tv Don Lemon Tonight CNN July 29, 2022 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
say, but you really do. thank you, anderson cooper. this is "don lemon tonight." i'm laura coates in for don. deleted documents and the hunt for missing secret service texts goes back more than a year it seems. and it turns out investigators knew the texts were deleted in may. i don't mean may of this year. i mean may of last year. that's actually seven months earlier than what the secret service told congress. now this is on top of reporting from "the washington post," the text from donald trump's acting homeland security chief chad wolf and his top deputy ken cuccinelli apparently are also mia. dhs offering a similar excuse, that texts were lost in some sort of reset of government phones at the end of the trump administration. wolf is just the latest of trump cabinet level officials we're learning has actually talked to the house select committee. cnn has also learned that
interview was several months ago. that's before investigators knew about the missing records. so, now we've got missing homeland security records along with deleted secret service text messages. just add it to the list. along with missing white house call logs and the presidential daily diary, all silent on a day we know many people were trying to reach none other than donald trump. we know key insiders were using signal, which is an encrypted messaging app, in the days before the attack. the white house photographer was specifically kept away from trump, as the mob reached the capitol. and boxes of classified documents were sent to mar-a-lago instead of the national archives where, of course, they belong. keep in mind, even as the doj is gearing up for possible court fights to keep trump users from
using or asserting executive privilege to shield from testimony, the only time the former president has invoked executive privilege in a was over keeping documents away from congress. if they use claims of privilege to buy time, yes, the committee faces a november deadline with the midterms, we know. the doj doesn't have that same deadline. plus, trump lost his one legal challenge on privilege fairly quickly. and there's one other thing that seems to be missing. it's kevin mccarthy's memory of conversation with one specific white house aide. you recognize her. it's cassidy hutchinson. >> she testified under oath and saying that you called her after donald trump said that -- urged his -- told his supporters that they were going to go to the capitol. and you were concerned about those remarks and said, don't come up here. figure it out. don't come up here. she said that under oath. did you tell her that? and why were you concerned about the prospects of donald trump
coming to the capitol on january 6th? >> i don't recall talking that day. i recall talking to dan scavino. i recall talking to jared. i recall talk lg to trump. that's what i talked on television too. if i talked to her, i don't remember it. if it was coming up here, i don't think i wanted a lot of people coming up to the capitol. but i don't remember are the conversation. >> why were you specifically concerned about trump coming to the capitol? >> i don't remember that? >> do you remember being concerned about his comments? >> no. no. because i didn't watch it. see, this is what is so confusing. i didn't watch the speech. i was working. so i didn't see what was said. i didn't see what went on until after the fact. >> did you him to come to the capitol? >> no. i've never communicated with him about coming to the capitol. i had no idea he would come to the capitol. hi no idea he was even going to come to the capitol. >> she said under oath that you told her throughout throughout the course of the week -- she
reassured you throughout the course of the week that he was not going to come to the capitol. >> i don't remember having any conversations with her about coming to the capitol, the president coming to the capitol. >> hm. and bravo to manu raju for continuing with his questions to try to get to the bottom of the issue. mccarthy's memory, it may have some gaps, shall we say. but federal investigators are filling in those pieces, especially now that the house select committee is sharing more of its secrets, shall we say? ryan nobles is on capitol hill, joining us now. ryan, i'm glad to see you on this friday. it wasn't that long ago the doj was saying the house select committee was hindering their work. where do we stand tonight? >> well, it seems the relationship is a heck of a lot better, laura. there is no doubt about that. we know in particular if we drill down to the specifics that the committee has handed over 20 specific transcripts of some of the interviews that they've already done. and the committee chairman, bennie thompson, said today this is just the beginning of their cooperation.
take a listen. >> well, it's doj's request. they have indicated they want to have access to a certain inspect of transcripts, and we negotiated back and forth. and if the committee sees a way to make that available to them, at this point they'll there be about 20 that will come with the request. and once they come in, we'll make them available. >> so, we don't know what specific transcripts that the department of justice has requested that the committee has allowed to go forward, but in the past, bennie thompson has told us they're specifically interested in the fake elector plot. so that could be among the transcripts they've handed over. laura, there no doubt that the cooperation is a lot better. the committee still made it clear, though, that this is their material. this is the work that they've already done. they're not just going the hand it over willy-nilly whenever the justice department wants it. but at this point, at least
they're talking, they're cooperating. that should make life a lot easier for those federal prosecutors. >> it still eludes reason that they wouldn't be willing to hand over things that might be able to be compared and contrasted when you know there's an active investigation going on in doj. that's just coming from a doj alum who would want to have the information. what are members of the committee saying tonight, ryan, about the deleted secret service text messages? >> listen, laura. they're suspicious about all this, right? and they're not mincing words about all that. they believe there's something more going on here than just the bureaucratic effort of upgrading phones from one to another and data gets lost in that process. they are very concerned there could be something more involved in all this. this is what jamie raskin told me earlier today. >> people think that they may be slack in trying to delete a text. but of course there's two sides to a text. >> right. >> there are technological means
of retrieval. and we can also determine from the context what -- what was happening. and nobody should really be in the business of covering up any of this. >> so, that's raskin saying it outright. he doesn't want anyone to think that they're being slick here. he is accusing people of a potential cover-up. this is beyond just a problem that happened within the government system of upgrading these phones. they believe there's a real problem here. and the other thing i was particularly struck by today when i talked to him, laura, is that they have not given up the idea that they may be able to retrieve these texts in some form or fashion, either from people on the other side of these text messages, from some sort of technological effort. they want this content. it's really a twofold question that they're asking here. first, why were the texts deleted? was there something conspiratorial about the fact they were deleted? and second, is there any way that they can get them? >> and i wonder if they can just interview the people who may have used their thumbs to create those texts, assuming they would be honest about it. ryan nobles, thank you so much.
joining me now so dive into these issues and more is elliott williams, as well as michelle cottle from "the new york times." grad to see all of you here tonight. elliott, let me begin with you here because we've laid out a pattern here. i feel like it's a bit of deja vu all over again with people. there's a lot of missing records that are happening and missing around the time -- oh, a minor date -- january 6th. what do you make of it? >> laura, i think it's actually two big things happening at the department of homeland security, which overseas secret service. the department of homeland security is where i worked for several years. number one, law enforcement is notoriously protective of its information and data and so on, right? and number two, our government can just be pretty incompetent sometimes. and those two things together kind of created this mess. look, it's a failure of government if you're putting it in the hands of individual law enforcement officers to just back up their own data. and that's what happened here.
and the failure is where, you know, if you read the quotes from these folks in the newspapers, they just say, well, you know, we ask people to back up their data and they just didn't. so, as a result, it invited this mess here. number one, congress needs to look at it, not just the january 6th committee, but the committee on homeland security to really get to the bottom of what happened. and number two, if there's -- if people are hiding or tampering with evidence, that's a crime and it's got to be investigated. >> i mean, i'll admit, ramesh, there have been times i've been told to update things and i may not have updated them in a timely fashion. i'm surprised i even still have a phone some days. however, the idea of hearing it time and time again about phones being mistakenly reset starts to feel like my dog ate my homework. >> yeah, you know, and you put up a pretty thorough list of all of the missing records and memory lapses. but even that wasn't complete. >> right. >> so, there have been reports, for example, that mark meadows
burned documents in his office after meeting with congressman scott perry during the weeks after the election. kevin mccarthy didn't remember -- if you think back to january and february of 2021, congresswoman jamie herrera-beutler, when she was justifying her vote to impeach president trump as a republican, she referenced conversations she had had with mccarthy that mccarthy, again, didn't remember. so, yeah, it is a convenient epidemic of missing memories, missing records. >> it's true. i mean, convenient amnesia. although, i did hear mccarthy make a statement, if she said it or if it happened, i don't recall, which really has a lot of the legal qualities of that's an election, the statement you make as a preface before you say something to guard against having to be held accountable for maybe it being wrong. michelle, i wonder what it says to you that the text messages that we know about or that may
have gone missing somehow, that secret service knew they were gone seven months earlier than what they actually told congress? what strikes you about that? >> what strikes me about that is they're covering their butts. they were kind of hoping that none of this would have to come out at all. one of the great rules of thumb here is if you can avoid having to deal with this, you don't actually want to have to come clean about having done something. whether you meant to do it or whether it was just stupid. the situation that they have created here is that anybody who believes donald trump and his side in this can just say, oh, government's incompetent. and then anybody who is completely convinced that there were shenanigans -- i mean, it's hard not to look at this as a massive pattern. but, again, with the trump folks, the whole point is to create questions and chaos and confusion. so, if you can have missing
records and missing diaries and missing photos and kevin mccarthy, you know, needs his memory meds or whatever, then you're going to create enough confusion that your team can say, oh, but, you know, it was all just one big misunderstanding and government can't do anything right anyway. >> also to add to that as well -- i don't want to cut you off -- the idea of saying, look, this is what many people were calling, if there were a real hearing, if there were a real trial. although we know it's neither a trial because it's not the executive branch of government and doj enforcing law. it's not prosecutorial. it's legislative in nature. but there's the same talking point that comes up about, hey, this is a prime opportunity to have a rebuttal if you allow them to defend themselves and say what happened here. but elliott, i wonder from your take, the fact that there is this cooperation now, emphasis on the word now between the doj and the committee, justice was asking for these transcripts back in april. what occurs to you as why there
would be such a delay? is it because they don't want to be seen as arm in arm, in cahoots to give credence to a further talking county of politics here or something else? >> yes. so a couple of things. going back -- you know, it's a couple things going on, laura. congress is intensely protective of its brand as a public body that puts on proceedings. you've seen the stage craft of this last couple of months has been very tightly controlled and so on. and i think they did not want to release any of their transcripts or data to the justice department for fear of losing some of that, right? now, the problems that congress doesn't prosecute people. the justice department does. and all of those transcripts and information and materials, it's evidence. and so, as the justice department needs to get its hands on that, not just to build their own cases but because they have to disclose a lot of that information to defendants by law.
if it's not -- if it exists and the justice department knows it exists, they have to turn it over to defendants. so, there's practical and legal reasons to turn this over. look, i worked in this for a long time. these two branches of government have been fighting over evidence since 1789. nothing is new about this and it's going to keep happening. it's just -- this is just as american as apple pie. >> you know what's going to keep happening? this conversation. and ramesh, i'm going to start with you when we come back. everyone stick around. more and more former trump officials speaking to the january 6th committee and the justice department is heating up its own investigation. the questions is, are investigators getting more insight into the perhaps biggest fish of them all or what? new astepro allergy. now available without a prescription. astepro is the first and only 24-hour steroid free spray. while other allergy sprays take hours astepro starts working in 30 minutes. so you can... astepro and go.
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house select committee, it's growing by the day. chad wolf, trump's acting dhs secretary, is just the latest person we're learning about. the committee so far has been negotiating around any potential executive privilege questions that might be raised. the doj looks ready to take that fight head on. ramesh, michelle, and elliott are all still with us. ramesh, what do you make of all these cabinet level officials lining up to talk to the committee? it seems like a far cry from how things first started out? what do you think is to justify or to explain? is it sudden interest? is it the bannon verdict? is it something else? what is it? >> well, i think this kind of thing can be a cascade that once some people are testifying, once sort of a critical mass has been reached, then it becomes both more acceptable to talk and more potentially harmful to be one of the few people who are not there
talking. but, you know, trump had a long list of people that he hired who ended up saying some pretty negative things about him and his abilities. and so trump has now pretty well practiced at saying that the people he hired were really bad and were agents of the deep state and so forth. and i suspect that if any of this testimony is negative and comes out, then we're going to hear that line repeated again and again. >> i bet we probably will especially on this point, you know, michelle, i wonder from your perspective, there was a time when the idea of even being seen as cooperating in any way with this committee, it was called a kangaroo court. it's called part two of the witch hunt. and the list goes on and on. it's not bipartisan. they claim you have two r.h.i.n.o.s, kinzinger and of course cheney. you can always dispute those actual statements of course. but why do you think there has been this interest in participating in some way? some attribute it to cassidy
hutchinson and the bravery of coming forward. but i wonder if there's a political angle here, as in, hm, maybe i might be thinking about running or maybe i might think about another candidate other than trump, and maybe it helps me in some way. is that is right part of this as well? >> well, look, aside from cassidy hutchinson, you've seen a parade of republicans come forward, even those who, you know, talk about how they're still proud of what was accomplished during the trump administration. this was not a group that brought forward democrats or trump enemies to testify. so, you've seen this gradual accumulation of conservative republicans talking about this. and so it has become more acceptable, and it starts to raise the question of whether trump is too damaged to be a good candidate in 2024. and people in the republican party are starting to think that maybe they need to keep their options open. i mean, there's been rumblings about, you know, desantis' people down in florida.
he's seen as the next obvious choice for 2024. ron desantis' people think that maybe this is a good thing for them. so, you are seeing a lot of people, i think, reconsider not necessarily whether trump has completely lost his grip on the party, but maybe he could be a problem. and they need to be thinking in general about what ifs and plan bs. >> well, speaking of plan bs and what ifs, elliott, we haven't known there's been a specific assertion of privilege by trump that now people are going before the committee. he only claimed it once in court, right? took only three months, i might add, for the supreme court to deny him. i'm wondering, if he tries to do that again. if he tries to muzzle any of the close aides and assert privilege, which by the way, biden has said as current president of the united states, he's not asserting it, is it a plan to run out the clock to the november midterms? and if that's the plan, how much time would it realistically buy
the people who asserted at this point? >> you know, that's an excellent question. they may very well be trying to run out the clock. the simple fact is though -- it's important they said three months, laura, only three months. it's very quick in sort of supreme court and law terms. it's a relatively straightforward question, the executive privilege question as it made it to the supreme court. look, hen this has come up in the past in history, and it hasn't been many times, the biggest one being 1974 with richard nixon during watergate, the supreme court ruled against the president, saying executive privilege is a real thing. it's important for the president to be able to speak to his aides in private, but it can't trump a criminal investigation -- pun intended. it can't trump a criminal investigation. it's a relatively straight forward thing. but, look, the clock is not the midterms. the clock is five years from now because that's the statute of limitations on most of the crimes we're talking about, i believe. the justice department has a bunch of time to investigate things. i think we're thinking about the political calendar in terms of
2022. but they do have a bunch of time. i think a lot of folks need to take a deep breath and recognize that indictment doesn't have to come tomorrow if one is going to come of anybody. >> i have to remind people that kavanaugh, concurring opinion on the issue of privilege, because he seemed to allude that this may be where a former president may be able to hold on to the privilege for whatever reason you're talking about. but again, the idea the interest of the american public in trying to find out the truth, particularly if somebody has been involved in behavior is important. i'm not so sure there is the oodles and oodles of time. i will note you did not say oodles and oodles. that was me. that would be very odd if you said that. elliott, it would not work for you the way it did for me just now. the midterm is not the deadline. but they really have until 2024 when whoever is the next president, if it's a democrat, if it's a republican, who put it is people in power.
what do you make of it, michelle? is the time line as long or is there a political one? a sword of damocles? >> i do think that it gets more and more complicated. i mean, everybody's already trying to game out, is trump going to declare his candidacy for 2024? and how does that affect any plans to start an investigation. it's already one of those things that he has clearly decided that the way to beat any kind of criminal charges would be to declare a political witch hunt. and the closer you get to an election where that would be a possible issue, the more complicated this gets. there's lots of pressure on the doj and merrick garland to get this moving. it's more than just legal limits and statutes of limitations. there is a lot of politics at play. >> and to be clear, i don't want to seem naive about the political realities. i think somehow the narrative
got out there that merrick garland had to get out ahead of the january 6th committee or issue ahead of the 2022 midterms. and that's just not accurate. of course it can't take five years to do this. i get that. >> i agree. the idea of thinking about it, ramesh, the timeline in part, there's always concern about putting one's thumb on the scale if you're doj. trump is not on the ballot, technically, in any of the races that are coming up this fall. and yet he does cast a pretty big shadow over these elections. and i'm wondering, politically speaking, the patience of the electorate -- forget the patience or the timeline of the doj. politically speaking, what are you most interested in terms of how this is all playing out from the january 6th committee, how it's received by the electorate? are there concerns in terms of this inuring to the benefit of somebody other than trump as a republican, or are the democrats in smooth sailing territory? >> well, i don't think that anything about the democrats' political situation right now is smooth sailing. but what i would be looking for in terms of a political impact
of both the committee and the department of justice actions is for there to be a slow erosion in trump's court. not even so much people turning on him but people just deciding, republican voters just deciding they don't want to keep looking backward at 2020. and president trump constantly wants to relitigate the 2020 election. and he's continuing to spread this ridiculous story about his having won the election. he apparently called the wisconsin speaker of assembly to try to get him to decertify the election which is not a thing, by the way. get him to decertify the election, which is not a thing, by the way. and i think that republican voters might just decide between trump himself and the people investigating his action. they're just kind of sick of it. and only the way to get past all of this is to get past trump himself. >> and, you know, frankly, there is plenty of fodder that are
talking points republicans could be using to capitalize on the low approval ratings. of course the polar coasters of sorts are not always the most telling things about them. thank you to all of you. ramesh, michelle, elliott, always good to talk to each one of you. thanks. >> thanks, laura. look, russia is now raising the stakes on a potential prisoner swap. now we're learning that moscow has other demands, like the release of a convicted murderer in exchange for brittney griner and paul whelan. i'll tell you about it next. for too long, big pharma has been squeezing americans for every penny, and inflation has only added to the pain. but congress has a historic opportunity to deliver relief, by passing a bill to let medicare negotiate lower
secretary of state antony blinken speaking with his russian counterpart sergey lavrov for the first time since the invasion of ukraine. blinken says he's pressuring lavrov to accept a u.s.-proposed prisoner swap. detained americans paul whelan and brittney griner in exchange for a convicted russian arms dealer. but in a twist, russia is now putting up a counter offer, one that frankly could be very hard for the u.s. to swallow. i want to bring in cnn's natasha bertrand and fred pleitgen. glad to have you both to explain what's happening here. let me begin with you here, natasha. you have exclusive cnn reporting
that russia is now offering this counter proposal to the u.s. prisoner swap. tell us what you're learning. >> what we've been told is that after the u.s. put forward this proposal to trade viktor bout for paul whelan and brittney griner, the russians responded through a back channel asking for this former fsb colonel, vadim krasikov. he was convicted in germany about seven months ago of assassinating a former chechen soldier in broad daylight in berlin in a big scandal that ruptured relations even further between germany and russia. the russians are asking for him back. they want him back in their custody. they feel as though the entire trial of course was a scam. and they are using this opportunity that the americans presented them to kind of up the price here. not only do they want viktor bout, but they also want this convicted murderer. now, the problem, of course, that u.s. officials see, is that he is in german custody. and the u.s. would have to essentially try to influence the
germans, try to get them to release him if they wanted him to be part of a viable prisoner swap. but ultimately when the americans actually did go to the germans we are told a couple of weeks ago to feel this out and see if they would be willing to release him, the germans were kind of lukewarm on the idea at best. there is really no indication that they are willing to put this guy out early, to take this guy out of prison early and make him part of this prisoner exchange. so, that was kind of dead on arrival. and the u.s. officials that we have been speaking to say that's probably the point here. probably the russians kind of floated this idea knowing that it was not going to be well received by the americans or by the germans. and they are trying to buy time and stall until brittney griner's trial is over. in that way, they can say if she is convicted that they now have a convicted american on their soil who committed a crime, and they can therefore say, now our price has gone up even further. so, it's a very complicated situation. but ultimately what the
officials we spoke to said is that this is not a serious counteroffer by the russians and that they should take the deal that the american versus offered to them. >> wow, i mean, the idea of just the pawns that are now the midst of this is really disturbing to think about all of this. fred, brittney griner, she's still stuck in russian custody, as these negotiations are playing out. i know she's pleaded guilty, but the trial in russia is still going on for whatever reason. what is the latest we know about her case? >> yeah, absolutely. and it's moving into a really crucial phase. and brittney griner certainly is very much aware of that. i was able to speak to her legal defense team today. and they said that she is somewhat nervous, as this trial moves into this decisive phase. and you could have a verdict very soon. but that she's also laser focused on her defense. here's what they told me. >> wnba star brittney griner focused on the final and decisive phase of her trial for drug charges in russia.
speaking to cnn right after visiting her, griner's lawyer says the athlete is keeping the faith. >> she is of course stressed and quite nervous. and she knows that the end of the trial is approaching. but she really appreciates all the support she is getting. >> reporter: griner's legal team is building their strategy on efforts to get lenience from the court for showing remorse for trying to enter the country with vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil. >> i do understand what my charges are against me and with them being accidentally in my bags, i take responsibility. but i did not intend to smuggle or plan to smuggle anything into russia. >> the legal team believes so far their approach has worked as well as possible in a russian court. >> this court listens.
the court accepts almost -- accepted already almost all our evidence. so, i think that this is going how it went. >> but conviction rates in russia are well over 90%, and brittney griner faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty. the u.s. has been frustrated by a lack of progress trying to organize a prisoner swap with moscow to get both brittney griner and former marine paul whelan, who is currently serving a 16-year sentence for alleged espionage, which he denies, released. tonight secretary of state blinken saying he raised the issue with the russian foreign minister in their first phone call since russia invaded ukraine. >> i pressed the kremlin to accept the substantial proposal we put forth on brittney griner and paul whelan. >> reporter: but the russians have made clear they don't want to speak publicly about prisoner swaps. >> translator: this topic was
discussed over a year ago during the geneva meeting between president putin and biden. there they agreed to authorize competent people to deal with these issues. the foreign ministry is not one of them. >> reporter: brittney griner's legal team says they have not been made aware of any negotiations and are only focused on the tough legal battle ahead. >> she also said that she loves everybody. she misses her family. of course her wife. and, again, she appreciates a lot the huge support she is getting from wnba, from the sport community in the usa. the russia worldwide associate. so, she's just very, very grateful. and it really means a lot to her. >> really means a lot to her, laura. brittney griner really wanted that to be known and wanted that to be out there. her lawyer told us that she knew they were meeting with cnn today and wanted everybody to know she appreciates the support she's getting in america and around the world as well.
her legal saying of course they're putting everything into her defense but they say they hope there is a prisoner swap and that brittney griner can come home as soon as possible, laura. >> fred, natasha, thank you both for your reporting. excellent. such a sad situation on all sides. from brittney griner, to the controversial liv golf tournament teeing off at trump's bedminster club. what does bob costas think about all of it? well, we're going to ask him. he is joining me next. new ast. now available without a prescription. astepro is the first and only 24-hour steroid free spray. while other allergy sprays take hours astepro starts working in 30 minutes. so you can... astepro and go. why do nearly one million businesses choose stamps.com to mail and ship? no more trips to the post office no more paying full price for postage and great rates from usps and ups
by california tribes. it's paid for by the out of state gambling corporations that wrote prop 27. it doesn't tell you 90% of the profits go to the out of state corporations. a tiny share goes to the homeless, and even less to tribes. and a big loophole says, costs to promote betting reduce money for the tribes, so they get less. hidden agendas. fine print. loopholes. prop 27. they didn't write it for the tribes or the homeless. they wrote it for themselves.
for more now on the brittney griner situation and another big controversy, the liv golf tournament at the former president's bedminster course, i want to bring in cnn contributor bob costas, who really needs no introduction at all. bob, i'm glad you're here tonight. we've been talking about what's the latest on brittney griner. i'm wondering what your reaction is on the prospect of her being included in a prisoner swap, as her trial is ending near. >> well, we're not talking here about the russian people, but we are talking about vladimir putin's government. and if we need any more evidence as to just how ruthless they are and how they don't adhere to international norms, this is really relatively trivial in light of what's going on in ukraine. but it is significant. certainly it's significant to
paul whelan and brittney griner and their families that they are held unjustly, according to the state department. and now they want not only viktor bout back, an international arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence, but a convicted murderer who's not even held in america. he's held in germany. now, as your previous guest said, that may be a ploy and they're not serious about it. maybe they want to make a statement about it and they'll accept bout. but you're asking for two people who shouldn't be held at all. in return you want two international criminals. that's the way they play the game. >> and speaking of how others have played the game, bob, and the idea of the sort of reputation preceding itself, there's also the saudi-backed liv golf tournament that's teeing off at former president trump's bedminster golf course today. tell me about the optics around this. we had the fist bump around the world. you've got trump saying nobody
knows who's behind 9/11. you have this now happening on the backdrop of already existing controversies around those who have chosen to join liv. what are the optics here? >> well, the optics are not good for those who care about it. i've talked about many of the other aspects and the overlap there. people say what about china, all this what aboutism. what about the fact that various companies that are sponsors of the pga tour do business with saudi arabia. who says that those who object to this approve of any of that? i've been critical of china hosting the olympics going back to 1996 when they were just hosting the olympics, and i've been critical of nba players and the nba itself for its deep involvement in china. and i was critical of an olympics in putin's russia. so, i think i've been generally consistent about this. and the issue here is not an alternative to pga tour. greg norman and many current golfers have issues with the pga
tour. and if this alternative was funded by any other entity, any acceptable entity, other than the human rights abusing saudi regime with a long list of such abuses, that's the problem. and when people say well, others have done business with them, that may be true. but all of these golfers, in effect, are ambassadors for the saudi royal family. that's why they're there. they're in effect ambassadors. no one knows who's ahead of this company or that company. the public doesn't know. they know who those golfers are. it's an attempt to sports wash and put a happier face on an objectionable regime. the other side of it is with this happening in bedminster and with the 9/11 families so close by and the wounds so fresh, that would be bad enough in and of itself. but hosted by a former president of the united states, one would hope -- can you imagine -- can
you imagine any president in our lifetime, republican or democrat, doing such a thing? you would expect from a past president and perhaps an aspirant to be the president again, you would expect a little bit more dignity, a little bit more empathy and grace and common decency. but if you're looking for that, perhaps you should look elsewhere. >> well said. but, you know, speaking of elsewhere, i would note that that intersection of the nba and liv and golf tournaments, the former nba sports commentator charles barkley, who worked for cnn's parent company, he considered joining the liv tournament in a broadcasting role. he decided not to do that. >> yeah. perhaps about the correlation we're speaking of. i want to turn to another issue that's near and dear to your heart. i know you are a baseball fan and you have been consistent about the idea surrounding the covid vaccine policies and the way it's playing in terms of the seasons.
we know the detroit tigers player is missing games against the toronto bruges since he was not meet canada's covid vaccine requirement. it's not just him that's done something like this. it's been other sports, other conversations. how could this impact the baseball season and more broadly going forward? >> well, recently, ten kansas city royals -- ten -- could not cross the canadian border. they had to bring up minor leaguers. the royals, however, are not a contender. they just traded andrew benintendi, who is a very good player and a nice guy, they just traded him to the yankees. the yankees most certainly are a contender, even though they have a big lead in the american league east. they're trying to finish ahead of the astros for the best record in the league overall, which would have an effect on play-off seeding. and benintendi at this point is not vaccinated. if they were to play toronto tomorrow in toronto, he could not cross the border. the st. louis two best players
missed the two games just this past week in toronto. the cardinal residents in a race with the prosecutors in the national league central and in a race for a wild card spot. so leave aside any medical opinion. leave aside the politics of it. this is a team sport. we're not talking about novak djokovic on his own deciding not to get vaccinated in an individual sport. this is a team sport. no matter if you agree with regulations, you are hurting your own team when you don't get vaccinated under these circumstances. if i have another minute here, last year aaron rodgers, uncracks nated, had to miss a game for the green bay packers. i like aaron rodgers very much. he is a great, great player and an interesting guy. but you just can't rationalize it. he came within a day of missing two games. had he turned up positive, even if he was asymptomatic, until the nfl changed the rules in the play-offs and the super bowl
approached, if he had tested positive again, even if he was entirely asymptomatic, he could have missed a play-off game or a super bowl. how can you do that to your team? i just don't understand that. j.t. realmuto who is a catcher for the phillies, and these guys are missing millions of dollars. so missing two, three games costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars, said it's wto it not to allow canada to tell me what to do. forget about geopolitics. what do you tell your teammates? you leave them in the lurch. i don't get it. >> i hear you. i wonder what the conversations are like behind doors. thanks for having you with me today in front of the cameras as well. we'll be back.
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eastern kentucky has killed at least 16 people, including -- and this is so heartbreaking to say -- including four siblings ages 2 to years old in knott county. their aunt says the rushing water was so strong it pulled the children right out of the arms of their parents. kentucky's governor says the damage and destruction is so severe the death toll is likely to rise even further. cnn's evan mcmorris-santoro is in hazard, kentucky, tonight. evan, it's unbelievable to hear these stories, the heartbreaking tradition entry, the images alone are terrifying. the stories all the more horrifying. you've actually seen this damage firsthand. how bad is this in person to see? >> reporter: i'll tell you, the people who live here who are used to seeing things here in this part of kentucky say that this flooding is something they've never seen before, and a flash flood is so terrifying.
that water comes so fast, and it just sweeps everything away with it, and then it's just gone. i'm standing in the staging area which is the flea market site here in hazard where people have been gathering to give out supplies to each other and go out and rescue each other from other parts of the state. the most ominous thing i've heard really is the sound of that emergency broadcast system that comes on warning there might be still yet more rain to come. after everything that this place has already suffered through, there still might be more to come. it's really just an incredibly horrifying thing to see in person and just a scary, scary thing to think about, and it may not be over. laura? >> and just watching, as we're watching the water, there's a current in this water. it's not like it's still. it's actually pulling things along as well. it's just horrifying, evan, thank you for being there and keeping us apprised of what's happening. our hearts are going out to all the families who are suffering right now. thank you so much.
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