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Steve Bannon Found Guilty of Contempt of Congress; Secret Service Identifies Potentially Missing Texts; Trump & Pence Escalate Fight Over Future of GOP; U.N. Hails Deal to Ease Russia's Stranglehold on Ukraine's Grain Supply. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 22, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok @jaketapper or tweet the shot at @thleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to The Lead from whence you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call The Situation Room. Until then, I'll see you Sunday morning.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a jury finds Steve Bannon guilty of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the January 6th select committee. It's a major victory for the panel probing the U.S. Capitol riot.

Also tonight, with the committee vowing to push forward after last night's dramatic hearing, we're learning new information reported first on CNN, the U.S. Secret Service identifying potentially missing text messages sent on or around January 6th. I'll speak with a key member of the committee, just ahead.

And there are new details tonight about President Biden's condition as he recovers from COVID. Dr. Anthony Fauci is standing by live. We will discuss.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

We begin our coverage tonight with the guilty verdict in Steve Bannon's criminal contempt trial, the former top Trump adviser convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress for defying the January 6th committee's subpoena.

CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz is joining us from just outside the federal courthouse here in Washington. Katelyn, give us the latest.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, Steve Bannon was convicted today even though he had vowed this was going to be the misdemeanor from hell for the select committee. It was not that. By the end of the day, we had two criminal convictions of Steve Bannon.

Now, these were both misdemeanor charges, but Congress writes the law, and when they wrote this law, they said that it would be punishable by a minimum of 30 days in jail if someone was found guilty of defying a Congressional subpoena, being held in contempt, and that is what is happening for Steve Bannon. So, we're going to see him back in court in late October for his sentencing. There is some time between then and now.

But I wanted to start with what the House select committee had to say after this conviction came in. They're cheering it. The statement from the chairman and the vice chair of that committee was the conviction of Steve Bannon is a victory for the rule of law and an important affirmation of the select committee's work. Anyone who obstructs our investigation should face consequences. No one is above the law.

But right now, Steve Bannon has not turned over any information to the committee. Instead, we had these proceedings today, finding him guilty of trying to hold him accountable. And the way that this played out was that the prosecutor stood up and gave a closing argument where they compared this to a parking ticket. When you get a parking ticket, you have to pay it or you can try to fight it. If you don't pay it and you lose when you're trying to fight it, you still have to pay your parking ticket.

And so that's what they said about Steve Bannon. He got this subpoena, he tried to protest it. The committee rejected that idea and he still had to comply with the subpoena, which he ultimately did not.

In court, I was there, I was watching him. Bannon didn't react that strongly when this verdict was read. He was smirking a little bit. He thanked his lawyers. He patted them on the back. He nodded as the judge was thanking the jury for their service. But then here's what he said after court when he walked out. Here's Bannon.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We may have lost a battle here today, but we're not going to lose this war.

In the closing argument, the prosecutor missed one very important phrase, right? I stand with Trump and the Constitution and I will never back off that, ever.


POLANTZ: And, Wolf, there is a chance that this case does go on a little bit, his attorney, David Schoen, right after Bannon spoke outside of the court then vowed that they would be appealing and called it a bulletproof appeal. We'll have to see how that's how plays out now. Wolf?

BLITZER: We shall watch and see. All right, thanks very much, Katelyn Polantz, outside the federal courthouse here in Washington.

Turning now to new details on the January 6th investigation first reported right here on CNN, sources telling us the U.S. Secret Service has identified potential missing text messages on the phones of ten personnel.

CNN's Manu Raju has all the latest on the insurrection investigation.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, the January 6th committee pressing ahead, vowing to continue its investigation into the fall.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break.

RAJU: the committee building a public case against Trump, showing he knew his push to overturn the election violated the law and then did nothing to stop his supporters from storming the Capitol.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There can be no question that Donald Trump was at the absolute center of the conspiracy to overthrow the election and to assault our democracy. He did that.

RAJU: Lawmakers are planning to spend August interviewing new witnesses and writing their report detailing their filings. A key question, whether Trump should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think the president certainly has criminal exposure.

Like the worst thing we can do is put out something that says the president is above the law and can do this again, because I guarantee you it will happen again if we say that.

RAJU: Trump's inaction, the focus of Thursday night's prime time hearing for more than three hours, watching the attack unfold on T.V.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the secretary of defense that day?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the attorney general of the United States that day?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the secretary of homeland security that day?

CIPOLLONE: I'm not aware of that, no.

RAJU: Trump rejecting many pleas to tell the mob of his supporters to go home.

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I thought that we should condemn the violence and condemn it unequivocally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Pence cave, we're going to drag (INAUDIBLE) through the streets.

RAJU: Instead, inflaming tensions, including with a tweet attacking Vice President Mike Pence.

MATTHEW POTTINGER, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The tweet looked to me like the opposite of what we really needed at that moment, which was a de-escalation.

RAJU: Trump was on the phone with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who internally was pushing senators to slow down the certification of Joe Biden's victory in a last-ditch attempt to stay in power. As Trump went to the residence that night, he did not express concerns about the attack. Instead --

KINZINGER: He said only, quote, Mike Pence let me down.

RAJU: But the committee revealing that Trump's actions endangered Pence's life, radio communications from the V.P.'s Secret Service offering this chilling account.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just breached through the building. Hold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you remember, we need to move and move now. If we lose any more time, we may lose the ability to leave. So, if we're going to leave, we need to do it now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've gained access to the second floor and I've got public about five feet from me down here below.

RAJU: This testimony from a White House security official whose identity was kept anonymous for his own safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of the V.P. detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. There were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth.

RAJU: Even the day after the attack, outtakes of Trump's speech show he refused to say that this election is over.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This election is now over. Congress has certified the results. I don't want to say the election is over. I just want to say, Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over, okay? And to those who broke the law, you will pay. You do not represent our movement. You do not represent our country. And if you broke the law -- I can't say that. I'm not going to -- I already said you will pay. I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack yesterday -- yesterday is hard word for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just take that -- TRUMP: Take the word, yesterday, out because it doesn't work with the heinous attack on our country, say, on our country. Do you want to say that?

RAJU: Scrutiny also on GOP Senator Josh Hawley, who the committee says riled up the crowd with a fist pump before the riot began. Then when the mob breached the Capitol, Hawley fled. Even house GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who got into an intense swearing match with Trump on January 6th, appealing to Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for help.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They meaning Leader McCarthy and people on the Hill, because of the violence?

KUSHNER: He was scared, yes.


RAJU: Now, committee members tell me tonight that as part of their investigation that will continue, they plan to dig into why those Secret Service texts were missing from January 5th and January 6th, saying that they plan to get to the bottom of that situation.

Now, the Secret Service director, James Murray, did issue a statement about the cooperation that the service has with the committee, saying that he has directed them to fully cooperate with the committee. And he also said that they are now working to figure out when these personnel will be available for follow-up inquiries with the committee in the weeks ahead. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Manu, thank you very much, Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

Let's discuss all of this and more with CNN Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams, Defense Attorney, Shan Wu, and CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild.

Whitney, you reported first right here on CNN that metadata showed that ten Secret Service agents actually were texting on or around January 6th. What else do we know about that?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is that this is the result of an investigation that was conducted by the Secret Service after the House select committee instructed them by a subpoena to get to the bottom of what happened with those missing text messages.


We don't know what the content of those text messages were. But what we know, again, is that sources are telling us that there are ten devices that show metadata, that shows there were texts that were sent and received on these key dates around January 5th and 6th.

We also know that through this investigation, they have determined that 10 of 24 people who were of particular interest to the I.G. had no text messages at all. Three other people sent only personal text messages, Wolf. And then it was just the one person who saved that text message exchange.

BLITZER: Very interesting.

Nia, these officials clearly were key witnesses in what was going on. How significant is it that some of them are now lawyering up?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, listen, this is a serious investigation that the select committee is running. And folks who have talked to the committee have lawyered up. If you see in all of these videos, there are people who are talking to the committee and people who were sitting beside them are lawyers. And they're oftentimes talking to their lawyers and consulting with their lawyers, as they're interviewing with the committee.

What we know about that day is mainly from Cassidy Hutchinson, right, who talks about a confrontation between the president and a Secret Service agent, as he's trying to convince them to go to the Capitol. Cassidy Hutchinson said that she heard that the president tried to reach for the steering wheel.

Now, Secret Service agents, off the record, not under subpoena, not under oath, they have said, you know, they've disputed parts of that. But there has been other cooperation to her account of what happened that day.

So, their firsthand account and their firsthand experience of those crucial moments on January 6th are key to this investigation. It goes to what Donald Trump was doing and what he was thinking during those hours. So, the committee very much wants to hear from these folks.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly do.

Shan, the inspector general, as you know, has launched a criminal investigation into these missing text messages. What does that tell you?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it tells me what we're all suspicious about, they're also thinking about that as well. I mean, it was just two big of a day for those messages just to have disappeared because of a normal type of device replacement. So, they're doing the right thing by that.

I mean, the service has been very troubled recently, so I think it's important for homeland security to really take a rigorous look at what's happening there. So, I applaud that effort.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Elliot, the hearing last night, certainly did provide a lot more insight into then President Trump's thinking of what was going on, his state of mind back on January 6th. Let me play this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: She looked directly at me and in a hushed tone, shared with me that the president did not want to include any sort of mention of peace in that tweet, and that it took some convincing on their part, those who were in the room, and she said that there was a back and forth, going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with. And it wasn't until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase, stay peaceful, that he finally agreed to include it.


BLITZER: She was recounting what Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, had told her that day.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Now, certainly, intent is going to be at the center of any criminal charge, Wolf. You always have to prove that the person intended to commit the crime. And I know it sounds really basic and simple, but it is.

Now, any of these things are going to speak to Donald Trump's intent. Another thing, 1:39 P.M., he's watching Fox News, and there's an account that Fox is talking about how responsive the folks out -- on the grounds of the Capitol were to his words and how they were following him. That can speak to whether he intended to whip them up or whether his inaction was intended to whip them up.

So, all of these things could speak to which actions he sought to have carried out.

BLITZER: It was interesting, last night, we learned that some Secret Service agents in Vice President Pence's detail actually were fearing for their lives, Whitney, as this was unfolding on January 6th, the insurrection, the riot that was going on up on Capitol Hill. It was Pence who eventually wound up calling in the military, not the sitting president of the United States. What does that say?

WILD: I mean, it's all stunning. I mean, I've had sources reached out to me to say they're just floored. And I think what is so shocking and gut-wrenching about what we heard that day is what you point out about the Secret Service agents, who really believe that this might be it, that they might die.

And you just consider that these are some of the most highly trained people with excellent tactical skills, as well as firearm skills and still thought that this mob might end up taking their own lives. I spoke with one law enforcement source today who put it to me like this, Wolf. He said, think about all the times that Pence has traveled, all of the places he has gone. He's gone to corners of the world and who would have thought that the biggest threat he would face would come from less than a mile from the White House and be whipped up by the president himself.

BLITZER: Really amazing, what was going on. All right, guys, thank you very, very much, Nia-Malika Henderson, Elliot Williams, Shan Wu and Whitney Wild, very important conversation.

[18:15:14] Just ahead, we'll get more with a key member of the January 6th select committee. Congresswoman Zoe Loftgren is standing by live. We will discuss when we come back.

And we'll also talk one-on-one later this hour with Dr. Anthony Fauci about President Biden's COVID case. We just got an update, by the way, from the White House.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: More now on our top story, a federal jury finding former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

Joining us now, a key member of that committee, Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

First, what message does Steve Bannon's guilty verdicts send to any other witnesses who are maybe on the fence right now about cooperating with your committee's investigation?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I hope it gives the message that this is not just a request, it's an obligation, it's a legal obligation, and if you fail to live up to that legal obligation, there can be consequences. So, I think it's an important decision.


BLITZER: Sources are telling CNN that there are some ten Secret Service officials whose phones have metadata showing text messages around January 6th, but those messages weren't saved. Was this incompetence, Congresswoman, or was it a cover-up?

LOFGREN: Well, we have concerns about the information that we have received and not received from the Secret Service. And, you know, we've been asking for information for quite some time after the subpoena was delivered. Documents that have been asked for, for quite some time started to emerge. That in itself is troubling.

We are concerned, of course, which we knew before the select committee was even established, the chair and the four committees in the House, Homeland, Oversight, Judiciary, and Intelligence wrote to the Secret Service and ordered them to retain all the records, that was on January 16th, all of the records related to January 5th and 6th. And it was 11 days later that the text messages were erased. So, that is very troubling. Frankly, I'm concerned about the inspector general's apparent decision to have the service stop trying to use forensic tools to recover. That could also disrupt our investigation.

So, there're a lot of questions and quite a few serious concerns about the information we haven't received from Secret Service.

BLITZER: The Secret Service director issued a statement saying they're, quote, finalizing dates and times for their personnel to speak with your committee. Will that include Tony Ornato and Robert Engel, who witnessed Trump's demanding to be taken to the U.S. Capitol on that day?

LOFGREN: Well, I'm sure it will. You know, we have questions, let me just put it that way. I think it's well established that president wanted and intended to go to the Capitol during the rally and after the rally. We have that established from other witnesses. So, Ms. Hutchinson testified about what she was told but certainly we have the Metropolitan police officer reporting about the heated argument, something he'd never encountered in a hundred trips with the presidential motorcades, the president insisting that he be brought to the Capitol. That's the real question. And I think it's well- established that that is a fact.

BLITZER: Because I know you say that Ornato, Engel and the motorcade driver, for that matter, have all hired private legal counsel right now. What does that say about the level of cooperation? And do you know if their legal counsel is actually being paid for by Trump political committees?

LOFGREN: Well, that is the question, isn't it. You know, every person has a right to bring a lawyer with them when they come to be interviewed by Congress. So, you know, they have that right, but, certainly, that is a good question you've asked.

BLITZER: And you don't know the answer to it yet?

LOFGREN: Well, I'm not in a position to speak to that at this point.

BLITZER: And you do know the answer but you can't discuss it? Is that what you're saying?

LOFGREN: I'm not going to say more than that.

BLITZER: All right. Congresswoman Zoe Loftgren, we will continue this conversation down the road. Thank you so much for joining us.

LOFGREN: Okay. Thank you, take care, have a good weekend.

BLITZER: Thank you, you too.

Coming up, the White House just updating us on President Biden's COVID condition, we'll talk about it with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's standing by to join us live.



BLITZER: President Biden is said to be improving, according to the White House doctor, but also taking additional medication right now to treat his COVID infection. The president's COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, gave us an update just a little while ago.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 REPONSE COORDINATOR: He's continuing to be monitored very, very closely. It's obviously day -- it's day one, but it's his second day since his infection was identified. I'm really happy to see that he is getting better and we will continue to monitor him very closely until he is -- until he tests negative.


BLITZER: All right. Let's get some more now with the president's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Fauci, thanks so much for joining us.

Have you had a chance to speak to President Biden since he tested positive? Do you have any update on his condition?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I have not spoken to the president directly, but I'm in very close contact with Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who is the primary physician to the president.

And as you just heard, the president is really doing quite well. He's now into his first full day. He's on Paxlovid and he has symptomatology still but it is improving. He had a bit of a mild temperature that responded very well to Tylenol but he's been able to perform functions today, and we fully expect, given the fact that he's vaccinated, he's doubly boosted, and he's on a very effective antiviral drug, Paxlovid, that clearly has a very good track record in preventing people to progress to severe disease.


And that's the reason why, although there's never any guarantee, we feel quite optimistic that the president is already on his way to recovery.

BLITZER: So, what specifically, Dr. Fauci, will White House physicians be monitoring in the coming days to see whether the president of the United States is actually improving.

FAUCI: Well, just his general physical condition. You look whether he has a temperature, whether the temperature persists. The cough, he has a mild cough. If that gets worse, you monitor the oxygen saturation. And you just generally get a feel for how his breathing is, for how he's feeling.

The good news, as I mentioned, Wolf, from yesterday to today, according to his physicians who clearly are right there with him, he actually appears to be clinically better. Not completely over it, still has some symptomatology. As you heard him, he still has somewhat of a hoarse type of a voice associated with a bit of a cough, but things appear to be going in the right direction. We have to follow him carefully and make sure that he stays in that right direction. BLITZER: When will we get to hear directly, Dr. Fauci, from the president's White House physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, and ask him some questions?

FAUCI: You know, Wolf, to be honest with you, I don't know. I mean, I'm not in that loop about the decision, about who is going to be out there speaking. I mean, I have the leeway in the sense of back and forth with Kevin O'Connor, Dr. O'Connor, and we speak frequently. He asks me my advice about certain things regarding the medications.

But to be honest with you, Wolf, I don't know why. They may change their mind and have him out there. But I believe they feel that given the questions that are asked, that the combination of having someone like Dr. Jha or myself who speaks with the doctor, who is the primary doctor, is good enough. That might change, I don't know. I just -- I'm not in that loop.

BLITZER: Yes. We did get a letter from Dr. O'Connor, explaining what's going on, but certainly we would like to be able to ask him some questions.

You yourself just recovered from COVID, Dr. Fauci. You had to take two courses of that treatment, of that Paxlovid, after your symptoms rebounded. How concerned are you that President Biden could have a similar rebound?

FAUCI: Well, the one thing we have to be careful of not confusing the viewers and the general public, is that Paxlovid did for me, and we expect it will do for the president, exactly what it was meant to do, is to diminish dramatically the likelihood that we'll have progression of disease that would lead to hospitalization.

When you hear about rebound, people get confused. Rebound generally, when it occurs, and there are a lot of different studies talking about different percentages, but it is probably a relatively low percentage, though we need to learn more about that, it is generally a rebound of a positive test that was antigen negative, the way mine was for three days in a row, and then it turned positive.

And with that, I developed some mild symptoms, which when I went back on Paxlovid, which was a decision of my private physician. I don't make decisions about my own health. He put me back on it, within 18 hours, I was feeling good again after five days, and I finished it, and I've been negative multiple times ever since.

So, it isn't a concern that the president is going to get into trouble with a rebound, because almost all the rebounds, when they do occur -- and they certainly don't occur in everyone, when they do occur, they occur mildly with either no symptoms and just the lab tests. But when you look at what it actually does, what it does seems to be very sound, is that when people take Paxlovid, they have a very good chance of not progressing to severe disease. So, the drug, Wolf, is doing what we're asking the drug to do.

BLITZER: I asked the question, Dr. Fauci, because you've said that when you rebounded, after Paxlovid, the first treatment of Paxlovid, your symptoms, you said, were, quote, much worse than in the first go- around. So, what sort of symptoms did you have?

FAUCI: Sure. I'll tell you exactly. I had a little bit of a runny nose and a mild sore throat the first time, which prompted my taking the test that turned out to be positive pip positive. I went on Paxlovid, it disappeared by the next morning. When I had a rebound, I had a little bit of a fever, not very much at all.


I took Tylenol, it went down, I had some muscle aches for a while, went to bed, woke up, and after the first couple of doses of Paxlovid, that all went away.

So, we've got to be careful what you mean by much worse. Much worse is relative. So, I went from some sniffles and a sore throat to having a little bit discomfort of a fever and a runny nose for about 18 hours. So, it wasn't like I was really seriously ill, not even close to that. In fact, I didn't interrupt any of my functions. I all did it virtually by Zoom.

BLITZER: Yes. When I said, much worse, Dr. Fauci, I was quoting what you had actually said, that your symptoms the second time around were much worse.

FAUCI: Yes, everything is relative, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Good to know. How are you doing right now, by the way?

FAUCI: I feel great, I'm back to normal. Thank you.

BLITZER: Good. It's so encouraging to hear that. Dr. Fauci, thanks so much for joining us.

FAUCI: Good to be with you. Thank you again, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Good luck. Thank you.

Just ahead, forecasters now say there's no end in sight for the heat wave that's been scorching the United States. We'll have an update on the dangerous and deadly weather right after the break.



BLITZER: Forecasters now say the extreme temperatures roasting much of the United States won't let up until at least the end of the month.

CNN's Brian Todd is tracking the scorching weather for all of us.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Residents of the Astoria neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens without power yesterday in the middle of a crippling heat wave. DEBBIE WALSTEIN, NEW YORK RESIDENT: It's horrible, it's horrible. I sat outside here from 10:00 to 4:00 this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's too hot inside, so I'm sitting outside.

TODD: But New York is not alone. Record-breaking heat is expected throughout the northeastern U.S. this weekend, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

ALLISON CHINCHA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The forecast for Boston on Sunday is 98 degrees. If they hit that mark, it will break a 90-degree record for the day.

TODD: Heat waves across the U.S. are dangerous and deadly, temperatures in the southwest, central plains, and Mississippi River Valley soaring past 100 degrees. The city of Dallas has just recorded its first heat-related death of the year. And in Maricopa County, Arizona, officials say at least 29 people have died from heat-related issues since March.

What's the most common mistake people make in weather like this?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The most common mistake people make is trying to tough it out, trying to think that it's just going to cool off, just trying to think this is just a little bit of sweatiness, a little bit of nausea, this is no big deal.

You can get to a point where you can start to become confused and lethargic and tired. And at that point, it might be too late for you to even have the wherewithal to call for help. The second most common mistake is not checking on your loved ones and your neighbors.

TODD: About 85 percent of U.S. population, more than 270 million people could see temperatures spiking past 90 degrees over the next week and about 55 million Americans could see temperatures at or above 100 in the same time period.

At Miami International Airport, thousands of baby chickens were found dead from excessive heat after being left for hours in cardboard boxes on the tarmac. As grass dies off from the heat thinning pastures, some ranchers in the plains and southwest have to send the cattle they can't feed to slaughter.

STEVE STAFFORD, ASSISTANT MANAGER, PRATTY LIVESTOCK, WILMORE, KANSAS: I do fear in 30 days that something doesn't change, we're going to have a lot of whole herd dispersals


TODD (on camera): And deadly heat waves are persisting across Europe as well. This week, Britain recorded its hottest temperature ever, over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And the World Health Organization says more than 1,700 people have died in Spain and Portugal due to this current heat wave. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd report for us, thank you, Brian.

Coming up, Donald Trump and Mike Pence ramp up their proxy war over the future of the Republican Party with dueling events in Arizona.



BLITZER: Former President Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence are now taking their growing feud to Arizona, where the two men are backing competing candidates in a fight for the future of the GOP. Trump backing Kari Lake, who repeats his lies and conspiracies about the presidential election, and Pence backing Karrin Taylor Robson, a businesswoman who has the support of Governor Doug Ducey.

Let's continue this discussion right now with CNN's Michael Smerconish.

Michael, thanks so much for joining us. How big of a test is this of these two men's endorsements?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a curiosity, it's fun to watch. In the end, I think that these proxy wars, there's only so much value to what they portend for the future, because it's not Pence and Trump whose names will appear on the ballot.

It's interesting and it's a sign I think of this burgeoning gap between two. Donald Trump's frailties and limitations are playing themselves out in prime-time in these January 6th hearings.

But, you know, Wolf, it's hard for me to see wherein lines the lane for the former vice president. Because for some, he's insufficiently MAGA, because in the end, he didn't do what President Trump wanted him to do, I would add, thankfully, but to others, he was the vice president for Donald Trump for four years and ran with him for almost a year prior, so he's too tied to Trump.

And I don't see how in this incarnation of a Republican Party, there's a crowd sufficient for him to win a nomination.

BLITZER: That's a good point. You know, the former Vice President Pence, he did say in Arizona today, Michael, that -- and I'm quoting him now, the Republican Party is the party of the future.

But Trump is still obsessed, clearly, with 2020, and he still has quite a grip on the party, doesn't he?

SMERCONISH: Well, yes, and with regard to 2020, let us not forget that although that the plot line relative to Vice President Pence has dominated -- I mean, look at what happened last night and what we learned about the 187 minutes.

In the end, the former vice president is going through this dance. He wanted his story told through individuals close to him by individuals like marc short, but he could have been there himself.


Imagine how different it might have been, Wolf, if you had the first- person account of the individual whose head they were calling for outside and the mob got to, what, within 30 feet of him. And yet, he opted not to do that. Why? Because he didn't want to antagonize that Trumpian base.

And what does that tell us about the Republican Party? To me, that it's still Trump's GOP.

BLITZER: You know, the select committee's hearings loom over all of this as we all know. The Vice Chair Liz Cheney last night posed a question to all Americans. I want you and our viewers to watch this.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Every American must consider this: Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6th ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?


BLITZER: Michael, how do you think today's GOP will answer that important question?

SMERCONISH: Sadly, today's GOP largely tuned out. I mean, we were watching, paying attention. It was carried on the three broadcast networks. It was carried, of course, here on CNN and MSNBC.

But, you know, not a sentence of it was carried live on the outlet of choice for much of the GOP. So to them it's like a non-event.

I think it's been a compelling case. It just reinforced that which I had been led to believe based on following it closely, but we have a problem in this country in that many aren't paying attention.

BLITZER: Let me also ask you while I have you, Michael, about this very disturbing incident yesterday in New York. Congressman Lee Zeldin who's running for governor, thwarted an assault. This suspect tried to stab Zeldin. We're still waiting to confirm details on the suspect for a possible motive.

But how high is the risk of violence right now for politicians?

SMERCONISH: Escalating I would say, and let me tell you what doesn't rein in violence in my view. What doesn't rein in violence is to have a videotape of someone attacking a public servant, a congressman no less with some kind of a weapon, unclear to me, and that person is released the same night?

Oh, no, there's a problem with the system I think if that individual is out on the street. And what kind of a deterrent does that serve to someone who might be contemplating something tomorrow?

BLITZER: Yeah, good point indeed. Michael Smerconish, as usual, thank you very much.

SMERCONISH: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: An important note to all of our viewers, be sure to watch "SMERCONISH" tomorrow morning, every Saturday morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. Excellent, excellent program.

Up next, the biggest diplomatic breakthrough in Russia's war against Ukraine and how it could help ease hunger for millions of people around the world. We're going live to Kyiv. That's next.



BLITZER: Concern about famine in some of the world's most vulnerable countries is easing slightly tonight after a deal freeing up tons of Ukrainian grain.

Let's go to CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. He's got the latest. He's joining us from Kyiv right now.

What are you learning, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, Wolf, this could really make a difference to some of those nations that are beginning to run out of food supply. The global food insecurity could be really helped by this.

But what struck me watching the signing ceremony in Istanbul today, at the beginning of the story you're going to see in a few seconds here, you see two people shaking hands, and you might any that that's the Russian and Ukrainian. It's not. It's the Russian and Turkish defense ministers.

The Russian and Ukrainian ministers never sit down at the table together to sign the deal, and that really tells you about the tensions that are still there behind this very important diplomatic breakthrough.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): In Istanbul, the biggest diplomatic breakthrough in Russia's war against Ukraine, a deal to ease Russia's stranglehold on Ukraine and get its grain 1/5 of the world's supply to market.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: It will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.

ROBERTSON: Since the war began, Russia has attacked and blockaded Ukraine's ports burnt wheat fields, stolen harvest from farmers. Until now, Russia has been holding the world's grain hostage. The new deal aims to end that by creating safe shipping channels, using Ukrainian pilots to navigate through sea mines. Implementation overseen by Turkey includes inspecting cargoes.

Russia's defense chief and Ukraine's infrastructure minister sign the deal, but not with each other. Separately with the UN.

Tensions remain and the deal fragile with no hard ceasefire at ports.

An adviser to President Zelenskyy's chief of staff tweeting: In case of provocations, an immediate military response.

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Ukraine does not trust Russia. I don't think anyone has reasons to trust Russia. We invest our trust in the United Nations as the driving force of this agreement.

ROBERTSON: Speaking in Istanbul, Russia's defense chief indicating what they got from the deal. The UN lifting restrictions on their food and fertilizer exports, despite their responsibility triggering the current calamity.

Ukrainian officials say 20 million tons of grain has stuck in port and exports could begin in days, likely using ships stuck in port since the war began.


ROBERTSON (on camera): And agricultural experts here are saying if there's going to be successful, it will have to lead to international shipping agencies being prepared to ensure ships coming into Ukraine in the future, i.e., no breakdown in cease fire at all, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting for us, an important story. Thanks very much.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.