrupt and the 11 accusers are all liars. They didn't use that language because it wouldn't have gone over very well, particularly because it's a political overlay here. But the only way it works is to say that all these people are lying.
And the response to the report today from the governor's lawyers addressed two or three of the victims, barely addressed as you just showed on the T.V. screen a minute ago, you know, one of the most disturbing allegations and one that could lead to a criminal charge. And that's the sexual harassment and sexual misconduct toward a state trooper.
And I got to tell you, this is one example of why I thought it was a weak presentation and they have had some days, and you know, to respond to the report. And, by the way, then you allow these allegations because the governor himself was interviewed weeks ago. So the idea of an ambush, I think, falls kind of short.
But with respect to the state trooper, the allegations is that Andrew Cuomo met this person for the first time at some event at the Arcade Bridge, which we finely know as the Tri-Borough Bridge in New York and was very impressed by her and asked her to be on the detail.
And when asked the question, Rita Glavin said in response to the question, well, how is he impressed with her at an event that lasted a few short minutes, and her response was, he liked the way she made eye contact. And the governor can address it, but I think that allegation and a number of others have gone unresponded to.
BLITZER: Yes. And on top of all of this, Preet, the governor faces a formal criminal complaint. This is serious. So how do you think this strategy on display today will go over with Democrats out there when his support has already almost completely eroded?
BHARARA: Well, we have already seen in the last hour or two that the State Attorney General Letitia James, responded in an unhappy way basically saying, what I said a second ago, that the idea that all these people are lying. And the conspiracy of liars is offensive to the bravery of the women who came forward.
I mean, as you point out, this is ultimately going to be a political discussion because the report itself, you know, carries no consequences. There may be civil suits by one or more of the victims. There may be a D.A. who brings a charge with respect to one or two of the victims.
But, ultimately, this is going to be decided in the state legislature whether by impeachment and then trial, if there is an impeachment. And so the manner in which he defends himself will have an impact on those people who have to vote in the chamber.
BLITZER: Certainly will. Preet, standby for a second. Erica, give us a final thought on where this is heading. HILL: You know, right now, we're waiting to hear. As Preet pointed out and as we heard in the press conference, a lot of people wondering if the governor is planning to respond on when that will be. But, frankly, so many people right now looking at what is happening at Albany, what is happening with the judiciary committee, we know they're set to meet on Monday. We know Cuomo's attorney have until Friday just to submit any additional evidence in regards to this impeachment investigation, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Erica, thank you very much. Preet, thanks to you as well. Just ahead, we will going to bring you new details on efforts to try to overturn the election by one of the former president's top allies inside the U.S. Justice Department. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: We're learning new information about former President Trump's extensive efforts to try to overturn the presidential election that he lost. A top Trump ally inside the Justice Department spread wild conspiracies about the election even after receiving a formal intelligence briefing debunking his claims.
Let's get some more from our Senior Commentator, the former Ohio Governor John Kasich. You know Jeffrey Clark, who was the Senior Justice Department official is spreading this theory that Chinese intelligence used some kind of thermometers to change results in voting, tallying machines, despite being told officially that it simply wasn't true. Just when you think things can't get more outrageous, they clearly do, Governor.
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: You know, Wolf, there is some good news here, and that is the efforts by the -- the alleged efforts by Donald Trump to try to pressure top A.G. people, particularly Rosen and a number of his deputies. You know, they have just said no, Wolf.
And think about this for a second, as I thought about it today. Let's assume the six or even people who are in the just its department who were prepared to resign over the fact that this pressure had been turned up on them to say that the election was a fraud, okay?
But think for a second, Wolf, what would have happened if those people had cooperated. I mean, what if those people had put, you know, they're trying to get ahead or something to be able to say, yes, yes, the election was a rip-off. The election was not fair. There were six or even senior people who said they would quit their job and they would never go along with that.
Now, these are not -- all of them, they're not high-level people. I mean no one has ever heard of this guy Rosen. He was a Deputy or he was the attorney general for a short period of time once Barr left. You know, guys below him, you know, I mean, they stuck their necks on the line which tells you about America, right? It tells you something to be positive about. The fact that this guy, Clark, whatever he was doing, whatever they're saying he did, I mean it's ridiculous, Wolf. So we can look at it, you know, from the standpoint of, it should never have happened with an outrage. But then we could also look at it and say thank goodness we have people that stood up.
KASICH: Of course, the scary thing here is for those who -- if they had collaborated, we would have a constitutional crisis today. It would be a disaster.
BLITZER: And Rosen, the acting attorney general after Bill Barr stepped down, he did the right thing. Mike Pence, the Vice President, he did the right thing as well, certified the Electoral College results despite the pressure on him from the then president.
You served in Congress for many years before you became governor in Ohio. What do you think the priority should be for this panel investigating the January 6th attack?
KASICH: I think they just need to get to the bottom of all this, this narrative, Wolf, as quickly as they possibly can, and I'm very pleased that there are two Republicans that are on that committee. I know there has been a lot of controversy about who was on, who shouldn't have been. But they're on.
And I think, you know, Liz Cheney, how about her pedigree? She comes from a terrific family. Her father was the vice president.
And Kinzinger, you know, he's a military veteran. He stood up. So, take that and combine it with this investigation. Hopefully, we can get to -- we can get to the bottom of this. I hope it happens quickly. We can then learn from it and move on.
BLITZER: This investigation --
KASICH: But kudos to those people who stood up and had the guts to put the country ahead of their career.
All right. Thanks very much, John Kasich, helping us appreciate what's going on. Thank you.
KASICH: All right, Wolf. Thank you.
BLITZER: We have more news just ahead. Including this, an exclusive look inside the U.S. Space Force mission control center as the worldwide space wars are actually heating up.
[18:50:48] BLITZER: The U.S. Space Force has granted CNN rare access to its mission control center.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has an exclusive look inside.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside Mission Control at Buckley Space Force Base, you know Aurora, Colorado Space Force Guardian says there no fly the nation's missile warning satellites.
Using infrared sensors, these satellites orbiting 22,000 miles above Earth, scour the planet 24/7 for missile launches and nuclear detonations.
LT. COL. MICHAEL MARINER, 2ND SPACE WARNING SQUADRON COMMANDER: We never stop, always vigilant and we've never failed because that's how important this mission is to our nation. We provide decision quality data to tactical war fighters on the ground to save their lives.
SCIUTTO: This satellite dish is in touch with missile warning satellites deployed in what's known as geosynchronous orbit. If those warning satellites detect a launch anywhere on the surface of the planet, it beams that information back down to this ground station instantaneously at the speed of light. And then space force sends that information, that warning around the world, to U.S. forces deployed abroad or here on the U.S. homeland.
In January 2020, these satellites sprang into action detecting multiple missiles from Iran targeting the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. Before those missiles rain down within minutes, Space Force had delivered a life-saving warning to U.S. units on the ground.
Space Force Specialist Sally Stevens was on duty.
SALLY STEVENS, SPACE FORCE SPECIALIST: It is lightning fast.
SCIUTTO: Right. And quick enough for them to take action to protect themselves.
STEVENS: Absolutely, especially in Al Asad night. Not very often do we get reminded of where our data gets to and that night was a shocking reality.
SCIUTTO: Missile warning satellites are just a fraction of the hundreds of U.S. government and commercial satellites monitored and defended by the guardians of the Space Force today, defended because U.S. adversaries led by Russia and China have deployed weapons to disable or destroy them.
COL. MATTHEW HOLSTON, COMMANDER, SPACE DELTA 8: Space is a war fighting domain. It's the reason that we set up the United States Space Force as a separate service. So each and every day, we're training our operators to deter conflict, but if deterrence fails, to compete and win in space.
SCIUTTO: The U.S. has far more satellites than any other nation, some 2,500 compared to 431 for China and 168 for Russia. And a whole range of U.S. military technologies depend on them. Satellites help warships and aircraft navigate and communicate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Missile suspension released.
SCIUTTO: Helps smart bombs and guided missiles hit their targets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Script 401 (ph), we get some scorers (ph) running up the ridge line --
SCIUTTO: Help war fighters monitor threats on land, sea and in the air.
GEN. JOHN W. "JAY" RAYMOND, CHIE OF SPACE OPERATIONS, U.S. SPACE FORCE: There's nothing we do as a joint force whether it's humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, or combat that isn't enabled by space.
SCIUTTO: More than many Americans realize civilian technologies are equally dependent on space. A nation's constellation of GPS satellites flown by Second Space Operations Squadron at Schriever, Space Force Base in Colorado Springs is the backbone of multiple critical infrastructures.
COL. MIGUEL CRUZ, COMMANDER, SPACE DELTA 4: The standard American people will probably use piece 20 to 30 times between the moment they get up, to the moment they had breakfast.
The financial sectors rely on positioning and timing information for precise banking operations and transactions. Our transportation sector for positioning and timing, air, land, sea and rail, all rely on the global positioning system to be able to execute our critical infrastructure.
SCIUTTO: The danger for the U.S. is that greater dependence on space equals greater vulnerability to attacks in space.
China is launching kidnapper satellites with grappling arms capable of plucking satellites out of orbit. Russia is deploying Kamikaze satellites, capable of ramming and destroying U.S. space assets.
And Russia now has a new space weapon that Space Force dubs the nesting dove.
RAYMOND: Back in 2017, Russia launched a satellite and it opened up and another satellite came up. And then it opened up and a projectile came out. That projectile is designed to kill U.S. satellites.
So in 2019, they did the same thing. But this time, they put it up next to one of our satellites.
And then, we started talking about them.
SCIUTTO: You warned them away?
RAYMOND: Yes. We described what is safe and professional behavior, and that's important. Today, there's no rules in space. It's the Wild Wild West.
SCIUTTO: As for the U.S. weaponizing, Space Force wants to avoid a space arms race.
Weapons are a last resort from the U.S. perspective?
RAYMOND: We would prefer a domain to remain free of conflict. But like in any other domain, like air, land, sea, or and now space, we'll be ready to protect and defend.
SCIUTTO: Adversaries have already attempted to use space weapons to temporarily disable U.S. satellites. Space war is not science fiction, but a battle already underway.
SCIUTTO (on camera): The weapon that is already in space, as well, is lasers directed energy weapons. You know, the age of lasers in space has begun and not just Russia and China, but other countries, Iran, North Korea, they're also attempting to target our assets in space, deploy weapons, it's a real threat.
BLITZER: Yeah, excellent, excellent reporting. I learned a lot. Thanks so much for doing it.
SCIUTTO: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, reporting for us.
We'll have more news right after this.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.