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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Ex-WH Aide: Trump's January 6 Tweet About Pence Was "Unpatriotic" And "Un-American"; Ex-WH Aide: Chief of Staff, WH Counsel Discussed Trump Reaction To Chants Of "Hang Mike Pence"; Gen. Flynn Takes The Fifth When Asked If He Believes In The Peaceful Transition Of Power, Deposition Shows. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 28, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN CO-HOST: One of the many threads, running through the tapestry, of today's testimony, and the hearings writ large, is the idea of Donald Trump's indifference, at best, to violence, committed in his name, and allegedly his open incitement, of violence, on January 6, including in that now-notorious tweet at 2:24, about his then-Vice President, Mike Pence.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Do you recall seeing this tweet, in which the President said the Vice President did not have the courage to do what needed to be done?


CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, what was your reaction when you saw this tweet?

HUTCHINSON: As a staffer that worked to always represent the Administration, to the best of my ability, and to showcase the good things that he had done, for the country, I remember feeling frustrated, disappointed, and really it felt personal. I - I was really sad.

As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un- American. We are watching the Capitol Building get defaced over a lie.


TAPPER: With me now, Washington Post Associate Editor, Bob Woodward. CNN Political Analyst, Carl Bernstein. And the man, whose Watergate testimony they once chronicled, former White House Nixon counsel, John Dean.

Bob Woodward, we should note, is more recently the co-author of "Peril." Carl Bernstein, the author of "Chasing History." And together, of course, legendarily, they wrote "All the President's Men," which is now, out in a 50th anniversary edition, with a new foreword, on what the Watergate scandal means, today.

I hear those Amazon links, clicking, right now, from where I sit!

So Bob, let me start with you. Much of the former President's time, in the White House, Donald Trump's, was about, in some ways, it seems, provoking violence.

Was this the first time you've heard, through testimony, however, about him actually, resorting to anger and violence himself?


I'll tell you, one of the things that struck me, if I may say, in all of this testimony? And it connects to John Dean, going back to Nixon, 50 years ago. Cipollone, the White House Counsel, for Trump.

If you follow the testimony, and other things that have come up, he's just running around, the White House, bursting with "Don't listen to Donald Trump. Don't do what the President says. I'm worried about this. I'm worried about that."

And Carl and I were speculating, today, with knowledge that one of the things the White House Counsel does, is sit in on National Security Council meetings, and is involved of some of the most sensitive issues.

If I recall correctly, John Dean, and as he was coming out, against Nixon, socked away some top secret documents, which Nixon had signed, to say that he was lifting restrictions, on wiretapping, and break- ins, and so forth.


So what else does Cipollone know? I think he knows volumes.


TAPPER: Carl, you told Anderson earlier that former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, helped paint the picture, in her testimony, of a quote, "Mad King." How important a witness, do you think, Hutchinson was? And what stood out to you the most?

BERNSTEIN: What stood out? That she's a hugely important witness, along the lines of John Dean, because she has now given a coherent contextual picture, of a president, out of control, with no regard for the Constitution, for the orderly transfer of power, who would stage a coup. We haven't had testimony from anybody else like that.

But what is the most important thing that has come out today? That is, we now understand that this committee, block-by-block, is putting together the picture of a coup, led by the President of the United States, who would allow himself, knowing that there are people, in the trees, with arms, with lethal arms, people at his rally, and he's saying, "It's OK that they're there. They like me," the assumption being, "They'll shoot other people. They won't shoot me."

Come on! Let's talk about what is the insanity of this?


BERNSTEIN: And Republicans, on Capitol Hill, and this is the shame of this whole proceeding, Republicans, on Capitol Hill, have known about this Donald Trump, from the beginning of his presidency. Bob will tell you the same thing.

We have been hearing about this. This is the extreme end of it. But it has now been known, for four years, what and who this individual was. And Mary Trump, his niece, has told us also, exactly who he is.

And that's what we're learning today. And that he was willing, to stage a coup, so that there would not be, for the first time, in our history, the peaceful transition of power, to the next president.

TAPPER: And John Dean, the former President's alleged behavior, according to testimony, was obviously reckless. Do you think it was criminal?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I certainly think there's a prima facie case of criminality.

I think he's clearly tried to obstruct the congressional proceedings, which is a statute that prohibits that. I think he also clearly was involved in, what was the crucial crime of Watergate, was a conspiracy to defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. 371. Those cases have been made.

Now, whether he had engaged in fraud, and fundraising, with his defense fund, and all that? We'll get into that. I'm sure, the Department of Justice is looking at everything.

So, there is, clearly, criminal conduct, not to mention insane behavior, for an adult man, who is the President of the United States.

TAPPER: Bob, I want to play more of what former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, said in her testimony. Let's listen in.


CHENEY: You've described roughly three different camps of thought inside the White House that day. Can you tell us about those?

HUTCHINSON: There was a group of individuals that were strongly urging him to take immediate and swift action.

I would classify the White House Counsel's Office, Mr. Herschmann, Ms. Ivanka Trump, in that category, of really working, to get him to take action, and pleading with him, to take action.

There was a more neutral group, where advisors were trying to toe the line, knowing that Mr. Trump didn't necessarily want to take immediate action, and condemn the riots, but knowing something needed to be done.

And then there was the last group, which was deflect and blame. "Let's blame Antifa. These aren't our people."


TAPPER: Bob, what's your takeaway from that moment?

WOODWARD: Well, I think that's a pretty precise description.

But let's face it, I've spent hours, interviewing Trump, in 2020. And he's a very determined person. And it's very hard to move him.

But all of these groups, all of these individuals, and what is surprising, in all of this, could never go to him, or never find a way, to stop it. Because it - you know, where are the people in there, instead of Trump throwing ketchup at the wall?


Where are the staff people, pounding on the table, saying, "You can't do this," or saying "I'm going to resign. I'm going to leave. I'm going to go to the press. I'm going to go to the Congress."

So they're, with all of the boldness, in this testimony, there is a collective weakness, among all of these people.

TAPPER: Bob Woodward, and John Dean, thanks so much.

Carl, stay right there. I want to talk about something, we've certainly seen written about a lot, the so-called "War room," at the Willard Hotel, with John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, and a whole cast of characters. Today, for the first time, we heard testimony, about it.

And what Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee, ties her former boss, then-White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, more directly to it, something she believed would not be appropriate.


CHENEY: Is it your understanding that Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Eastman, and others had set up what has been called, quote, a "War room," at the Willard Hotel, on the night of the 5th?

HUTCHINSON: I was aware of that the night of the 5th.

CHENEY: And do you know if Mr. Meadows ever intended to go to the Willard Hotel on the night of the 5th?

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows had a conversation with me, where he wanted me to work, with Secret Service, on a movement, from the White House, to the Willard Hotel, so he could attend the meeting, or meetings, with Mr. Giuliani, and his associates, in the war room.

CHENEY: And what was your view as to whether or not Mr. Meadows should go to the Willard that night? HUTCHINSON: I had made it clear to Mr. Meadows that I didn't believe it was a smart idea for him to go to the Willard Hotel that night.

I wasn't sure everything that was going on at the Willard Hotel, although I knew enough about what Mr. Giuliani and his associates were pushing during this period. I didn't think that it was something appropriate for the White House Chief of Staff to attend or to consider involvement in, and made that clear to Mr. Meadows.

Throughout the afternoon, he mentioned a few more times going up to the Willard Hotel that evening, and then eventually dropped the subject the night of the 5th and said that he would dial in instead.


TAPPER: Carl Bernstein remains with us. Joining him, Jamie Gangel, Audie Cornish, and Kasie Hunt.

And Jamie, you've done a lot of reporting, about this war room, at the Willard Hotel. What's so significant about this, about Meadows calling into them?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me just go back to what - White House Chief of Staff needs to be leaving the White House the night before. And we now know, everyone knows that there's going to be trouble, tomorrow.

And he's running over to a war room, with Rudy Giuliani, over at the Willard Hotel? And it took - Cassidy is now, I think, 26-years-old. At the time, she was 24-years-old. She had to be the one to tell him, this really isn't appropriate to go.

Look, one of the footnotes that - there were so many bombshells, and as Audie said, cinematic moments. Let's talk about the fact that she testified that Rudy's walking around, talking about the Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys.


GANGEL: My understanding is, in the hearings to come, you know better than anyone that we are going to see more and more of a connection, between some of these groups, and the White House. And that testimony, about Rudy, is a very interesting starting point.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It's absolutely so critical, this point that you raise. And it's critical for a couple of reasons.

First of all, on the criminality question, because we know that many members of these groups have already either been indicted, or in the process of being prosecuted? Tying these figures to those criminal cases, is incredibly significant.

TAPPER: Just a quick interruption? Cases for seditious conspiracy.

HUNT: That's right. TAPPER: That's what the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have been tried.

HUNT: Right.

TAPPER: I mean, others have been charged with general violence, or trespassing. But the leaders.

HUNT: Right. No, the leaders.

TAPPER: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

HUNT: No, you're fine. That's an absolutely critical point, what they've been charged for. This potentially ties Rudy Giuliani, and others, to those crimes.

Separately, from a political perspective, this is also continuing the thread that has the committee had started with, which is to separate out generic Trump supporters, many of which are charged with crimes like walk, you know, illegal entry to the Capitol, and other things, who were there, for what they describe as general political reasons.

Because the President told them to show up, they went to the Capitol. They didn't go with body armor, or zip ties, or organized other paraphernalia, et cetera. These are the kinds of people that the committee is describing, as people, who were misled, by the lies, of the President. They're willing to give those people a pass.


That's important, politically, because in order to actually make a difference here, they have to - and Liz Cheney has looked at Americans, and tried to make this point to them, repeatedly, to say, "You were misled. It's disappointing. It's hard to accept that the President did this to you. But this is what's going on. You need to see it."

And so, the more that they can emphasize that this was about the White House being tied to these specific criminal groups, the better, easier, it is to make that political case, to people, who may have voted for Trump, may not be Trump supporters, for them to say, in the next election, "No," to that guy.

CORNISH: I mean, there's been a couple of things, to underscore there, which is that there were toss-off phrases, you heard that day. There were things that, as reporters, we were scrambling, to figure out. "This lawyer says this. This lawyer says that. What does that mean?"

Well, now we're getting the color, contour, and atmosphere, of those moments, of the President fully understanding, being told, multiple times, "You did not win the election."

The plate story is a great example. The idea of him throwing a plate in anger. Why? Well, the December 1st article, where I went, and looked it up, Bill Barr is saying there's - "We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have elected - that could have affected a different outcome, in the election." The plate's going to get the attention. But the issue is, again, it's a moment, where the President is sitting with the knowledge that he has been told--


CORNISH: --by his Chief Legal person - right, the DOJ that like, "No, you're wrong about this." And yet, everything we're about to see unfold, still unfolded.

TAPPER: And Carl Bernstein, there was a - there's a moment in the testimony, when Cassidy Hutchinson described, Trump wanting to get Meadows, to put him in touch, with Roger Stone, and Mike Flynn, to find out more, about plans, for January 6.

BERNSTEIN: That's exactly - pardon me. That's exactly right. Because where is the operational heart of the conspiracy? And when? It's that night, January 5, in the Willard Hotel, and Meadows is the go-between.

Meadows is the key conspirator, here. He is the guy - let's go back to Watergate, for a minute. Who was the key, to the conspiracy of Watergate, and the cover-up of Watergate? It was Nixon's Chief of Staff, Bob Haldeman.

We see the exact same role, and the committee knows this. The same role, at the heart of the conspiracy, is Meadows. He is the go- between, between the President, and these guys. He knows what the President wants. We are now hearing this amazing testimony. It all starts to fit together.

And one of the things, the committee is doing, is putting together a tick-tock, a tick-tock, minute-by-minute, beginning with before the election, and going all the way, through January 6, and what happened subsequently. It all fits together in a way that's explicable. It's not about being in the weeds that most Americans, I think, can understand.

TAPPER: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Everyone, stick around.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CO-HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: There is some new reporting, tonight, on a name that has come up, in past committee hearing. Senator Ron Johnson.

Today, CNN tried to speak with the loyalist, to the former President, about possible evidence that indicated he was involved in the fake elector scheme.

You may remember, reporters tried to ask him about it, last week, and then this happened.


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?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I'm on the phone right now.

THORP (ph): No, you're not. I can see your phone. I can see your screen.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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.


COOPER: You can't fool a millennial reporter with the phone trick! It just doesn't work! He wasn't on the phone.

Joined now by CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, one of those reporters, who chased down, Senator Johnson, last week. Caught up with him again today.

What did Senator Johnson have to say about today's hearing?

RAJU: Well, nothing Anderson. In fact, on the way in, and on the way out, of an event, he had, this afternoon, in Milwaukee, I tried to catch up with him, tried to ask him questions, about the hearing, about what happened last week, and other issues as well.

On the way in, he didn't want to answer questions. And on the way out, he snuck out the back, of the event room, and declined to answer any questions. Watch.


RAJU: Senator Johnson - Senator Johnson, you have a second?


RAJU: Senator Johnson, do you have a second before you go in?


RAJU: Senator, do you have a--


RAJU: Senator, do you have--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, we got questions.

RAJU: Quick second (ph). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).

RAJU: Senator - Senator Johnson, you have time for questions, please?



RAJU: So, he has been under quite a bit of pressure, over the fake electors issue, as you mentioned, Anderson, after the committee did reveal last week that his Chief of Staff, reached out to Pence's office, saying that the Senator wanted to deliver fake electors, for Wisconsin and Michigan. He has downplayed that, when I have asked him that, last week, on several occasions.

But he has also downplayed January 6, as well.


RAJU: Suggesting it was not an armed insurrection. And when I tried to ask him about that, as well, Anderson? No response.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, his comments about it being just kind of not a - that it wasn't a insurrection, there weren't weapons, all that sort of stuff? It looked just particularly bad today. It's understandable, he would want to try to flee, even though he didn't use the phone excuse this time, Manu.

RAJU: Yes, that's right. And the Democrats in his - he's up for reelection, in a very difficult race. This is the perennial swing state.

Democrats have come after him, on this issue. Several of his potential Democratic opponents, in the fall, have either called on him, to resign, or even called - went as far as calling him, a traitor to this country.

Now, Johnson wants nothing to do with these issues. He wants to talk about the economy, the inflation, Joe Biden's agenda, not even talking about the abortion ruling that came down, last week. That is what he's concluding, will get him, a third term in office.

Democrats are pointing these other issues that Johnson clearly does not want to respond to.

COOPER: Yes. Manu, appreciate it.

RAJU: Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Laura Coates, CNN Chief Political Correspondent (ph), Gloria Borger, CNN Political Commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Trump White House Director of Strategic Communications. Jeff, I want to get your reaction to the statement, from Cassidy Hutchinson's recorded testimony, about a conversation, she had. It was before January 6, with the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone.

Let's play it.


HUTCHINSON: Having a private conversation, with Pat, late in the afternoon of the 3rd or 4th that Pat was concerned it would look like we were obstructing justice or obstructing the Electoral College count. And I apologize for probably not being very clear with my legal terms here. But that it would look like we were obstructing what was happening on Capitol Hill.

And he was also worried that it would look like we were inciting a riot or encouraging a riot to erupt on the Capitol - at the Capitol.


COOPER: I mean, is that the closest we're going to get to Pat Cipollone actually testifying?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Probably. But it's enormously important, in and of itself.

Because, one of the crucial issues, here, is what did the people, involved here, starting with the President, know what was illegal? I mean, was this just a good-faith effort, to try to count the votes, correctly? Or did they know that they were potentially committing crimes?

If you listen to the statutes that she was referring to? It's exactly right. Pat Cipollone understood exactly what the risks were, here. And the thing that we're really missing, is what conversations, did he have, with President Trump?

Presumably, he said the same thing to Trump, "You are violating the law, if you do, what you appear to be doing." And the fact that Trump was warned that, if he was, would be extremely important, in a potential criminal investigation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Listening to the testimony, today, it seems like Pat Cipollone, was running around, like Chicken Little, at every moment, saying, "Look, we're going to get charged with every crime imaginable. This is terrible."

They had this meeting at the White House with all the lawyers. He said, "This is a murder-suicide pact. We cannot possibly do this. You cannot replace the Acting Attorney General, with Mr. Clark."

And over and over again, Pat Cipollone was saying, "No, no, no." But nobody was listening to him. Donald Trump, at that point, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't really like Pat Cipollone, very much, even though he had defended him on the floor of the Senate, during impeachment.

And so, you have your White House Counsel, trying to set up this human speed bump, to everything. And everybody just ran him over.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: But you know, who listened? The DOJ, at one point.

I mean, you mentioned the idea, of whether Pat Cipollone will testify or not. Think of how many times we've heard his name be mentioned, when the DOJ, Jeffrey Rosen, to Richard Donoghue. We've heard from the Vice President's Counsel, I believe at one point in time, talking about the same thing.

The idea of all these people - this was not a knee-jerk reaction, I mean, if there's "Well, hold on. I wonder if this is a violation of the law." These are contemplative people, by the very nature, of their positions. You have to figure out what laws might be implicated. They're well aware.

And what they're talking about, is "We might get arrested or charged?" Yes, because that's what you're doing. You're trying to incite a riot.

BORGER: Right.

COATES: You're telling people, "Come with me. You know that you're armed. And march right to the Capitol." These were not things that were just out of thin air. These are things that seemed to be more and more premeditated, and that Cipollone (ph) actually knew that was a problem.

TOOBIN: And one of the--


TOOBIN: I'm sorry. Please? No, you--

FARAH GRIFFIN: Go ahead. I'm saying--

COOPER: Alyssa?

FARAH GRIFFIN: --a theme that we - that we - I know, from my time, in the Trump White House, but that went along with today's hearing, is that people, yes, gave advice to the President. But oftentimes, advisors kind of gave it amongst themselves.


A moment that stuck out to me, not an advisor, was that Kevin McCarthy called Cassidy Hutchinson, to say the President can't come to the Capitol.

That's similar. I do know that Pat did go directly, at many times, to the President. But he also was going to the Chief of Staff, which was met with a dead end, and a closed door. And that was consistent throughout his presidency, but especially in these final few months.

So, I'm actually not sure what actually got, to the former President, in terms of "This is illegal. You can't do this."


FARAH GRIFFIN: There was a fear factor involved.

COOPER: The portrayal of the former President that Cassidy Hutchinson gave? I know you had left by the - you left in December. Was - did it - I mean, did it ring true to you? Did it remind you of times there? Or was it - was it a different Donald Trump, in the dark days, of the early January?

FARAH GRIFFIN: It's kind of all the same. Bob Woodward could speak to this as well, who spent a lot of time with him.

There's the side of Trump that's very affable, and enjoyable, to be around. And then there's the side of him that is self-interested, that is cruel, that is angry and unpredictable.

I saw both sides consistently, when I was there. But it did start to unravel, in those final days. I think a lot of close aides started to walk away, or even just disconnect, and stop showing up to work, regularly.

And that's when the worst instincts kicked in, and where the Rudy Giulianis, and the Sidney Powells got to him. And from the testimony, that Mark Meadows is scrolling on his phone, rather than giving him sound counsel.

BORGER: But we do know that some people did get to Trump. I mean, Ornato got to Trump, and said "There are weapons"--

COATES: Right.

BORGER: --"at this rally. This is dangerous," told him directly. I mean, I get a sense that you only got to Trump--


BORGER: --and when you really have to get to him.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and by the way that was - oh, I'm sorry. That was the smoking gun to me. He knew there were weapons. He knew people wanted--

BORGER: Right. Absolutely.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --were going to the Capitol with them. And he still told people to go to the Capitol.

TOOBIN: And here's the question, for the Department of Justice, about those weapons. A lot of those people, with those weapons, are being prosecuted, right now. And they are getting enhanced sentences, because they had weapons.

Now, you have the President of the United States, knowing that they had weapons, still encouraged them to go to Congress-- BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: --to head to the Capitol.

So, how is it fair? How is it just that they get prosecuted, and the person, who was ultimately responsible, does not get prosecuted? That's a question--


TOOBIN: --for the Justice Department.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Laura Coates, Gloria Borger, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thanks so much.

Coming up next, reaction on Capitol Hill. What lawmakers, who lived through it, think about today's testimony, and the former President's attitude, as the violent mob, ransacked their workplace?

And later, Presidential Historian, Doug Brinkley, puts this remarkable day, in perspective.




HUTCHINSON: I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, "Mark, we need to do something more. They're literally calling for the Vice President to be f-ing hung."

And Mark had responded something to the effect of, "You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong," to which Pat said something, "This is f-ing crazy. We need to be doing something more."


TAPPER: He thinks Pence deserves it. That was Cassidy Hutchinson, testifying about a conversation, she said, she heard, between White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, and her boss, Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.

This occurred, as the January 6 riots, were happening. The conversation was about the former President's reaction, when he was told that the crowds were chanting "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!"

I'm joined now, by our Congressional Correspondent, Ryan Nobles.

Ryan, what's been the reaction like, on Capitol Hill, today, especially since so many people there, experienced January 6, in real- time, and we saw a video, of many of them, panicking, even if though they later denied it.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake. And publicly, the reaction has really been divided, along partisan lines, which isn't a surprise.

I was in the Hearing Room, this afternoon, and saw a number of Democratic members, who came to witness this event, for themselves. Many of them were tweeting, as the information was being relayed, by Cassidy Hutchinson, angry about what they were hearing.

Ruben Gallego, for instance, suggesting that the former President basically set he, and his colleagues, up, on purpose, that he wanted them to be the victim of violence, and that it made him angry. Many other Democratic members saying the same exact thing.

It was been a markedly different reaction, from Republicans, as you might imagine. In the beginning, the Republicans were trying to discount the value of the testimony, saying that Democrats were focusing on the wrong issues that they should be focused on the border, inflation, and other things.

They quickly then transferred to being concerned about this conflict, over what the Secret Service testimony, versus what happened, in that Presidential limo, on January 6.

Again, not really getting to the substance of what exactly the former President wanted to do on that day. And that was get here to the Capitol, which would have already inflamed a very difficult situation.

But it's also interesting, Jake, what these Republican members, are telling us, privately. And many have reached out to me, and my colleague, Melanie Zanona, and they've said that what they heard today, alarmed them.

They're not willing to say this publicly. But there are even some that have gone as so far as to say that they believe that this is a real problem that they were learning things that they had not known previously.

And that really follows a pattern that we've seen, with many Republicans, who have raised alarms, about the former President, Donald Trump, privately, but are not willing to do so publicly.

And what the committee has said, time and time again, is they want everyone, to come forward, who has issues or information that could help in their investigation. And that even includes Republicans, who may have been reluctant to do so, in the past.

As we've seen time and time again, Jake, really, the most important witnesses, in this process, have been Republicans, who had a first- hand knowledge, of exactly what happened, in the days, after the election, leading up to January 6.



TAPPER: Almost all of the witnesses have not only been Republicans, but conservative Trump-supporting Republicans. And one wonders, what if the mob had actually gotten its hands on Mike Pence? Would anything be any different, right now?

Ryan Nobles, thanks.


TAPPER: Back with the panel.

Carl, you heard what Ryan Nobles said.

Do you, I mean, like honestly, I just--

GANGEL: Jake is speechless!

TAPPER: --I'm at a loss. I'm at a loss. I honestly think it is a fair question.

Because, it has now become a liberal point of view that Mike Pence should not have been hanged, right? If you believe that, if you say "Donald Trump should have stopped the mob. The mob should not have been calling to kill Mike Pence," all that, like somehow, in MAGA- world, that is a liberal point of view.

BERNSTEIN: Yes. Facts mean, nothing. Facts have meant nothing, for four years, of the presidency, for the post-presidency, of Donald Trump, and for the campaign, of Donald Trump. But it also - facts have meant nothing, to the Republicans, who have been silent.

And I want to talk about reporting, for a minute. I finally got really tired of it. And you know, I wrote a story, and put it on the air, saying, 21 Republican members of the Senate, and I named them, have believed Donald Trump, hold him in contempt, disdain, et cetera.

A day later, one or two denials, out of all 21, I named them. A day or two later, I get a call, from a former member of the Senate, left a couple of years earlier, says "Carl, the number is really closer to 40." So, what does this mean?


BERNSTEIN: How do we start to cover, when we know, from members of the President's own party, whether it's members of Joe Biden's party, Donald Trump's party, how do we start to cover this differently?

Yes, we get information, on background. It's off the record. But we have to talk about some responsibility, to get this news out.


BERNSTEIN: And we can't use the old rules, all the time. I don't give a damn Democrat, Republican. Our responsibility? You know Woodward, and I have used this term, "The best obtainable version of the truth." For 50 years, we've used it. Really, not saying what you know, is part of it.


BERNSTEIN: And I think we got to deal with this differently. Because, perhaps the story, is if history of the Trump presidency might be different, if we had done this?

TAPPER: Cassidy Hutchinson, Jamie Gangel, we should point out, to be--


TAPPER: --the top aide, for Mark Meadows, in December 2020, January 2021, means that you are a believer in Donald Trump. You are a loyal to Donald Trump. Cassidy Hutchinson put everything on the line, today--

GANGEL: Correct.

TAPPER: --to tell the truth. And the Republican Party, who is allegiant to Donald Trump, either is attacking her--

GANGEL: Correct.

TAPPER: --smearing her, or ignoring her.

GANGEL: Right. We are going to see what we've seen so many times before, which is they are going to try to take her down. Because that's what Donald Trump wants.

To Carl's point, about public and private? I just want to say that even today, while they are attacking her? Privately, here were the messages, I got, from Republicans. "It is worse than we ever imagined. This is not one bombshell. It's multiple bombshells. My God, he wanted to go to the Capitol!" So again, the private versus the public.

Can we go back, to Mike Pence, for one second, though, and talk about the gallows? Because, I think, so much of what we saw today, and heard, from Cassidy Hutchinson, about all - from all of her testimony, about top White House aides, has to go to intent. They knew it was coming.

I pointed the gallows, because someone didn't run out, in the middle of the day, and get the wood, and get the noose. Someone thought about that ahead of time. My white whale is the pipe bomber. We still don't know--


GANGEL: --who did that. That was planned, ahead of time.

And, I think, the most striking thing, for me, today, was how many people spoke to Cassidy Hutchinson, and she heard that this was coming.

TAPPER: And Audie Cornish, you talked about, how you thought that one of the most important moments, today, was Cipollone, I think, saying, "We're going to be charged, with every imaginable crime, if Trump goes to the Capitol." I think my - the one that I found most devastating was Cassidy Hutchinson, overhearing Donald Trump talking, in that tent, right, before the rally, saying that he wanted the magnetometers removed, because he wanted the crowd to be bigger than it was, and the fact that metal detectors were keeping his armed supporters, out of the area, that was making the crowd look smarter.


TAPPER: He said--


CORNISH: Again, it's like another cinematic moment. The reason why though, as you're pointing out, it's interesting, is because one of the sort of big defenses, of Trump, by his allies, is that "That was an unarmed crowd. That was a crowd of just people that got a little bit out of head."

Today is one of those days that the committee is trying to underscore, and undermine that defense, to say, no, actually not only were there people, who had knives, pistols, spears, whatever they could get their hands on.

HUNT: AR-15s.

CORNISH: But that the President and his security folks were informed, and informing him of that, right?


CORNISH: So, it's not just about the Mags. It's trying to show everybody--

HUNT: Yes.

CORNISH: --what it means, when this constellation of things comes together.

TAPPER: And they were armed. And he said, and "Then we're going to go march to the Capitol."


TAPPER: "They do not want to hurt me."


HUNT: Well, exactly. That's what he said. He said, they're not - "Let them in. They're not going to hurt me." And then he encourages them to march down to the Capitol.

This is the President of the United States, who is basically taking, what he knows, is an armed group, of his own supporters, and telling them, "Go march on the Capitol. Bust it open, and do what you will." And meanwhile, we have a lot of questions about why it took the Defense Department, so long, to actually authorize the National Guard, to show up at the Capitol. I mean, it's just, it's all incredibly astonishing.

But, to the point, the big picture point, you were making, Carl too is, it's not going to matter, to people, who really are Trump's hardcore supporters. It's just not. And how do we get around that?

TAPPER: Kasie Hunt, Audie Cornish, Jamie Gangel, Carl Bernstein, thank you so much.

More eye-opening testimony, ahead, including the response, to a very easy question, put to a former Trump National Security Advisor, and retired three-star U.S. General. "Do you believe in a peaceful transition of power?"

Michael Flynn's answer, or lack thereof, when we return.



COOPER: We heard a lot of disturbing things, at today's January 6 hearing.

Among them, former National Security Advisor, and retired U.S. General, Michael Flynn's responses, to the following simple questions.


CHENEY: Do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that - can I get a clarification? Is that a moral question, or are you asking a legal question?

CHENEY: I'm asking both.


CHENEY: Do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified morally?

FLYNN: Take the Fifth.

CHENEY: You believe the violence on January 6 was justified legally?

FLYNN: Fifth.

CHENEY: General Flynn, do you believe, in the peaceful transition of power, in the United States of America?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Those were not hard questions to answer. But Flynn wouldn't do so!

Violence is never justified, in a presidential transition of power. I'm sure CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, agrees. He's a Professor of History, at Rice University. Joins us now.

Where, Doug, does today's hearing, stack up, in history, you think?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, RICE UNIVERSITY: Well, as you've been covering well, I mean, Watergate is on everybody's lips. And, in many way, Cassidy Hutchinson, is the John Dean, of the moment.

This was just devastating testimony that we heard today. Donald Trump has to be cringing, in disbelief. I mean, she delivered all the goods. I mean, there's nothing like this, since the Civil War.

I mean, if Watergate was less than this, we've never had a president, or even in American history, just of - be the poster child of sedition. And that's what we saw Trump, today. And there are going to be a lot of scenes of this, the plate smashing, and the ketchup, and "I'm the f-ing president."

But the fact is Anderson that the President of the United States didn't care that there were armed rioters, on the Capitol, said "They're not going to hurt me," meaning they might hurt Pence, or Pelosi, or members of Congress', is leading to the (inaudible) that Department of Justice will indict Donald Trump. So, this is a story with legs.

COOPER: I actually don't think he's cringing, today, watching this. I think, if you have a sense of shame, you would cringe. But, I think, he probably justifies, in his own mind, everything he did.

Has there ever been a president, in the darkest days of any scandal, who allegedly embraced violence, to such a degree? I mean, who allegedly emphasize - encouraged rioters, who were seeking to kill his Vice President?

BRINKLEY: No. And obviously, this is unprecedented. I mean, Herbert Hoover with the Bonus Army had a, you know, turned the military, on veterans, in the Mall.

But this is the rub here. It's not going to be the behavior of Donald Trump, in the SUV, and did he or did he not, well, try to lunge, at the drivers, Secret Service? That's going to be all interesting, all important.

But the fact of the matter was, this was a riot, and insurrection, and a President was basically green-lighting bloodshed, as long as it wasn't his own. So, there's no president that's ever acted this reprehensible. This is a twice-impeached president, who tried to have a coup, on the United States. And the January 6 investigation has gone on for a year. It's been sizzling. And, I think, the reason, Anderson, I said, he might be cringing, is he is now in legal jeopardy, I think, of a different order, than he was, say, 24 hours ago. That's how devastating Cassidy Hutchinson's voice was, today. And she now becomes sort of a hero. To listen to Hutchinson, and Liz Cheney, you start seeing kind of voices of democracy, at last, standing up, in a real way.

And I'm waiting to see Vice President Pence, and Mark Meadows, end up testifying. Let's hope they don't take the Fifth, the way that General Flynn did, in such a cowardly fashion.

COOPER: Just, I mean, have things in history, in America, been as polarized, been - where people just believe what they want to believe? I mean, many of the former Presidents continued to just shrug all this off, think it's all just political, think it's all just, you know, they're not even paying attention to it? Is that - has that happened throughout history?

BRINKLEY: It's not happened, for a President.


But if you look at Joe McCarthy, who we've all said Trump is a lot like? You can see the seeds of this in the McCarthy era. But he was a Wisconsin Senator, McCarthy. He wasn't President of the United States. But he was trying to lead dark forces forward.

Paul Krugman had an interesting article, about looking at the power of the KKK, in the 1920s, and that's who was supporting the segregation, back then. I think there's some parallels, to the Trump forces. A lot of this is about race.

COOPER: Doug Brinkley, appreciate it. Thanks.

Jake. I know you want to end the evening--


COOPER: --on a key question, raised today.

TAPPER: That's right, Anderson.

One of the big questions, about this investigation, is whether there is a nexus, between the Trump team, and the far-right-wing militia groups, the Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys, some of whom have been charged, with seditious conspiracy, for their actions, attacking the Capitol, that day.


TAPPER: Are there going to be witnesses that describe actual conversations between these extremist groups and anyone in Trump's orbit?


TAPPER: There will be?

THOMPSON: Yes. Obviously, you will have to go through the hearings. But we have a number of witnesses, who've come forward that people have not talked to before.


TAPPER: We learned today, from former top Trump White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, and from the committee that the far-right groups, were part of the conversation, in the days, leading up to January 6.


CHENEY: The White House continued to receive updates about planned demonstrations, including information regarding the Proud Boys, organizing, and planning, to attend events, on January 6th.


TAPPER: Cheney also noted that on January 3rd, the Capitol Police issued a special event assessment, warning that the Proud Boys, and other groups, would be in D.C., on January 6, and quote, "Congress itself is the target."


HUTCHINSON: I recall hearing the word, Oath Keeper, and hearing the word, Proud Boys, closer to the planning of the January 6th rally, when Mr. Giuliani would be around.


TAPPER: Cassidy Hutchinson also talked with Mark Meadows, about Giuliani telling her that Donald Trump would lead a march to the Capitol, on January 6, telling Meadows, this.


HUTCHINSON: Had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. It sounds like we're going to go to the Capitol.

He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, "There's a lot going on, Cass. But I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6th."


TAPPER: There is so much we still do not know, about the ties, of these extremist groups, to the Trump team.

Proud Boys' leader, Enrique Tarrio, visited the Trump White House, on December 12th, 2020. He claimed to have been invited.

The White House at the time insisted that he was on a public White House Christmas tour, and did not have a meeting, with Donald Trump, nor did the White House invite him. But is that true? Or was it like so much we were told, by the Trump White House, in December 2020, a complete and utter lie?

I mean, there are others, with direct ties, to these groups, such as Trump confidant, Roger Stone.


CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Meadows called Mr. Stone on the 5th?

HUTCHINSON: I'm under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and General Flynn the evening of the 5th.


TAPPER: Now, committee Vice Chair, Liz Cheney noted that Cassidy Hutchinson "Has no detailed knowledge, of any planning, involving the Proud Boys, for January 6," unquote.

But the committee does seem to be suggesting that none of this is a coincidence.


CHENEY: On January 5th and 6th, Mr. Stone was photographed with multiple members of the Oath Keepers who were allegedly serving as his security detail.


TAPPER: In fact, Oath Keeper, Roberto Minuta, hours after being seen, with Roger Stone, outside the Willard Hotel, was photographed, on steps, at the eastern side of the Capitol, wearing goggles, and other equipment.

Minuta is also seen in images, near Flynn, in December.

He was arrested, last March. He pleaded not guilty for his role in the interaction, described by prosecutors as having, quote, "Forcibly stormed the U.S. Capitol equipped with military-style gear," unquote.

Oath Keeper, Joshua James, who pleaded guilty, to seditious conspiracy, three months ago, and is now cooperating, with the Justice Department's investigation? He also provided security, for Stone, at the Willard, where today we heard Mark Meadows was beckoned.


CHENEY: And do you know if Mr. Meadows ever intended to go to the Willard Hotel on the night of the 5th?


HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows had a conversation, with me, where he wanted me to work with Secret Service, on a movement, from the White House, to the Willard Hotel, so he could attend the meeting, or meetings, with Mr. Giuliani, and his associates, in the war room.

CHENEY: And what was your view as to whether or not Mr. Meadows should go to the Willard that night?

HUTCHINSON: I had made it clear to Mr. Meadows that I didn't believe it was a smart idea for him to go to the Willard Hotel that night.

Throughout the afternoon, he mentioned a few more times going up to the Willard Hotel that evening, and then eventually dropped the subject the night of the 5th and said that he would dial in instead.


TAPPER: We do not know what Meadows discussed, with Stone, or Flynn, or anyone else, who may have been on the call, or why the names of the Oath Keepers, and Proud Boys, far-right militias, would be mentioned, close to the planning of January 6, when Giuliani was around, as Cassidy Hutchinson, testified under oath.

Are answers to those questions relevant to this testimony, today?


CHENEY: Did Rudy Giuliani ever suggest that he was interested, in receiving a Presidential pardon, related to January 6th?


CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, did White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, ever indicate that he was interested in receiving a Presidential pardon, related to January 6th?

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon. Yes, ma'am.


TAPPER: What exactly did Giuliani and Meadows feel they needed pardons for?

We reached out to them for comment. They did not respond. Though, Giuliani, tweeted just minutes ago that he told President Trump, he did not want or need a pardon. We should note, of course, Rudy did not tweet, under oath.

Many bombshells came today. We will see if others come, in future hearings.

COOPER: Another historic day, here, in Washington. Jake, thank you. Thank all our guests.

The news continues. Don Lemon picks it up, right after this.