Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
January 6 Committee Shows Trump's Pressure On DOJ To Support His Election Fraud Lies; Interview With Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA); Feds Search Home Of Jeffrey Clark, Former DOJ Official Who Pushed Trump's False Election Fraud Claims; Cmte Reveals GOP Lawmakers Who Allegedly Sough Pardons From Trump; Sources: Some Trump Allies Acknowledge That Today's Testimony Was Damaging. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So there's a question mark there. If you could try to ban guns in a place like Central Park or Times Square, Madison Square Park, whatever the case may be.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Right. You can't even enforce such a thing but it is incredible. As you talk about gun legislation passing as limited as it may have been, then you get this massive change in this --
CARROLL: Bottom line here, more guns will be on the streets legally, gun advocates say because of what happened.
BURNETT: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you very much.
And thanks for joining us.
AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening, I'm Anderson Cooper, along with my colleague, Jake Tapper in Washington for a special two- hour 360, looking at what was truly an extraordinary day witness testimony and stunning new details revealed during the January 6th Committee hearings.
Former top officials at the Justice Department offering details, sometimes moment by moment descriptions of private phone calls and meetings demonstrating how the former President personally and continually tried to convince them to support his fraudulent claims about a stolen election.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Part of today's hearing focused on someone whose home was actually raided by Federal investigators yesterday, former Justice Department official named Jeffrey Clark. We're going to have more on that raid in just a moment.
The Committee's interest about Clark has to do with the former President's effort to install Clark as acting Attorney General so that Clark could use the levers of the Justice Department to subvert Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. Take a listen to this incredible moment, recalled today of a White
House meeting just days before January 6 involving Jeffrey Clark, today's witnesses, the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone and then President Trump.
Clark had just explained his plan and here is how White House Counsel Eric Herschmann responded. And a warning now, some of the language is a little bit salty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the Attorney General. He's never been a criminal attorney. He's never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He's never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury.
And he kind of retorted by saying, "Well, I've done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation and things like that." And I said, "That's right. You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we'll call you when there's an oil spill."
And Pat Cipollone weighed in at one point, I remember saying, you know, "That letter that this guy wants to send, that letter is a murder suicide pact. It's going to damage everyone who touches it."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Or today's hearing, also provided evidence that directly linked the former President to the effort to overturn the election. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, whom you just heard, also testified about a phone conversation he had with the former President during the transition.
This is what he told a Member of the Committee whom we will speak to later in the broadcast, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Let's take a look at another one of your notes. You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump, "DOJ can't and won't snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election." How did the President respond to that, sir?
DONOGHUE: He responded very quickly and said, essentially, "That's not what I'm asking you to do. What I'm just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen."
KINZINGER: So let's now put up the notes where you quote the President. As you're speaking to that, you said the President -- the President said "Just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest of me in the Republican Congressmen."
So Mr. Donoghue, that's a direct quote from President Trump, correct? DONOGHUE: That's an exact quote from the President, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the testimony was, what Donoghue later said about a December 2020 White House meeting where he tried to explain to Donald Trump in great detail, what would happen if Trump removed, then acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and tried to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General to push this discredited election fraud nonsense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONOGHUE: This was in line with the President saying, "What do I have to lose?" And along those lines, he said, "So suppose I do this. Suppose I replace him (Jeff Rosen) with him (Jeff Clark), what would you do?" And I said, "Mr. President, I would resign immediately. I'm not working one minute for this guy, who I just declared was completely incompetent."
And so the President immediately turned to Mr. Engel, and he said, "Steve, you wouldn't resign, would you?" And he said, "Absolutely, I would, Mr. President. You leave me no choice." And I said -- and we're not the only ones. No one cares if we resign.
If Steve and I go, that's fine. It doesn't matter, but I'm telling you what's going to happen. You're going to lose your entire department leadership. Every single AG will walk out on you. Your entire department leadership will walk out within hours and I don't know what happens after that.
I don't know what the United States Attorneys are going to do. We have US attorneys in districts across the country and my guess would be that many of them would have resigned and that would then have led to resignations across the Department in Washington.
And I said, "Mr. President, within 24, 48, 72 hours, you're going to have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department because of your actions. What's that going to say about you?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I shouldn't point out that stopped -- that was a turning point. That stopped the President's efforts to subvert the Department of Justice to get the Department of Justice to say that the election was corrupt. However, it didn't stop the President and his attempted coup three days later, January 6, the President was out there in front of that crowd, repeating all the same lies that all his members from the Department of Justice, except Jeffrey Clark, had told him were completely false.
He was saying those things, the exact same lies to that crowd, telling them to march on the Capitol. Also today, the Committee publicly stated the names of Republican
Members of Congress, who actively sought pardons from the former President. We're going to get into that in a moment. It is an extraordinary list.
First one to discuss what we just heard, I'm joined now by CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; CNN senior legal analyst, Laura Coates, both former Federal prosecutors; also CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; CNN political commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Director of Strategic Communications for the former President.
Jeff, I mean this line, "Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen." There were so many extraordinary revelations that came out of today's testimony.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: That's the biggest one, because the issue about a criminal investigation of the President really comes down to intent. What was his intent? Was this a good faith effort to get to the facts of the election? Did he really believe that he won, and he was simply just trying to get the votes counted? Or was this just the use of whatever tool at his disposal to overturn an election that he lost?
COOPER: And the biggest tool is Jeffrey Clark, by the way.
TOOBIN: Correct, in more ways --
COOPER: I don't bluff, thank you. Sorry.
TOOBIN: Don't forget to tip your waiter.
COOPER: Yes, I've been here all week.
TOOBIN: But that comment suggests in a very direct way that he knows he's lost and that all he wants to do is keep the balls in the air so that it can go to the House Republicans who can take over from that point and that comment is so devastating to Trump.
COOPER: And also, his failure with the Department of Justice then shows you how awful January 6 -- I mean, as if it wasn't awful enough, we now know it was his failure to corrupt these guys. And now he's just knowingly spreading these lies. He is promoting violence in order to, as the last ditch effort, to get his will.
TOOBIN: And that's why the hearings have been, I think, so impressive as a group because you see the former President moving from audience to audience, the Vice President's staff, he's trying to convince them and the Vice President to overturn the election. He is trying to turn the people in the states in Arizona, in Georgia to overturn the election.
Here, today's testimony was about getting the Justice Department to try to overturn the election, none of it having to do with him actually having won the election. All of it, even having him use the tools at his disposal in a corrupt way to get the thing.
COOPER: And Laura Coates, at one point, he tells Donoghue that, clearly they're not following things on the internet like he is.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Is if that's where you want to have firsthand information. You have -- actually, the United States government contacting the Italian government, the attache, to figure out if there are satellites that are interrupting the use of our machines.
COOPER: An online conspiracy.
COATES: A conspiracy theory. And the idea that you also have, I think Jeffrey Clark, at one point promoted the notion that the Chinese were using smart thermostats to try to impact our election -- just absurd notions.
But when we look at what's happening, if I'm Fani Willis in Fulton County, Georgia, I am doing backflips because this has made my case that much stronger.
COOPER: She is leading the prosecution in Fulton County, Georgia.
COATES: She leads it in Georgia, and remember the dates here. January 2nd was that now infamous phone call with Brad Raffensperger.
This Oval Office meeting happened the next day, January 3rd. So at the time, it had be known from all of the people including Bill Barr, including Vice President Pence's counsel, including so many other entities, there was no there, there. Certainly after that call, he then goes to the Department of Justice and says, I want more of this and then after they tell him they're going to resign en masse, 30 minutes, and he goes well, how about a truck full of these ballots?
I mean, at every turn he wanted an army of yes men, and he found one, unfortunately, on January 6.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: So what more do you need to prove intent? I mean, this is a President who went everywhere and he was asking about every conspiracy theory that existed, whether it was satellites in Italy, or whether it was ballots in China or what -- and at every juncture, he was rebuffed, particularly by the Justice Department, which we are told, he became obsessed with the Justice Department.
He becomes more and more and more manic, and what finally convinces him not to replace Rosen with Clark is Rosen saying to him, "You know, if you do that, and everybody leaves, and Clark is presiding over a graveyard, what does that say about you?
And once he heard that, because, of course, it's all about Trump, once he heard that, he thought, that would look pretty bad, and that is --
COATES: And it is a misconception, too, of what went wrong here. You don't have to have him saying I intend for people to then do X, Y, and Z. They are circumstantial evidence. You have to have a good faith belief that actually what you're doing is not violating the law. He has been told at every juncture that what he's doing will violate the law, undermine the Constitution, harm the institutions, as we know it, as you just articulated.
And so all these notions, it's all showing you that he absolutely was aware that this was not --
COOPER: Well, let's go to Alyssa, because what was the mood at the White House around this time?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I left December 4th, and at that time, I kind of had a sense that things were heading the wrong way. I openly said that, but I was struck by the sheer desperation in these final weeks.
I mean, the unfounded, baseless, just crazy conspiracy theories that were being promoted by sitting Members of Congress and then being raised to, you know, Acting Secretary of Defense. It shows a President unwilling to give up power and desperate for any effort that he can pursue, but also those around him just going along with it.
Today was by far the most damning hearing. I'm shocked to even think of what future hearings might include based on what we saw today.
COOPER: Well, that's what's so interesting, because the last -- the hearing just the other day was very emotional and it was very personal and you saw the personal cost of this to a number of honorable Americans. This was equally dramatic, but in a whole other way, just how alarming it is.
GRIFFIN: And if I may note, Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a close colleague of mine, and who is now getting pushback from some of the Members of Congress, who refused to testify under oath, testified under oath that multiple Members of Congress asked her, a staffer for the White House Chief of Staff for pardons to cover up their crimes.
COOPER: Mass pardons for any Republican involved in this.
GRIFFIN: It is horrifying.
COOPER: Everyone will stay with us.
Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria, a member of the January 6 Committee.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. What do you think was the single -- was the one most important piece of information that came out today? Because to me, I have a whole list of them.
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I have a whole list as well. I mean, I think that, you know, the key focus of the Committee with this hearing being the levers that he tried to pull at the Department of Justice, and just to what extent he went in order to try to influence people and replace Jeff Clark, who, you know, people at the top by inserting Jeff Clark, that and then essentially the principle that those others, such as Rosen, and Donoghue had to stand up and essentially say, we're not doing that. And if you do this and try to put him in, we're all going to resign.
So, the impact that that had, and then, you know, secondly, another piece of it is, you know, disinformation, about what other Members of Congress did. You know, it's pretty straightforward.
I think Adam Kinzinger said this explicitly during the hearing, if you don't request a pardon, if you don't think you've committed a crime, and the fact that, you know, we've heard from witnesses under oath, that this, in fact took place, you know, it's very damning, and it really confirms that whole thing, like leave it up to me and the Republican congressmen, so like, who were the Republican congressmen?
I think, you know, that what we've learned from witnesses, that's all becoming even more clear than it was before.
COOPER: You know, I remember I think, it is what he said to President Zelenskyy in that phone conversation years ago, when he was trying to strong arm him. He said, you know, just say you're going to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden, and, you know, basically, he'll take it from there.
Him telling Donoghue just say, the election is corrupt and leave it up to me and the Republican congressmen to do the rest.
LURIA: It was very similar, you know, just say, it's corrupt, people will believe it. Oh, if we appoint a special prosecutor in the 11th hour here, you know, that sows enough doubt in people's mind that he can then use that as cover to go forward with, you know, his next phase of the plan. So I did see a lot of parallels, too.
COOPER: Former Attorney General Eric Holder was quoted today as saying he called that a smoking gun. Do you see it that way?
LURIA: You know, to me it's not the only smoking gun that came out in today's hearing. But you know, definitely when we are asking the question of intent, I mean there was a deliberate plan and it was many levers of government today. We focused in on the Department of Justice. Last hearing was about the different election officials in the state and we're continuing to put those pieces together as we move forward in the hearing.
So, you know, I think it'll paint a very clear picture by the end of our hearings, just what all of those levers were.
COOPER: Well, also mean, so much of the power from today of the people we heard from is they were Republicans who were very loyal to the President, many had been in the administration for the Department of Justice throughout the entire administration.
While we heard the Department of Justice officials talk about how alarmed they were from the President's behavior, CNN's Evan Perez is reporting, they've also concluded he never ordered them to break the law. Do you agree with that? And how much does that impact Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice as they weigh charges? LURIA: Well, I can't comment, you know, from the Department of
Justice and their perspective in trying to prove a crime. As we've said many times, that's not the purpose of this Committee. It's a legislative Committee.
But what I would say is that the pressure was clear. All indications were out there that, you know, he is willing to do anything, essentially wipe away the leadership within his Department of Justice and replace it with someone who was wholly unqualified to hold that position, and someone who was truly a loyalist.
And then you know, another thing that was shocking to me as well was this call to the Department of Defense that was talked about with Kash Patel. You know, someone else who came in very late in the administration, who had a role there and so kind of trying to really see everywhere, there was someone, you know, in a role or attempted to be put in a role who could help implement this plan.
COOPER: And the idea of appointing Sidney Powell as a Special Counsel, I mean, it's just -- you can't make this up Congresswoman Elaine Luria, I really appreciate it. Thank you.
LURIA: Thank you.
TAPPER: I am joined now by CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel; CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; CNN's Chris Wallace and CNN senior political analyst, Nia-Malika Henderson.
Dana, what do you make of what Congresswoman Luria just said?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she just kind of put it all together that the Committee is putting it all together, connecting all of the dots and really painting the picture of what the former President was doing in a frantic frenetic way, both from Congress' point of view, from the state's point of view, all of the pieces of the Federal government, particularly today, obviously, was just remarkable the way that these DOJ, Republican Trump DOJ officials described it.
I also thought it was really -- because so much of this is jaw dropping. Any one of these issues could be like, you know, a blaring headline in and of itself, but the pardon issue particularly for these Members of Congress is huge, because -- and I should say they denied, people like Scott Perry, they deny it.
But you have people under oath, saying that Members of Congress either requested individual pardons or blanket pardons for anybody involved in and around January 6th.
TAPPER: Yes, although Jamie Gangel, I should note that Congressman Mo Brooks released the letter that he sent to the White House, which is something along the lines of, you know, the crazy Democratic socialists and liberal Republicans are going to try to abuse the Justice Department and go after us criminally, so you should offer blanket pardons to anybody who signed on to that crazy amicus brief. I called it crazy, Mo Brooks didn't, or anybody who voted to disenfranchise the voters of Pennsylvania and Arizona.
So he is owning up to it. And he said, it's because of fear of what liberals might do.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Committee had the receipts on Mo Brooks, so he had to find some excuse. Scott Perry came out today and denied it completely, said, but let's remember, he would not come in and testify under oath. Cassidy Hutchinson did.
Just to emphasize something that Dana mentioned, Donald Trump was relentless in this. That is the pattern we are seeing throughout these hearings, and I think what was so impressive today was the system held because of these lawyers. Conservatives, Republicans, political appointees who the Trump administration had put in, and they said no, over and over and over again, and we saw how close it came, but they pulled democracy back from the brink.
TAPPER: And Chris, one of the most shocking things, although I don't think we've covered it all that much, really, is Donald Trump pushing both the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to seize voting machines.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Right, which is something that Michael Flynn talked about, at one point; Rudy Giuliani, the idea of seizing these voting machines, you know, there were two things that struck me, Jake, about the hearing today.
One, I think, one of the reasons it was so powerful, is it -- it's like a perfectly constructed play. All of this happens in 11 days from December 23rd when Jeff Rosen takes over as the acting Attorney General until January 3rd when they have that crazy meeting in the Oval Office, when it is literally up for grabs in front of his desk who is going to be the Attorney General?
And you can see Trump getting as it is described, more and more agitated as he tries to get Rosen and Donoghue, the people who were in office to accept and to say that the election is corrupt, and they refused to do it.
And then finally, he goes to Jeff Clark, and he is thinking about putting him in to say it. So that's one thing I think that was the power. The second is the letter. The letter that he wanted somebody to send was that the Justice Department would declare that they had found significant concerns about the elections, and that they were insisting that the state or suggesting that the State Legislatures come and name alternate slates of electors to go to Congress.
Think about that for a second? You get to January 6th. I know what Pence has said he was going to do. If you'd been presented in Georgia and Arizona and Pennsylvania with a Trump slate and a Biden slate, who knows what happened?
TAPPER: Absolutely. And Nia-Malika, there was a moment in the hearing when we learned that the White House was prematurely referring to Jeffrey Clark as acting Attorney General. Take a listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KINZINGER: White House call logs obtained by the committee show that by 4:19 PM on January 3rd, the White House had already begun referring to Mr. Clark as the acting Attorney General.
As far as the White House was concerned, Mr. Clark was already at the top of the Justice Department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, that shows that if Rosen and Donoghue hadn't taken their stand, this would have happened.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: This was a fait accompli in the mind of Donald Trump encouraged by somebody like Scott Perry, who introduces this White House to Jeffrey Clark, who isn't really known to this White House before.
You have Rudy Giuliani saying, listen, we need somebody in that position who will do the President's bidding. So the President finds Jeffrey Clark, who is all too willing to help the President stay in power and orchestrate this corrupt plan. Fascinating to see the Department push back against him, and we see how close we came.
I thought what was also really interesting was Liz Cheney's final thoughts, right? There is an attempt by this Committee, obviously, to show the American public that Trump knew that he lost. There is an attempt to change minds, change the hearts and minds, particularly of Republicans.
So you have Liz Cheney, a Republican on that Committee saying directly to Republicans, listen, these are Republicans who are telling you Trump knew that he lost. These are Trump loyalists, people that he put in power, and you have to come to terms with the fact that he deceived you, that he abused your trust, and that is a fact whether or not she actually changes hearts and minds of the people who are true believers, we will see.
TAPPER: They have to be watching.
TAPPER: That is the issue. Thank you, everyone.
Stay with us. We still have a lot more to discuss tonight, including that raid we mentioned earlier at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, the ally of Donald Trump, who is at the center of what witnesses described as an attempt to politicize, weaponize, really the Justice Department. We're going to have the latest on the separate Federal investigation into what we heard today.
And later, the January 6 Committee named names when it came to which Republican Members of Congress were seeking pardons. We will name those names for you as our special coverage of the January 6 Hearing continues.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Jeffrey Clark, the man who almost became acting Attorney General was one of the main focuses of today's hearings and shortly before top officials from the Trump-era Justice Department told the Committee today how they fought to stop Clark from becoming acting Attorney General as he tried to ram through his plan to overturn the election, we also learned that Federal investigators just raided Clark's home yesterday.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Pamela Brown, is on Capitol Hill for us.
Pamela, what do we know about this development?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Jake, this was a surprising twist here in the Halls of Congress just before this hearing where testimony about Jeff Clark took center stage. And what we know about this raid was it happened in the pre- dawn hours on Wednesday, and it's part of the overall DOJ investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
And it happened on the same day that DOJ sent subpoenas to people involved in Trump's push to send the alternate slate of electors. Now, we know that Clark was central in that and Trump's overall plan that he worked with Trump devised a plan for Trump to put him in as the acting Attorney General so that then he could use the power of the Justice Department to overturn the election results, that was part of the evidence and testimony that was laid out here today.
We reached out for an attorney -- to an attorney for Clark who didn't respond but Clark's workplace, the Center for Renewing America did send a statement saying the new era of criminalizing politics is worsening in the US. Yesterday, more than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark's house in a pre-dawn Raid, put him in the streets in his pajamas and took his electronic devices all because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud.
Now we know that latter part that last line, there is not the full story here, Jake. Again, as I laid out, a DOJ did investigate voter fraud. We heard that in the testimony today from these witnesses speaking under oath saying they chased down these various voter fraud claims and turned up to empty.
But despite that, Jeffrey Clark wanted to take it even further using the power of DOJ allegedly to overturn the election results -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks. So let's talk about the raid more.
Back with us, Jamie Gangel, Dana Bash, Chris Wallace and Nia-Malika Henderson. And Chris, obviously, there was a lot of people investigating voter
fraud. US attorneys, Justice Department officials, elections officials. That's not what Jeffrey Clark's being investigated for.
WALLACE: No, of course not. I mean, we've heard today in chapter and verse, he is obviously being investigated because he was pushing this idea that the Justice Department should say that they had found evidence of fraud when they hadn't found evidence of fraud.
I find the timing of this odd, because on the one hand, you say to yourself, well, gosh, this has been going on for a year and a half. We've known about Jeffrey Clark's involvement for a long time. This was thoroughly investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee. So why did it take them so long to get, you know, and why is it that they decided to raid Jeffrey Clark's house because he was going to be the subject of this big investigation hearing today.
But having talked to some attorneys today, it takes a lot to be able to raid. You've got to have -- you got to convince a magistrate that you can you need to go and raid the guy's house, you need to convince him that you can't just ask them for the evidence that he might destroy it. So, you know, it seems odd a year and a half later, but apparently they had some pressing new evidence and reason for needing to raid his house.
TAPPER: You might remember Nia-Malika, just a few days ago, Justice Department officials were complaining that the committee, the January 6 committee was not sharing transcripts enough. It's possible this is pure speculation by me. It's possible that the committee started handing over these transcripts were they knew that I think Donoghue, the Acting Deputy Attorney General was going to say that Jeffrey Clark was meddling in an election that was -- that which is a criminal activity.
TAPPER: So maybe they just wanted to get ahead of it. They knew that this person was going to -- I mean, I don't know.
HENDERSON: Well, yes, we --
TAPPER: There's some -- there's a former Justice Department official who basically accused Jeffrey Clark of a crime today.
HENDERSON: Right. That's right. And we don't know to the degree that this committee is cooperating with the DOJ. One of the reasons they haven't wanted to give some of these transcripts up is because then they're subject to discovery, because the DOJ is obviously conducting its own investigation of folks who were involved in around January 6. But this was a surprise to the committee apparently that Jeffrey Clark, his home was raid, it was clearly a surprise to Jeffrey Clark as well who was out in his pajamas.
But what a stunning figure that Jeffrey Clark is, you know, this sort of environmental lawyer who thinks that he should ascend to be the acting Attorney General of the United States in defraud American voters (INAUDIBLE) --
WALLACE: Well he didn't think that.
TAPPER: Dana, let me play some of the former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen's testimony were Jeffrey Clark told Rosen he had taken over and offered Rosen a job to work for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY ROSEN, FMR ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: At that Sunday meeting, when he told me that he would be replacing me. He said he had asked to see me alone, because usually had met with me and Mr. Donoghue because he thought it would be appropriate in light of what was happening to at least offer me that I could stay on as his deputy. I thought that was preposterous. Told him that was nonsensical. And, and there's no universe where I was going to do that, to stay on and support someone else doing things that were not consistent with what I thought should be done. So I didn't accept that offer if I can put it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I wouldn't love (INAUDIBLE) hear that.
BASH: Yes. I mean, it just is a really rich and antidote --
BASH: -- anecdote. It's been a long day Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, yes.
BASH: Anecdote. About how out of touch and audacious this guy was. That he could actually offer that seemingly without any irony, or humor. Like he actually thought, well, if I get this job, actually, I should say, when I got this job because of what you put up earlier, because on the White House law, they already called --
TAPPER: They thought it was deal.
BASH: -- acting. And the President, the then president was clearly stunned that he had this intervention, which is basically what it was by all other senior members of the DOJ.
GANGEL: So can I just throw some Yiddish in here?
GANGEL: I know some people who worked with Jeffrey Clark, and this is not to diminish the nefarious things that were going on. But he was described to me as sort of an absent minded professor, and here's the Yiddish a schlemiel and a schlimazel. Someone who would spill his soup on himself. TAPPER: Right.
GANGEL: This was not someone who was really in tune with.
WALLACE: Can I just add --
BASH: It was very nice (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE: I know what schlemiel is. What is a schlimazel?
GANGEL: So, schlimazel is the guy who gets the soup spilled on his --
TAPPER: He'll spills the soup on the schlimazel.
GANGEL: So he's spilling it on himself.
TAPPER: All right (INAUDIBLE), we appreciate (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Stick around we have much more to discuss with all of you.
COOPER: It would be a (INAUDIBLE) if we do more.
More now on those pardons we've been talking about listen to all the names brought up in video testimony by aids to the 45th president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was Representative Gaetz requesting a pardon?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believed so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pardon that he was discussing, requesting was as broad as you could describe. You mentioned Nixon and I said Nixon's pardon was never nearly that broad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Biggs did, Mr. Jordan talks about congressional pardons, but he never asked me for one as more for an update on whether the White House is going to party members of Congress. Mr. Gohmert, asked for one as well. And Mr. Perry asked for pardon too, I'm sorry (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, she didn't contact me about it. I heard that she had asked White House Counsel's Office for a pardon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As was mentioned earlier, in a statement to CNN Congressman Mo Brooks confirms to CNN that he sought a pardon. He shared an e-mail in which he expressed concern that Democrats would abuse the judicial system. It's ironic. Congressman Matt Gaetz's office won't say if he asked for a pardon.
On Twitter, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene denied the allegations against her calling them gossip and lies. And Congressman Scott Perry tweeted a short time ago that he stands by his denial of seeking pardons for himself or others.
With us again, Jeffrey Toobin, Laura Coates, Gloria Borgia, and Alyssa Farah Griffin.
Laura, I mean, if someone pleads the fifth in court under oath, it's not necessarily an indication they've done something wrong. But when someone in this case several members of Congress allegedly contacted at the White House Chief of Staff seeking pardons, that certainly is an occasion that at least they have something that they're concerned about.
COATES: Well, if you're asking then candidate Trump being the fifth is enough to actually confirm your guilt. So the irony we're talking about it now at this point in time is very different. The idea of him pleading guilty, for example, Jeffrey Clark, more than 100 times in front of that committee, I mean once is a red flag for an investigator to figure out why it is you're doing so, 147 times that's more than a red flag.
But the idea of actually saying and suggesting that you're not going to answer questions, you have the corroboration, other people saying, here's what this person is doing and what they've done, and they've been so bold and as Dana said audacious in trying to go in and round around the acting Attorney General. Remember, you heard from Jeffrey Rosen today saying, what do you mean, you happen to be at the White House, Jeffrey Clark, without my permission, without my knowledge for any reason.
COATES: You're going around and doing these things. And all this is indicia of that you will know what you're doing is the wrong thing and accounting (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Yes. But another part is Jeff, I mean, Mo Brooks sent an e- mail to ask me for all purpose pardons, like for any possible thing.
TOOBIN: Right. Which, which --
COOPER: Is that a thing?
TOOBIN: Well, you could -- it could be done. I mean, the President of the president he can only pardon you for federal crimes. He can pardon you for state crimes. But one of the things I think we've learned in these hearings, is that the possibility of criminal prosecution of the people involved was something they were thinking about even then, when Eric Herschmann is saying to Jeffrey Clark, you are committing a crime here, you better -- and -- who does he say you get you better get a good criminal defense lawyer.
TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE) says that to Eastman --
BORGER: We he don't know that he didn't ask for a pardon.
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, that's, I mean, Eastman, Clark, you know, all these people are being warned at the time --
TOOBIN: -- that they may be committing crimes. So the idea that they're somehow shocked that this criminal investigation is now ongoing, you know, they knew the possibility was there, even at the time and the people seeking pardons. They obviously thought a criminal investigation was possible.
COATES: Preemptive pardons have been done before. That's not the real shock of the (INAUDIBLE) --
TAPPER: Richard Nixon, by Gerald Ford --
COATES: (INAUDIBLE). But the idea of why they're doing it here is anticipation of what's going on, is what's shocking, in this instance.
BORGER: Well, there's a process for pardons. And you've seen former presidents go through it. I mean, it's a it's a long process, in concert with the Justice Department, you come up with lists of people, people suggest people who might --
TOOBIN: But it doesn't have to be.
BORGER: -- desert. It doesn't have to be. But this notion of mass pardons in advance of being accused of any crime is kind of stunning and shocking to me, because all of these people seem to think as you were saying that you know, there's something wrong in here.
COOPER: Well also, Alyssa, I mean Scott Perry is the congressperson who seemed to be the one to who brought Jeffrey Clark into the orbit of President Trump. He seems to be the one who brought Clark over.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And he came out with a statement just denying it outright, yet won't testify under oath. I actually think Mo Brooks his statement is the most telling and I think for someone like Mo Brooks, that's what he actually thinks, the same person who is cooperating with the Trump administration to try to weaponize all aspects of government to hold on to power was himself is now saying, oh well I thought the incoming administration --
COOPER: Would do that.
GRIFFIN: -- would politically do that. I think for some of these members that's actually how they view it and I think we can't lose that in this discussion is we live in a split screen in America where they truly that today showed some people live in a different reality that than we do, a different fact environment where it's just, I mean, these conspiracies that they were sharing these pardons that they were thinking, they're not seeing things the way you (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: Or they knew that they're lying.
GRIFFIN: In some cases --
COOPER: And they knew that they --
GRIFFIN: In some case (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: -- that maybe some other and they knew that, and maybe they knew that they just had seen that the Department of Justice, even though they are Republican officials, or supporters of the President, were not willing to do the President's bidding, and they're suddenly worried, oh, wait a minute, maybe there are (INAUDIBLE).
TOOBIN: I'll just use a wonderful phrase, you know, the fact environment. You know, I hope we live in the environment of facts. And the fact is that Joe Biden won this election. And the whole reason we're doing this investigation is that Donald Trump mobilized his entire administration and everyone around him, including his supporters to try to overwhelm.
GRIFFIN: And to Anderson's point, most of these people knew better. That's what drives me crazy, as someone who spoke out is they knew better and they're just lying, because they're hoping to stay in power (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: Right. I mean they're worried that the next administration is going to do what they are current -- that they were currently doing --
COATES: Which is projection, remember, even --
COATES: Right now we've got Kevin McCarthy, you've got Jim Jordan and others who are already threatening things like even during the impeachment, when Republicans or if Republicans reclaim the majority, here's what we're going to impeach Joe Biden and the like. They're already protecting talking about the ideas of having these meetings having these investigative committees. This is pure projection.
COOPER: We also don't want to get into a place in this country, where every administration just does blanket pardons of everybody that they support, as they're leaving, because of any -- BORGER: Because they were doing it (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Because they were -- I mean, they just --
GRIFFIN: Matt Gaetz for example, is under investigation for things totally unrelated.
BORGER: Right. And he wanted, we were told --
BORGER: -- for everything, but it's just absurd. I don't know that they all knew. And you know more about this, because you were living with them in the White House, so to speak. But I have a sense that some of them didn't, that they had convinced themselves that this was the right thing to do.
GRIFFIN: I think that's true. I think that's true.
BORGER: And that in some way, shape or form, they were doing it for a greater good, for the country, even if it meant lying a little Machiavellian there. But, you know, that's why we're doing this because it's for the greater good and Donald Trump should be president of United States.
GRIFFIN: I think it's true and I don't know, which is scarier to be honest, right.
COOPER: Or they just didn't give a crap and they were fine with doing whatever Donald Trump wanted, because it serve their interests.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Laura Coates, Gloria Borger. Alyssa going to stick around.
Up next, more revelations from today's hearing showing just how far the former president went in efforts to subvert the election putting pressure on the Justice Department and Homeland Security to seize voting machines. And had new reporting the reaction from the former president's own allies and when they have to say about today's hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FMR ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: He discussed a variety of election matters. He did say this sounds like the kind of thing that would warrant appointment of a special counsel. There was a point at which the President said something about why don't you guys seize machines.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: That was Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, recalling the hours long White House meeting we've been discussing time that took place on January 3 where the former president as top officials at the Justice Department why they couldn't seize voting machines following the 2020 election. Former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen today said he told the former president that the department would not seize the machines. He testified that Trump then called the top official Department of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli, and that the former president told Cuccinelli that Rosen said it was hoped -- that he had said it was Homeland Security's job to seize the machines. Rosen testified that he had never said that.
Joining me now CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, isn't clear how the former president and his allies are feeling tonight about these latest hearings? Because there was a lot of very, very damaging testimony today.
KAITLAN COLLIINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really stood out today really comparison -- comparing to the other hearings that we've seen from the January 6 committee. And I think it also stood out to the people who used to work in the Trump administration or people who still find themselves in his orbit. And several of them Anderson that I spoke to said they actually found today's testimony pretty damaging to Trump, because I think that they've downplayed a lot of the other hearings, a lot of them have said they're not watching. They're not paying attention. Not as many people were saying that about what was happening today. And you're hearing these top Justice Department officials testify about just what a chaotic environment it was in the last several weeks.
And I think the reason they found today more damaging based on the conversations that I had with these people, several of them was that it was not just that Trump tried to use the Justice Department in this blatant manner for his own political gain. But also there were those more embarrassing moments where you heard that committee confirmed that yes, Mark Meadows, the chief of staff did reach out to the acting defense secretary at the Pentagon had him call an official in Italy to check on whether or not this theory about Italian satellites being used to change votes actually checked out which of course it didn't. And these officials testified today, they found that that allegation that baseless allegation to be pure insanity.
But also ranging to things like the call books at the White House already calling Jeffrey Clark, the acting Attorney General, when he very much was not so or in that, that very notable meeting that Trump had with these top officials where they were saying, Trump asked if they were now going to try to fire Jeffrey Clark after he molds putting him in the top spot at the Justice Department. And they had to explain to the President that actually they couldn't do that, given he's in a Senate confirmed position. That's only something that the President could do.
And so, I think those testimonies one by one coming out from these top officials, Republican officials, career officials, talking about what they've been through. That's why they found it more damaging than the other days and the other testimonies that you've seen from this committee.
COOPER: I assume -- well, I mean, I shouldn't assume. Do you know, the extent to which the former president is actually watching these hearings, given his penchant for watching himself on television?
COLLINS: We don't know about today. We know that he had been saying he was going to stop watching the hearings. He obviously had started watching them, he does typically watch these things as especially when they're about him very closely. But he had been growing angrier and angrier as they are going on, frustrated that none of his aggressive Republican allies. A lot of the ones that were mentioned today when it came to the talk of pardons, so that raises questions of what that would have looked like. But he's angry, none of them are on the committee in there to push back and defend him.
So not clear that he watched today. But it's hard to see that he won't see some of this testimony from these former top officials that he often met with it and talk to him about his efforts to overturn the election.
COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
TAPPER: With more on the reaction from the former president's allies, joining me again, Jamie Gangel, Dana Bash, Chris Wallace, Nia-Malika Henderson.
Jaime, you heard Kaitlan's reporting about the former president's allies. What's your sense of how damaging today's testimony actually was for Donald Trump?
GANGEL: So, we don't know, big picture long term. But let's remember, I don't often like to compare these hearings to Watergate. But there is one similarity, and that is it wasn't until the middle of the Watergate hearings. Well, along that things started coming out like Alexander Butterfield and the recording. I do think these have an incremental effect. The question is, are the people who believe the big lie listening and watching?
TAPPER: And that's a significant question, because obviously, a lot of the people who believe the big lie, watch Fox and OAN and Newsmax and channels that are either not covering this or covering it, generally speaking, as look at this partisan witch hunt.
BASH: Yes, and no question back then, people were for the most part, operating from the same set of facts and reality. And, you know, with limited access to information, and now it's a completely different world. The question is, whether or not the former president is getting whether Adam Kinzinger, in particular, people of his ilk are getting any traction with the argument that he made it the hearing, that he made on Twitter afterwards, in an interview with you, which is anybody who is a fair minded person watching these in the Republican Party, who was not speaking out and doing what is right, is going to have, you know, their conscience to deal with and it's not just the leaders right now, but then it also goes down to the voters. And that is the ultimate question right now.
TAPPER: Chris, I want to play more of what Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said in his testimony today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONOGHUE: The December 27th conversation was, in my mind an escalation of the earlier conversations as the former acting Ag indicated, there were a lot of communications that preceded that as we got later, in the month of December, the President's entreaties became more urgent, he became more adamant that we weren't doing our job, we need to step up and do our job. And he had this arsenal of allegations that he wanted to, to rely on.
And so, I felt in that conversation that was incumbent on me, to make it very clear to the President, what our investigations had revealed, and that we had concluded based on actual investigations, actual witness interviews, actual reviews of documents, that these allegations simply had no merit.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Were any of the allegations he brought up, found credible. Did you find any of them credible?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, that's, that's significant. And again, Richard Donoghue, he's an Army veteran. He's a former U.S. Attorney. He's also a Trumpster. Donald Trump --
WALLACE: They're all Trumpster.
WALLACE: Well, no, this is the phone call on December 27th. And Trump, again, as part of this drama is becoming more and more agitated is another word they use in addition to adamant about these various theories. And so, he's presenting them on the phone to Donoghue, and he's saying, well, what about Antrim County? And what about this? And what about that? And he keeps saying, no, no, and there's no merit. We've investigated, Mr. President.
And he said, in his testimony today, I was trying to cut through the noise because I knew that he was getting all this information, or all these allegations about these various places, and these various supposed frauds. And I was trying to say, we've looked into it, it's not true. And it was at that point at the end of this, that Trump made the famous statement.
You know, I'm not asking you to do that just say the election was corrupt and leave it to me and the Republicans. I mean, this was -- Donoghue doing his best to try to get the president to face the truth and the president and kind of saying the quiet part out loud I don't need the truth, I just need a statement from you.
TAPPER: Yes. And Nia-Malika, I mean what's remarkable here is the President was going to fire them.
HENDERSON: Yes, I think that's right. And install Geoffrey Clark, who was going to do his bidding. In these days, we see a president who is kind of ripped with a kind of desperate media to hold on to power. He has a cause, looking for a mark, right? He tries to get Pence to go along with them. That doesn't work. He tries to get a folks at the DOJ to go along with him. That doesn't work. He looks in these different states, right in Georgia and Arizona, just to try to get folks to go along with them.
And finally, in the end, he does find a mark, right. It's essentially these supporters, his followers on January 6, they're the ones that really in the end, do his bidding try to essentially overthrow the government in a kind of violent coup on January 6, and that is what we'll see unfold in the coming hearings.
TAPPER: Coming up next, more on the new and damaging details presented in today's hearing. We're going to hear reaction from Republican Congressmen and January 6, select committee member Adam Kinzinger.
And ahead, new unprecedented video of Donald Trump describing his view of what happened on January 6.
COOPER: One of a number of striking features of today's hearings was that it was being led by one the only two Republicans on the committee, Congressman Adam Kinzinger.