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Trump's Criminal Risk May Be Rising After New 1/6 Testimony; Biden Says, NATO Is Expanding, Exactly What Putin Didn't Want; Mounting Legal Battles In Wake Of Ruling Overturning Roe V. Wade; January 6 Committee Subpoenas White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 29, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: He is in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM.

I will see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, former President Trump's risk of criminal prosecution may be rising right now after a former White House aide's explosive public testimony about his erratic behavior on January 6th and his role in inciting violence. Even a senior House Republican is now predicting indictments.

Also tonight, NATO moves to expand its membership and strengthen its forces in Europe. President Biden says the alliance is doing exactly what Vladimir Putin did not want, this as new video of a deadly mall attack drives home Putin's brutality while he keeps making new gains in his war against Ukraine.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with fallout from the most damming and alarming testimony yet in the January 6th investigation. We are getting new reaction right now to what Cassidy Hutchinson said under oath and the possible criminal consequences for former President Trump.

Let's go right to our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles, he's up on Capitol Hill. Ryan, I understand we just got a new statement a little while ago from Cassidy Hutchinson's lawyer.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And this comes while she is receiving some criticism from her fellow Republicans and those who are very closely aligned with the former president, Donald Trump.

But despite that criticism, Hutchinson is not backing down. According to the statement from her attorneys, Ms. Hutchinson stands by all of the testimony that she provided yesterday under oath. And that testimony she provided, Wolf, it was very damming for Donald Trump and those close to his orbit.


NOBLES (voice over): One day after a bombshell hearing featuring former White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson, tonight, one senior House Republican telling CNN this testimony will lead to indictments, pointing to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and possibly even Trump.

The January 6th select committee signaling their investigation and what they have to reveal is far from done.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: We have serious concerns if you go up to the Capitol that day.

NOBLES: Hutchinson delivered close to two hours of damaging details of conduct by the former president and his closest advisers that could be damaging politically and open the door to legal liability.

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We are going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.

NOBLES: The committee wants to hear more, zeroing in on Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who was at the center of much of Hutchinson's testimony. Vice Chair, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney tweeting, it's time for Mr. Cipollone to testify on the record. Legal experts warning there could be risk for Cipollone but opportunity for the committee.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If I was counsel, there is no way that he would testify. I mean, he has got enormous exposure, but, on the other hand, he has leverage to negotiate with Congress, to negotiate with the Justice Department, even for possible immunity.

NOBLES: As more evidence is revealed, the pressure is increasing on the Department of Justice to act. Members of the committee openly saying they believe Trump committed a crime.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I think the evidence we displayed over the course of our hearings, there is no doubt in my mind that he was involved in criminal activity.

NOBLES: The committee also accusing Trump loyalists of putting pressure on potential witnesses, bordering on witness tampering.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): I think that that is something that should be looked at by our committee and potentially by the Department of Justice.

NOBLES: Meanwhile, some Republicans are pushing back, questioning Hutchinson's credibility. Trump, himself, clearly watching the hearing, claiming, quoted, I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is. Trump's former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, rushing to Hutchinson's defense, saying, quote, I know her. I don't think she is lying. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES (on camera): And the committee continues to say that their investigation is ongoing. They are, of course, asking for many people or more people to come forward and provide any information that they think would be important and those interviews are continuing. Wolf, in just the last hour, CNN has learned that the campaign deposed -- or, I'm sorry, the committee deposed today for several hours Sean Dollman, who is the former CFO of the Trump campaign. This is someone who would have a lot of insight into the fundraising tactics of the campaign after the 2020 election and how that money is spent. That, of course, a key focus of the January 6th select committee. Wolf?

BLITZER: Potentially very, very significant, indeed. Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our legal, political and law enforcement experts right now.

Jamie Gangel, behind the scenes, do Trump allies realize how damning this testimony was.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I don't think you even have to go behind the scenes. We just heard Mick Mulvaney there. Also the New York Post, a traditional ally of Trump, headline, tyrant Trump. The Washington Examiner, also conservative, unfit for power again.

I spoke last night, today, to many Republican sources. They all said to me that the testimony was devastating and they felt that Cassidy Hutchinson, from the person they dealt with when she was in legislative affairs, had been someone who was very loyal to Trump, a true believer.

That said, they also said that they're concerned that this may not be getting through to the Trump base. We'll see that in the polls.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Gloria, Mick Mulvaney, the former acting White House chief of staff, he was just down with Jake Tapper. I want to play this clip. Listen to this.


MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If you take what Cassidy Hutchinson said at face value, then Donald Trump knew that the protesters had weapons and encouraged them to go to the Capitol anyway. That was stunning to me. I have been defending the president over the course of the last year. Even though I quit my job over the way he conducted himself during the riot, I never thought until yesterday that he was even capable of inciting the riot.


BLITZER: I'm sure he's not the only Trump associate who feels like that.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, there are lots, as Jamie is talking about. The question is, when are people going to start talking publicly about this. And you see Mulvaney doing it and you see editorial pages doing it. The testimony yesterday was devastating. We learned that the president was directly told by his Secret Service that, yes, there is going to be violence, the potential for violence, that his staff was told about 15 times.

And so this will kind of seep in and you will have to see what it does to people who are running for president, whether it becomes an issue in a presidential campaign, whether Republican candidates start talking about Donald Trump as unfit for office.

I think the big picture here is this question. When voters look at Donald Trump now, hearing all of what they heard yesterday and before, will they now say to themselves, yes, I'd like to see that guy back in the Oval Office, the guy who flung the plate against the wall, that's who I would like to see in the Oval Office. I think that's the question voters are going to ask themselves.

And, yes, the base they may say never mind.

GANGEL: The base may always be there. But will other Republicans say, it's time to move on?

BORGER: Right. I mean, it's Donald Trump without the crazy. That may be what they want.

BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, our Senior Legal Analyst. Jeffrey, how much more likely are criminal charges after Hutchinson's testimony yesterday?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Definitely more likely. Not guaranteed by any means but definitely more likely, given the -- you know the connection between the president -- the former president's statements and the violence that took place on the Capitol. The nexus between the two just got a lot closer.

But I just have a question about these Republican critics of Trump. Do any of them actually have names? Mick Mulvaney is like -- he's out of politics. I haven't heard one elected official who is still running, except for Liz Cheney, who is critical on the record. I think they're a bunch of cowards. I think they're cowards, I think they're terrified of Trump, and the idea that they're willing to talk to journalists on background, so what? I think Donald Trump still runs that party and everyone in it who has to face the voters is still terrified of him.

BORGER: Let's see what happens in a Republican primary, though, Jeffrey. Let's see what Chris Christie starts saying publicly, for example, or Ron DeSantis, if he's running, starts saying publicly. Let's -- that will bring it out, I think.

TOOBIN: But they haven't said it yet.

BORGER: No, they have not. I totally agree with you. BLITZER: Let's see if they do.

Jonathan Wackrowis with us, himself a former Secret Service agent. There is a dispute, as you know, Jonathan, about Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, about what happened in Trump's car, in that SUV, when he wanted to be taken to the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. You are, as I said, a former Secret Service agent. Does this put the Secret Service right now in a tough spot to clarify what exactly happened? We heard what Cassidy Hutchinson had to say.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, this puts the Secret Service in a very uncomfortable spot right now because they don't like to be in the media and in part of the story. They want to focus on protection. But what they did do is they came out and they said they will make those agents who were available in the vehicle available for, you know, testimony under oath.


So, again, we'll get firsthand account of what did happen, whether or not there was a lunge or any type of assault against a Secret Service agent.

But what the testimony yesterday did confirm was that the Secret Service went through a process to assess the risk of actually going up to the Capitol. And I think that's a very critical point to key in on right now, is that well before the group from The Ellipse moved to the Capitol, they were already assessed as being an elevated threat.

So, the special agent in charge is thinking about two things, likelihood and consequence. What is the likelihood that violence would escalate at the Capitol? He made a determination, a very high likelihood. And what would the consequences be? Knowing there were armed individuals on the outside of the fence line, understanding the makeup and composure of that crowd that was moving up there, the consequences would be very high. So, the determination was made basically on a risk assessment not to bring the president up there.

Now, this leads to, why wasn't that type of intelligence relayed to the Capitol police that because of the threat environment, we're not bringing the president. Those questions remain to be answered.

BLITZER: The Secret Service's job is to protect the president of the United States, even when that president may not necessarily fully appreciate the dangers that exist at that particular time.

All right, guys, everybody stand by. Just ahead, Vladimir Putin's bloody invasion backfires as NATO now formally invites both Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance.

Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is hailing a major international breakthrough, NATO formally, officially inviting both Sweden and Finland to join the NATO alliance as it bolsters forces on its eastern flank.

CNN Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is traveling with the president in Madrid right now at the NATO summit. Phil, these are very, very dramatic moves for both NATO and the United States. Update our viewers.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. The last 24 hours have given an unbelievable window into a dramatically scaled, in a very different manner security landscape than has existed in this alliance over the course of perhaps the past decade, a decade where at times it seemed adrift, or at least that is very much not the case now.

In the last day leading up to and during this NATO summit on the U.S. side, the security posture has dramatically expanded, a surge in air, land and sea, resources in troop deployments that hasn't existed since the cold war. It has been matched by many of the international partners here.

And you have also seen perhaps the most important element of all, and that is the formal invitation to two new members of NATO who long had resisted the idea because their populations weren't for, because their leaders didn't think it was worthwhile or perhaps would necessitate a response from President Putin, no longer. Finland and Sweden are officially on the pathway to membership.

For Finland's case alone, Wolf, that's 800 miles of new border with Russia that will soon be occupied by a part of the NATO alliance. Sweden leaving its long effort to stay neutral in these types of situations all because of what transpired over the course of the last 12 months.

I think that's the biggest takeaway when you talk to U.S. officials here. President Biden came to office trying to bring the alliance back together, trying to make the claim that America was back and would lead the European and transatlantic alliances back to a place they weren't with his predecessor. But nobody has forced that like President Putin. It is clear very President Putin wanted a weak or fractured NATO, he's gotten the exact opposite, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Obviously, very, very clear, a major blunder on the part of Putin, to be sure. The NATO leadership deserves a lot credit for their willingness to go ahead and what they're doing.

Phil Mattingly in Madrid, thank you very much.

Let's get some more right now from our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. She is also joining us from the NATO summit in Madrid.

Clarissa, we just heard, I understand, from Putin, himself, he is denying responsibility for that shocking missile attack on that Ukrainian shopping mall that killed a lot of people. We're showing our viewers the devastating video from that attack. What you can tell us? What is Putin saying? CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this was President Putin meeting in Turkmenistan with a group of Caspian leaders and addressing for the first time publicly this horrendous attack that you're showing that video of there, 18 people killed in this shopping mall, many others still unaccounted for. CNN's own Salma Abdelaziz was at the site herself and saw it with her own eyes today and yet President Putin is maintaining that Russia had nothing to do with it and that Russia does not kill civilians. Take a listen to what he said.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Our army does not attack any civilian infrastructure site. There is no need. We have every capability of knowing what is situated where.


WARD: Well, of course, that raises the question, Wolf, if they know what situated where, why is it then that Russia has consistently hit civilian targets? We know about the hospital, of course, in the city of Mariupol, the maternity hospital. There have been bread lines and many other civilian targets that have been hit.

We also addressed during that press conference the issue of Finland and Sweden now being on a sort of fast track to joining NATO. He says that Russia does not have a problem with this. Although he did attack NATO's, quote, imperial ambitions, saying that the west is trying to impose supremacy, also saying that the west does not have a real vested interest in Ukraine's well-being but is only engaged with this issue of the conflict in Ukraine because it's seeking to further its own interests.

He did, however, add one caveat on the subject of not caring about Finland and Sweden joining NATO. He said that if NATO moves any weaponry or military installations into either of those countries and Russia has a border more than 800 miles long, Wolf, with Finland, that that would require some symmetrical response from Russia, Wolf.


BLITZER: We'll see what happens on that front. All right, Clarissa Ward in Madrid, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, will former President Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone finally testify before the January 6th select committee? I'll ask the White House attorney at the center of the Watergate scandal, John Dean, what it would mean for this incredibly important investigation.


BLITZER: Tonight, the January 6th select committee may be more eager than ever to question former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

[18:25:00] The testimony by ex-White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed new information about Cipollone's actions and fears on January 6th.

Brian Todd is looking into all of this for us. Brian, as we seen in the past, the president's top legal adviser can certainly play a pivotal role in the congressional investigation.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. One expert we interviewed today said the White House counsel is at the heart of almost every major initiative a president engages in. Their role is to advise on legal strategy. But as we've learned regarding Pat Cipollone and another famous case, they can get drawn into so much more.


TODD (voice over): June 25th, 1973, former White House Counsel John Dean appears before the Senate committee investigating Watergate and gives explosive testimony about the planning for the Watergate break- in, the cover-up and other criminal activity undertaken by his former boss, President Richard Nixon, and his aides.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency.

TODD: Dean was implicating Nixon, other officials and even himself in the Watergate scandal, a crucial moment in the demise of the Nixon presidency. Dean later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges and served prison time.

PROF. JEFFREY ENGEL, CENTER FOR PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY: He's a hero because history remembers him largely for having gone and spoken the truth and helped saved the democracy that was under threat during Watergate.

TODD: Contrast John Dean with former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that Cipollone was in close touch with her January 6th and desperately tried to keep the then-president from going up to Capitol Hill with the rioters.

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure he doesn't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We are going to get charged of every crime imaginable if you make we make that movement happen.

TODD: Hutchinson said Cipollone was concerned that Trump could later be accused of obstructing justice or obstructing the electoral count. Trump ended up not going up to Capitol Hill that day. But Hutchinson said Cipollone issued other dire warnings to Trump and Mark Meadows as the Capitol attack unfolded.

HUTCHINSON: Pat said something to the effect of, and very clearly said this to Mark, something to the effect of, Mark, something needs to be done or people are going to die and the blood is going to be on your f'ing hands. TODD: Earlier, Cipollone had reportedly pushed back on other plans by Trump to use the power of the presidency to overturn the 2020 election results. But unlike John Dean, we have not heard from Pat Cipollone. He is appeared for a closed door interview with the House committee investigating January 6th but has not agreed to testify publicly, drawing criticism from the panel's vice chair.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We think the America people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone, personally.

TODD: The analysts we spoke to say, Cipollone, so far, hasn't gone out on a limb like Dean did. Former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu believes Cipollone should have contacted other cabinet members about Trump's behavior or should have resigned.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I mean, you are the White House counsel, you really have quite a solemn duty to not only advise the president but to protect the office of the presidency.


TODD (on camera): Analysts say one thing that adds to the enormous pressure of being a White House counsel in the middle of a big scandal is that many of them simply don't have the background for it. Former Prosecutor Shan Wu told us, White House counsels often don't come into the job with experience in criminal cases. Often, they're trained to deal with policy issues. But when they get thrown into a big scandal and may have to act as a whistleblower in a criminal matter at the White House, Wolf, that is a different game entirely.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Brian Todd reporting, good report, thank you very, very much.

Let's discuss what we just heard. The former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, is joining us right now. He is a CNN Contributor. John, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know, Cipollone warned back on January 6th that people are going to die if Trump didn't act to try to quell the disturbance there. Does Cipollone have an obligation now to share what he knows publicly under oath with the committee?

DEAN: I think he does. If the committee wants to do it publicly, that's the committee's choice. He doesn't have an option to say, I'll do it privately, if the committee thinks it educates the public. I think also, Wolf, what happened post-Watergate is the rules of the game for lawyers changed. They had been required to take an oath to the Constitution even before Watergate. But post-Watergate, the ethical rules changed.

This is a situation where Cipollone is playing dangerously close to being in ethical violations for his silence. He needs to get out and protect democracy. That's one of the post-Watergate requirements. So, I hope he will come forward voluntarily. If not, the committee should put a subpoena on him and make him go to court and give some excuse why he shouldn't, because it's necessary at this point. [18:30:06]

BLITZER: On that point, this morning, the committee -- the select committee vice chair, Liz Cheney, tweeted this, let me put it up on the screen, any concerns he has about the institutional interests of his prior office are outweighed by the need for his testimony. John Dean, do you agree?

DEAN: Absolutely, I agree. He can clarify a lot of things that are not clear right now. He can shed light as it will help educate the public. You know, he has had advised that there was criminal behavior going on. What is to say that that criminal behavior ever stopped or that he withdrew from it?

I think for his own safety, he should clarify that, how he stayed out of the two conspiracies that appear to be very much involved, actually, two or three conspiracies that he should address and fill in the committee and explain to the public.

BLITZER: You were among the younger staffers that testified during Watergate. What does it say to you that it's another young staffer, Cassidy Hutchinson, who had the courage to come forward and tell the truth while so many Trump insiders are refusing to cooperate?

DEAN: You know, it seems the older you are, the more vested you become in your career and where you are going to go from the White House. I think Cipollone has got that problem. He's got a large family to support. He looks towards Republican clients probably and his influence in Washington and he's worried about damage and all that.

But I'll tell you, if we don't address the problems that this issue raises with Trump and January 6th, we're not going to have much of a democracy he needs to worry about. So, I think he ought to get forward and testify about this and help put it to rest.

BLITZER: If Cipollone is watching us right now, what would be your additional message to him?

DEAN: I would tell him, Pat, the truth is your friend and the truth is something we all need to hear.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, let's see if he accepts that advice. John Dean, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

Just ahead, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer confirms tomorrow, tomorrow will be his final day on the bench with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson waiting in the wings to take the oath. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Legal battles over abortion are mounting tonight nearly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe versus Wade.

CNN National Correspondent Erica Hill is following all the ramifications of the decision.


GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): We're taking this fight back to the courts.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Wisconsin is the latest state to sue over pre-Roe abortion laws, asking the court to strike an 1849 ban which outlaws nearly all abortions with no exception for rape or incest, noting that it contradicts more recent state laws.

JOSH KAUL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Those statutes are directly inconsistent with Wisconsin's 19th century abortion ban. It can't be both legal and illegal to provide an abortion to protect the health of a mother.

HILL: all abortion services in Wisconsin stopped last Friday when Roe was overturned.

In Texas, a temporary reprieve after a restraining order allowed some to clinics to resume abortions until the six-week mark of pregnancy. North Dakota, one of 13 states with so-called trigger laws, announcing its abortion ban will go into effect July 28th. A federal judge ruled Tennessee can ban a procedure after six weeks starting right now, well before the state's more restrictive trigger law takes effect in mid- August with no exceptions for rape or incest.

XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: This is a critical moment in our history. How we respond will speak to how view the rights, the dignity and the wellbeing of women everywhere.

HILL: Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra pledging his department will do everything it can, including increasing access to medication abortions. Though, in reality, federal options are limited.

In states where abortion is still legal, officials are sending a clear message. Nevada's governor signing an executive order stating there will be no cooperation for out-of-state warrants related to violations of reproductive healthcare laws. That follows a similar order in California.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Governors clearly have the authority to dictate what their state executive branches do. Ultimately, however, it's really hard for anybody in the state that allows abortion to protect their citizens against prosecution.


HILL (on camera): And, Wolf, just a short time ago, the HHS Office of Civil Rights issued some new guidance in this post-Roe world specifically dealing with privacy and your personal health information, noting HIPAA does not protect all that information. So, if a disclosure is required because of another law and that request comes through legal means, via court order or a warrant, your personal information can be turned over without authorization. They also addressed concerns about data that's stored on a personal device. We've heard a lot about period tracking app. HHS said they had heard a lot of concern about that. What they say is that information generally not protected by HIPAA. If you are concerned about it, though, they have some tips there and guidance.


You can find those, Wolf, at

BLITZER: Erica Hill reporting for us, Erica, thank you very much.

This all happening on the eve of a historic moment right now, the U.S. Supreme Court justice, Stephen Breyer, will retire at noon Eastern tomorrow and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sworn in as the 116th justice, the first African-American woman to sit on the highest court in the land.

Let's get some legal analysis right now from Supreme Court Biographer Joan Biskupic, and a legal analysts who is watching all of this unfold.

So, we know that this will be Justice Breyer's last day. Tomorrow he leaves.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: Right. And today on his last full day, he actually pulled out a win. In a 5-4 case, he was in a majority, and that a rarity for liberals these days, as we've just heard from Erica's report on the Dobbs decision. People that are a majority in a case involving a military vet who was trying to sue the state of Texas, trying to get his better job back after a return from service. So, that was a good thing that happened to Stephen Breyer today.

And then after that, he met in private for the last time in a conference room of the chambers of the chief justice to vote on cases, finishing up business on this term and looking ahead to next term. Wolf, he'll still have an office at the court but he's going to have to move into smaller chambers. He'll have to take down all these -- I think you've been in his chamber. He's got all these great antique books lining the shelves he inherited from his uncle on philosophy and other humanity subjects. He'll move those to a smaller office. But he will no longer be one of nine.

BLITZER: I have been in his chamber over there at the U.S. Supreme Court. And we'll finally see this new justice sworn in tomorrow, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

BISKUPIC: That's right. She will be sworn in at noon, it will be livestreamed to people who want to watch it. And the chief is going -- Chief Justice John Roberts is going to administer the constitutional oath and then Stephen Breyer, who once was her boss, she was a law clerk to Justice Breyer, he will administer the judicial oath.

And the judicial oath is nice. It has got some very evocative phrases, about language about administering justice and doing equal rights to rich and poor. And she, of course, is -- it will be much different from Stephen Breyer just in terms of demographics. She will be the first African-America woman. She is only 51. He is 83. She will bring a whole new temperament to the bench. And if she serves as long as he serves, we're looking at like another generation-and-a-half.

BLITZER: It could be 30 or 40 years down the road, a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It certainly does end, though, with Breyer leaving, the Clinton imprint on the highest court. And I was a White House correspondent when we broke the news that it was Stephen Breyer that he was going to nominee for the Supreme Court.

BISKUPIC: I know. I was a Supreme Court correspondent then for The Post, and you beat us. But I'm still not holding this against you.

BLITZER: Every time I see Stephen Breyer, he reminds me that I broke that story.

BISKUPIC: Right. Well, good for you. And now he is leaving. But it does show what -- look at what's happened in the last 28 years. Stephen Breyer was a part of a less polarized era. He always wanted to compromise. That's what he was all about. He comes from a time when he thought that both sides could work together and that was his style. And his colleagues are going to miss that. The chief justice is really going to miss that. He's a real partner to John Roberts. But this will be a whole new dynamic and we will see what unfolds over the next 28 years, Wolf.

BLITZER: History unfolding as we would like to have that front row seat, the history, and we have it. Thanks very much, Joan, for that excellent analysis.

Coming up, a federal judge has just handed down a very lengthy sentence to singer R. Kelly, who is convicted of sex trafficking charges. We have details and we'll share them with you after the break.



BLITZER: Singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison knowledge his conviction on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges. A jury found Kelly guilty of nine counts last September. Prosecutors said Kelly used his celebrity status to target girls, boys and young women. Kelly's attorney says he's devastated by the sentence but is prepared to appeal the conviction.

Grim new details tonight of what's being called the worst human smuggling event in history. The San Antonio, Texas police chief saying the floor of a tractor-trailer abandoned in the blazing sun was, quote, completely covered in bodies.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is working the story for us. Omar, I understand at least 53 people are now confirmed dead. You're there at the scene where this tractor-trailer was found. What's the latest?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Wolf. Well, when police first got to the scene where dozens and dozens of people were found dead, the San Antonio police chief described what you saw not only as beyond tragic but borderline indescribable, because they not only had to push through the gruesomeness of what they were seeing upfront, but they had to do so to find people that had potentially survived this.

Take a listen to the police chief.


CHIEF WILLIAM MCMANUS, SAN ANTONIO POLICE: The floor of the trailer, it was, it was completely covered in bodies, completely covered in bodies. There were at least ten-plus bodies outside the trailer.


Because when we arrived, when EMS arrived, we were trying to find people who were still alive so we had to move bodies out of the trailer onto the ground.


JIMENEZ: And that was to try and find survivors, which ultimately there were. But a few of them died later on at the hospital, bringing the death total up to 53. As of right now, there are ten or so people still recovering in local hospitals. But of those killed, according to the medical examiner, 40 of them were men, 13 of them were women and that is likely going to be a prolonged identification process, even though they have preliminary ones on 37 of them.

But that's because they were trying to coordinate with four multiple different countries I should say, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, trying to get IDs on these people. Now, as far as who potentially was involved in this, there was the driver of this truck seen fleeing the scene by police that day. And dispatch audio says he was running alongside the railroad tracks there. But that person was eventually detained. Police chief did not give further details.

And then, separately, two people were arrested on charges of illegal weapons possession by someone illegally in the United States. But that was because they traced the license plate of this truck to addresses here in San Antonio. No word on authorities of any connection there.

BLITZER: CNN's Omar Jimenez reporting for us -- Omar, thank you very much.

We're also following the dramatic new political upheaval going on in Israel where the outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he will not run for re-election in the fall. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, is preparing a series of votes to dissolve itself, following the collapse of the governing coalition, which will trigger new elections.

CNN's Hadas Gold is joining us from Jerusalem right now.

Hadas, Israel is on the verge of it's what, fifth election in less than four years. Give us the latest.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, and it's been a night of political chaos in Israel. The Israeli parliament was originally supposed to vote on this dissolution before midnight. But political squabbling and last minute deal-making just dragging out the process. At one point, members were rushed back to the floor late in the evening, only to have that last-minute effort fall apart almost as quickly as it began.

Now the parliament is expected to reconvene tomorrow morning to try again and start the process to dissolve itself all over again. Now, once parliament is officially disbanded, foreign minister Yair Lapid, who is a centrist, a former journalist and actually a former actor, will become the caretaker prime minister the moment the clock strikes 12:01 on Friday, as for the coalition agreement.

And new elections will then be triggered in the fall. All of this upheaval, this chaos and the new elections presenting a huge opportunity for former prime minister (VIDEO GAP) from the outside -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. The president of the United States planning a trip in a couple of weeks to Jerusalem. We'll see what happens on that front as well.

CNN's Hadas Gold reporting from Jerusalem, thank you very much.

Just ahead, new concerns over tens of thousands of potentially dangerous train crossings all over the United States, after a deadly Amtrak crash.



BLITZER: Right now, getting some breaking news on the January 6th Select Committee deciding to go ahead and do something very, very potentially significant.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has got the news for us.

Tell our viewers, Ryan, what you're learning.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this information just coming out in the last few seconds, Wolf. The January 6th Select Committee taking the dramatic step of issuing a subpoena to the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Of course, Cipollone was a name that popped up repeatedly during yesterday's dramatic testimony by former White House aid Cassidy Hutchison. She repeatedly discussed Cipollone's concerns about the former President Trump's conduct in and around the events of January 6th, the repeated warnings that he gave the former president not only about the way they conducted themselves on January 6th, but their attempts to overturn the election results leading up to January 6th.

And this is the statement just issued by the committee chairman Bennie Thompson, and the Vice Chair Liz Cheney. They say, quote, the select committee's investigation has revealed evidence that Mr. Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump's activities on January 6th and in the days that proceeded.

And they go on to talk about why they want to ask him specific questions about what he knew during that time frame under oath. And they also say this, Wolf, which is very important at the end of their statement. Any concerns Mr. Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony.

And this is a key issue, he is the former White House counsel. There are privilege concerns about him coming forward and testifying about any interactions he had with a sitting president of the United States, and in his role as someone that was serving as counsel to the office of the president and the president himself.

And we've already seen the committee not have success in trying to come pet the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to cooperate with their investigation. The Department of Justice resisting a criminal contempt referral to compel Meadows to participate. In this case, they are acknowledging that Cipollone may have those concerns but they are willing to work those concerns out so he can testify.

Obviously, the Biden White House will have a say. They are the ones that decide what is executive privilege and what is not, as the office of the presidency and the person in that office at the time. The former president has no role in this. That will still be a sticky part of the situation.

Wolf, what this will likely lead to is a negotiating posture between Cipollone and the committee. He has already had informal conversations with them. We'll see.

If this compels them to actually come forward and cooperate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very important news indeed, and much more on the breaking news straight ahead.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.