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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
In New Documentary Former President Trump Says A "Small Portion" Of People Went To The Capitol On Jan. 6th; Rep. Kelly Denies Sen. Johnson's Claim Electors List Came From Him; Former Justice Official: Trump Told DOJ "Just Say The Election Was Corrupt". Aired 9- 10p ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CO-HOST: One of a number of striking features, of today's hearings, was that it was being led by one of the only two Republicans, on the committee.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, his questions, to the witnesses involved some of the most damning revelations, so far, during these hearings, including the comment, by one former official, to Congressman Kinzinger that the former President told him, quote, "Just say that the election was corrupt. Leave the rest to me, and the Republican congressmen."
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CO-HOST: Just a short time ago, I spoke with Congressman Kinzinger, about today's hearing, about whether he thinks the former President directed the Justice Department, to break the law.
We also discussed, the actions, of some of his fellow Republican members of Congress, leading up to January 6.
TAPPER: The hearing was really about Trump's attempt to weaponize the Justice Department. But it ended, with the panel, revealing the names of Republican members of Congress, whom witnesses say sought pardons, preemptive pardons, from then-President Trump.
They include Congressman Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry. Perhaps Marjorie Taylor Greene. It's unclear, hers is less direct. These are still your sitting colleagues, in the House of Representatives.
What should happen to them? Should they be censured? Should they be removed from committees? What do you think?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Well look, that's, I guess, a decision for colleagues, right? I mean, my job is to put that evidence out there.
And, as I said, at the end of that, it's like, I only know of one reason to seek a pardon. Because you're worried that you're guilty, that you committed a crime. This is something they have to answer, to their constituents. I can't enforce rules to the House, or do certain things unilaterally.
But, I think, the bigger point is, "Listen, America. Do you really want your members of Congress, out there, trying to bend or break the law, so that they can maintain political power?" That is like anathema to everything we ever learned in history class, whether you were in third grade, or whether you were a senior. And that's got to stop.
TAPPER: It's interesting, because you had three Trump loyalists, Rosen, Donoghue, and Engel, testifying today. These are officials, who were loyal to Donald Trump. But they were willing to resign, instead of go along with his unconstitutional, perhaps, illegal scheme.
On the other hand, you have the Trump loyalists that we just mentioned, these Republican members of the House. Do you think, in your opinion, are they fit to remain in office?
KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, again, I don't want to go there. That's a decision between them and their constituents. I've been able to present what I presented.
I will say this, though. Let's contrast them, to these three gentlemen that were in front there today. I'm sure all three of them voted for Donald Trump. I'm sure all three of them were sad he lost. I'm sure all three of them wished the election would have been different.
But when faced with that pressure? I mean, I don't think - it's tough to explain, how much pressure it is, when you have a President of the United States, putting that on you, for all of them, to stand strong, for all the deputy attorneys, to basically make the decision that they were going to all resign. It's an amazing story, in that courage, honestly.
But I think the other thing that we have to keep in mind, and I kind of said this in my opening statement, is what would happen, if something different happened in the future? What if any of those people would have said, "We will put the Department of Justice stamp on your lies and conspiracy?" This democracy will be in trouble. This isn't over. We're not out of the woods.
TAPPER: Donoghue, the former Deputy - Acting Deputy Attorney General, said that he told Jeffrey Clark, that Clark was advocating, quote, nothing less than meddling in the outcome of an election. And we also heard that Clark was conducting his own investigation.
And take a listen to what we heard about voting machines, the idea that Trump was telling Jeffrey Rosen, to seize, you know, "Why haven't you seized the machine?"
In your view, do you think that the committee heard or presented evidence today that Trump directed the Justice Department to break the law?
KINZINGER: I think we've shown a lot of evidence that the President knew what he was doing.
The breaking the law part? I think, yes, personally. But again, I like to leave that to DOJ. Ironically, DOJ was on the stand, today! They probably have a special interest in what happened at this moment.
You'd mentioned the voting machine, thanks. Think about this. The President asked Rosen to seize voting machines. He said, "I can't do it." So, the President calls Ken Cuccinelli, at DHS, and says, "Hey, Rosen here said you can seize voting machines." Of course, he never said that.
KINZINGER: But that just goes to show, you can't trust anything the President says. Thankfully, Ken Cuccinelli said, "We can't seize machines, either."
TAPPER: I mean, one of the things that's so telling, and I guess, we've known this, for years now, but just to see it play out, because of the committee hearings, is that, a few people, different in those roles?
A bunch of Jeffrey Clarks, serving as Vice President, serving as Acting Attorney General, serving as Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, in Arizona, serving as Secretary of State of Georgia, just a handful of Jeffrey Clarks, replacing any of those individuals? And all these individuals, I'm talking about, are Trump loyalists, conservative Republicans. And we very well could have lost democracy in the United States!
KINZINGER: Yes. You know, who else knows that? Not just you, not just me, but the Steve Bannons of the world that are actually planning this. They think, under the radar, they can put in loyalists. And frankly, they can.
I mean, that's the point is, every one of these hearings we've done, and we've shown like a layer of stuff that could go wrong. And there's really no like - there's no magic police force that if people don't follow through, on their oath, is going to come in and enforce that. It's really just us having to hold true to what we believe.
And it's - what happens in Trump's second term, in theory, or a Trump acolyte, in his term, in presidency? Now he can interview anybody for DOJ, or any position, and says, "Is your loyalty to me? Or is it to the Constitution?" And eventually, trust me, you're going to find people that say, "I will pledge my loyalty to you, over the Constitution."
TAPPER: So, that was my conversation, earlier, with Congressman Kinzinger, Anderson.
COOPER: And Jake, I mean, one of the things, I think, right at the end, what he said, is so important.
And we saw that the price, regular people have paid, for these lies, for the attacks, the price on election workers, who've decided, "You know what? I'm not going to do this anymore, if this is what I'm subjected to."
And there are certainly plenty of sleazy folks, with a political agenda, who are willing to try to get those jobs, in order to cause mayhem.
TAPPER: The gubernatorial candidate, for the Republican Party, in Pennsylvania, my home, Commonwealth, Doug Mastriano, is an election liar, and is - was at the Capitol, on January 6.
And in Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania, you don't elect a Secretary of State. The Governor appoints the Secretary of State. So, this is a clear and present threat, right now.
And whether it is sleazy people, serving as election workers, because they can't get good decent people, to do it anymore, because they figure, it's just not worth the harassment, or risk to their lives? Or the Governor of Pennsylvania? This is a clear and present danger to American democracy. Period.
COOPER: Yes. We don't actually know the exact date of the next hearing. That's because of the - according to one of the committee members, "Deluge of new information," the committee has received.
One new piece of information, documentary video collected, over nearly six months, by a filmmaker, who had some behind-the-scenes access, to the former President, his family, and top allies, including the time before and after the January 6 attacks.
The documentary is airing, later this summer, on Discovery+, which is CNN's sister company. Here's a clip, of the former President, presenting his version, of what happened, on January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we talk, for a minute, about January 6?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.
Well, it was a sad day. But it was a day where there was great anger in our country.
The people went to Washington, primarily because they were angry, with an election that they think was rigged. A very small portion, as you know, went down to the Capitol. And then, a very small portion of them, went in.
But I will tell you, they were angry from the standpoint of what happened in the election, because they're smart, and they see, and they saw what happened. And I believe that that was a big part of what happened, on January 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, no mention of the violence, minimizing what actually happened, on that day, and praising them, as very smart. Filmmaker Alex Holder, testified, today, to the committee, behind closed doors. My colleague, Don Lemon, spoke to him, today, for an interview that airs tonight, on Don's show.
Don joins me now.
You specifically asked Holder, about that moment, the former President describing January 6. What did he say?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: I did.
And listen, not to mention, Anderson that the reason that they were angry, is because he was telling them the lie. He was feeding the lie that it was rigged, and that it was stolen.
It was very interesting, because he said that he had never met the former President, before. Never interviewed him. But then, after sitting down with him, and interviewing him, Anderson, he sort of had a reversal, a change of mind.
ALEX HOLDER, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: My position was that it was sort of a staggering answer, to that question.
And so, the idea of trying to see, whether or not he may even potentially dilute his position, or change it, wasn't for me to do. I asked him a question. He gave me an answer. I'm not there to persuade him.
Do I think he's wrong? Of course. I think - I think it was obviously a tragic event. And the fact that he called them, "Smart?"
And also, I thought what was very interesting was the fact that he used the word that he thought, these people think, the election was stolen. And that was also quite interesting, as well, because why do they think that?
And, for me, I feel that he is essentially admitting that the reason why they were there was because of the fact they believed, in his position, on the election.
LEMON: Yes. Did he, at any point, acknowledge that he lost?
HOLDER: No. And I'll tell you something. When I interviewed him, for the first time, in the White House, about a month, after the election, I had this debate with our Director of Photography, Michael (ph), about whether or not the President actually believed that the election was rigged.
And I was of the opinion that, of course, he doesn't really believe the election is rigged. This is just sort of Donald Trump rhetoric. But after that interview, when he left, and I was now thinking about, what just happened, my entire position changed. He absolutely genuinely believes that he won, and that the election was stolen from him.
LEMON: And in that moment, you changed your mind?
HOLDER: Absolutely. I changed my mind, the point that he didn't really believe it. My conclusion was that Donald Trump genuinely believes that he won the 2020 presidential election. And that is terrifying.
LEMON: Now, listen. I think most people are of the belief, because all the evidence shows, is that the former President knows better, after 60-some odd court cases, and every legitimate adviser, around him, telling him that it was BS, including his own former Attorney General, I think the President knew better.
But Anderson, I think it was interesting, I heard you just speaking to Jake, and you talked about. I think your quote was, "The price that regular people pay or have paid for this."
He is a master at creating his own reality, and then co-opting people, to believe his own reality, this sort of illusory truth effect. And so, he got this smart filmmaker, in that interview, to believe that he believed that. I don't believe that he believes it. I think he knows better. But he has to continue on with that Big Lie, his election lie.
COOPER: How much time did Holder actually spend with the Trump family? I mean, do we know under what circumstances he was brought in? Who's paying for this documentary? Was it?
LEMON: I asked him directly.
LEMON: He said, it was the, you know, there was no financial interest, from the Trumps. He said, it's all independent people, who were interested in - independent investors, including himself.
He spent a lot of time. Kaitlan Collins got more specific information about it. I think he spent - he did three interviews with President, the former President, December of 2020, March of 2021, May of 2021. Three hours with Ivanka Trump, two with Jared Kushner, two with Eric, and then Donald Trump, Jr., one hour.
And then, there was a second attempt. But that did not work out.
LEMON: So, he spent a lot of time, with him, before - after the election, and then after the insurrection, as well.
COOPER: But these investors were - I mean, it wasn't Jason Greenblatt who's, I guess, a friend of Jared Kushner's. Was he one of the backers of this? Because was this supposed to be just a puff piece? Is that how this guy got access, you know?
LEMON: I'm not sure if Jason Greenblatt was a backer of it. But I did ask him directly, if Jason Greenblatt conducted any of the interviews? And he said, Jason did not. He also said that he did, meaning Holder, Alex Holder, did all of the interviews.
Now, he said that - he actually took offense, to calling it a puff piece. And he said that he was very direct, with them, about wanting to spend time, and wanting to talk about the Administration, and the Trump legacy.
Here's what he said.
LEMON: We also had been told by folks, in the Trump-world, that they had been told that this was a puff, puff, puff piece, and that they had nothing to worry about, and that they had complete editorial control, over what went out.
You have denied that, right? Do you - did they have complete editorial control? Or any editorial control over--
HOLDER: No, they did not have any.
LEMON: --what was to be aired?
HOLDER: They have not even seen a single frame of the footage.
LEMON: Where do you think that is coming from?
HOLDER: I've actually no idea.
LEMON: Did you sell this to them as a puff, puff, puff piece?
HOLDER: Absolutely not.
LEMON: Do you wish you had pushed them more about January 6?
HOLDER: No. Because I think that their silence speaks volumes.
LEMON: Were you surprised at all that they agreed to do this, considering what was going on at the time?
HOLDER: I mean, I think, at the end of the day, when we started this process, here's a guy, from Britain, who'd been introduced to them, who doesn't have any sort of political skin, in the game.
And they were absolutely convinced they were going to win the election. This is sort of a roundabout sort of September 2020. So, sort of why not have someone follow them around, on the campaign trail, documenting them, winning the election? And so, they essentially sort of made that choice to allow us in.
(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: They absolutely thought that they were going to win the election, Anderson. It's interesting this - just how out of touch, they were, not only with what happened, but just with reality.
COOPER: Yes. I'm still fascinated, to know who did - who would have had actual editorial control, over this film, which he - I look forward to more, on this interview, Don.
COOPER: It's going to be on your program, starting at 10 o'clock, tonight. Look forward to seeing that. Don, thanks so much.
LEMON: Thanks, Anderson.
TAPPER: Back with us, Jamie Gangel, Dana Bash, Nia-Malika Henderson. And joining us, CNN Chief National Affairs Analyst, Kasie Hunt.
Kasie, want to start with you. Want to get your reaction, to the documentary filmmaker, in a moment.
But first, I want to go back to the hearing, where former Deputy Attorney General, Richard Donoghue, memorialized a meeting, he had, with then-President Trump.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Toward the end of the meeting, the President, again was getting very agitated.
And he said, "People tell me, I should just get rid of both of you. I should just remove you, and make a change in leadership, put Jeff Clark in, maybe something will finally get done."
And I responded, as I think, I had earlier, in the December 27th call, "Mr. President, you should have the leadership that you want. But understand, the United States Justice Department functions on facts, evidence and law. And those are not going to change. So, you can have whatever leadership you want. But the Department's position is not going to change."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I don't know that that really mattered to Donald Trump. Facts, evidence and law are not going to change.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, it clearly didn't, right? I mean, he said it. He said as much. He said, "Look, just write me the letter, just like, tell me, it's fine. And then, the House, you know, me and the House Republicans will take care of it. And we'll all be good." And, I mean, these officials that stood up today, have seen some criticism from Democrats that they were late to the party. I've heard from some sources that the Department of Justice was under a lot of pressure, from the Trump administration, well before what you saw, in the context of that meeting.
But, I think, this underscored and illuminated at the end of the day, that these guys showed up, and said, "This isn't good enough. This is not OK." And they stood in the breach. I mean, and they are joined by a bunch of other heroes, we've also heard from, in these hearings.
TAPPER: And Nia-Malika, I think, what convinced Trump, to not do this, through the Justice Department, was not the facts and the evidence are not going to change. It was angle. The head lawyer, at the Office of Legal Counsel, at the Justice Department, saying, "If you do this, and we all resign, this is how it's going to look."
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN CO-HOST, "POLITICALLY SOUND" PODCAST: Yes. Yes. "You will look bad, Mr. President." And we know that the President cares about appearances, his reputation, how people think about him. So that was what convinced him, not to install Jeffrey Clark.
What's interesting, though, is after that meeting, which is two and a half hours? They finally talked Donald Trump down, from this crazy scheme, of installing Jeffrey Clark. He then calls Donoghue, 30 minutes later, and comes up with this other crazy scheme of "Oh, there's some ICE agent, with shredded ballots, I think, in Georgia."
And Donoghue, says - I'm sure he's exasperated, at this point, by the President's cockamamie theories. He says, "This would be DHS, you know? You should call DHS, Ken Cuccinelli."
HUNT: "It's not my problem."
HENDERSON: Right. Exactly.
HUNT: "Someone else's problem."
HENDERSON: "It's somebody else's problem." So he is still, spinning, and in this kind of manic race, to find this evidence, for this crazy theory, he has. And this, of course, leads up to January 6.
HUNT: So, can we talk for a second? You said, he's so obsessed with how things look. And to go back to our documentary filmmaker, who Don just talked to? I don't know, if you all saw the clip that he put out, where he said that the Trumps did not have editorial control.
But it was a clip of Donald Trump arranging the way that the interview looked. And, I think, any of us, anyone who's interviewed Donald Trump, has seen this, right? He produces his own television shots, to the point where he's making decisions about, "Is this - is the table next to me, does it look right? Should the water glass have a paper cap on it, or not?"
And I think that that just goes to show you that throughout all of this, he is producing a show that is designed, to convince enough Americans, to do ultimately what happened on January 6.
And, I think, we should not lose sight of the fact, and certainly, Jamie, I know, you know this so well, like Liz Cheney's not lost sight of the fact that he's going to try, probably, to do it again.
HENDERSON: Yes, absolutely, right.
HUNT: And what they're doing is a TV show, right, that's designed to speak to people to convince them that that would be a really bad idea.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: He is doing it. As we speak, he's doing it, in election, after election, after election, in Republican primaries, all across the country. He is putting out, for his endorsement, not just a loyalty test, but a test about whether or not people will spew the lies that we have heard over and over, again.
HUNT: Which is why you can't get them to answer the question. "Did Biden win the election?"
HUNT: We've asked so many people that.
BASH: Well, right, but - exactly.
HUNT: And look at how they answer you.
BASH: But even beyond that, you had people, who won the Republican primaries, in states, from Missouri, to Pennsylvania, and beyond, both on the Senate level, on the gubernatorial level, less so, but certainly, when it comes to the House of Representatives. And so, it's happening--
BASH: --as we speak.
HENDERSON: They're more Jeffrey Clarks, in place, I think, at this point--
TAPPER: Oh, absolutely.
HENDERSON: --more than Jeffrey Rosen.
TAPPER: An army--
TAPPER: --an army of Jeffrey Clarks. JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Can I just got to a point that Don made about whether or not Donald Trump knew that he had lost?
Two things. One is, what's the worst thing in Donald Trump's world to be?
HENDERSON: Being a loser.
GANGEL: A loser.
GANGEL: And so, there is a story that has been reported out that after Election Day, a number of people, close to him, including Hope Hicks, go and say, "Work on your legacy. Move on."
And he says, according to the reporting, to Hope Hicks, "If I'm a loser, there is no legacy."
TAPPER: All right, everyone stay with us.
We still have much more to cover, including this. Wisconsin Republican Senator, Ron Johnson, who was last seen, trying to avoid reporters, earlier in the week, pretending he was on the phone, rather than answer their questions, about the revelation that his office tried to pass on a slate of fake electors, to Vice President Pence's office.
Today, Johnson is finally saying which member of Congress' office, he believes, passed along those names, and that slate, to his office. The details, ahead.
And Norm Eisen, the former Special Counsel, for Democrats, during the former President's first impeachment, will join us, to discuss, what was most damaging today, for Donald Trump, and his allies, as our special coverage of the January 6 hearings, continues.
COOPER: New developments, tonight, in the mystery of a fake slate of electors that Senator Ron Johnson's office wanted to have the Senator, or his people, give the Vice President, last January 6.
Here's what happened, when our Manu Raju, tried to get some answers, from Senator Johnson, on Tuesday, after the Select Committee made the revelation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why was he even asking for that?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Because somebody delivered this to our office, and asked to give that to Vice President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you support the - his efforts to try to get those slates to the Vice President?
JOHNSON: No. I had no knowledge of this.
RAJU: Who was - who was the person that you--
JOHNSON: And I don't - I had no involvement, in an alternate slate of electors. I had no idea this was even going to be delivered to us. It got delivered staff to staff. My Chief of Staff did the right thing. Contacted the Vice President's staff. They said, didn't want it, so we didn't deliver it.
RAJU: Who's the person--
JOHNSON: And that's the end of story.
RAJU: Who's the person that delivered it to your office?
JOHNSON: I have no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's so not the end of the story. I mean, that is such a ludicrous explanation, on so many levels.
Manu was not the only one asking for the Senator's response. And we showed you, last night, Johnson apparently resorted to the old "I'm on the phone" move, even if he wasn't really on the phone. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK THORP, PRODUCER & OFF-AIR REPORTER COVERING CONGRESS, NBC NEWS (ph): Senator Johnson, how much did you know about what your Chief of Staff was doing with the alternate slates of electors?
JOHNSON: I'm on the phone right now.
THORP (ph): No, you're not. I can see your phone. I can see your screen.
RAJU: Can you explain what your Chief of Staff was doing?
THORP (ph): Does your Chief of Staff still work for you, Senator?
RAJU: Can you explain what happened there? Why was your Chief of Staff even offering this to like - the Vice President?
JOHNSON: Guys, this is a complete non-story. We've issued a statement. And, it's a non-story.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Today, the Senator actually did get on the phone, telling a radio host, where he says the alternate slate of electors came from.
Our Melanie Zanona is on Capitol Hill.
So, what did - what did he say?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, we are hearing a lot of back-and-forth, on this one.
So Congressman Mike Kelly has said that these allegations, from Senator Ron Johnson, are just patently false. He said, through a spokesman that he hasn't talked to the Senator, in the better half of a nearly a decade, and that he has no idea, what Johnson is talking about.
But, of course, we took this back to Johnson, and he is still standing by his words. Our Manu Raju caught up with him, just moments ago. And Senator Ron Johnson says, he still believes that these documents, these fake set of electors, came from Mike Kelly's office.
Now, he says he also is basing this, on what he has seen, from a conservative reporter, who has reported that, so he doesn't know for sure. So, there are still a lot of questions, about Johnson's involvement, in all of this. And it seems like every day we either get a little bit of a different story or a little bit more of the story.
But, I think, the big picture, here, Anderson, is that a lot of these Trump allies, are starting to really feel the heat, as this investigation is playing out, publicly.
A lot of them are getting caught in the crosshairs. Whether it's Senator Ron Johnson, or the nearly half a dozen Republican lawmakers, who we learned, just today, requested a presidential pardon, after January 6. Anderson.
COOPER: So, just to be clear? I missed that part. So, Ron Johnson claims that Representative Mike Kelly gave his Chief of Staff that list?
ZANONA: Yes. That's what Ron Johnson said, initially.
ZANONA: In that radio interview, he said that Mike Kelly was the originator, of that set of documents, with the fake electors. But Mike Kelly's saying that's just simply not true, Anderson.
COOPER: OK. Melanie Zanona, appreciate it. Thank you.
With us now, CNN Political Commentator, David Urban. He was a Campaign Strategist, to the former President. Laura Coates, is back with us. Gloria Borger, Alyssa Farah Griffin, also all back to us.
I want to get to Senator Johnson, in a moment, because lots to dissect there! You've said before, on CNN, David that, the former President shouldn't really worry about the proceedings. What do you think after today?
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Again, unless there're going to be charges filed, which is it's a long stretch, I know there's people keep talking about it, right? I think, the President's on the way, to being the nominee, for the Republican Party, if he wants it, in 2024.
I don't think that the people, who have an impact, on that Republican base voters, are tuned into this. I don't think they care. I hear from - talk to people, who tell me, like "Have you seen the movie 2000 Mules?" right? They keep questioning my questioning them, of why they don't believe the President, lost, right?
And so, and these are people that I know, who are very educated folks. And if I can't get through them, and they can continue insisting that the President didn't lose? And they're - these aren't bumpkins. These are educated people. I don't know how to change that.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do--
URBAN: Or I don't know how that could change.
FARAH GRIFFIN: --I do think it's getting under Trump's skin, though. He put out several messages, on Truth Social, today, about he's now calling them the "Unselects," that's how he's referring to the committee. And I think today's testimony--
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Real clever.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes, very clever. I think today's testimony did get to him. I think mainly the fact that he's kind of made to look like a fool, and the advisers around him are, just the level of craziness of the conspiracy theories. But again, I think, it's simply getting to him.
FARAH GRIFFIN: I don't know how much it would phase (ph).
URBAN: Again, I don't dispute any of that.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes.
URBAN: I don't dispute that it's that today, the testimony from the Acting Attorney General, and from Mr. Donoghue, right, are just - it's devastating, right, to hear this testimony. I don't - I don't dispute any of that.
URBAN: I just don't. At the end of the day, if you're going to question, will Donald Trump be the nominee in 2024, for the Republican Party? Did today impact that? Did yesterday impact that? I think not.
Will he be President again? Will Republicans vote in sufficient numbers--
URBAN: --in 2024, to make him president? I think this may have an impact on it.
BORGER: Well, but, suddenly, you see reports of kind of this subterranean movement, towards Ron DeSantis, of Florida--
URBAN: Yes, yes.
BORGER: --and he could take on Donald Trump. And maybe there's Republicans now, who look at this, and say, "We'd like somebody, who's got Donald Trump's policies, but without the crazy."
BORGER: And so that may be seeping out there--
COOPER: But I think--
BORGER: --among Republicans.
COOPER: --I think the point you made, just what you just said, is important though--
COOPER: --that it may impact some Republicans about whether they would vote, for the President, if he runs again.
URBAN: Right. In a general election, right?
BORGER: In general.
URBAN: In a primary? Remember the primary, in 2016.
URBAN: We had lots of people on the stage. And it slowly winnowed down to a few, right?
And if we're going to have, if you have the list of people, who you're seeing run, like my friend, Mike Pompeo, and the former Vice President, you have this long list of people, running, in a crowded Republican primary? Donald Trump will emerge the victor, in that primary. And that's what I'm talking about, this.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And you're absolutely right about that, by the way.
URBAN: Yes. FARAH GRIFFIN: I think that--
COOPER: But you do - I mean, do you use - do you feel that there is a little bit of a drip-drip--
COOPER: --among some? Lots of - there are a lot of fair-minded Republicans, out there--
URBAN: Yes, absolutely.
COOPER: --who are looking at this, with a clear eye.
URBAN: I think people hear that. And I think that's what Alyssa is referring to, right? That that's why it's bothering the President. Because it does get to some people. People are seeing this, and they say, "We just don't need the drama."
URBAN: "I don't know if he did something that's criminal or not."
URBAN: "I just don't want to go through that drama, again."
URBAN: "I don't want to" they're not taking a judgment, whether he should be tried, not tried. I think they're just like "Enough of 2020."
URBAN: "I'm worried about 2025, 2026."
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And, by the way, we've seen this--
URBAN: And it's got to be prospective.
COATES: --compartmentalization, in the past, right? There were so many people, who would say, several years ago, in spite of all the political shenanigans that Trump brings with them, they compartmentalized, and said, "As long as he can get people on the Supreme Court, who might overturn Roe, I am fine with the rest."
URBAN: Well the--
COATES: As long as--
URBAN: --the Attorney General the United States!
FARAH GRIFFIN: But Biden like what--
BORGER: But all he's do--
FARAH GRIFFIN: No, go ahead.
BORGER: All he's doing is talking about 2020.
BORGER: You're talking about voters, who want to get beyond it.
URBAN: That's what I'm talking about, yes.
BORGER: He's not.
COOPER: I do just--
COOPER: --want to play some of the remarks, from Congressman Kinzinger, on the attempt to install a former DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, as Acting Attorney General, and how Mark Meadows, and Congressman Scott Perry, factor into that. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KINZINGER: On the same day, Acting Attorney General Rosen, told Mr. Clark, to stop talking to the White House, Representative Perry was urging Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, to elevate Clark, within the Department of Justice.
You can now see, on the screen, behind me, a series of texts, between Representative Perry, and Mr. Meadows. They show that Representative Perry requested that Mr. Clark be elevated, within the department.
Representative Perry tells, Mr. Meadows, on December 26 that, quote, "Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to January 6 and 25 days to inauguration. We've got to get going!"
Representative Perry, followed up, and says, quote, "Mark, you should call Jeff. I just got off the phone with him and he explained to me why the principal deputy won't work especially with the FBI. They will view it as not having the authority to enforce what needs to be done."
Mr. Meadows responds with, "I got it. I think I understand. Let me work on the deputy position."
Representative Perry, then texts, "Roger. Just sent you something on Signal. Just sent you an updated file."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Signal's obviously an encrypted app. And they don't have access to that.
Laura, as a former prosecutor, I'm wondering what you make of that?
COATES: I make of that, evidence, all of that corroborating other things that people have spoken about, the idea of trying to, and recognizing that the powers that be that actually had the authority, Jeffrey Rosen, and the like, were not willing to play.
They did not want to play at the game of "Pretend we have the authority, legally, to do something illegal." And so, there were searching for other people to do so.
Remember, Scott Perry was the person who, at one point, brought Jeffrey Clark, to the White House, unbeknownst to Jeffrey Rosen, ended up on the White House visitor log, as well, and was confronted by his own Acting Attorney General, on these very notions.
So, this is a further example, yet again, where there was an end-run attempt, around what the protocol of DOJ was, knowing that there was no legal authority, to do what he was asking for, to send the Georgia letter, to have a fake slate of electors, and yet and still, they still tried to do so--
COATES: --with a member of Congress supporting it.
COOPER: And got very close to, to doing that.
COOPER: Everyone, stick around. Coming up, we're going to speak with the former Special Counsel, to House Democrats, during the former President's first impeachment trial. His thoughts, on today's hearing, and that top Justice official, who says the former President told him, quote, to say that the "Election was corrupt," and they would do the rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KINZINGER: You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump, quote, "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."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was former Acting Deputy Attorney General, Richard Donoghue, testifying today, during the presidential transition.
Donoghue says the former President urged him, and another top Justice Department official, to just declare that the 2020 election was corrupt, and leave the rest to him, and a bunch of Republican Congressmen.
Joining us now, someone who knows firsthand, the significance of these kinds of hearings, CNN Legal Analyst, and former Special Counsel, to House Democrats, during Trump's first impeachment, Norman Eisen.
Norman, thanks for joining us.
What does that statement convey to you, do you think, about the former President's intent?
NORMAN EISEN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO HOUSE DEMOCRATS IN TRUMP'S 1ST IMPEACHMENT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Jake, thanks for having me.
It shows a disregard for the truth, Jake, when you say, "Just declare it's corrupt, and leave it to me, and the Republican Congressmen." We learned that the Republican congressmen were so concerned about that, came out in the hearing today that they sought pardons.
So, to me, Jake, it fits into the criminal conspiracy that a federal judge has already was found was likely, to conspire, to defraud the United States, by essentially stealing an election that does not belong to you. He was asking DOJ to help him do that.
TAPPER: So, how does that play into the idea that this was a full- blown conspiracy?
EISEN: Well, what we've seen, over the course of these hearings, is that Trump was methodically proceeding, step-by-step, with the help of lawyers, to engage in what the committee has described, as an attempted coup, Jake.
But it wasn't a coup, with tanks and guns. It was a coup with law books and statutes. And the President was trying to co-op these lawyers. We had heroes, today, three senior DOJ officials, Trump supporters, Republicans, defenders of Trump, who refused to participate in that.
And then, of course, we also had one of the villains. He took center- stage, next to Trump, and John Eastman. That's the President's DOJ lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, who was trying to push this scheme. TAPPER: So earlier, we heard the British documentary filmmaker, Alex Holder, say that he does think that Trump really believes these lies. He really believes that the election was stolen from him, despite the fact that there's no actual factual evidence to that case.
But criminally, does it even matter?
EISEN: Jake, it doesn't matter. That's because, you're not allowed to engage in vigilante justice, even if you believe you lost an election.
When the President, in Georgia, told the Secretary of State there, "Just find a 11,780 votes?" Or when, as we heard, on Tuesday, he pushed these phony electoral slates? You know, you're - essentially, those are forgeries.
You're not allowed to forge documents, simply because you believe you want an election. It would be as if I thought that the U.S. Treasury owed me $11,780, so I counterfeited the money, or robbed the mint. You can't do that, Jake. So, intent is really beside the point for the crimes that are allegedly emerging here.
TAPPER: All right, Norm Eisen, thanks so much.
For more reaction, let's bring back Jamie Gangel, Dana Bash, Nia- Malika Henderson, and Kasie Hunt.
And Jamie, you heard what Norm says. Just how big, were these revelations, do you think, from these senior Justice Department officials?
GANGEL: I think they were the most compelling hearings we have heard thus far, because these are conservative Republicans, Trump appointees.
And what we heard once again, today, and you referred to with Norm is, this was the "Just Do It" conspiracy. Whether it was Georgia, "Just find me 11,780 votes," Rudy, "Aren't we all Republicans?" Eastman, "Just do it. We'll sort it out in the courts," Trump to Pence, "You can do it."
There's one other thing that was mentioned this week that I think we should take note of. Liz Cheney said, this week, that more than 30 witnesses, now they had 1,000, but more than 30 witnesses took the Fifth. We know about a handful. Who are these other people?
TAPPER: Interesting. The ones that we know, include Eastman.
TAPPER: And Jeffrey Clark. I don't know if he took the Fifth, so much as to claim executive privilege.
GANGEL: He did. He took the Fifth as well.
BASH: He did both (ph).
TAPPER: He did both, OK.
GANGEL: Roger Stone, Tarrio, one of the Proud Boys. But there are a lot of people, out there that we don't know who they are yet.
TAPPER: Yes. Donald Trump once said something like, you know, "Only guilty people take the Fifth. Only the mob."
I mean, theoretically, the Fifth is--
HUNT: Not wrong.
TAPPER: --for people, who don't need--
HUNT: Like not wrong!
TAPPER: Well, people who - people who, they know, what the Fifth is. The Fifth is well the right to not incriminate yourself.
TAPPER: But it's when you have committed a crime,
BASH: Correct. And which is why, for example, at the very beginning of this, we thought Bill Stepien, the former President's campaign manager, was going to testify, in public. He was somewhat of a - he was maybe the only hostile witness, so far that we expected. He ended up not testifying, because his wife went into labor.
But I asked somebody, close to him, why doesn't he plead the Fifth? And the answer was, "Because he doesn't think, he did anything that was criminal. So, he won't incriminate himself. He will just come out and talk."
So, pleading the Fifth, it makes clear - it doesn't make clear that they did commit a crime, but it makes clear that they are worried that they possibly did.
TAPPER: Yes. And we should just reiterate the point that Jeffrey Clark wouldn't talk to the committee. But he went on Fox--
TAPPER: And he was allowed to spew his lies. That's a - that's a safe space, for these lies. And that is why these hearings are going on, because nobody is being shunned, in the MAGA-world, for these lies. They're encouraged.
TAPPER: And they still have safe spaces.
HENDERSON: I think they're being embraced, they're being elevated, in some ways. We'll see, if he becomes a regular on Fox News, at any point. Given what his past was, he's going to be embraced, obviously, by MAGA-world, the people, who think he was the hero, the one who was trying to right the election wrong. So, we'll see, what happens to him.
Obviously, he's in some legal jeopardy. His home got raided. Who knows what they're finding there? I think they were there for something like three hours.
But this is the world that Trump created, where sort of corruption, is embraced. It's ignored. It's seen as something, where you're embracing Trump, and embracing Trumpism, and doing the right thing.
And, in reality--
HENDERSON: --obviously, Jeffrey Clark, was very wrong.
TAPPER: Kasie, some of these co-conspirators, in the House of Representatives, if polls are right, are going to be Chairmen, and Chairmen of committees, and Chairmen of subcommittees, in a year.
TAPPER: Because there are things that people hold against Biden and the Democrats, inflation--
TAPPER: --and gas prices, and the like. And, I guess, democracy is not a factor?
HUNT: Well, look, I think that the key test here, for the committee, for our democracy is - yes, it's true. Jeffrey Clark has his platform. He was given a platform, tonight. Yes, it's true. There are many MAGA members of Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, who will continue to have megaphones.
However, we have seen some evidence that there are Republicans, out there, who are tired of Donald Trump. That is why he lost the election, in 2020.
Look at the election results, in Georgia, for example, where there are Republican members of Congress, who were sent, most of them back, to Washington, with more votes, more - of larger percentage of the vote, than Donald Trump received, on the presidential ballot.
These are also the same people, who sent Brian Kemp, into the Governor's office, in Georgia, who sent Brad Raffensperger, back into the Secretary of State's office, despite an effort by Donald Trump.
There is also evidence, I think, that there are Republicans, who are looking to turn the page. I think, so far, the evidence we've seen, across the board, in the elections, is that attacking Donald Trump, outright, is a bad plan, if you want to win a Republican primary.
But you can, in fact, kind of run past him, and just say, "Yes, you know, he's mad at me. I'm not mad at him. This is what I'm going to do in the future." And the voters seem to be willing to say, "OK. I'm going to do that." I think that's honestly what people like Ron DeSantis are counting on.
HUNT: I also think it's what Liz Cheney is counting on, as the head of this committee. Now she's in a different situation, herself, in Wyoming, because she's become the chief attacker (ph).
But she is talking to those voters, she is talking to Republican voters, to independent voters, to people who yes, they may want to vote against Joe Biden. And if the Republicans actually nominate Trump, then we're going to have a really tough conversation, along those lines.
But we got to get there first. And this, I think, is an attempt to basically say, look, "Yes, the Department of Justice could try to solve this judicially." But we all know, it's not going to be solved, unless it's solved politically. And that requires convincing people. And I think that's what you're seeing happen.
BASH: And then, you saw David Urban, say to Anderson, that he is still pretty confident that the base voters, those who elect the nominee, for president, are not convinced, because they're not seeing it. They're not hearing the same set of facts.
BASH: They're not living in this reality.
HENDERSON: I think it's too early, right.
BASH: Yes, I do think it's too early.
HENDERSON: Yes, it's too early.
BASH: No, I was just going to say that, Nia.
BASH: That's such an important point. A, it's too early. And the other thing, and you touched on this, Kasie, is compared to what?
BASH: If Ron DeSantis does run, or if somebody else, who may be more palatable, on these issues, but still Trumpy, on other issues?
HUNT: I think it's a fractured field.
HENDERSON: It's sort of Trump without the baggage.
HUNT: Donald Trump can walk right up the center, into that nomination.
BASH: That's true.
HUNT: But if he's facing one person the whole time? Different ballgame.
TAPPER: Jamie Gangel, Dana Bash, Nia-Malika Henderson, and Kasie Hunt, thanks so much.
COOPER: We want to continue what would come next, in these hearings? David Urban, Laura Coates, Gloria Borger, and Alyssa Farah Griffin, are with me again.
These were originally expected, to wrap up, pretty soon. It's now been, Gloria, extended. Do we even know when the next ones are?
BORGER: I think probably mid-July. Although, as you know, these things are dynamic that can change at any moment. But the committee--
COOPER: They say it's because of they're getting what they called a deluge of--
BORGER: Well, they're getting a lot more information. I was also told by one of my committee sources, is that there's archival information that we don't know about.
COOPER: How much of this is also, I mean, if the Supreme Court ruling on abortion comes out, say, next week?
COOPER: That that's going to take all the news coverage, and they don't want to compete with that?
BORGER: It could - obviously, they don't want to compete with that. But I do believe that they have a lot more work to do.
And we've all remarked, how organized, these hearings have been. It's been kind of remarkable. You have one member at a time, one narrative at a time. You come away with one big message, every hearing. And I think they've got some hearings, to talk about - more things to talk about.
And what they're going to do, at the very end, is give you a minute- by-minute recitation, of January 6th, and where Donald Trump was, and what he was doing, and what he was not doing. COOPER: Alyssa, David had made the point of, a couple days ago that it would be more impactful, if they just had Republicans, asking the questions, if it was Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, asking all the questions, and not really Democratic members of the committee.
FARAH GRIFFIN: I tend to agree with that. While, I do think Adam Schiff did a masterful job, he - to a Republican, you think of impeachment, when you think of him.
So, I do think the fact that nearly all the witnesses have been Republicans is important. The fact that every time Ranking Member Cheney has gotten a chance, to speak?
And today, I think, in my opinion, the best hearing that we saw to date, was from Congressman Kinzinger.
The plea that he made, and he mentioned this, in his interview, earlier with Jake, "To Republicans, right now, if you saw what you saw today, it's not too late, A, to come forward, but also to walk away, from this former President." That's going to be the message that he keeps pushing out. Because, I agree with Kasie Hunt, the battlefield's the voters.
We don't know what the Department of Justice is going to do. But you know what? If Trump's the nominee, it doesn't even really matter to some degree. So, I think this is really a messaging effort, as much as anything.
COOPER: David, you agree?
URBAN: Yes, I agree. And also, to Gloria's point about, they're going to keep dragging, you're going to have a hearing, in July, you're going to have a hearing, in August?
BORGER: No, no.
URBAN: I could tell - I could say - no, not on purpose. I could just tell you, what people will not be watching in July. And they'll be watching "Shark Week," in August, right? That's - they're not going to be watching this hearing that number--
BORGER: They watched "Watergate" in the summer.
URBAN: Yes, but that was a day--
URBAN: --that was when you had three stations, right? And no - and everyone was glued to the TV, right?
URBAN: It's just a different world. I mean, it's factual. If they can afford to go on vacation, they can afford to buy gas and fill their tanks, they'll be gone, right? And so, I think, it becomes - you reach a point of diminishing returns, at these hearings, right? And, I think, you're going to start getting there.
And, to your point, if there's going to be a hearing, where they go, with a tick-tock, minute-by-minute, recitation, I would urge them to get that done quickly, because their viewership is going to tune off, at some point, right? Because - just because they have - people have families, and lives, and they're going to take a break, for the summer, and it's just natural.
COATES: And yet, there is some value, unlike a criminal trial, in allowing it to breathe, and allowing the conversations to unfold, the idea of people being able to converse around, "Did you - could you hear this part? Did you see when this person said this?"
And it takes away a lot of the bite, from people being able to say, "This is a partisan exercise? Why won't you just hurry up? Because the midterms are coming up?" Well, the more they are suggesting that they're not concerned about that figure. I mean, the DOJ has a Sword of Damocles above them.
COOPER: Well let me ask you about that.
COATES: They can't be involved up till the end.
COOPER: Do you - did you hear anything, today, in particular, or what did you hear today, or how many things did you hear today, that Department of Justice, or Attorney General, Merrick Garland, would immediately be interested in, and want to know more about?
COATES: Well, I think, the idea of the slate of electors, and the idea of somebody intending, in some form, or fashion, to try to circumvent the normal process.
Are there other Jeffrey Clarks is my question. I mean, he's very emboldened. He's very audacious. But were there others, who felt that it was important to do so? Were there members of Congress, who were trying to facilitate further communications?
I mean, Jeffrey Clark's home was raided today. They may have had other things that happened before this moment in time.
But what about Jeffrey Clark today? Did you learn from the hearings? Was there other corroborating evidence, or texts, or anything else, which was (ph) his phone, on Signal, et cetera that said this person was named?
I also want to know, if I'm DOJ, how exactly did, Scott Perry know that Jeffrey Clark was the person to speak to--
COATES: --about these issues? If this was like a mob case, for example, one of the low rank? Who told you what? Who leaned on you where? Why does Jeffrey Clark have an audience with the President of the United States?
COOPER: Right. Why does-- URBAN: Right.
COOPER: --why does Perry know that Clark is--
BORGER: Is the person, who's willing--
COOPER: --susceptible to this idea?
COATES: Exactly. And again, at DOJ, remember, when you are a prosecutor, at the Department of Justice, you are vetted, to an extent, even your credit cards are vetted--
COOPER: David, if Merrick Garland--
COATES: --why you?
COOPER: --did pursue charges, against the former President, would that make the former President more - would that serve the former President's interests, you think?
URBAN: Yes, I think, look, to - yes, I believe so.
URBAN: I think the President would go on to say, "Look, I am being persecuted, for my beliefs, here."
I think, unless you're going to, and it's a charge, right? If you're not going to convict the President, which they're not going to end up doing? It'll make him a 1,000 times stronger. So, I don't think the Attorney General bring charges.
Again, I've heard mentioned, on this network, many times, though they may indict lots of people, around him, leave him as an unindicted co- conspirator, and then, bring charges, they can actually get cases, and make cases, against people? I think, that's probably more powerful.
COATES: Except in Georgia, where--
URBAN: Yes. Well they do have - they do have the solicitations.
COATES: That's in Georgia.
URBAN: Yes. And just one question on Laura's point, about this - about raiding this guy's house? What took them 18 months?
COOPER: Right. We don't know if there was new information, they received, or exactly--
URBAN: Seems a little curious to me, like--
COOPER: --the day before. URBAN: --someone's asleep at the switch.
COOPER: Want to thanks, to all our panelists.
We started this program, tonight's program, calling today's testimony extraordinary. And frankly, I'm not sure that word even captures the scope of what we heard, Jake!
TAPPER: Yes. And to put it plainly, we've never heard anything like what we heard today. It was historic. And there are more hearings to come.
COOPER: Thanks to all of you. Thanks to Jake, all our guests, tonight.
The news continues, with Don Lemon, in a moment.
LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.