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1/6 Witnesses Say, Trump Knew Plan To Overturn Election Was Illegal; Inside Pence's Escape, 1/6 Committee Says Mob Got Within 40 Feet Of V.P.; State Department Confirms Identity Of Third American Fighter Missing In Ukraine; 1/6 Hearing Puts Spotlight On Tumultuous Trump-Pence Relationship; National Weather Service Warns Yellowstone Flooding Could Worsen. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, new evidence connecting the Capitol riot directly to former President Trump and his pressure campaign against his vice president, insiders swearing under oath that Trump knew his scheme to get Mike Pence to overturn the presidential election was illegal but Trump plowed ahead anyway.
The January 6th select committee also documenting Pence's escape from that mob that was threatening his life with rioters at one point only 40 feet away. We are breaking down all the testimony and where the insurrection investigation goes from here.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States, and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's get right to the new testimony and evidence presented by the January-6th select committee during today's hearing. It ended just a couple hours or so ago. Our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles has been following it all up on Capitol Hill.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The third day of public hearings from the January-6th committee focusing on former President Trump's scheme to convince his own vice president to overturn the 2020 election.
DONALD TRUMP: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.
NOBLES: The committee meticulously laying out the strategy concocted by conservative attorney John Eastman and the pressure campaign to get Pence to play along.
JASON MILLER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: All the attention was on what Mike would do or what Mike wouldn't do.
GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Our review of text history and, frankly, just common sense all confirmed the vice president's first instinct on that point. There is no justifiable basis to conclude that the vice president has that kind of authority.
NOBLES: Using witnesses from taped depositions to describe a heated phone call Pence had with the former president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I remember hearing the word, wimp. Either he called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said you are a wimp, you will be a wimp. Wimp is the word I remember.
IVANKA TRUMP, TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: It was a different tone that I heard him take with the vice president before.
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I think she was uncomfortable over the fact that there was obviously that type of interaction between the two of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something to the effect, this is -- the word is wrong. I made the wrong decision four or five years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember what she said, her father called him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The p-word.
NOBLES: Pence former Counsel Greg Jacob testifying that Pence exhaustively explored all of his options.
JACOB: We examined every single electoral vote count that had happened in Congress since the beginning of the country. It is unambiguous that the vice president does not have the authority to reject electors.
NOBLES: The committee revealing evidence that Trump was repeatedly told his scheme was illegal. Pence's former chief of staff, Marc Short, testifying --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it your impression the vice president had directly conveyed his position on these issues to the president, not just to the world through a dear-colleague letter but directly to President Trump?
MARC SHORT, PENCE'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: Many times.
NOBLES: Jacobs saying that Eastman knew that, too. But continue today insist Pence could act even as he argued Democratic vice presidents didn't have the same power.
JACOB: And he said, absolutely, Al Gore did not have a basis to do it in 2000. Kamala Harris shouldn't be able to do it in 2024. But I think you should do it today.
NOBLES: The committee detailing just how much danger Pence was in on January 6th. Congressman Pete Aguilar, detailing how a Trump tweet attacking Pence sent the crowd into a frenzy.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Our investigation found that immediately after the president's 2:24 P.M. tweet, the crowds both outside the Capitol and inside the Capitol surged.
NOBLES: And using a graphics presentation showing that at one point, the mob of rioters was only 40 feet away from the room Pence was hiding in. Jacob, who was with Pence at the time, did not know the mob ended up that close.
AGUILAR: Does it surprise you to see how close the mob was to the evacuation route that you took? The 40 feet is the distance from me to you, roughly.
JACOB: I could hear the den of the rioters in the building while we moved but I don't think I was aware that they were as close as that.
AGUILAR: Make no mistake about the fact that the vice president's life was in danger.
NOBLES: A former White House attorney testifying that Eastman seemed to accept there would be violence stemming from their actions.
HERSCHMANN: So, you're going to cause riots in the streets, and he said words to the effect of there's been violence in the history of our country in order to protect the democracy or protect the republic.
NOBLES: The committee also revealing Eastman emailed Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani about receiving a pardon, writing --
JOHN EASTMAN, DONALD TRUMP LAWYER: I decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.
NOBLES (on camera): That against the backdrop of today's hearing, new information about Virginia Thomas, the wife of the sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and the role she may have played in efforts to overturn the election. The committee now in possession of email exchanges between Thomas and John Eastman, who was, of course, the conservative attorney at the center of today's hearing. It's compelled the committee to send Thomas a letter asking them -- asking her, I should say, to cooperate with their investigation. Thomas, for her part, told the Daily Caller website today that she is happy to clear things up with the committee, all they have to do is ask, something they have now done. Wolf?
BLITZER: We'll see how that goes. Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much, excellent report.
There is a lot to discuss with our correspondents and our analysts. Everyone is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM. Kaitlan Collins, you are our Chief White House Correspondent. What was pretty damning today with the committee revealed that these rioters, who were screaming, hang Mike Pence, were only, what, 40 feet away from him and Trump seemed to be egging them all on.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 40 feet, which is so remarkably close and you heard that aide saying that he didn't even realize how close they were. He could hear them but didn't realize the proximity was that significant, that it was just 40 feet from them.
And I think it also goes to show when they were testifying about how they were reacting that day, when they were finding out what the former-president was doing that day, the fact that the second lady was frustrated that they left that night and they never got a call from Trump to check on Pence.
And you heard from staffers who were in the west wing, who were going to Trump, making clear that he knew what was going on, on the Hill, urging him to call people to go home. And instead, the next tweet that they got when their phones buzzed was a tweet going after and attacking Mike Pence, knowing what was happening already at the Capitol.
And I think to hear that, to see those photos of the vice president and his aides huddling in basically a parking garage underneath the Capitol as all this is going on, still making phone calls and watching what the former president was tweeting, it shows you how remarkable it was.
And we should note the former president still gets irritated, to this day, about talks about Pence's safety. Something that even, despite seeing what we have seen, is still upsetting him.
BLITZER: Yes. And we'll get a little more on that later. But, Jeffrey, how significant is it that Trump was repeatedly told that his plan to overturn the presidential election was illegal?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Not only that but the real issue, I think, in terms of the president's potential criminal liability goes to the issue of incitement of violence. And the half- hour between 2:00 and 2:30 is critical. That is when the Capitol was breached. That's when his aides go to him and say, you know, you got to do something to cool this out. This is dangerous.
And what does the president do? At 2:24, he sends the tweet that Kaitlan mentioned, which doesn't cool things out. It does the opposite. It incites the crowd to attack Mike Pence, to hang Mike Pence and the jeopardy only gets worse. That, to me, that 2:24 tweet is evidence of incitement.
Now, whether it is enough for a criminal case, I don't know. There is a lot more we have to know but that is a very dangerous moment.
BLITZER: It certainly, you know, was very frightening just to hear it today. Abby, I want you and our viewers to watch some of the video that was released today by the committee of the scathing call that Trump made to then-Vice President Pence on the morning of January 6th. Watch this, the reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you recall being in the oval office?
HERSCHMANN: Don Jr., Eric, Lara, Kimberly, I think Meadows was there, at some point Ivanka came in.
IVANKA TRUMP: When I entered the office the second time, he was on the telephone with who I later found out to be was the vice president.
HERSCHMANN: It started off as a calmer tone, everything, and then became heated.
IVANKA TRUMP: The conversation was pretty heated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember hearing the word, wimp. He either called him a wimp. I remember he said, you are a wimp, you will be a wimp. Wimp is the word I remember.
IVANKA TRUMP: It was a different tone than I had heard him take with the vice president before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember what she said her father called him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The p-word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: This was clearly the incredible amount of pressure from the sitting president of the United States on the vice president of the United States.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was the culmination of all of that pressure when Mike Pence finally said, you know, on the phone to Trump I am not going to do this. And Trump, even at that moment, wouldn't accept it, even though days earlier, the conversation that you were just asking about a few minutes ago, they had a meeting in the White House, in the oval office about the illegality of this plan and it was discussed at length with Trump. And so even after that meeting, he still wanted Pence to go through with the plan that he knew at the time was illegal, and days before that at a campaign rally, he was pressuring Pence in Georgia to overturn the election results.
You know, Pence's willingness to stand up to Trump in this moment is really extraordinary because all of those people in that room, in the oval office, none of them were willing to do the same thing. It was really only on Pence's side. I think that was one of the main points of the presentation by the committee today was all of the people who did nothing while this madness was unfolding on Trump's side, and all of the people on Pence' side who pushed back against an enormous amount of pressure, both public and private.
BLITZER: It was really a powerful moment. There were many powerful moments today, but that was certainly very, very powerful.
Andrew McCabe, what does it tell you that, after peddling this bogus theory, Trump ally, the lawyer, John Eastman, was actually wound up angling for a pardon? I guess, he's suspecting he could be charged with a criminal -- with a crime?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It certainly fits into what we as prosecutors and agents typically think of as guilty knowledge, right? So, this is after admitting over the course of multiple meetings on the 4th, several meetings on the 5th, knowing that what he was proposing was illegal, blithely dismissing, when pointed out that what he was proposing would likely result in massive violence in the streets. He dismisses that as something that is necessary and has happened before in the republic.
And throughout this relentless pressure on pursuing this illegal conspiracy, let's call it, at the end of this sordid tale, he makes the phone call to Rudy Giuliani and says, I need -- I'm going to need a pardon for this.
BLITZER: Yes. During his testimony they revealed today, he pled the fifth about 100 times, wouldn't answer questions, pleading the fifth.
MCCABE: That's right.
BLITZER: That says a lot as well.
Everybody, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss, including new information just revealed by the committee today about the Proud Boys extremist group and whether they would have killed, killed the vice president, Mike Pence, if they had been able to reach him. Stand by. We will share that information with you when we come back.
BLITZER: We are digging right now into today's hearing of the January-6th select committee, the new revelations, and there were several, and what happens next. The panel sharing the chilling words of pro-Trump rioters as they threatened then-Vice President Mike Pence's life. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you what I'm hearing that Pence -- I'm hearing that Pence just caved. Is that true? I am hearing reports that Pence caved. I am telling you, if Pence caved, we're going to drag motherfuckers through the streets. You fucking politicians are going to get fucking dragged through the streets. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess the hope is there is such a show of force that Pence will just decide to do the right thing, according to Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring out Pence. Bring out Pence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get back to the panel. And, Jeffrey Toobin, based on everything we heard today, Trump and potential criminal charges, what do you think?
TOOBIN: Chances went up today. You know, there is a lot that needs to be done if you are going to do criminal charges, and I don't think there would ever be criminal charges based solely on the effort to convince Mike Pence to do something even if it's against the law. I just think that constitutionally would be a big problem since the vice president is the president's subordinate.
However, the issue of violence is different and the degree to which Trump's behavior was inciting actual violence at the Capitol, not only against Pence but against anyone whose live was at risk with the 2:24 tweet, with the continuing harassment of Trump, the refusal, which we will hear more about next week, to call off the mob, all of that raised the chances of a criminal prosecution.
BLITZER: And it's interesting. Andrew McCabe, you are the former FBI deputy director. According to an informant, the Proud Boys said they would have actually killed the vice president, Mike Pence, if given the chance. Clearly, this whole situation of January 6th could have been worse.
MCCABE: Way worse, Wolf, way worse. So, that statement is in one of the indictments of one of the indicted Proud Boy defendants.
It is an interview of someone who is a cooperating witness, maybe an informant, maybe somebody who has been opinion arrested and is now cooperated, and that person is providing their assessment of what they thought their confederates or co-conspirators were capable of doing.
So, it is not direct evidence that they had planned to do that but it is certainly a chilling and shocking revelation from someone who was right there as a part of that team and telling whoever's interviewing him, this is what we were capable of doing, this is the sort of thing we were thinking about.
BLITZER: It could have been a whole lot worse, obviously.
Kaitlan, what are you hearing about Trump and whether or not he is watching all of this and how he is reacting to what is unfolding? It's all very, very dramatic.
COLLINS: He is watching it very closely, actually. He is paying a lot of attention. He's been complaining that a lot of the testimony -- most of the testimony is putting him in a negative light. He says that they are selectively editing basically and the committee is not using people who said positive things about him. Whether or not that's what people he knows who testified but still want to be in his good graces are just telling him.
BLITZER: These are all his people who were testifying, including family members.
COLLINS: His daughter, his son-in-law, a lot of the attorneys that worked in the White House. Some of them they haven't shown yet but we all know that they have testified. They have interviewed a lot of people here.
Today stood out to me because you saw a lot of testimony from Marc Short. That was Pence's chief of staff when he was in the White House. That is someone that Trump does not like. He was irritated when you interviewed Marc Short yesterday, as Marc Short was talking about the vice president's safety that day and how he was concerned, went to the Secret Service about it.
And Trump has despised Marc Short because he thinks that he played a role in convincing Pence not to do what he was demanding on January 6th. He said he banned him that day, Marc Short, from going back to the White House. He has been complaining about him. He refers him divisively as Marc Long.
But I think it does show you that these people who worked so closely in Trump's orbit now what they're testifying about what they saw, and even as some of them try to delicately step over it. But also the bigger picture is how fractured the relationship still is between Trump and Pence, and this is only likely to reinforce that. But I am told that Trump and Pence have not spoken in over a year now.
TOOBIN: And the other witness is Michael Luttig, who is the former judge, who came this close to being nominated to the Supreme Court by George W. Bush for the seats that went to Alito and Roberts. You cannot dismiss him as some sort of liberal crank. He is a hardcore, very serious conservative. And he was more outraged than the Democrats were about the threat to democracy.
BLITZER: Because at one point, he said, Judge Luttwig, and very interesting, he said if Trump -- if Pence had obeyed Trump, America would have been plunged into a constitutional crisis. How close, Abby, did the country actual come to a coup?
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I think Mike Pence was really the only reason the country wasn't plunged into that constitutional crisis and that is a really sobering fact.
But I thought that Luttig's most important moment came at the end when he was given an opportunity to talk about why he was on the panel in the first place. And he said very clearly, Donald Trump and those who enable him are a threat to American democracy, not just now but in the future. He said that because what he sees is an effort to actually institutionalize a lot of the things that were kind of, you know, almost ad hoc in the lead-up to the January 6th institutionalized those things in the American system to make a similar attempt in 2024 much more possible.
That is an argument, as Jeffrey just said, he is a dyed in the wool conservative. You know, John Eastman was his clerk and this is someone who thinks that Trump himself and all of the people around him who enabled what we saw on January 6th are a threat to democracy. And I think that's the reason, despite how lengthy his testimony was at some point, that was the reason why he was such a critical witness for the January 6th --
BLITZER: He was really a powerful witness, indeed. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, a key member of the January 6th select committee joins me in The Situation Room. we have a lot to discuss. We will, right after this.
BLITZER: Right now, we are tracking new fallout from today's blockbuster January 6th hearing on former President Trump's scheme to pressure his vice president, Mike Pence, to overturn the 2020 presidential election. As testimony from multiple witnesses revealed, Trump lashed out when Pence refused to carry out Trump's plan. Watch this.
IVANKA TRUMP: When I entered the office, the second time, he was on the telephone with when I later found out to be was the vice president.
HERSCHMANN: It started off as a calmer tone and everything and then became heated.
IVANKA TRUMP: The conversation was pretty heated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember hearing the word, wimp. either he called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said, you are a wimp, you will be a wimp. Wimp is the word I remember.
JACOB: When the rioters became audible, at which point we recognized that maybe they had gotten into the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, president Trump tweeted Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.
IVANKA TRUMP: It was escalating, escalating quickly. That tweet, that Mike Pence tweet was sent out, I remember as saying that that was the last thing that needed to be tweeted at that moment. The situation was already bad. And so it felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were your prior interactions with Eastman?
HERSCHMANN: I said, hold on a second, I want to understand what you are saying. You are saying that you believe the vice president, acting as president of the Senate, can be the sole decision-maker as to, under your theory, who be the next president of the United States? And he said, yes. I said are you out of your f'ing mind? So, you are going to cause riots in the streets? And he said words to the effect of, there's been violence in the history of our country in order to protect democracy or protect the republic.
AGUILAR: Dr. Eastman emailed Rudy Giuliani and requested that he be included on a list of potential recipients of a presidential pardon.
EATMAN: I assert my Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against myself.
AGUILAR: Dr. Eastman pled the fifth 100 times.
BLITZER: And joining us now, a key member of the select committee, Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
As you know, former President Trump was repeatedly told this plan to have then Vice President Pence overturn the presidential election would be illegal, but he kept pressuring Pence even as rioters closed in. What does that say about Trump's intent and his culpability?
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): So, in the testimony, they really stood out to me. I mean, here is this meeting on January 4th with the president, vice president, Eastman, and other legal advisers, and even Eastman himself, who has hatched this plan and is presenting it, you know, says, I'm not really sure that this is legal. But the Electoral Count Act, a law that's been in effect since 1887, that's unconstitutional. You know, Eastman's own personal opinion that this law is unconstitutional, so let's just break it.
And, you know, the president went along with this. He applied this pressure both privately, as we saw through the phone call, publicly, through tweets, through statements, you know, claiming that the vice president agreed with him on this theory. And it resulted, as we saw in the clips of the rioters themselves, standing outside the Capitol, yelling, bring out Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence, a gallows out there, and people who were really intent on taking out their revenge on Mike Pence for not doing what they thought was the right thing.
BLITZER: How close was Trump do you believe, Congresswoman, to actually getting the vice president, his vice president, killed? LURIA: Well, I will tell you that Mike Pence's life was definitely in danger. As was noted today in our hearing, he was about 40 paces away from this mob who was yelling his name, wanted to take out revenge on him because they thought he didn't do the right thing that day. So, it was a very dangerous situation for the vice president.
BLITZER: It was very dangerous, indeed. Your committee has also now made a request to speak with Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, over her push to overturn the election and her communication with Trump Lawyer John Eastman. What specifically do you want to ask her?
LURIA: Well, as we have continued to receive more information through the investigation, in this case, more of the emails that Judge Carter has ordered to be released from John Eastman, it's come to our attention that she has information that is relevant to our investigation, so we do want to speak to her.
We won't, as in all the other witnesses, talk about specific questions that we will ask her when we'll meeting with her, but I did hear during the hearing. I haven't necessarily been able to verify completely but there was a statement that she wants to come speak to the committee. So, I really hope that is true and that it will happen soon.
BLITZER: Soon. So, you think she will?
LURIA: I am basing this off of what I heard was put out online during the hearing that she's made a public statement that she will. So, I just have to verify that and, you know, it is the right thing to do. We have had a thousand-plus witnesses speak to the committee. Those who have refused are very far few and far between and we hope she will speak to the committee, tell us what she knows and help paint a full picture in this investigation.
BLITZER: She did tell the Daily Caller, and I am quoting her now, she can't wait to clear up misconceptions. We will see how that goes.
At the same time, Justice Department prosecutors, Congresswoman, in a letter released today, said your committee's refusal to turn over witness' transcripts is actually hindering their ability to prosecute crimes related to January 6th. How do you respond to that?
LURIA: We have made it clear, the chairman has made it clear, that all of the information that we have gathered from witnesses during this investigation will be made available to the Department of Justice at the appropriate time. Our investigation is ongoing. Our hearings are ongoing. But we have every intent on making that information available for the Department of Justice so they can do their work as well.
BLITZER: You'll do that at some point down the road, but you are not ready to do that right now, is that what you are saying?
LURIA: Yes, and it is something that we know is very important. We have collected a huge trove of information that we know can be useful in painting a full picture of what happened that day.
So, you know, the chairman will work with the appropriate people at the Department of Justice to turn that over at the right time.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Elaine Luria, I know it's been a busy day for you, thanks so much for spending a few moments with us.
LURIA: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, a new photo appears to confirm two American fighters in Ukraine were captured, yes, captured by Russian forces.
Stay with us. You are in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: We have a very troubling update from Ukraine tonight. The State Department has just confirmed the identity of a third American volunteer fighter who went missing in Ukraine. This as a new photograph appears to confirm the Russian capture of two other American fighters who have been missing now for a week.
Our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is working our story as well as our CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley, who is reporting from inside Ukraine.
First to you, Barbara, what is the latest?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, there are three former U.S. military servicemen who are missing in Ukraine, unaccounted for. Tonight, a confirmation that one of them, a former Marine, his name is Grady Kurpasi. His family has not had any communication since April with this man who was in Ukraine.
There was a photo emerging of two others who are in the -- everybody should take a very close look at this. This is Drew -- pardon me -- this is Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh. On the left, you have a former army soldier, on the right, another former marine. This picture, emerging, they were fighting in recent days around Kharkiv when they disappeared. Their colleagues went to look for them, did not find any remains. This photo now showing them in the back of a truck or vehicle with their hands behind their back. There are small cans of food with Russian lettering.
Very difficult to get a handle right now on what is really going on, where these three people may be, what their location is, what their circumstances are, but three U.S. military members missing in action in Ukraine. Wolf?
BLITZER: Sam, tell us more about who these Americans were fighting with, and where they were actually captured. SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were captured in -- and this is according to an individual who was fighting alongside them, indeed described as effectively their platoon sergeant on the outskirts or in the villages beyond Kharkiv, to the northeast of Kharkiv, when they were in a small group of people and were overrun, effectively, in what appears to have been a counterattack.
We understand from the platoon sergeant who himself is also American, he's asked for his name to be kept secret for the time being, that they were overrun by an airborne assault, assault by airborne troops, not from the air. Indeed, they were assaulted in a small group in this village. They had been told the village had been cleared and these two individuals were -- went missing during that combat.
Now, the members of their team said that they sent drones up to try to trace either bodies or some kind of evidence of their whereabouts. They found nothing whatsoever. Just a couple days ago or last 24 hours their names appeared on an obscure Russian telegram channel and now this photograph has been posted.
But we have had no official statement, either, from the Russians or indeed from the authorities in the Donetsk People's Republic, so- called, or in the Luhansk People's Republic, the two breakaway areas recognized own as sovereign territory effectively by Moscow. But these individuals were captured in the Kharkiv Oblast and it is -- if they had been captured, it remains to be seen, whether or not the Russians or some other group will take responsibility for them. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. I hope they come get out of there quickly.
We are getting a picture now, Barbara, of this third American who has now gone missing. There you see this picture just released by the Department of Defense. Tell us a little bit what we know about this third American.
STARR: Grady Kurpasi, a Marine, again, in the early days, and his family has not heard from him since April. So, what lies ahead, Wolf? Well, the State Department, because they don't know who has these men, is it Russians, is it Russian-backed fighters, hasn't necessarily been in direct touch with the Russians until they know if Russian forces are holding them. They are in touch we are told, the State Department, with Ukraine forces, with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Look, we know fighters from all over the world, including U.S. military members, very heartfelt, have gone to Ukraine since the invasion began to try and help to fight, to train Ukraine fighters, to do what they can. They feel very deeply about this and so much to be applauded for their courage.
The State Department, however, the Pentagon, the White House reminding people again at this time, don't go to Ukraine. It is a war zone. It's violent. It is very tough business over there. And recommending, once again, as you would expect to Americans, if they want to help to consider contributing to a charity takes nothing away, of course, from what these men and their courage meant. BLITZER: You are absolutely right. Barbara Starr, Sam Kiley, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, we'll take a closer look at the tumultuous relationship between former President Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence. Stand by.
BLITZER: Today's very dramatic January 6th hearing up on Capitol Hill certainly put the spotlight back on ties between former President Trump and the man he pushed to overturn the 2020 presidential election, his vice-president, Mike Pence.
CNN's Brian Todd has more on what's going on.
This relationship, Brian, between these two men certainly has been on a roller coaster over the years.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really has, Wolf, and that roller coaster moving on the downward track for several months now. This is a relationship that as we got evidence further of today, has gone from gushing loyalty to betrayal and insult.
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
TODD (voice-over): A once strong partnership splintered. A video played today by the House committee investigating January 6th showed rioters outside the Capitol calling for then Vice President Mike Pence's demise, which they would have been happy to bring about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you, if Pence came, we're going to drag mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) through the streets, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) politicians are going to get (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dragged through the streets.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Donald Trump turned the mob on him, a mob chanting "hang Mike Pence".
TODD: The House committee revealed today that Pence came a mere 40 feet from rioters, then ushered to safety from the Secret Service, a new video shows Pence and his family hiding in Capitol office as the riot unfolded, testimony was played from witnesses who recalled a heated a phone conversation that morning, then President Trump lobbing insults at Pence, as Pence resisted Trump's pressure to not certify the election results.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember hearing the word wimp. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The P word.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR OF BIOGRAPHIES OF DONALD TRUMP AND MIKE PENCE: There's no love lost between these two now, and we should forget about any kumbaya moment.
TODD: A far cry from the first time Donald Trump and Mike Pence met.
According to author Michael D'Antonio who has written biographies of both men, that was in the summer of 2016, when Trump was looking for a vice presidential running mate. A visit to Indianapolis by Trump, D'Antonio says, played to Trump's ego and Pence's ambition.
D'ANTONIO: I think Trump was convinced, and partly because Pence was so obsequious in that moment, he praised Trump, he acted like he had no trouble, despite his evangelical Christian morality, associating himself with Trump.
TODD: Both men perfected the art of gushing over each other in public in the early days.
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Donald Trump showed you can have broad shoulders and still stand with grace and poise on the international stage.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Mike Pence did an incredible job.
TODD: D'Antonio believes Pence was turned off by Trump's lying, his treatment of women and aides, but was intended on playing the game better than anyone else, and became the ultimate loyalist, which was on display during sometimes cringe-worthy cabinet meetings.
PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President, and just greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who's keeping his word to the American people.
TODD: The turning point, D'Antonio believes, when Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and the subsequent impeachment proceedings against Trump.
D'ANTONIO: We're at the point when Pence probably saw this presidency is an absolute mess.
TODD (on camera) And today, a person familiar with the relationship told CNN, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have not spoken in more than a year. Both men now reportedly gearing up for possible presidential runs in 2024 where they would square off each other in the GOP primaries and even more vitriol and maybe some more dirt from the past might emerge, Wolf.
BLITZER: We will find out fairly soon.
All right. Brian, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, we'll have an update from Yellowstone National Park where a new forecast is prompting fears of even more flooding.
BLITZER: Tonight, Yellowstone National Park is bracing for more rain, more snow melt and more flooding.
As CNN's Nick Watt reports, the devastation is already causing major headaches inside the park and beyond.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The water plant here in Billings was built to work when the river runs at 15 feet or below. This week, it hit 16-1/2, a 500-year event, a record high, that plant forced to close briefly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pretty surreal, seeing the bridges down across the state. I mean, just glad this one is still here.
WATT: Here's one up river that did not survive before and after.
Just how abnormal, unpredictable was this rush of water? Well, this time last year, the Yellowstone River at Billings was running at 8,000 cubic feet a second, a record low. This week, it hit 87,000, peaked around here Wednesday afternoon.
GENE KLAMERT, BULLS EYE RANCH: Started moving cattle about noon in the back there, and moving them towards the front up here where it's a little higher ground. The last ones had to swim out. It was that deep. They were, it was, all you could see was their heads.
WATT: Further up, a Yellowstone tributary and red lodge, the river run through it. Broadway Avenue now covered in rocks, left behind by floodwaters. Yellowstone Park may open, the north entrance will be months.
Now satellite images show what little is left of the only way in.
This flooding fueled by flooding rain and high temperatures melting snow. Tonight, similar conditions return.
CHAD MYERS, CNN SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Overnight last night was perfect. Zooming you into Yellowstone, temperatures were below freezing on top of that snow, so stopping the melting in its tracks, freezing the snow back up. But then by tomorrow, more temperatures well above freezing, more melting and by Saturday, the possibility of some rain.
There's a lot more snow on top of those mountains.
WATT: Our exclusive video shows what the river has already wrought.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WATT (on camera): Now, for now, the forecast is that all of that melt and snow we're expecting in the next few days will only raise the river a couple of feet, fingers crossed that holds, but tomorrow in Billings, Montana, temperature may reach 100 degrees and in fact, will see triple digit temperatures across much of the country tomorrow.
And that, of course, brings a whole other host of problems -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nick Watt reporting, Nick, thank you very much.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.