tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN June 22, 2022 8:00am-9:00am PDT
president biden looking for a gas tax holiday but will it pass? the senate passing the first gun legislation in years as frustration grows in uvalde. that's what we're watching this hour. we begin with the house insurrection committee revealing new evidence of donald trump's personal involvement in a coordinated effort to target and intimidate state election officials. the committee highlighting the courage of the people who refuse to be intimidated, who continue to do their jobs and to stand up to those efforts. the committee used the fourth public hearing to highlight just how severe the threats to our democracy is. that threat that was faced in the days and weeks after the 2020 election, as the former president and his aides promoted the big lie to put forward slates of fake electors in key battleground states. we also learned in the hearings that trump's personal attorney rudy giuliani admitted they have no evidence of fraud to back up these dangerous claims, and the
plan. four election officials provided emotional testimony about the dangers they faced for standing up to the attacks and were determined to do their duty despite the unrelenting pressure campaign. >> it is a at ttenet of my fait that the constitution is divinely inspired of my most foundational beliefs. for me to do that just because somebody asked me to is foreign to my very being. i will not do it. >> let's begin this hour with cnn's manu raju who is live on capitol hill and senator ron johnson's chief of staff tried to pass these fake electors on directly to vice president mike pence. you tracked down the senator yesterday. what did he say?
>> reporter: he acknowledged he actually knew about this. this ask came on january 6th morning before mike pence came to capitol hill to oversee the joint session of congress that, to certify joe biden's victory before the violence that occurred that day and according to the text messages that were revealed by this committee, pence said johnson's chief of staff offered fake electors from michigan and wisconsin to mike pence's, one of mike pence's aid and in that text message, johnson wanted to hand deliver this to pence on that day. pence responded, do not deliver it to him. when i caught up with johnson yesterday, i asked him about this. he downplayed the role even though he said he knew about it and chief of staff, passed it along and he said it was information passed along by someone whose identity he said he simply did not know. >> didn't even offer without vetting it. >> we got handed, and was
supposed to go to the vice president. didn't know. so we called out to the vice president. he didn't want it, we didn't deliver it. >> such a non-story. >> are you going to ask your aides about who this person was? >> we literally don't know the staff, somebody from the house, some staff intern. the vice president needs this or whatever. i wasn't involved. i don't know what they said. >> he says some staff interim on the house side of the capitol provided information to the chief of staff and reached out to the vice president's office at the time said he didn't know which house office was behind this and also didn't indicate any interest of finding out exactly who was involved in it. downplaying this matter, much ado about nothing. one came out was andy biggs, the congressman from arizona who did urge the speaker of the state house, rusty bowers, to overturn joe biden's victory in the state. bowers testified he resisted
that request. >> a lot coming out there and we're not done. the next hearing scheduled for thursday. what's the focus tomorrow, ma simanu? >> justice department officials and the pressure campaign that trump era department officials faced from donald trump. his allies to use the power of the federal government, and that department to try to lean on states to overturn the electoral results. we're going to hear testimony from some key witnesses, including jeffrey rosen, who's the former acting attorney general at the time. we've seen some testimony from him come out already, pushing back on donald trump. richard donoghue and then steven engel from the office of legal counsel. he pushed what he knew was illegal and leaning on the government to overturn the election and then the real life consequences of threats faced to these individuals, so we'll hear from them in person and the committee promising even more
information as they may, after this hearing, have a bit of some down time as they process new evidence and look into future hearings likely in july. erica? >> looking for all that, manu, appreciate it. thank you. chief legal analyst jeffrey toobin, with us, political analyst, jackie kusinich. as we go through all the new yesterday, part of that was the call that donald trump made to the head of the rnc. i want to play a portion of that. >> what did the president say what he called you? >> essentially turned the call over to mr. eastman who then proceeded to talk about the rnc campaign gathering incontingent electors with the legal challenges, changing the result, more just helping them reach out
and assemble them. my understanding is the campaign did take the lead, and we just were helping them in that role. >> laid out and did all the asking or the former president who did the asking? >> i think that's significant because, you know, a lot of what's gone on here is the question of, did the president or did eastman commit a crime? you know, these contingent electors is an interesting phrase. they weren't contingent. they were invented. they were fake. i mean, being an elector is a government position. you can't just say a group of people are the presidential ele electors. however, the fact that the president was relying on the advice of john eastman who was a law professor, former supreme court law clerk, may well insulate him from any sort of
criminal liability because he could always say, hey, look, this was a legal strategy that my lawyer john eastman devised. if it wasn't valid, blame him, don't blame he. i think that's actually likely to be an effective defense if this were ever to be considered as a criminal matter. >> the fact, you bring up this really important point too, a sheet of paper with so-called fake electors on it. electors are not just some random people, right? these are, as you point out, official government roles which made it more interesting, i thought, jackie, when manu did track down senator johnson and as he asked all these questions, the senator didn't seem interested, really, to get to the bottom of it, to understand where this request had come from, how this had really gotten to the point where someone passed this information on to the former vice president. can you put this into perspective for us, jackie? >> it just shows another sitting member of congress potentially
involved in all of this. as manu asked the questions, point out it went from, oh, the house office with an intern. this was high-ranking person in the office who he didn't know what he was doing? that just seems unusual, as to how things work on the hill but johnson is not alone. let's not forget, scott perry, congressman out of pennsylvania, asked trump for a pardon in a different hearing. you had andy biggs who manu mentioned, give the top republican in the state a call and ask him to accept, to sign away the election in arizona. so it really, i mean, as the hearing goes on, more and more names are added to this list of people that are lawmakers, that are actually elected to uphold the constitution involved in this scheme. >> and remember too, that the text from the chief of staff doesn't just say any old envelope that needs to be passed to the vice president.
he says what's in the envelope. he says they are the fake electors, so it's not like, we were just acting as, like, a messenger service. the chief of staff knew the magnitude and importance of what the envelope contained. >> some of the other moments, i have to say, that really stood out to me is just how far-reaching this campaign of intimidation went. it went far beyond the election officials who were targeted the people doing their jobs. i want to play a little bit of what we heard. >> some people broke into my daughter-in-law's home and my son passed and she's a widow and has two kids. we're very concerned about her safety also. >> a call from my grandmother saying there were people at her home and they knocked on the door and say who was there and
who it was and they just started pushing their way through, claiming that they were coming in to make a citizens arrest. >> a daughter-in-law, somebody's grandmother. i know that her mother had actually filed some civil suits but beyond that, what kind of recourse is there here? their lives were literally up ended and still dealing with the consequences. >> the people who did this, the people who threatened them, the people who harassed them could be criminally prosecuted. it was true in arizona as well. i think it's worth pausing to recognize the pervasiveness of right-wing violence that we've seen in this country and january 6th was not just the hundreds of people trying to get into the capitol. it was the harassment in arizona, in north carolina. earlier, it was the attempt to kidnap the governor of michigan, before that, the mass shooting in pittsburgh and el paso and in
buffalo, it's all connected. >> there's this moment that, really quick, i keep going back to in my head when you hear descriptions of what these women and election officials went through. dave sterling, also there, standing behind the podium in december telling people to stop, warning that people could be killed, warning that this misinformation was putting people's lives in jeopardy, and yet, it continues, and obviously, culminated on the 6th and continues to this day. i can't imagine the women and officials don't go home to a bunch of text messages because they said it hadn't stopped. >> you're absolutely right. appreciate you both. coming up, the president unveils a plan for a federal gas tax holiday but what's the real impact? is it going to lower the price the next time you go to the pump, or is this really more about politics?
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are you a christian author with a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! this afternoon, president biden will call on congress to suspend the gas tax for three months. feeling the heat from prices at the pump, will urge states and oil companies to take action. now, the white house claims the combination of the moves could lower gas prices by as much a dollar a gallon. economists, however, not so sure about that math. joining me now, cnn's john harwood and cnn's matt egan. good to see you both. as we look at this, there's this announcement coming today, as much as a dollar a gallon. a lot of people are saying, interesting math there. president obama called this a gimmick when asked about it in the campaign in 2008, this gas
tax freeze. can you give us a reality check? what's actually going to happen here for the american consumer? >> reporter: well, erica, president obama called it a gimmick because as almost any economist, democrat or republican can tell you, it is a gimmick. it doesn't solve the underlying problem which is driving up gas prices. to the extent in succeeds at lowering them a bit, it's likely to encourage people to drive more and create offsetting boost in demand and push the price up and obviate that benefit and also takes money away from the government that the government needs to build infrastructure and that sort of thing, however, it is a politically useful gimmick which is why you so often see president if and presidential candidates reaching for it. it's one of the things they can offer an answer and at least say it's possible that it will do something for the consumer. >> possible that it will do
something if they actually make it happen, which it doesn't sound like there's a lot of support. adding to inflation? >> no one likes taxes or high gas prices, so this is a way for them to sort of show that they're taking a big swing or at least trying to. but to john's point, there are some serious problems here and just because things poll well doesn't mean it's necessarily smart policy. >> wait, what? >> not always the same thing. >> noted. >> like john said, this does nothing to fix supply. it actually supports demand at a time when demand can't keep up with supply. moody's economist told me he's concerned this could be inflationary and there's no guarantee that energy companies are going to pass along the entire savings here. and then the fact that this money funds the building of highways at a time when the construction of the building has gone up because of rising costs for building materials and
labor. so there's a lot of issues here, and i think it does show why obama in 2008 called it a gimmick. >> you pointed out all the issues, the bottom line financial issues, john. there are also the political issues. so while this may poll well, maybe it sounds good politically, but if you're proposing something that doesn't have the support of even all the members of your party in congress, i mean, how is this seen as a win by the white house? >> reporter: well, i think there's a couple of ways they can try to make the argument to themselves that it's a win. one, if they get it and it drops gas prices by a few cents, assume that the oil companies keep some of the fruits of the gas tax holiday and consumers get a little bit of it. gas prices are right on the edge of $5 a gallon. i think the white house considers it psychologically important to have that under $5 a gallon, so a small lowering of
the price would have a benefit. if it doesn't pass, i think what the white house would do is blame republicans and congress for not tax cut and then the president could say in this midterm election year, i tried to cut gas taxes to give you relief at the pump. republicans blocked me. look at the contrast between my party and their party. >> we'll see how it plays out. i want to touch on, we just heard from jerome powell, concern about interest rates and the recession. let's play that moment. >> sbinterest rates go too high too fast, drive us into a recession? >> certainly a possibility. not the intended outcome, but certainly a possibility and frankly, events of the last few months around the world have made it more difficult for us to achieve what we want. which is 2% inflation and still a strong labor market.
>> certainly a possibility. that says a lot. >> it does. and that's what we're hearing from investors. marking down from ceos. consumers worried about this. the fed is raising rates at the fastest pace in decades. that means spiking borrowing costs in a credit-sensitive economy. we're seeing that play out in the housing market, but the last part of what jerome powell said there is key, because he's basically saying that the chances of getting a soft landing, where they tame inflation without causing a recession have gone down because of the war in ukraine, china covid lockdown and all of these issues made it harder to get a soft landing, increase the chances of a hard landing with the recession. >> so uplifting. not your fault. you're the messenger, matt. we appreciate you being the messenger as always. matt egan and john harwood, to you both. a small change in currency to mark a historic moment.
president biden appointing the first native american woman will oversee the u.s. mint and new office of tribal affairs. her appointment also marks the first time two women will have their signatures on u.s. currency. good news. coming up, the first bipartisan gun and reform bill in decades moving full speed ahead in the senate after clearing a major hurdle. a closer look at what is in the bill, almost as interesting as what's not in it. live details from capitol hill are next. no, he's seizing the moment with merrill. moving his money into his investment account in real time and that's... how you collect coins. your money never stops working for you with merrillll, a bank of america a company. with less moderate-to-severe eczema, why hide your skin if you can help heal your skin from within? dupixent helps keep you one step ahead oeczema with clearer skin and less itch. hide my skin? not me.
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major movement in the effort to stop gun violence in america. the senate voting to advance a bipartisan bill that would toughen federal gun laws. if it passes, it would be the most significant gun legislation in nearly 30 years. of course, the bill, not there yet. still has more hurdles to clear. cnn's lauren fox live on capitol hill this morning with more of the details for us. lauren, good morning. >> reporter: good morning. one of the things that happened last night that is a sign of progress here, erica, the fact
they were able to get 14 republicans to move this bill forward. now, the big vote is coming up tomorrow. we expect that we will see another group of republicans helping to overcome the filibuster. that's going to be something to watch. after that, they'll have to do final passage. still a few more steps in the process but this legislation, very significant, and i talked earlier today to senator chris coons who told me there were many parttimes over the weekend the negotiators tried to hash out the final pieces over the weekend where it fell apart and includes millions of dollars in investments for school security, mental health, incentives to get states to pass red flag laws and continue the process of trying to stop violence before it happens with the criminal intervention programs. there is also additional screening for people between the ages of 18 and 21 who go and buy
a gun at a gun store. they're trying to encourage people and states to put mental health records and juvenile records in the national instant criminal background check system. this bill also closes the so-called boyfriend loophole meaning that people who are con victim convicted of domestic violence whether they're married or not are barred from buying or having guns. that's something democrats have been trying to do for the last decade, erica? >> it is significant. thank you for keeping us posted on the developments. the vote comes four weeks after the gunman murdered 19 students and two teachers at robb elementary school in uvalde, texas. the texas state senate holding a special hearing on school safety in the aftermath of the massacre. the state's top public safety official testified that the uvalde police response was a, quote, abject failure.
10-year-old amery jo garza was one of them. the father spoke in response to the police failures. >> i don't get how you can hear these kids, you know, crying and asking for help, but you're scared to enter because your commander doesn't want you to go in. somebody said at the school board meeting the other day that the kids were probably lying there, just thinking where their parents were. and we were right outside. i was trying to get in, i was put into handcuffs.
but the ones who told me to trust them didn't save my daughter or any of the other kids. >> cnn's rosa flores is live in uvalde this morning rosa, every time we hear from a parent from a member of the community, your heart sinks a little further. >> reporter: it does, and everything that's happening here in uvalde and in austin with all of these dramatic hearings that we've been following, you have to take all of this information and consider this. there are 21 people here in this community who have died. there is monumental grief, and the families of 21 individuals have not gotten a straight answer about the law enforcement response to the shooting that killed their loved one.
instead, what they've been getting has been changing narratives, conflicting information, updated timelines. the latest timeline was presented yesterday before the texas state senate. it was presented by texas dps, where the head of texas dps called this an abject failure. that made the uvalde mayor very upset. he came forward, said that the gloves were coming off, that he was ready to throw people under the bus, that this community is very frustrated, concerned. that this community has been kept in the dark by the state who is the lead investigating agency here, and he said that the state asked him not to release information, not to make comments but after, and these are his words, after colonel mc mcgraw has been releasing information in piecemeal and this is released in a way that
covers up for texas dps because they were actually in the hallway as well. and in all of the criticism, said should be texas dps as well. here's what he said. take a listen. >> colonel mcgraw has continued, whether you want to call it lie, leak, distance his own troopers from the distance. colonel mcgraw has an agenda and it's not to present a full report to families of the community. >> reporter: we reached out to texas dps about this, erica, and we've not heard back but just for a second, look behind me. this is the memorial for the 21 people who have died, 21 crosses behind me. in the middle of all this mess, in the middle of the finger pointing, it's those families that are caught in the middle with the grief and the pain and mourning the loss of their loved ones. erica?
>> those families who deserve answers. rosa, thank you. senior law enforcement analyst, andrew mccabe, former deputy director of the fbi. good to have you with us this morning. this has been a mess, let's call it like it is, from the very beginning, between the changing narratives. rosa pointed out, the conflicting information, the timelines. now you have the mayor going after colonel mcgraw here, and going after the on-scene commander. as we look at all of this, if the families and local officials can't even get a straight answer here, how confident are you that this investigation is really going to get to the bottom of what happened, that we're going to know? >> erica, i don't think there's any reason to have confidence in the investigative entities that we've heard from so far. so those are your local officials in uvalde and the texas department of public safety and colonel mcgraw and everyone else. we've heard nothing but misinformation, and a lot of which, i would point out, seems,
at least in retrospect, to have been specifically geared to shed the best light possible on the law enforcement response. so that makes it look even worse, whether it's sheer incompetence or communication in messaging or an actual intentional cover-up, almost no way to know. i don't think you can have any confidence in them. i have greater hopes for what the justice department will do, to come in and mount their own investigation to determine the mistakes that were made in response to the tragedy. >> you know, it's interesting some of the comments we heard yesterday, and heartbreaking, quite frankly. the director of texas public safety, colonel mcgraw, heard about made clear who he felt was standing in the way of officers going in the classroom and stopping the killer. take a listen. >> the only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who
decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children. >> the school district police chief arredondo was the on-scene commander. he didn't like singling anybody out but clearly, he did there. is arredondo, at this point, the person who should be held responsible? >> well, i mean, provisional. mcgraw is not wrong about any of the comments. no way to cover that up, and, you know, law enforcement officers and leaders don't like to point to other law enforcement failures. this is a painful thing, i'm sure, for the colonel to have to do but absolutely undeniable but my question for the mayor would be, he seems to be taking a very bold stand on having made the decision to tear down rob elementary that children and
feel confident going to any school, and relying on him, and arredondo should be removed from the position by any reasonable evaluation of how we performed in that crisis, even before we have all the details of what happened. we know enough at this point, erica, know what he didn't do. >> what a member of the family of the victims have been doing directly as well. >> i want to ask you, the senate's bipartisan agreement on gun reform, from your perspective, how significant are these measures? >> it's significant that it happened at all, because people are talking about the most significant piece of legislation in years. it's the only one. so that makes it incredibly significant. i hope it's a sign that maybe people in congress are thinking a little bit more proactively about how we could be safer with
firearms in this country. it misses the mark in many significant ways. we have to call it for what it is. there are some good things in the bill. i think the incentives and lett be clear, it's not a requirement for red flag laws but simply to continue doing that. i think the better laws against firearms trafficking are a great thing and closing the boyfriend loophole is probably a good move as well. there's a lot it doesn't do. it doesn't prevent children from going out and buying ar-15s or close the gun show loophole or require background checks for every sale of a firearm which seems like a reasonable thing. so it doesn't go nearly as far as i think we need to go but it's a good first step. >> andrew mccabe, always appreciate it. thank you. coming up, more than a thousand people killed in an
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more than a thousand people are dead after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the eastern part of the country. that's according to an afghan emergency official. this happened south of kabul near the pakistan border. the united states offering heartfelt condolences to those impacted but can do little more than that because there's no longer any presence in the country. scott mclean live in london. scott, which aid organizations at this point are able to help? >> reporter: erica, if there's any good news in this at all, it's because afghanistan was in such dire straits even before this earthquake that many international aid organizations were already there on the ground. the united nations, the w.h.o., they were there already in addition to many other european and other global aid organizations that are there to help and they are there on the ground to hand out any aid that they can. you mentioned the united states. any aid that would come from washington would have to be funneled through one of the
groups to make it through afghanistan. washington and kabul have no official relations right now, and whatever you think of the taliban, situations like this are a good reminder that you have to deal with them in these cases, if you want to get help to any of the people. afghanistan, remember, is a country where just in march, the u.n. was estimating that 95% of households didn't have enough to eat. 100 miles south of kabul. mountainous area and side of the mountains and making them extremely prone to landslides as well and ahead of one afghan aid organization told cnn a couple of hours ago that is why he thinks that the death toll has quadrupled since the early estimates this morning. this is also along a traditional fault line as well. so earthquakes here are not out of the question. they're certainly unexpected.
the foreign ministry of afghanistan said some 70%, in one particular local area, some 70% of the houses in that area have been completely wiped out. the taliban is pledging cash, direct cash to people that have been injured and families of those killed but a bold pledge considering the government is so cash strapped in the midst of the economic crisis, erica. >> scott mclean, appreciate the update. thank you. the u.s. in its fight against smoking now plans to do what only one other has done. slash the amount of nicotine in traditional cigarettes. the hope is to make them less addictive. the former director of the fda's tobacco center saying this one rule could have the greatest impact on public health in the history of public health. keep in mind here, smoking still prematurely kills half a million people a year. some 1300 people every day according to the cdc. cnn's jacqueline howard from
atlanta. they would cut the nicotine. the cigarettes are still going to be there. >> that's right, this is to reduce nicotine and hopes to help people quit smoking and reduce the number of regular smokers out there but this won't happen for quite some time. what we can expect next, the fda will have to issue a notice of this proposed rule-making by may 2023. and then there will be some time for public comment, and keep in mind, tobacco companies could sue, so that this rule does not even happen. all that, we have to remember, keep to the timeline until we can see this actual rule in place. as far as the public health aspect here, here's how public health groups have responded to this. the american cancer society says that it, quote, strongly supports the administration's intent to set maximum levels of nicotine in cigarettes t addict
tobacco-free kids, say this is a game changing proposal but these gains will only be realized if the administration and the fda demonstrate a commitment to finalizing and implementing this proposal, end quote. you can see there's still a lot more time we have to see until this comes to fruition. >> all right, we'll be watching for those updates. jacqueline howard, appreciate it, thank you. just ahead here, yellowstone national park set to partially reopen today for the first time after the massive floods. we'll take you live to montana next. ♪ three times the electorlytes and half the sugar. ♪ pedialyte powder. feel better fast.
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after massive floding, parts of yellowstone national park are reopening to the public. there will be severe restrictions on the number of visitors. officials are assessing the damage caused by that record rainfall, which led to flooding. it could also cost a billion dollars to make those necessary repairs. lucy cavanaugh is live with the latest for us it's tough, but it's a beautiful view. so there's that. >> reporter: that's right. it's not a bad office for the day. you can see old faithful, the iconic geyser. this is the first time visitors have been able to access this part of the park and enter it altogether since that catastrophic flooding last week wiped out miles of roads, took out bridges and really reeked havoc on this iconic park in the midst of one of the busiest tourist seasons. the park approaching its 150th anniversary. now let's talk about some of the
restrictions that you mentioned. the southern loop of yellowstone, which gives access to 80% of the park, that re reopened this morning. but there's a strict license plate system. so odd numbered license plate cars can enter on odd numbered calendar days, even numbers on even number days. the northern loop is closed right now. park officials are optimistic it right might reopen in the next two week ps. there are so many bridges, roads that have to be repaired. large sections of roads were washed away. just for context during a three-day period last week, yellowstone national park got two to three times the typical rainfall that it's supposed to get in the entire month of june. and this is the new normal given climate change, but we are seeing a lot of families here. people are excited to be back to get back in touch with their vacations and to see this iconic geyser. >> thank you. thanks to all of you for injog us this afternoon.
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