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1/6 Committee Responds After Secret Service Turns Over Only One Text; 1/6 Hearing To Focus On How Trump Refused To Act Amid Riot; Nearly 110 Million People Under Heat Alerts From Coast To Coast; Russia Expands International Ambitions In Eastern & Southern Ukraine; Senators Predict Growing GOP Support For Same-Sex Marriage Bill. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 20, 2022 - 18:00   ET



KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Of course, one thing that he hoping for is that President Biden visits this mural that is in Georgetown just walks from the White House. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Kylie Atwood, it was an important story, thank you so much.

If you ever miss an episode of "THE LEAD", you can listen to "THE LEAD" wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the January 6th select committee is responding after the U.S. Secret Service handed over only one text message from the day of the insurrection and the day before. I'll ask a key member of the panel if she's buying the Secret Service's explanation.

House investigators are promising to reveal new evidence that then- President Trump refused to act as the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. Stand by for new details on tomorrow's prime time hearing and the former Trump aides who will testify live.

Also tonight, scorching heat is spreading across the United States with nearly 110 million people under alert. We're tracking the extreme temperatures and the dangerous conditions in this country and in Europe.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, the leaders of the January 6th select committee are expressing concerns about the U.S. Secret Service's handling of cell phone data after the agency turned over only one of the text messages requested by the panel.

Let's go straight to our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles. He's up on Capitol Hill for us. Ryan, tell us more about the statement released by the committee just a little while ago.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's no doubt that the committee is very concerned about the physical data that may be lost as it relates to the Secret Service and what they knew on January 5th and January 6th. But now their concerns are expanding. They are also just concerned broadly about the way the agency handled this material and the potential that they may be in violation of the Federal Records Act.


NOBLES (voice over): One text exchange. That is the sum total of what the Secret Service handed over to the January 6th select committee, leaving the committee with even more questions about what the agency is up to.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): You're asking the question that we're asking. We're trying to determine where those texts are and whether they can be recovered and retrieved.

NOBLES: The Secret Service says their agents don't typically text as part of their job, but they have yet to give a definitive answer about where texts from January 5th and January 6th may have gone, messages the DHS inspector general believes were deleted in a device upgrade program.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): There's a lot more questions to answer, but we have a responsibility to tell the truth and to chase the facts, and that's exactly what we plan to do in this regard, as well as our general oversight over the executive department.

NOBLES: Meanwhile, Secret Service has started complying with the committee subpoena, handing over thousands of documents, including radio traffic and emails.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): We also need to find out what technologically is possible to recover all of the communications between the Secret Service and others on the 5th and on the 6th in particular, but not just those days.

NOBLES: As the agency faces a credibility crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who oversees their work, promised they would comply with the investigation.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The Secret Service remains committed to cooperating fully with the committee. The migration was planned well before January 2021.

NOBLES: The Secret Service and what they witnessed on January 6th could be a key part of what the committee hopes to uncover in their primetime hearing, even showing how President Trump refused to act for 187 minutes while the mob was raging at the Capitol and hearing from those who witnessed what Trump was and was not doing.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): People who were in the White House, people who were close to the president, and also people who had insight into the actions that were going on in the variety of ways that they were trying to control the violence.

NOBLES: And while the committee says many witnesses in Trump's orb have been forthcoming, one witness, former Aide Garrett Ziegler, was defiant. Ziegler is the low level aide who got Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne into the White House for a raucous meeting in December where the election deniers encouraged Trump to fight on. The former White House aide took to social media after his deposition in a white nationalist rant calling the committee --

GARRETT ZIEGLER, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: Bolshevistic an anti-white campaign. They see me as a young Christian who they can try to basically scare.


NOBLES (on camera): And part of what has the committee so concerned is that they can't seem to get a straight answer from the Secret Service as to what exactly happened to this information from their agents on January 5th and 6th.


And the letter that the Secret Service sent to the committee really didn't clarify it all that much. In the letter it said in part, the Secret Service continues to engage in extensive efforts to further assess whether any relevant text messages sent or received by 24 individuals identified by the DHS OIG were lost due to the Intune migration and, if so, whether such texts are recoverable. So, to put that in plain language, Wolf, they don't know whether or not they can ever get these texts, but to take it a step further, they don't know if these texts ever existed. And that is part of what the January 6th select committee would like to get to the bottom of.

BLITZER: I'm sure they would. Ryan Nobles up on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our legal, political, and law enforcement experts right now. Jamie Gangel, you reported, and it was first on CNN, on what the Secret Service had actually handed over, just one text message, which is obviously very significant. Tell us more about what you're learning from inside the committee, how they're responding to this.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, the committee's statement today that they have concerns, that is a polite way of saying they are furious. They are doubling down. And if you look at the statement, there are certain words in there that, really, they call it a purge, and that there may be a possible violation of the Federal Records Act.

Wolf, what that means is even without the request for all of these documents, these things, these records should have been saved. We don't know yet whether this was incompetence or something more nefarious, but there is a culture within the Secret Service, and a veteran Secret Service agent put it to me this way. She said there's a code. It's called the limo talk. What happens in the limo stays in the limo. So, there is a tremendous culture there already where they don't want to share what's going on in their communication.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that would be understandable had it not been for an attempted insurrection in which multiple of their protectees, by the way, were at risk. So, that's what makes this so problematic for the Secret Service.

And then on top of that, to add to what your source is telling you, Jamie, just this idea, Tony Ornato, who was the head of President Trump's detail, was someone who basically went in and out of the Secret Service, out of the Secret Service to go into a political position within the White House, and then back to the Secret Service again.

That on its face is something that just raises questions about what is going on at this agency, and why they can't disentangle themselves from this incredibly political environment. They have a really important responsibility, and they need to be able to do that without seeming like they're part of the fray.

BLITZER: So, Andrew McCabe, you're the former deputy director of the FBI, how do they recover these messages if, in fact, they can recover them? And how can they determine if they were actually deleted deliberately?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that would start, Wolf, by identifying the devices in question, so the phones that were taken from these 24 individuals and replaced presumably with new phones. There's all kinds of very detailed forensic analysis that you can conduct on those devices to determine if texts were there and, if so, are they recoverable, and/or were there just an absence of texts during that period.

There's also possibilities to pursue that with the carrier, whoever the carrier is who provides service, but it's likely that that won't be successful simply because if they had prearranged a service with the carrier to record text messages, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

BLITZER: So, Elliot, we have also now learned that former President Trump, and this is hard to believe, but he actually called the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly just last week to try to -- once again try to overturn the presidential election. What do you say about that?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Now, Wolf, the January 6th -- ties back to January 6th and the committee and their investigation, and we know of President Trump having called or there's testimony, information suggesting that the president actually called a low-level White House staffer. It's not a huge leap from the president calling the Wisconsin -- an elected official in Wisconsin to a White House staffer and possibly attempting to obstruct the investigation.

Look, what the former president is doing is trolling and taunting the Justice Department, and every American, by continuing to engage in this misconduct and getting away with it.

PHILLIP: It also shows -- I mean, the January 6th committee, they have been trying to say this guy, the former President Trump, is a clear and present danger. He is an ongoing threat. Here we are 18 months after he was voted out of office or longer, and he is still calling people about overturning the election results, which cannot be done. He also did the same thing with Congressman Mo Brooks and then rescinded his endorsement of Brooks when Brooks said, sir, we can't do this.


Trump is not someone who is deterred by all of this, the evidence that is being put out there about his wrongdoing, and that alone is something that I know is causing pause to many Republicans, even the ones who publicly don't want to say anything negative about him.

BLITZER: Yes, good point.

Jamie, tomorrow night's prime time hearing will feature two former Trump White House officials. What can you tell us about that?

GANGEL: So, we're going to hear from Sarah Matthews, who was a deputy press secretary, and from Matthew Pottinger, who was at the Trump White House for four years. He's one of the longest serving at the national security. Both of them resigned on January 6th.

I think from Sarah Matthews, we're likely to hear about how they were trying to get Trump to make a statement. From Matthew Pottinger, I am told that he didn't see President Trump that day, but he did come to the Oval Office. He saw Mark Meadows. He spoke to him. And I think what we will hear from both of them is how alarmed they were and how concerned they were with what we have been hearing, dereliction of duty, that Donald Trump did nothing for this long period of time.

BLITZER: Yes, really, we'll look forward to this hearing tomorrow night. Guys, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, stay with CNN for special coverage of tomorrow's January 6th hearing. It all begins, our special coverage, 7:00 P.M. Eastern, right after THE SITUATION ROOM.

Coming up, we'll have a live update from the federal courthouse here in Washington, where prosecutors just rested their case in the Steve Bannon criminal contempt trial.

Also ahead, a key member of the January 6th select committee is standing by live to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We have a lot to discuss right after a quick break.



BLITZER: Just a short while ago, federal prosecutors here in Washington rested their case against Steve Bannon as the Trump ally stands trial on contempt of Congress charges.

CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is just outside the courthouse for us. Sara, walk us through what happened today.

SARA MURRAY, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just a little while ago, Steve Bannon left the courthouse spouting conspiracy theories after a long day in which the prosecution eventually rested their case. And, look, a big part of what we heard in court today focused on Bannon's last-minute offer to testify publicly before the committee. His attorney was grilling the Kristin Amerling. She's the staffer for the House select committee, talking about that offer, and, of course, she acknowledged that, yes, there was back and forth with the committee recently where Bannon offered to provide information, where the committee was open to receiving some information from Bannon.

But when the prosecutor came back and circled back to Kristin Amerling, it was a pretty damning moment for Steve Bannon. You know, they were talking about the letters that went back and forth between those two. And in the letter that Bennie Thompson writes to Bannon, he notes that while they welcome getting information from him, it doesn't change the fact that he didn't comply with his subpoena. It doesn't change the fact that they referred him for criminal contempt.

And when she was quizzing this House staffer, she asked, you know, did Bannon offer his testimony after he was charged? No. Did he offer it in February, March, April, May? The answer was no every time. Then they get around to the fact that he didn't actually offer to try to give any information to the committee until he got around to July 10th, which, of course, was just a week before his trial date.

Now, the defense will have an opportunity to present their case starting tomorrow. We don't yet know what that's going to look like. We know that they have a couple witnesses they could call, but we don't know who on the list, if any, they plan to. And we still don't know if Bannon is going to testify in his own defense, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll find out tomorrow. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani has now been ordered to testify next month in Georgia before the grand jury there investigating former President Trump's attempts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. What are you learning about this?

MURRAY: That's right. We know the district attorney in Georgia, Fani Willis, wanted Rudy Giuliani's testimony before the grand jury because he's in New York. That subpoena moves over to New York. And a judge there set a hearing basically saying, look, if you think that there's a reason that I should dismiss this summon, show up, make your case. Well, as it turns out, Giuliani did not show up to that hearing so the judge in New York then ordered Giuliani must testify before this special grand jury next month.

Now, of course, we could still see Giuliani make arguments saying he has certain privileges to exempt him from that, saying he has attorney/client privilege, for instance, when it comes to the former president, but as of yet, we haven't heard anything from Rudy Giuliani. We did reach out to his lawyer for comment.

BLITZER: All right. Sara Murray reporting from just outside the federal courthouse here in Washington, thank you very much. Let's turn back to the January 6th investigation that's unfolding here in Washington. We're joined now by a key member of the House select committee, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

So, we have been reporting now that the Secret Service has provided your committee with only one text message from January 5th or January 6th. They say they're working to recover others, but do you fear that these other messages are now lost?

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): I certainly hope that they're not lost, because we were asking for these messages because we want a fulsome picture of the interactions between the Secret Service agents as well as between the Secret Service agents and the other agencies. We're trying to put together a picture of what happened on the days leading up to and on January 6th so that we can not only talk about what happened, who was responsible and how we can prevent it again, but a key piece of how we prevent it again is whether or not our law enforcement agencies have the ability to interact with one another in a way that can keep the president, vice president, and the Capitol safe.

BLITZER: This was the worst attack on the U.S. Capitol in, what, almost 200 years right now. How is it possible that the U.S. Secret Service could delete these critically important messages from the day of the insurrection and the day before?

MURPHY: It really does take a willing suspension of disbelief to believe that they didn't understand the importance of those messages.


We actually requested -- four committees of Congress requested from them those records on the 16th of January. And they proceeded with this data migration and upgrades of their phones without taking a pause to figure out how to respond to Congress first. And that's kind of stunning that they wouldn't have thought that it was important to respond to Congress or to preserve the information from that day.

BLITZER: So, was this incompetence or something worse?

MURPHY: I think we have to continue to get the information to be able to make that determination. Again, what happened, who was responsible for it and how can we prevent this from happening again? And you know that the National Archives is looking into this as well. BLITZER: But the Secret Service presumably, and the Department of

Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Secret Service, they should have known they have got to keep these records.

MURPHY: One would have thought they should have known that. Now what I hope is that they will use their data forensics capabilities to see if they can't preserve or recall some of these text messages that they now say they don't have access to.

BLITZER: And do you think they can do that?

MURPHY: I certainly hope that they can, especially since it is in response to a congressional subpoena.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some of these Secret Service agents who were involved in these sensitive matters, specifically Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel. Have you, the committee, been able to interview these Secret Service agents under oath at least so far?

MURPHY: We have interviewed them, not necessarily under oath.

BLITZER: Why not under oath?

MURPHY: We are working at this point, especially after Ms. Hutchinson's testimony regarding what happened on that day, to bring them back in to speak with them.

I think what's important, though, isn't necessarily validating what Ms. Hutchinson said happened in that car, per se. It's about the broader picture.

BLITZER: When one of these Secret Service agents supposedly lunged at the president to prevent the president from ordering he be driven to the U.S. Capitol?

MURPHY: We know from multiple people the president wanted to go to the Capitol. How he expressed that desire --

BLITZER: Trump supposedly lunged at the Secret Service agent.

MURPHY: That's correct. But how he expressed his desire to go to the Capitol is a bit minor, I think, in my mind compared to the overall picture of what were the Secret Service detail assigned to the vice president thinking and doing, what were they planning to do with him? We know he wasn't willing to get in the car with them. Where were they planning to take him? What was happening? They clearly felt his life was in danger, and so, therefore, theirs would have been too as part of his detail, and yet, but somehow that incident didn't rank the kind of incident where the --

BLITZER: Did they confirm these two Secret Service agents what we heard from the other witness, Cassidy Hutchinson?

MURPHY: They were interviewed before she was. And so --

BLITZER: So, you haven't spoken to them since?

MURPHY: Not yet. But we intend to follow the facts wherever they lead and bring the folks who have relevant information before our committee so that we can get a full picture of this. But we have multiple people who have confirmed for us what the point of that vignette was, which was the president wanted to go to the Capitol despite the fact he may have known that the crowd was armed.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a very, very serious situation.

Representative Stephanie Murphy, thanks so much for joining us. We've got a lot going on right now.

MURPHY: It's great to be with you.

BLITZER: Stephanie Murphy of Florida.

Coming up, extreme heat taking a deadly toll in Europe and here in the United States. We'll have an update on the growing disaster and the new steps the Biden administration is now taking to try to tackle the climate crisis. Stay with us.



BLITZER: The extreme heat baking large regions of the United States right now has some cities across the country taking unprecedented steps to save people from life-threatening temperatures.

CNN Senior National Correspondent Ed Lavandera has the latest from Dallas.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, a growing heat wave now has about 110 million Americans under heat alerts, making millions miserable coast to coast. In Texas and Oklahoma, residents are enduring a string of record-setting high temperatures, several cities seeing temperatures over 110 degrees. Emergency officials in Tulsa are warning residents to take heat- related illnesses seriously and urging vulnerable populations, like the elderly and the homeless, to use the areas' cooling stations.

JOE KRALICEK, DIRECTOR, TULSA AREA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: The number one way that they can protect themselves and their loved ones from heat is by staying in an air conditioned building and to not be afraid to utilize their air conditioner.

LAVANDERA: The extreme heat and drought conditions are forcing many cattle ranchers to sell their cows earlier than usual because it's so difficult to care for their herds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're selling just out of desperation because you don't want to mistreat the animal and make it starve. It's up to mother nature and Go, just pray for rain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a hot day and it's a good time to come to the water.

LAVANDERA: Scorching temperatures are moving to the northeast. In Connecticut, firefighters are passing out water, and libraries have become cooling centers. In Philadelphia, people looking to get outside try to beat the heat early in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be hot. It's going to be like 95 and above all week. So, I try to get down here early.

LAVANDERA: West of Ft. Worth, Texas, firefighters are racing to contain several massive wildfires burning thousands of acres. [18:30:00]

99 percent of the state is now experiencing drought conditions. The fires in the area have already destroyed at least 16 structures, four of the properties belong to Beth Key's family.

BETH KEY, PARENTS LOST HOME IN CHALK MOUNTAIN FIRE: My parents lost their house, everything. My uncle lost his house. Another aunt lost everything. And another aunt is still battling out there, trying to keep her house.

LAVANDERA: There is no relief in sight from the heat wave gripping the country. Forecasters say brace for more punishing high temperatures.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In fact, it's getting worse and it's growing. It's expanding eastward, Tennessee Valley, up and down the East Coast from the big cities. Next week, the temperature trend shows getting worse. 87 percent of the U.S. next week will have temperatures above 90 degrees, over 20 percent above 100.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Wolf, the extreme hot temperatures that we're seeing across the country is being caused in large part by a high pressure system, which is essentially just camping out over the country. That's preventing clouds and precipitation from forming. And fittingly enough, Wolf, this weather phenomenon is known as the death ridge. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us, Ed, thank you very much.

President Biden speaking out today about the extreme heat but stopping short of formally declaring a national climate emergency.

Let's bring in our White House Correspondent M.J. Lee. M.J., as Americans are facing unprecedented heat waves, the president is calling climate change, and I'm quoting him now, a clear and present danger. What action is the White House planning to take?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. The president's message today could not have been more clear, and that is that the Earth is simply getting too hot. He pointed to a number of the different ways in which we are seeing climate change affect the country, including the wildfires that are raging across parts of the west, record-breaking temperatures, and he also said even something like supply chain issues are being exacerbated by extreme weather.

Now, we also saw him allude to this climate change deal and package that has basically stalled on Capitol Hill after Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia indicated over the weekend that he is concerned that that could add to inflation that is already too high. Now, the president saying in response to that that he is now going to try to take matters into his own hands.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world. So, my message today is this. Since Congress is not acting, as it should, and these guys here are, but we're not getting many Republican votes, this is an emergency, an emergency. And I will, I will look at it that way.


LEE: Now, the White House is talking about taking executive actions, focusing on two major areas. One is increasing funding for communities that are battling extreme heat conditions. And the second is investing more in offshore wind industry.

Now, this is a part of the reason why we saw the president today travel to Massachusetts where he spoke was a former coal plant that is being transformed into a wind energy farm.

So, this is the kind of transformation that, of course, the president would like to see more of. But as you mentioned, Wolf, one thing we did not hear from the president today is a declaration of national emergency when it comes to climate, that is something that the White House says is on the table but not an announcement that they're ready to make yet. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. CNN's M.J. Lee at the White House for us, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, much of Europe is also facing life-threatening heat that's straining infrastructure and stretching emergency services to their -- has the latest from just outside London. Salma?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, I'm in the area of Wennington just on the outskirts of London, one of the places devastated by wildfires yesterday as this country reached record-breaking temperatures. Over 40 degrees Celsius, that's 104 Fahrenheit, and the infrastructure here simply wasn't built for it. Rail services, train services, dozens of them canceled. People urged to stay at home.

But even staying at home is dangerous. Many people don't have air conditioning units. That means emergency services were overwhelmed. The London Fire Brigade says they had their busiest day yesterday since World War II. Their capacity stretched to the absolute limit.

Now, we have had the temperatures drop here today. We are getting a bit of relief, but officials are concerned with this climate crisis, there could be many more days like this in London's future. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz just outside London, thank you.

The situation is equally desperate in Italy right now where searing temperatures are also fueling raging wildfires.

CNN Contributor Barbie Nadeau has the latest from Rome. Barb? BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, Italy, like the rest of Europe, continues to bake under the sweltering heat of this incessant heat. Now, it's been hot here for more than a week, and these high temperatures are expected to last on -- extreme drought-like conditions up in the north of Italy that have led to wildfires, that have led to the shrinking of the Po River, which is used for irrigation and hydroelectricity, all of these factored in (ph).


We have also seen a number of wildfires that are just out of -- under these extreme conditions, as these fires just pop up -- a tinder box.

Here in Rome, the tourist plaza is normally very full. Tourists are doing everything they can to try to cool off and to still try to enjoy what they can of the city. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. CNN's Barbie Nadeau reporting from Rome, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we'll have a closer look at two key witnesses set to testify during tomorrow's prime time January 6th select committee hearing. What will they reveal about Donald Trump's actions as rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol?



BLITZER: All eyes tomorrow night on the House select committee's January 6th prime time hearing, and the testimony by two former Trump aides who quit in alarm at the former president's actions on January 6th.

CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes reports.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, two former Trump White House officials who resigned after the deadly Capitol attack on January 6th, tomorrow, testifying publicly after talking to the committee behind closed doors.

MATTHEW POTTINGER, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: One of my staff brought me a print-out of a tweet by the president. And the tweet said something to the effect that Mike Pence, the vice president, didn't have the courage to do what should have been done. I read that tweet and made a decision at that moment to resign. That's where I knew that I was leaving that day, once I read that tweet.

HOLMES: Pottinger, former deputy national security adviser, served under Trump for four years. The former journalist and Marine was brought into the White House as a top Asia adviser by Michael Flynn, who he worked for in the military. According to The New York Times, Pottinger told committee he alerted Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows the National Guard had still not arrived at the Capitol on January 6th.

Former Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews was one of several White House aides calling for Trump to condemn the violence on January 6th. A source tells CNN his inaction led to her resignation that night.

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He said that we could make the RINOs do the right thing is the way he phrased it. And no one spoke up initially, because I think everyone was trying to process what he meant by that.

HOLMES: Now, she will testify about what she experienced in the White House that day.

MATTHEWS: It was clear that it was escalating and escalating quickly. So, then when that tweet, the Mike Pence tweet, was sent out, I remember us 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.

HOLMES: The Kent State graduate has spent her adult life working in Republican politics, spending her college summers interning for Ohio Senator Rob Portman, then-Speaker of the House John Boehner, and helping with the 2016 Republican convention, joining Trump's re- election campaign before being brought over to the White House by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Their testimony comes after that of another young White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, whose bombshell revelations sent shockwaves through Washington.


HOLMES (on camera): And these two witnesses along with the former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, whose lengthy video testimony we expect to see tomorrow, is really going to help shape what this hearing is about, a behind the scenes look at what was going on at the White House during that 187 minutes when Trump was not acting and that violence was unfolding at the Capitol. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes, thanks for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you very, very much. Good report.

Coming up, what is the U.S. intelligence now say about Russian plans to formally annex even more Ukrainian territory? My interview with a key White House national security official, John Kirby, that's next.



BLITZER: We're following all the latest developments out of Ukraine where there are new indications tonight Russia is expanding its territorial ambitions beyond the Donbas region in the east. And joining me now, the coordinator for strategic communications over

at the National Security Council, retired U.S. Admiral John Kirby.

John, thanks so much for joining us. First, you say new intelligence indicates right now that Russia is moving ahead with plans to annex more Ukrainian territory in both the east and the south. Does Russia have a strong enough grip to do this? How soon could we see formal annexation?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: I think we -- we're looking to see some attempts at additional annexation, you know, in coming weeks, and maybe even less, Wolf. I mean, you heard the foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, today, basically confirm publicly in an interview what we confirmed from the podium yesterday, that they do in fact have larger, broader territorial objectives in mind inside Ukraine.

And what we said yesterday, we'll say again today. We're not going to tolerate that and neither will the international community.

BLITZER: So, let me follow on that. If you could speak directly to Putin, for example, what would you say about how the U.S. will respond if Russia annexes more Ukrainian land?

KIRBY: Well, we already laid some of that out yesterday. We're going to continue to work with our allies and partners to make sure to Mr. Putin he understands that's unacceptable. It won't be recognized by the international community.

We could obviously increase sanctions. We could add to the sanctions that are already in place. We could institute some visa bans as well. We could make life harder for some of these so-called officials that they're going to install in some of these, quote/unquote, annexed locations.

We're also going to be watching these sham referenda that we know that they're going to lay out before the Ukrainian people to sort of force them to basically submit to Russian rule.


So everybody is wise to this. This is the same playbook, Wolf, that he used back in 2014. We felt it was important, based on the information we were getting and seeing them increase their momentum towards further annexation to call it out for what it is so that Mr. Putin knows we know exactly what he's doing.

BLITZER: The Defense Secretary Austin today said the U.S. will send four HIMARS, these high mobility artillery rocket systems to Ukraine, that these alone won't necessarily win or lose the fight. What more can the United States provide to tip the scales out there on the battlefield?

KIRBY: We continue to work with the Ukrainians every day, as you heard Secretary Austin say, to make sure we're providing them in the capabilities they need in the fight they're in. That's why we do these in these iterations here because we want to stay relevant to the fight they're in.

Right now, these HIMARS, these advanced rocket systems have a deeper range, they give the Ukrainians time and space and give them distance away from Russian command posts, Russian supply depots, Russian ammunition depots, to make an impact on the battlefield.

Everything we're hearing from the Ukrainians is that they are making an impact. They are allowing the Ukrainians to strike deeper behind Russian lines, disrupting Russian operations and Russian maneuver capability.

So we're going to keep at this. You'll see this announcement later this week, and we'll work with the Ukrainians on future announcements.

BLITZER: Because the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, addressed the U.S. Congress today and specifically asked for more U.S. air defense systems to intercept Russian missiles, which she said are killing a lot of Ukrainian civilians.

Will the U.S. respond to this call?

KIRBY: Look, air defense has been a part and parcel of the support and security assistance we have been providing Ukraine literally since the beginning. At first, it was the Stingers, it was, you know, MANPADS basically, you know, manually operated individual surface-to- air missile capabilities. Then we were helping other nations provide Ukraine much more sophisticated, long-range air defense like the S-300 system that Slovakia was able to provide them.

So we are in constant communication with allies and partners about the kinds of sophisticated, capable air defense systems that Ukraine needs. We understand the need out there, and we're going to continue to work towards meeting it as best we can.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, John, what message does this send for Putin to visit Iran in hopes to getting new drones alongside -- and he was alongside the leader of Turkey, Erdogan, the president who's -- Turkey is a NATO ally?

KIRBY: Yeah. Look, I think this visit to Iran I think and the discussions that we know that the Russians are having about buying drones, it really says two things. One, it shows the degree to which Mr. Putin continues to be isolated by the rest of the world. That he has to go to Iran now to get drones to fight his war in Ukraine. It also shows the degree to which the sanctions and export controls are having an impact on his ability to prosecute that war. His defense industrial waste can't keep up, because they can't get the micro electronics they need. So he's going to Iran for that.

The other thing I would say is, it shows the degree to which Mr. Putin is not willing to end this war. He's not willing to sit down in good faith and negotiate with President Zelenskyy. He shows every indication quite the contrary, continuing to kill more Ukrainians, bombing and striking Ukrainian cities and villages in the east and the south. So, right now, that's what is most concerning. That's why it was so

important to hold that contact group today, talking to other nations about additional security assistance we can give to Ukraine to defend themselves against this onslaught.

BLITZER: But very quickly, what does it say that he was joined by a NATO ally on this visit to Iran?

KIRBY: Well, I won't speak for these leaders, but as I understand it, you know, President Erdogan has been dealing with President Putin and with Ukrainians on trying to get the grain shipments out from Odesa. And so, we welcome that work by President Erdogan, and we hope it's successful. We're clear eyed about it, but we're hoping that's successful.

BLITZER: John Kirby, thanks so much for joining us.

KIRBY: You bet.

BLITZER: Up next, there's growing Republican support for new legislation protecting same-sex marriage.



BLITZER: Congress is acting to try to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean is working the story for us.

Jessica, are Republicans in the Senate open to passing this bill?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that's what we asked them today. We reached out to all 50 Republican senators to see where they stand on this. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants to bring this bill, which passed the House to the floor on the Senate. He's looking for ten Republicans to get over that Senate filibuster that requires 60 votes.

So, here's what we know: four Republicans, four, so far say they are likely yeses, including Senator Portman and Senator Susan Collins, both who are co-sponsors of this legislation. Eight Senate Republicans that we spoke to said they weren't nos. Senator Marco Rubio telling that he sees this as a stupid waste of time, that it's not a necessary thing to do.

Sixteen of the senators we talked to today say they are undecided, and 22 we're still waiting to hear back from. But, Wolf, what we heard again and again is these Senate Republicans want to see this legislation first and read it and know exactly what is in it before they commit to this.

And again, Schumer is going to need those ten Republicans to make sure that they can get this over the finish line. That is the big question to see if they can do that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jessica Dean reporting to us from Capitol Hill, thank you.

A funeral today in New York for Ivana Trump, the first wife of Donald Trump and mother of three of Donald Trump's children -- Donald Trump, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump. They were there along with their partners, as well as the former president and his current wife, Melania.

The 73-year-old Ivana Trump died Thursday, last Thursday, in her New York home in what the medical examiner ruled an accidental death.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.