Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Arrives In Brussels Ahead Of NATO Summit, Putin Meeting; Trump White House Counsel's Records Were Accessed By DOJ In 2018; Netanyahu Out As Israeli Prime Minister; Democratic Agenda Roadblock; Wife Of Georgia Secretary Of State Got Threatening Message; First Lady Jill Biden Makes World Stage Debut At G7; Hundreds Of Thousands Facing Starvation In Conflict-Hit Ethiopia. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 13, 2021 - 18:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday.

Well, President Biden may be in Brussels tonight but his mind is likely in Geneva, as the president gets ready to meet with the American allies at the NATO summit tomorrow. Most of his downtime on his first overseas trip has been in preparation for Wednesday's first presidential meeting with Vladimir Putin. Both Presidents, Biden and Putin, can agree on one thing ahead of the meeting, U.S./Russia relations are strained.


JOE BIEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's right. It's at a low point. And it depends on how he responds to acting consistent with international norms, which, in many cases, he has not.


BROWN: Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us live from Brussels. Phil, what is the president saying about this important and likely tense meeting coming up with the Russian president?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Pamela, it's been very interesting. You've heard a couple of different lines from White House officials over the course of the last several days. And the lead-up to this big meeting in Geneva, one, that the president was going to be very firm and clear with the objections that the United States has with Russians actions, what the U.S. would do if Russia continues those actions, but also the idea from the U.S. perspective that there's not lot of expectations that anything major will come out of the face-to-face meeting.

And what was most interesting when the president spoke to reporters in that G7 Summit was he expanded a little bit kind of on his thought process going into this meeting with President Putin, something many U.S. leaders have tried to do over the course of the last several years, most of the time not coming out with the results that they want. This was how President Biden framed things.


BIDEN: It's about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship are with Russia. We're not looking for conflict. We are looking to resolve those actions which we think is inconsistent with international norms.

There's no guarantee you can change a person's behavior and the behavior of his country. Autocrats have enormous power and don't have to answer to the public.


MATTINGLY: It was just a very interesting and, I think, take honest take on things, and it's certainly based on past president in terms of where President Putin comes down on things, but also had the president outline the U.S. approach here. Yes, they are going to be very clear, the president is going to make very clear kind of red lines that if President Putin crosses, there would be certainly be repercussions from the U.S. side.

But the president also outlined that it appears that he's going to enter the meeting, willing to offer certain incentives on areas that the U.S. and Russia can work together, areas that in the president's view, to paraphrase him here, that Russia maybe had bit off more than it could chew and the U.S. is willing to perhaps offer some assistance and exchange for perhaps a better relationship.

There's no question about it, expectations are low in terms of deliverables but the hope is just getting the relationship into a better place. Both leaders acknowledging it's at a low point, and trying to figure out a way to get to a more stable relationship, perhaps a more predictable relationship.

And it's worth noting that the meetings the president is having in the lead up to this sit-down with President Putin are very important into this entire process. Obviously united front in the G7, the President looking to replicate this, that when the NATO meetings start tomorrow in Brussels, all kind of this idea to show President Putin that the allies on the Western democracies are aligned, are back together again, and hoping that that will kind of bolster his support as he moves in to this very crucial meeting, Pamela.

BROWN: And, yes, he wants to show that his coming in in a stronger position. Phil Mattingly, thank you so much for bringing us the latest from Belgium.


Meantime, the president and first lady capped their visit to the U.K. with a visit with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, her private residence outside London. Now that is some privilege, only four American presidents have claimed over the queen's nearly 70-year reign. It also marks the first time Queen Elizabeth has hosted a world leader since the death of her husband, Prince Philip, earlier in the year.

CNN's Max Foster is in London with the latest.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Queen Elizabeth II receiving her 13th sitting U.S. President for an audience, her 12th during her reign, going back to the 1950's. It was actually an informal process.

This was not a state visit but you saw the guard of honor laid out to the court triangle there at Windsor Castle and President Biden inspecting the troops, many of these troops have seen active service with American troops that have worked very closely with our American counterparts were very much looking forward to being inspected by the commander-in-chief.

After that, and the national anthem playing, they went inside for a tea. Those conversations always remain private, though we were given a photograph of the moment inside, not seeing any piece of media we received from this event. Those conversations are never leaked, although last time President Trump did release some detail, they discussed Brexit, but usually they're quite innocuous conversations, an opportunity really for visiting a head of state to have time with the world's longest serving head of state and get a sense of all the history that she's seen during her reign.

The Bidens were in the castle for about an hour and left and their European tour continues.

Max Foster, CNN, Windsor, England.

BROWN: Our thanks to Max Foster. And looking ahead to the rest of the week after the NATO summit, the president travels to Geneva, Switzerland, for that highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Be sure and stay with CNN for a complete coverage of that.

And back here in Washington, we've learned that the Trump Justice Department secretly obtained the Apple data of then-President Trump's White House Counsel in 2018. So, again, they were seizing that data when Don McGahn was the White House Counsel.

We don't know what case this stem from but a source tells CNN the directive did not come from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. A separate source familiar says former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein are claiming to others they were unaware of the requests for Don McGahn's records.

This happened the same month in 2018 that a DOJ sweep seized the data of two Democratic congressmen. Today, Democratic leadership offer as stinging rebuke of the actions.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What has happened here are fingerprints of a dictatorship, not a democracy.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What the administration did, the Justice Department, the leadership of the former president, goes even beyond Richard Nixon.


BROWN: I am joined now by Democratic Congressman Peter Welch. Nice to see you Congressman, thanks for coming on the show.

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): Thank you.

BROWN: We just heard there, some strong words from congressional leaders. Do you agree with their view?

WELCH: Well, I do. There're two pretty astonishing things, one is personal, and is political, in a broad sense, political and sensitive, it affects you and me, everyone. Now, personal, it's astonishing that Donald Trump was not only attacking Adam Schiff, with whom he had a bit of data, but he was going after his own lawyer. So the personal ability of Donald Trump to have loyalty to no one is on display here.

The second and more importantly for our country, he's weaponizing the Justice Department, and Barr and Sessions were in complicit in this. And where you have a president who is essentially using the Justice Department as a political arm to carry out his attacks against political opponents, you are violating the rule of law. And in this case, he's attacking an independent branch of government, and that's without precedent.

BROWN: I just want to be clear though. There is still a lot we don't know. Certainly, some of this is, very suspicious given the president's rhetoric given the way the Trump DOJ has behaved in the past, but there's still a lot we don't know.

And I've talk to sources who say, as we try to learn more facts, that this could be a situation where they were collected, Don McGahn's information, and the congressman's information was collected as part of a larger sweep where the investigation was targeted elsewhere. Does that satisfy you anymore and do you all this raises just questions about the power of the executive branch and the tools that they are able to use?

WELCH: Well, it raises that question. Keep in mind, you left out in that recitation is that the Justice Department went back several times to get a gag order, to guarantee that you and the press and we in the public has no knowledge of what they were up to. So this -- subpoenas don't produce themselves, they don't sign themselves, they have to be requested, and that's a prosecutorial function.


And if you're going to get a subpoena against the chair of the Intelligence Committee, at that time ranking member, or you're going to get a subpoena to get documents from the White House Counsel, that takes a person at the highest level, and we know that is common sense. And we saw how Barr was incredibly evasive, I would say, lied, in response from questions from then Senator Harris about whether there were any investigations under way.

So this is incredibly serious. It's incredibly serious because it is an attack on the legislative branch and it's an attack on the democratic position of checks and balances. So the language that Senator Schumer used, I think, is appropriate here.

BROWN: So, and just to be clear, as you all know, Bill Barr is claiming he doesn't recall any of this. Now, in 2018, this was before he actually took over the DOJ, when that subpoena was initially made for Don McGahn and the lawmakers, Jeff Sessions is claiming that he was not aware and so is Rod Rosenstein. There are still so much to learn about this.

Have you received any more information, Congressman, from DOJ or from Apple about whether any more accounts, any other information from lawmakers like yourself was handed over to DOJ, anything else to help us piece this together?

WELCH: I haven't, and that's why we want the inspector general to shoo this investigation, that Barr and Sessions, when were saying this, were really not credible. Keep it in mind that Barr hired cronies from outside the Justice Department to, in effect, be a separate branch that was dedicated to doing the political missions of Donald Trump.

And that's how serious Barr got about containing it. And then their loyalty was not to the Constitution, that their loyalty was to president Trump and his political agenda, which was about vendettas.

BROWN: It certainly strains credulity that none of the DOJ leadership knew about this. Even if they went to Apple and they did not know these numbers belonged to these officials, these lawmakers and Don MaGahn, Apple would have gotten back to them presumably and given the names and you would think that would go up in leadership. So it raises questions either way.

I'm wondering if you could talk to Barr and Sessions, if they do testify, what questions would you ask them?

WELCH: What did they do and how did the subpoenas get issued? I mean, it's really very straightforward. The subpoena, that's an issue itself. There has to be a request made by a prosecutor for authorization from the grand jury. And all lawyers know who practice any kind of law in criminal court that grand juries were very cooperative with the prosecutor before them. So that's where we can go.

There's an answer to this question and Barr, if you notice, his answers (ph) were very vague and he was incredible vague and forgetful. This is man with an incredible memory.

BROWN: He certainly has.

WELCH: Yes, particularly to somebody who was -- BROWN: Let me ask you pretty quickly before we let you go, Congressman, under the Obama administration, as you well know, they were very aggressive and targeting reporters, 20 reporters from the A.P., for example. Do you think that these types of leaking investigation that there should be more safeguards for them or that should be -- there should be more parameters for these leak investigations?

WELCH: I do. I do. I think, you know, we depend on a free press and the free press does things that administrations don't like, and I think there's got to be protection for the press when it's doing its job. But keep in mind, in addition to going after the press, what President Trump did, then-President Trump, is he went after a sitting member of Congress, members of Congress, who were doing their job as Democratic elected representatives in a separate branch of government. And that is in addition to what he did for those reporters whose information he was subpoenaing through Barr, I believe.

BROWN: Okay, Congressman Peter Welch, thanks for joining us on the show.

WELCH: Thank you.

BROWN: And coming up for you tonight, the terrifying fallout from Trump's big election lie. Georgia election workers reveal the vile death threats they are getting. It's just awful.

And a flight attendant says the situation is out of control as air rage incidents spike and she joins me live coming up on the show.

But, first down but not out.




BROWN: A razor thin vote ends Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run in Israel, CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem for us tonight. And she joins us next. Well be right back.



BROWN: Tonight, President Biden talks to the new prime minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett, after the country's longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was removed from office earlier today. CNN Hadas Gold joins me now with the very latest. So, Hadas, what did President Biden and Bennett discuss?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, the two got on the phone rather quickly after Naftali Bennett was sworn in, the White House saying that President Biden offered his warm congratulations, and the two promising to work closely together moving forward. One name that the White House did not mention today, Benjamin Netanyahu, who, after12 years, the man known as the magician, the ultimate political survivor by some, even King Bibi was finally dethroned


GOLD (voice over): The balloons were left hanging as Netanyahu waved goodbye from what might have been the final election night. Once again, his Likud Party won the most number of seats, but not enough to claimed outright victory and break Israel's political dysfunction, four elections in two years and inability to form a lasting government.

As he left the stage, the many political enemies he collected along the way began gathering to oust him, aiming to bring an end to one of the most influential figures in Israeli history.


NETANYAHU: We never intended to stay --

GOLD: Netanyahu launched his political career in the United States as Israel's ambassador to the U.N.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Larry King Live. Tonight, a bloodbath rocks the cradle of civilization. Is there one man who can stop it?

GOLD: Where he honed his skills with the media that barely knew how to pronounce his name.

LARRY KING, RADIO HOST: Our first guest tonight is Benjamin Netanyahu. Benjamin Netanyahu is the recently resigned ambassador to the United Nation.

GOLD: A connection with the media and U.S. that would define the rest of his political path.

NETANYAHU: And we ask to defend this tiny country.

GOLD: A representative of Israel during some of its tensest periods, like the Golf War.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you repeat them for us now?

NETANYAHU: I must say that this is the darnedest way to conduct an interview.

GOLD: Soon after, Netanyahu pulled off his first stroke of political magic in 1996.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The exit polls and projections were giving the incumbent Shimon Peres a slight lead, something in the range of about 1.5 percentage points over his challenger, Benjamin Netanyahu.

GOLD: Squeezing by to in his first term as prime minister with a wafer thin majority. During his first term, U.S. broker peace initiatives gave the prime minister the world stage legitimacy he craves but Israeli voters were not convinced and he was ousted after one term. Netanyahu spent part of the next ten years preparing himself for his next move, returning to power in 2009.

NETANYAHU: With pride but with great humility.

GOLD: His relationship with the new U.S. president, strained from the start, as attempts to restart the Palestinian peace process sputter, reaching a near breaking point as Netanyahu positioned himself the chief antagonist of the Iran nuclear deal.

NETANYAHU: A red line should be drawn right here.

GOLD: Which Obama was negotiating, even addressing the U.S. Congress, infuriating the White House.

NETANYAHU: That deal not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lot's of them.

GOLD: Obama giving a short rebuttal just hours later.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. FORMER PRESIDENT: The alternative that the prime minister offers is no deal, in which case Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program.

GOLD: The relationship between the two men remained tense, as Obama continually criticized Israeli settlement in the West Bank, seen it's detrimental to any formal peace process.

But U.S. relations turned with Donald Trump's 2016 election win. It was a bromance that Netanyahu craved and American president with whom he shared a common language.


GOLD: And alliances with the far-right, the critic say normalized extremism, an almost identical Middle Eastern agenda, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

NETANYAHU: Our greatest ally, the United States of American, today, it's embassy opened here.

GOLD: Endorsing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

NETANYAHU: And on this day, you too have chartered a brilliant future, a brilliant future for Israelis, Palestinians and the region.

GOLD: And proposing a deal of the century with the Palestinians, so favoring the Israeli position, the Palestinians dismissed it as the slap of the century.

Then the Abraham Accords, the historic normalization agreements with Arab countries. NETANYAHU: You have successfully brokered the historic peace that we are signing today.

GOLD: For Netanyahu, shifting the diplomatic paradigm in the region from land for peace, to peace for peace.

But after 12 consecutive years in power, Netanyahu making little progress on the peace with Palestinians. Three bloody conflicts with Hamas-led militants in Gaza, more settlement in the West Bank, all helping Israel in increasingly partisan issue in U.S. politics.

Meanwhile, an ongoing legal battle on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, threatening jail time, Netanyahu denying all the charges. Even after a world leading coronavirus vaccination campaign, in the end, it was the personal equation, the many enemies made along the way that led to his downfall. Former allies and longtime foes reaching across the political spectrum, with one common goal, bringing King Bibi's reign to an end, at least for now.


GOLD (on camera): And though he may no longer be prime minister, Netanyahu's political career is likely far from over. Friend or foe marvel at the 71-year-old seemingly boundless energy, and now he will be leader of the opposition leader of the largest party in the Israel parliament.


And today he vowed to do everything he can to try and topple this new government. Pamela?

BROWN: Yes, a lot of people think say he's not going anywhere. Hadas Gold, thank you so much.

And up next on this Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is not done trying to convince Joe Manchin to back the Democrat's election reform bill. We'll be right back.


BROWN: President Trump was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection that left five people dead. He was kicked off Facebook and Twitter for the same thing.


For the record before that in 2020, Twitter slapped a warning on one of his tweets for violating its rule against glorifying violence. And numerous times during campaign rallies he called for his supporters to beat up protesters.

Well, it turns out this kind of rhetoric runs in the family. Here's his daughter-in-law on FOX last night talking about the surge of migrants at the southern border.


LARA TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGHTER IN LAW: I don't know what you tell the people that live at the southern border. I guess they better arm up and get guns and be ready, and maybe they're going to have to start taking matters into their own hands.


BROWN: Last hour Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro explained in stark terms why that comment was so despicable.


REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, that's the kind of dangerous rhetoric that gets people targeted and gets people killed. That's the kind of rhetoric that led to a guy driving 10 hours from Dallas, Texas, to El Paso to murder 23 people because he considered them Hispanic invaders to Texas.


BROWN: So at worst what Lara Trump said was a call to violence. At best it was an extremely tone-deaf remark as the country faces unprecedented spikes in gun violence and hate crimes. Words matter.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is not exactly the most popular guy in his party these days. He's become a human obstacle, standing between filibuster reform and his party's legislative priorities, including the sweeping voting rights bill, the "For the People Act."

In an op-ed published in the "Charleston Gazette," he defended his decisions, writing, "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason I will vote against the 'For the People Act.'"

Now this morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez both addressed Manchin's critical role.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ (D-NY): And I do think that we need to talk about the elephant in the room, which are Senate Democrats which are blocking crucial items in a Democratic agenda for very, I think, for reasons that I don't think hold a lot of water. And I think that, you know, that the older school way of accepting the role of lobbyists in Washington absolutely has a role in Joe Manchin's thinking.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Is there something that you know that we don't know or a lot of people in your caucus who are really upset don't know about Joe Manchin and the possibility of getting this election reform?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, I don't know anything specific about this, but I do know that he has certainly concerns about the legislation that we may be able to come to terms on.

BASH: So it's bridgeable.

PELOSI: I think -- well, as I said to him, I've read the op-ed, you've left the open, and --

BASH: Oh, you talked to him about it?

PELOSI: -- we're going to go right in. Of course, yes.


BROWN: So let's discuss this and more with CNN senior political analyst, Ryan Lizza. He's Politico's chief Washington correspondent.

Great to see you, Ryan.


BROWN: So is Nancy Pelosi being realistic when she says the Joe Manchin divide is bridgeable?

LIZZA: Well, I think it was two clips to show you, you know, the two -- maybe not two wings, but two ways of dealing with the Democrats' Manchin problem, and on the left it is the -- it's very -- it's to hit Manchin pretty hard, right, and they don't have a lot of leverage, right? The left doesn't have much leverage. I think Pelosi's view of this is you have to -- you'll get more from Manchin with sugar than vinegar.

Joe Manchin comes from a state that Donald Trump won by -- I'm forgetting the exact number but between 30 and 40 points, right? He didn't get 50 percent in his last election, so Joe Manchin -- anything that someone like AOC says is good for him back home. So you have to understand Manchin through the prism of West Virginia politics. And if you're not thinking about that, then you're not going to have much impact influencing him.

So Democrats who think by attacking him or as some on the left are doing, calling him a protector of this, you know, racist institution of the filibuster, none of that is going to work. And Manchin will use that back home to boost support among a lot of conservatives who voted for him and for Donald Trump. So that's the sort of fundamental problem the Democrats have with Manchin is they have no influence. They have very few tools to influence him given the realities of West Virginia politics.


BROWN: That's really an interesting perspective to view this in. And you have Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez also saying that Manchin is romanticizing an era of bipartisanship that no longer exists because of Republicans, but to your point, does Manchin still speak for a lot of Americans who are politically in the middle?

LIZZA: I think he does. I think this concept of the filibuster is, you know, it requires a lot of education. You know, your average person doesn't understand parliamentary procedure and doesn't understand what the filibuster is, so they hear Joe Manchin say he's protecting, you know, this great institution and they hear a lot of liberals say no, it's -- you know, it's destroying democracy, so that hasn't really crystalized in the minds of a lot of Americans.

Not even, you know, a majority of Democrats because they are hearing mixed messages from people they look to, like, you know, the president's position on the filibuster is a little -- it's somewhat vague and different from the sort of pure anti-filibuster position. And so, you know, the way to get Manchin to come around is, well, one, there has to be a number of filibusters. There has to be a succession of Republicans blocking critical legislation that is popular.

And that is a way where eventually Manchin can come out and go to his constituents in West Virginia and say, you know what, we tried, and this filibuster thing is -- it really is ruining the Senate, it really is blocking stuff that I want for this state, but those are the kind of arguments that are going to work in the end. Arguments that Manchin can use back home, because he's not -- you know, his constituents are not in park slope. You know, they're in West Virginia, and that's the way -- that's the prism with which he looks at this.

And if you go back to the Harry Reid example, Pam, remember when -- we have the legislative filibuster, but we no longer have the filibuster for judges and for, you know, presidential nominees, and they didn't get rid of that until there was a pattern of obstruction and until we see that pattern of obstruction in the Biden era, they're not going to be able to convince Manchin.

BROWN: OK, Ryan Lizza, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

LIZZA: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: Well, Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his family are living the consequences of the former president. Pushing the big lie to the masses. They are getting death threats that are so terrifying his wife stopped having her grandkids over to visit. We're going to have more on that, just ahead.



BROWN: Well, lies have consequences. We know that. And unfortunately for Georgia's secretary of State he is living the consequences of the big lie peddled by the former president. We now know from our Daniel Dale that since his presidency ended Donald Trump has issued more statements lying about the 2020 election than statements talking about any other subject.

CNN's Amara Walker has the story.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "You and your family will be killed very slowly. We plan for the death of you and your family every day. And a warning that a family member was going to have a very unfortunate incident."

The death threats came by texts to the Trisha Raffensperger, wife of Georgia's secretary of State, detailed in a Reuters interview. The messages coming in April, many months after Donald Trump lost the election. Earlier threats even forcing them into hiding for nearly one week. Tricia Raffensperger telling Reuters, "Brad and I didn't feel like we could protect ourselves."

She said she cancelled weekly visits at her home with two grandchildren, 3 and 5 years old. "I couldn't have them come to my house any more. You don't know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff," she said. She described to Reuters how intruders in late November broke into the home of their widowed daughter-in-law.

Secretary Raffensperger spoke about the threats to CNN in December as Trump attacked him incessantly for standing by the election results in Georgia.


WALKER: Where Joe Biden won by a slim margin.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Tricia got the first ones. For some reason they targeted her, I think, you know, first of all, they said, tell Brad to step down, you know, and that type of thing. But then they just really, you know, ramped up, and then went to stage two, they just got vulgar and rude.

WALKER: Trump's baseless accusations of voter fraud in Georgia, also led to an election worker getting threatened with a noose.

GABRIEL STERLING, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE OFFICE: A 20 something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out, saying they should be hung for treason.

WALKER: These incidents led Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official, to angrily call on Trump and Republican leaders to stop the disinformation and condemn the threats.

STERLING: Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed. And it's not right.

WALKER: Still during a speech before the North Carolina Republican Party last week, former president Trump didn't skip a beat, still promoting false claims of election fraud.

TRUMP: I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy.


WALKER: Some federal judges overseeing the January 6th insurrection cases have expressed concerns that Trump's rhetoric could inspire more threats of violence. There's also worry about the impact disinformation can have on election workers and officials during the 2022 midterm elections.

In the meantime, Trump is being investigated here in Georgia for election interference including that phone call he made to the secretary of State in Georgia pressuring him to overturn the election results -- Pam.

BROWN: So, so disturbing. Amara Walker, thank you.

And a quick programming note, as we learn new details about what happened on January 6th in Washington, CNN's Drew Griffin talks with people who were there.


Watch "ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY: THE ROOTS OF TRUMP'S INSURRECTION" next Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

And with the final stop at Windsor Castle for tea with the Queen, that's a wrap on Dr. Jill Biden's inaugural G7 as first lady. More on her entrance on to the global stage up next.


BROWN: As President Joe Biden travels to Belgium for the NATO summit, First Lady Jill Biden is heading home after making her first appearance on the world stage this week at the G7. Earlier today the Bidens topped off their U.K. visit by meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle including a private tea in the state apartments.


CNN White House correspondent Kate Bennett joins me more -- with more on this very consequential trip.

So what do you think? How did Jill from Philly do on her first trip abroad as first lady?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think she did really well. It's funny to think about Jill Biden who we all sort of know and has been in the political landscape for so long, stepping away from that role to be first lady. And, you know, she was fine meeting the Queen. There were no major gaffes. They had met the other night at the reception, at the G7. That sort of made it easier.

She didn't buy a new outfit. She wore a suit that she just wore a few weeks ago on a trip to Virginia with the president. She's sort of kept true to herself. And I think what's really important about this trip is that we saw her do a lot of solo events. In fact, you know, she did more solo events outside of the G7, outside of the G7 Spouse Leader event which are usually fun cultural events.

But she did a lot on her own. Besides Kate Middleton, she met with veterans. She met with groups, you know, talking about her interests, about joining forces. But, you know, meeting the Queen is a big deal. The Bidens always hold hands, you know, and I'm sure she saw Joe Biden wearing his aviators, not taking them off, and probably wanted to elbow him and say, take off your sunglasses. But I think she did well as to be expected.

BROWN: I love the point you just made that she didn't buy a new outfit to meet the Queen.


BROWN: I feel like if that was me, if I was meeting the Queen I'd be frantically trying to figure out --

BENNETT: We'd buy a new dress.

BROWN: Right. We'd buy a new dress. Like -- but that -- I love what that says, right?


BROWN: It's just so interesting.


BROWN: Is there anything else about this trip, as you watched her? And you've covered other first ladies as well.


BROWN: That really stood out that surprised you perhaps.

BENNETT: I mean, I think we saw Jill Biden's emotional exuberance. Like there was a moment today after meeting the Queen, I think we have a picture of it, where she saw veterans that she knew from an event in 2018 in the United States and she was so happy to see them.

BROWN: Oh, wow, yes.

BENNETT: She just sort of ran to them with her open arms. You know, and compare and contrast among first ladies, in a million years I couldn't imagine Melania Trump, good or bad, right or wrong, making that gesture. She was just a very reserved first lady. Michelle Obama was more open. I mean, they've all been different. Nancy Reagan was different from Barbara Bush. And Laura Bush was different.

Going back to Jackie Kennedy, her first trip to Europe in 1961 sort of cemented her as this popular figure. Crowds in Vienna chanted Jackie, Jackie, you know. In France, she spoke French. So for first ladies on the world stage, you know, showing off their personality as Jill did, Dr. Biden, pardon me, she says call me Jill. (INAUDIBLE).


BENNETT: I think it's the world now getting to know who she is and who she is. This is a very relaxed, open, open book if you will.

BROWN: Yes. She looks relaxed standing next to the Queen.

BENNETT: Next to the Queen.

BROWN: In that picture. All right. Kate Bennett, thanks so much for that.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BROWN: And up next, a desperate search for survivors after a massive gas explosion levels parts of a city in China.



BROWN: At least 12 people are dead and more than 130 others are injured after a huge gas explosion devastated part of Shiyan City in China today. Look at this. Windows blown out, rubble clogging the streets, and a frantic scramble to find survivors. Rescue workers are still scouring the scene there. The cause of the explosion is under investigation tonight.

And now to the dire situation developing in Ethiopia this Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of people there in the midst of a famine and now facing potential starvation.

Our Stephanie Busari has a story from Legos, Nigeria.


STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: United Nations and other aid groups are warning that more than 350,000 people in Ethiopia's conflict ravaged Tigray region are experiencing famine conditions. Over 60 percent of the population, more than 5.5 million people were found to have high levels of acute food insecurity in Tigray, a neighboring zones of Amhara and Afar.

Of these two million are in emergency levels of acute food insecurity and without urgent action, the U.N. warns, could quickly slide into starvation. The situation has been caused by conflict and is expected to worsen in coming months, particularly in Tigray with over 400,000 people projected to face catastrophic food conditions without urgent aid.

Last month CNN exclusively reported that Eritrean troops were coordinating with Ethiopian forces to cut off critical aid routes. A CNN team traveling through Tigray's central zone witnessed Eritrean soldiers some disguising themselves in old Ethiopian military uniforms blocking aid to starving populations.

Fighting between Ethiopian government troops and a region's former ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, the TPLF, broke out in November 2020. Troops from neighboring Eritrea later joined the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.

The government in Ethiopia has denied that there are severe food shortages in the country.

Stephanie Busari, CNN, Legos.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: Well, I'm Pamela Brown and your next hour of CNN starts right now.

Tonight, CNN learns the Trump Justice Department secretly accessed the data of Trump's former White House counsel and his wife.

Plus, flight attendants on the front lines as air rage incidents spike in the skies.