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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Cheney: Committee Informed DOJ That Trump Attempted To Contact A Witness Not Yet Seen In The Hearings; January 6 Rioter Apologizes To Police Officers After Testifying At Hearing; Former WH Counsel Cipollone: "To Have The Federal Government Seize Voting Machines, That's A Terrible Idea For The Country". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CO-HOST: I think, police academies, around the country, for long time to come, they are going to show them this video, and as what not to do.

And, in business schools, they're going to show this video, and in government schools, they're going to show this - the response, the police response, and the governor's response, in the state, as examples of what not to do, and how not to treat relatives, whose children have been murdered. Because the way they've been treated is shameful.

Andrew McCabe, Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate it.


COOPER: Much ahead, from today's historic seventh hearing, into the Capitol insurrection.

Did the former President tried to contact a witness, personally? More on that.

John Dean also joins us, who said he wanted a, quote, Pat Cipollone moment.

And emotional scenes, for Capitol Hill police officers, who survived the attack.

Jake and I, coming right back.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CO-HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: A troubling theme, in these hearings, made a return appearance, today. The Vice Chair, of the committee, Liz Cheney, laid it out, in her closing remarks.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness, in our investigation. A witness you have not yet seen, in these hearings.

That person declined to answer, or respond, to President Trump's call, and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us. And this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice.

Let me say one more time, we will take any effort, to influence witness testimony, very seriously.


TAPPER: For more, on how this is being handled, we're joined by CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, is the committee going as far as accusing the former President of witness tampering?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It really does sound like it, Jake.

And we know that, according to the Deputy Chairwoman, I believe, I guess that's what we call Liz Cheney, on that committee, she says that they've referred this, or they've sent this over, to the Justice Department.

We know also, Jake, that in a previous hearing, the committee described what it said, were efforts to certainly see - it seems to intimidate another witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, reminding her that the former President reads transcripts. He was - somebody was aware that she was going in for her deposition.


So, there seems to be a pattern that the committee is very concerned about. And that is something that Justice Department certainly would take seriously.

I will say though, Jake, just the description of what Miss Cheney described, during the hearing, today, just that alone doesn't quite meet the definition of interference, of witness tampering. But perhaps there's additional information that prosecutors could get to, that would make it much more serious.

TAPPER: Evan, you and I, and others, at CNN, have been covering, for a long time, Donald Trump's attempt, to overturn the election. It's started long before January 6th, 2021, of course.

And I want to turn to some new audio, we got of Steve Bannon, obtained by Mother Jones magazine's Dan Friedman. Friedman reports that this is from October 31st, 2020, days before the election.

Let's take a listen to some of that audio.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: And what Trump's going to do is just declare victory, right? He's going to declare victory. But that doesn't mean he's the winner. He's just going to say he's the winner.

The Democrats do - more of our people vote early that count, theirs vote in mail. And so, they're going to have a natural disadvantage, and Trump's going to take advantage of. That's our strategy. He's just going to claim himself a winner. So, when you wake up Wednesday morning, it's going to be a firestorm.

No, because he's going to sit right down, and say they stole them. I'm going to--


BANNON: --directing the Attorney General, to shut down all ballot places, all 50 states, it's going to be no. He's not going out easy. If Trump - if Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy (BLEEP).


PEREZ: And, Jake, that's pretty much what Trump ended up doing, right? I mean, he holds a press conference. He basically says, "I know that I won the election." The thing that messes this up, obviously, is the early call from Fox News that said Arizona had gone in the column of Joe Biden.

But Jake, I mean, keep in mind, some of the things we've learned, from this investigation, from this committee, is that, Trump had hired some legal team, members of his legal team, in preparation for just this, as far back as, August and September, before the election. So, he seemed to have a plan ahead of time. At least, that's what we've learned, from this committee.

And so, you see it play out, in some of that audio, from Steve Bannon, and we see what the former President was trying to do, which was to, first of all, sow doubt, about the late incoming results, which we knew, and which everyone knew, was going to come, because of some of the measures that have been taken, to deal with the Coronavirus.

So, all of this was sort of a playbook that the former President was prepared to deploy, knowing that even he didn't really care, how the results were, he was going to declare victory, no matter what.

TAPPER: And I should note, Evan that we reached out to Steve Bannon, for comment. A spokesman sent us a statement that read, in part quote, "Nothing on the recording hasn't already been said on War Room," that's his podcast, or on multiple other shows, unquote.

PEREZ: Right.

TAPPER: Evan Perez, thanks so much.

Another constant, in these hearings, is the presence, in the gallery, of law enforcement officers, and former officers, who defended the Capitol, on January 6th, some of whom were badly hurt, doing it. Today, committee member Congressman Jamie Raskin recognized one of them, Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Last month, on June 28th, Sergeant Gonell's team of doctors told him that permanent injuries, he has suffered, to his left shoulder, and right foot, now make it impossible, for him, to continue, as a police officer. He must leave policing, for good, and figure out the rest of his life.

Sergeant Gonell, we wish you and your family all the best. We are here for you. We salute you for your valor, your eloquence, and your beautiful commitment to America.

I wonder what former President Trump would say to someone like Sergeant Gonell, who must now go about remaking his life. I wonder if he could even understand what motivates a patriot, like Sergeant Gonell.


TAPPER: With us now, one of Sergeant Gonell's comrades, on the January 6th attack, Capitol Police Officer, Harry Dunn.

Officer Dunn, you've attended all the hearings, the committee has held publicly, thus far.

Today, for the first time, you heard live testimony, from someone, who actually was one of the rioters, who breached the Capitol, on January 6th. So, what did you make of that?

HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Well, going back, real quick, when you just - when you teased the - the intro to the segment, when you talked about former officers? That's just - that sucks to hear, man! Because, on January 5th, it wasn't former officers. It's just that - that just sucks to hear that.


Because those guys, those other - three other gentleman that I serve with, and what a great - great - that's what you want police - that's what you want from police, just good individuals, who take their job, seriously, who take their oath, seriously. So, that kind of resonated with me, a little bit.

As far as the individual's testimony, man? I was irritated by it. The individual, who was charged, he spoke about how his life was ruined, and some of the bad things that happened to him.

As we just talked about, we have two people that are no longer going to be police officers. Also sitting next to Sergeant Gonell, and Michael Fanone, was the widow, of an officer, Jeffrey Smith. Talk about her life never being the same!

So, forgive me, if I show a lack of sympathy, towards that individual, and what he's lost. He made a choice. And other individuals made sacrifices, so.

TAPPER: Yes. And let's not forget, of course, Officer Brian Sicknick, who died that day, and his family believes it was related to the trauma he withstood. We've interviewed Officer Sicknick's mother, Gladys, and his former girlfriend, and they're always in our thoughts.

So, I hear you, when it comes to how much anybody should feel bad, for the rioter, Stephen Ayres. Obviously, his testimony, was very--

DUNN: I talked to - I talked to Mrs.--

TAPPER: Go ahead.

DUNN: I talked to Mrs. Sicknick, during the hearing. She texted me, during the hearing. And she just said, it was just tough for her to watch. So, God bless her. I love her to death.

And I just got to keep showing up, at least, for people, like her, people that don't - that can't do it. So, we're going to see this all the way through, and hopefully see that justice gets served, at the end.

TAPPER: Even if you don't have sympathy, for Stephen Ayres? And I certainly understand your position. I thought it was worthwhile, to hear his testimony.

Him saying he hung on Donald Trump's every word that if Donald Trump had told his supporters, to go home, hours earlier, maybe some, if not all, of the violence could have been prevented, don't you think?

DUNN: Well, yes. And actually, not just his testimony.

But if you look at the text messages that were obtained, by the January 6th committee, prominent news anchors, advisers to the White House, kept saying, he's got to say something, he's got to condone this, he's got to stop this. People are going to die. You have members of Congress, saying that he needs to do something.

So, not only did Mr. Ayres know that he was saying - he was - not only was Mr. Ayres hanging on to his words, the members of Congress, the elected leaders, the news anchors, they knew that it was important, for him, to speak out to. And he did not.

TAPPER: At the end of the hearing, Stephen Ayres approached you, and your fellow officers, Fanone, Gonell, Hodges. You tweeted about it afterwards. Somebody had posted, on Twitter, referencing the moment, as an apology given and accepted. You responded, "Apology given," end quote.

So, what did Stephen Ayres say to you? And how did it make you feel, at the time?

DUNN: Well, he apologized, and that's what it was. I - it kind of caught me off guard. I mean, we're sitting there, still processing.

A little - a couple minutes, before that, Sergeant Gonell had to excuse himself, from the hearing room, because he got overwhelmed, with emotion. I went out there, after him, and come back in, and we're still trying to process that. And then we're just ambushed, for lack of a better word, with this individual, forcing an apology on us.

And, I mean, it's right to apologize. He owes the entire country, and anybody, who was harmed, that day, emotionally, physically, he owes them an apology, also. However, I acknowledged his, but I don't necessarily accept it. That takes some time.

TAPPER: Officer Harry Dunn, as always, thank you. We appreciate you.

DUNN: Thank you.

COOPER: Today was our first time, hearing from Pat Cipollone's testimony, which included a lengthy testimonial, to Mike Pence, for resisting pressure, to take part, in the former President's last-ditch scheme, to overturn the election, on the 6th.


PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I thought that the vice president did not have the authority to do what was being suggested under a proper reading of the law. I conveyed that.

I think that I had actually told somebody that, you know, in the Vice President's - "Just blame me. This - I mean, this is - I'm not a politician," you know. I am - and what - you know, I just said "I'm a lawyer. This is my legal opinion." I - but let me tell you this. Can I say a word about the Vice President?


CIPOLLONE: I think the Vice President did the right thing. I think he did the courageous thing.


I have a great deal of respect for Vice President Pence. I've worked with him very closely. I think he understood my opinion. I think he understood my opinion, afterwards, as well.

I think he did a great service to this country. And I think I suggested to somebody that he should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions.


COOPER: And joining us now is Richard Nixon's White House Counsel, and Watergate Committee star witness, John Dean.

John, you've been vocal, in the past, about the need, for Pat Cipollone, to testify. How much, or did, his testimony, change the dynamics, of this investigation?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We don't know yet. Because we only have tidbits from his testimony. I was watching that clip, and thinking about the text, I exchanged, with my wife, earlier, where we had a little trouble with that, kind of gagged on it. It looked to me like he was soliciting business, from Trumpworld, for those who are saying anyway, which has been one of the problems, it's delayed his testimony.

We also note he did invoke the privilege, occasionally, in his testimony.

So, Anderson, we don't have a picture yet. I think next week is going to be the Cipollone moment, if there is one. And I look forward to it.

COOPER: Do you agree with Vice Chair Cheney? I sense you don't. That Cipollone's testimony met expectations? It's you're saying it didn't go far enough, in your view?

DEAN: Well, I don't know how far it's gone. I don't know what their expectations were. So, it's difficult to assess.

I'm delighted the committee feels that they got what they needed. But their needs are somewhat limited. They're really focusing, on one date, and the events that preceded. I think Cipollone has a lot more to offer, and needs to offer more, so that we can get all this in a bigger context.

COOPER: To the extent that your testimony of ex-President Nixon, does it all surprise you that former President Trump is reportedly fuming over Cipollone testimony?

DEAN: Not at all. Not at all. Nixon didn't watch my testimony. In fact, he couldn't even listen, to his recorded conversations, with me. Had others do that, and they misreported to him, what I had actually told him. But that's another issue.

I can understand why Trump is upset. This is exactly the sort of thing that he terrifies. And because he's getting the worst side of his image out, he's unable to control what's being put out there. And it's not a pretty picture that's going out there.

COOPER: There were a lot of bizarre days, and late nights, in the White House during Watergate.

Was there anything ever to compare with the Oval Office meeting that Cipollone was in trying to head off, Sidney Powell, the power-chugger of Dr. Pepper, and Mike Flynn's efforts to, among other things, have the President ordered the military to seize voting machines?

DEAN: Anderson, I can assure you, there wasn't anything in the time I was at the White House, or did I learn about anything, after I left the White House. In fact, I am something of a student of the presidency, and been trying to think, about a parallel, and I just can't find it.

This is - this is a historic meeting, for the unhinged. We just never had a meeting like that. It was sort of a Moveable Feast, with Rudy stayed in the Cabinet Room, just because he liked the room? I mean, this was crazy stuff.

COOPER: What upstanding issues, in your view, do you want to hear Cipollone address? Because I mean, look, he knows everything. I mean, he was there for everything.

DEAN: He does.

COOPER: What do you want to hear from him more?

DEAN: Well, what I want to hear from him is, one, is why the committee has met - he's met their expectations, which would lay out an awful lot.

Two, I want to understand how that - why he still insists there is a privilege. They're not telling us, what the privileges are, whether it's executive privilege, whether it's attorney-client, whether there's some other privilege, he's claiming, but he is invoking privilege. There was a little clip of that, today.

So, I'd like to hear the whole story. And I'd like to hear it unfettered, and uncensored, if you will.

COOPER: Yes. John Dean, I really appreciate it, as always.

Back with our panel. Joining us, CNN Correspondent, Audie Cornish, and CNN Political Commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as Director of Strategic Communications, in the former administration.

Audie, what do you what do you think came out of today? I mean, how big of a deal, was it, to hear Vice Chair, Liz Cheney say, the end, hearing that was somebody, who was going to testify, or has testified, was contacted by the former President.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, obviously, the Chairwoman, Cheney, she's been saying, all along, "Hey, it seems like someone's reaching out to witnesses. Hey, I think that there's going to be a problem here. And just so you know, we're paying attention to that."

So, there's been a lot of breadcrumbs, leading up to this allegation. And I'm looking forward to, maybe you have more information, as you're kind of tapped into Trumpworld, as to like what - how far this has gone, and how much the committee, is digging.


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WH DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and it's kind of like the - it's the model of what Trumpworld does, which is it's intimidation. It's maybe a bit more masked than directly saying, "Hey, I'm watching. Don't say this."

But it's what Cassidy Hutchinson referred to that she dealt with, which kept her from getting different counsel, in coming forward, to the committee, for months, on end.

COOPER: Yes. FARAH GRIFFIN: Because - and we don't know how wide-reaching this is, by the way. We don't know how many people, who have come forward, or who haven't, aren't, because they've been intimidated, by the former President.


FARAH GRIFFIN: I hope it meets the threshold, I'm not the lawyer here, of what would actually count as witness tampering. But regardless, the committee has drawn a very clear line, of "This is unacceptable, and will be referred to DOJ."

COOPER: By the way, anyone out there, the former President does call you - just recorded the call.


COOPER: I mean, he could just put on speakerphone, in the very least.

The committee highlighted this clip, from Katrina Pierson, who helped organize the January 6th rally. And I want to play some of it. She talked about concerns, about potential speakers.

Let's listen.


VOICE OF REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): On December 30th, Miss Pierson exchanged text messages, with another key rally organizer, about why people like Mr. Alexander and Mr. Jones were being suggested, as speakers, at the President's rally on January 6th.

Miss Pierson's explanation was "POTUS," and she remarks that the President likes the crazies.

The committee asked Miss Pierson about these messages, and this is what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when you said that he likes the crazies, were you talking about President Trump?

KATRINA PIERSON, FORMER TRUMP SPOKESPERSON: Yes, I was talking about President Trump. He loved people who viciously defended him in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But consistent, in terms of the support for these people, at least with what the President likes, from what you could tell?

PIERSON: Yes, these are people that would be very, very vicious, in publicly defending him.


(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: As someone, who works, in the Trump White House, I'm wondering what do you made of that notion that the former President likes the crazies.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, it's true. And it's a sad thing, I learned, very quickly, about Donald Trump, which is, so long as you will viciously defend him, regardless of the facts that you say, if they're true or not, regardless of what associations, you may have, if you're tied to extremist groups, whatever it may be, so long as you are defending him, he will want your voice to be amplified.

This is something that was seen in his Twitter feed, the kind of voices that he would amplify that were tied to QAnon, and other extremist kind of groups.

But I do want to say this. A kind of theme, throughout this hearing, was that what is - what the President privately says about some of his supporters, is actually extremely demeaning. And I don't think they realize that. And I hope that--

COOPER: He doesn't like--

FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes. I hope that stuck with people.

COOPER: I mean, he makes fun of them, right?



FARAH GRIFFIN: He makes fun of them. And it's, that's something that I hope gets through. And also the fact that he was told he lost. He was told there was no victory, in sight, or path to victory, and he kept going forward, and then let these people go storm, the Capitol. I hope, if nothing else, that broke through to his supporters.

COOPER: Yes, I mean--

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not making fun of him. I mean, he doesn't respect - I mean, he is counting on ignorance.

He's counting on people to believe because we have as a society believed that if the President of the United States is saying something, it has the level of gravitas that must be believed.

And so, the idea of the witnesses, today, hanging on every one of his words, to the expectation, that there's going to be honesty and truth? And behind-the-scenes, and in front of the cameras, we know, he was not telling the truth. There were so many elected-related lies. He was capitalizing and hoping on that very notion.

Similarly, some witnesses, who are testifying, recently, I believe, are hoping that the American public does understand things like, I don't know, privilege. The idea that you can just say, because the President said it to you, it's privileged, you don't have to say anything, not even your name, not answering questions.

But, in reality, privilege holds a very special place. It has to actually be within the confines of getting some sort of advice, or counsel. It has to be privately communicated. It can't just be, if President Trump ordered an ice cream cone, the person can't tell you what flavor. That's not how it actually works.

So, Pat Cipollone, as he's describing all the things that are going on, some notions that he's saying are capitalizing, yet again, on the assumption that most people will think that "Because the President said it, forget it, and all bets are off," to paraphrase.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I know John Dean is waiting for a Cipollone moment to come.

But I actually, was taken, today, in watching his videotaped deposition, about the weakness, in Cipollone, like it just - I don't mean, as a person. I just mean, his inability, as White House counsel, to actually prevent this from happening.

Because Donald Trump was tuning out. Like you said, Donald Trump was told that he was - told by the Attorney General, told by the White House Counsel, told by the authoritative legal voices, in his administration. But it was discounted, because it wasn't what he wanted to hear.

And so, watching Cipollone, today, I was kind of like, "Wow, you just seem like a diminished force, inside this West Wing."

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and if I can just say, really quick? I was in many meetings, in the Oval, with Cipollone. I always saw him give very sound counsel, to the former President. But he was constantly diminished.

The number of times that I heard the President say, "I wish I had better lawyers. I wish I had better lawyers," and would look directly at Pat, with other like senior cabinet officials? It's countless. So, that is--

COOPER: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --very accurate.


COOPER: And, by the way, his definition of a better lawyer--

FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes, right.

COOPER: --is like Roy Cohn, so.


COOPER: Want to continue the conversation.

Shortly next, an expert on rightwing extremism, joins us, to talk about what she took from today's testimony.

Also, in light of prior testimony that the former President asked the Justice Department to, quote, "Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen," we'll talk about the White House meeting, with 11 Republican Congressmen, which was highlighted, at today's hearing.


TAPPER: In the last hour, Anderson spoke with one of the witnesses, who testified, today, Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson, and self-described propagandist, for the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers.

During the hearing, he spoke about how the former President's actions, and words, emboldened the Oath Keepers, and other extremist groups.

And tonight, he says that the Oath Keepers still pose a danger, to this country.



COOPER: Are they still a risk?

JASON VAN TATENHOVE, FORMER OATH KEEPERS SPOKESPERSON: I think so, I think. So, I was guilty, myself, of underestimating them. I broke away around 2016, 2017. And, you know, I didn't think. You know, there's - there was a certain amount of ineptness that I saw.

But, at the same time, they did storm the Capitol. There were explosives that were found there. I mean, I was guilty of underestimating them. And, I think, we're just at a point in time in history, where we cannot do that anymore.


TAPPER: I'm joined now by Kathleen Belew, an Associate Professor, at Northwestern University, and Author of "Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America."

Kathleen, thanks for joining us.

Last night, you told Anderson that watching the hearing, today, you would be looking to see, how connected, these extremist groups were, with not only members of the Trump administration, or the Trump orbit, but also with each other.

Did the hearing explain that to you, in a meaningful way, at all?


There's one thing that I wish had been brought out, more fully, and maybe we could talk about that now. And that is that the White Power Movement, for purposes of this committee hearing, they're interested in figuring out culpability, for the former President, and for other members of the administration.

So, they spent a lot of time on things like, did he know about the election being lost? Did he issue a call that was then used, as a unification point, and a call to arms, for various extremist groups? And it's very clear that both of those things are true, based on the testimony, we heard, today.

But the other part that we should be paying attention to, is what the attack on the Capitol meant, to people, in this movement.

One of the comments that was read, in testimony, today, to the tweet about "It will be wild" that the former President wrote, was a direct reference to a White Power novel, called "The Turner Diaries," which describes a sort of - it's a handbook, for how white separatists, can take over the United States, and then, through a campaign, of violence and genocide, create an all-white planet.

And this is important, because that book, has in it, an attack on the Capitol, very much, like the one, we saw, on the 6th.

And the point of that attack, within that book, and within the ideology, of this movement, is not a mass casualty event. It was not imagined, as a mass casualty action, like the one that they very successfully undertook, in Oklahoma City.

It was imagined, as a strike, at the heart of power that was meant to recruit. And it was stunningly successful. So, we shouldn't let the idea of ineptitude, distract us, from what was, for the militant- right, a very successful recruitment action.

TAPPER: I want to play part of the testimony, from Stephen Ayres. He was a supporter, of Donald Trump, not affiliated, with any of these groups. He came to Washington, D.C., and stormed the Capitol, on January 6th.

Let's play a little bit of that.


MURPHY: When you arrived on the Ellipse that morning, were you planning on going to the Capitol?

STEPHEN AYRES, CAPITOL RIOTER, PLED GUILTY TO ENTERING CAPITOL ILLEGALLY ON JANUARY 6: No. We didn't actually plan to go down there. You know, we went basically to see the Stop the Steal rally and that was it.

MURPHY: So why did you decide to march to the Capitol?

AYRES: Well, basically, you know, the President got everybody riled up, and told everybody to head on down. So, we basically was just following what he said. MURPHY: We know that you illegally entered the Capitol that afternoon and then left the Capitol area later on. What made you decide to leave?

AYRES: Basically, when President Trump put his tweet out, we literally left right after that come out. You know, to me, if he would have done that earlier in the day, 1:30, I - you know, we wouldn't be in this - maybe wouldn't be in this bad of a situation or something.


TAPPER: So that's, for want of a better term, a common man-type individual that attended the rally.

We also saw the committee, showing the direct result, of Donald Trump's tweet, on the early morning, of December 19th, 2020, saying, "Come to D.C. on January 6th, will be wild," et cetera, and the direct effect, it had, on far-right organizations and, again, for lack of a better term, charismatic-type, local or smaller level figures.

This is all the same kind of result, in the sense that Donald Trump says something, and you have masses of people, following his every word.


BELEW: Yes. But we want to be clear, about who's involved, in those masses of people. So, January 6th, the crowd really consists of three different groups.

One is sort of like Mr. Ayres, people that were there to see the Stop the Steal action, perhaps to see Trump, and who were swept up, in the day. And the people in that group really range, in intensity, and in how far down the path towards illegal activity, they went.

Then we have the QAnon folks. That is a much different sort of mobilization. And it relies on conspiracy theory, and some other major themes, we could talk about, if you wish.

And then, finally, we have what was really the focus, of today's hearing, which is the organized White Power Movement, and militant- right.

Now, two things, there. First of all, well, so this is the smallest, and most highly organized part, of the January 6th crowd. But they're the people that were there, with tactical gear, weapons, explosives, and a plan, about what they wanted to do, how they wish to breach the Capitol.

So, the critical thing, in today's hearing, was that they got the go- ahead order, from Trump, rather than sort of being brought along, in a spontaneous fashion. But, for those activists, they're there, looking for an opportunity, to reach folks, in the Stop the Steal pool, like Mr. Ayres, and to bring them along.

TAPPER: Fascinating! Kathleen Belew, thank you so much. Appreciate your expertise.

Today, the committee highlighted two meetings, at the White House, in December 2020, involving discussions of attempting to overturn the democratic election.

There was that heated hours-long meeting that devolved into a shouting match, between the former President's White House legal team, and these outside advisers, let's call them.

And then, there was the one, three days later, on December 21st, involving 11 Republicans.


MURPHY: According to White House visitor logs obtained by the committee, members of Congress present at the White House, on December 21st, included Congressmen Brian Babin, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Jim Jordan, and Scott Perry.

Then Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene was also there.

We heard testimony in an earlier hearing that a pardon was ultimately requested by Congressman Mo Brooks, and other members of Congress, who attended this meeting.


TAPPER: I'm joined now by CNN Congressional Correspondent, Ryan Nobles.

Ryan, what more do we know, about this meeting?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a planning meeting, Jake. And it came shortly after the former President, Donald Trump, was advised, by members of the White House that there was really no path forward on January 6th.

But despite that advice, he put it away, and then met with this group of members of Congress, to talk about how they were going to try and delay the certification, of the election results, on January 6th.

Then, some of these members of Congress, were willing, they were trying to come up, with ways, to help that end game, by the former President.

Others weren't so sure. Congressman Mo Brooks, as was pointed out, in today's hearing, recommended that this wasn't the best course of action, for the President, on January 6th. He did ultimately object.

But what's most stark about this, Jake, is that there was also testimony that was revealed, by the committee, in earlier hearings that, at one point, when Donald Trump was trying to pressure the Justice Department, into looking into these false claims, of election fraud that he said to them, "You take care of that, and I'll take care of the Republican congressmen." He had in his mind kind of a two-fold plan, to stand in the way of the certification of the election. It didn't work that way. But as late as December 21st, he was still trying to put that plan into motion.

TAPPER: Right. He wanted the Justice Department, to announce this fraud, and then say - and then "Leave the rest to me, and the Republican congressmen."

NOBLES: Right.

TAPPER: We understand, you're trying to track down some of those who attended. Are they talking to you at all? Are they shedding any light on what happened?

NOBLES: No, they're not, Jake. And that probably doesn't surprise you.

We certainly didn't get to all of these members of Congress, today. But my colleague, Manu Raju, and I, tried to find as many of them as possible. The vast majority of them had no comment.

The ones that did talk about it, say that they didn't remember all that much, about what happened, there.

That includes Jim Jordan, who, of course, we know, had multiple phone calls, with Donald Trump, on January 6th, and he can't seem to remember at all what happened, during those phone calls. He told Manu today that he met, at the White House, a bunch of times, and he doesn't remember every specific meeting.

Congressman Matt Gaetz, who was also part of that meeting, he just casually mentioned that Vice President Mike Pence was there, as well.

Of course, we knew Pence was at that meeting. That doesn't necessarily mean that, at any point in time, Pence was in, on this effort, to stand in the way of the certification of the election.

But oftentimes, Jake, when we try and press these Republican members, about exactly what role they played, and what led up to January 6th, they often just seem to forget.

TAPPER: Yes. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

COOPER: And back now, with our panel.


Laura, I want to play a part of what former - the former White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, testified to, today. And it illustrates just how much the former President, was considering going - how far he was going to overturn the results.

Let's watch it.


CIPOLLONE: There was a real question, in my mind, and a real concern, you know, particularly after the Attorney General had reached a conclusion that there wasn't sufficient election fraud to change the outcome of the election.

When other people kept suggesting that there was, the answer is, what is it? And, at some point, you'd have to put up or shut up. That was my view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was this, on a broader scale, a bad idea for the country?

CIPOLLONE: To have the federal government seize voting machines, that's a terrible idea for the country. That's not how we do things in the United States. There's no legal authority to do that.

And there is a way to contest elections, you know, that happens all the time. But the idea that the federal government could come in, and seize election machines? No, that, that's, I don't - I don't understand why we even have to tell you why that's a bad idea for the country. It's a terrible idea.


COOPER: Well, apparently, somebody did need to be told that it was a bad idea.

COATES: Right.

COOPER: What would have even happened? I mean, I'm not even sure, if it would have even happened, if somebody - there were enough human being - I guess there are always enough people, to actually go and do something like this. What would have occurred?

COATES: I mean, I thought, quoting him, and saying, why do, I have to tell you what would have occurred, Anderson, had this actually happened.

I mean, the notion here, the absurdity, of actually having the federal government, going in to seize, what the States know, are their time, place, and they're able to oversee the time, and manner, and place of elections. They are in control.

The Supreme Court just has taken up a case, for next term, to try to evaluate just how far individual state, can confirm that you got to keep your hands off, even if it's a state court, let alone the federal government doing so. It is based on nothing.

Remember, Bill Barr, you heard him, earlier today, say there was no probable cause, to do any of this. I mean, we've got laws, we've got rules, we've got the Constitution that's supposed to tell people there are parameters and guidelines. None of that was there.

And why he was so sort of perplexed about the idea, and having the rhetorical questions, is because, I think, they went through this flowchart, of "This must be a joke," to "This must be rhetorical," to "I have to explain to them the escalation of that December 18th meeting," with the Dr. Pepper moment of trying to drink down, and force everyone else, to gulp the absurdity that's been going on.

It's really it would have been violative of the law, Anderson.

CORNISH: There is a quote that I keep coming back to, from The Washington Post.

It was by a senior Republican official, one of these anonymous quotes, from like November 9th, where they say, "What's the downside for humoring him for a little bit of time? It's not like he's plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power, on January 20th."


CORNISH: "He's tweeting about filing some lawsuits. And you know - and then he'll leave."

I don't know, sort of when that changed, for the people, around him. But it does feel like the President has been very consistent, about how he talks about elections, when he has lost, and what he thinks should be done, to challenge them.

Maybe you can help me. I keep turning to you.


CORNISH: Are people - were people really that shocked that they were in a moment, like we saw Cipollone, talking about?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, a couple things. So, I left December 4th, and part of my rationale - I mean, I had a sense things were going to go a very dark route.

But after the President didn't remain in Mar-a-Lago, after Thanksgiving, there was a sense in the White House that if he's just going to kind of stay down there, and never come back, and he's going to accept the results.

When he decided to stay in Washington, and not go down there, for Christmas? That was a sense to many of like, "No, no, no, he's going to fight this out."

CORNISH: Yes. Narrated (ph) he was coming back.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And one thing I noted when we were off set is we know about this 18th meeting. We know that Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, who does not - refuses to say he believes in a peaceful transition of power, were in the Oval Office, and then the Yellow Oval, in the Residence.

Who waved them, which is meaning putting them through security, to get onto White House grounds? We don't even have that answer, right now.

I suspect it was Mark Meadows. And I say that because I can tell you, before I resigned, I said, "Sir, I'm planning to move on. I want to put in my notice." And he said to me, "What if I could tell you that we're actually going to be staying?" And you could interpret that as hypothetical. But there were people, around the President, telling him that. And that is what led to--

CORNISH: Wait, but did you?

FARAH GRIFFIN: --this absolute sanity.

CORNISH: When you - when he said that to you, did you--

FARAH GRIFFIN: I said, oh - no, no, I resigned - I moved up my resignation, to the next morning. But, and I said, "No, of course, we're not," and I told all my staff, we lost.

COOPER: And David, what about this Ryan Nobles reporting about the 10 House Republicans?

CHALIAN: Yes, well, I was looking at that list. And you'll recall, four of the members, there, actually received subpoenas, from the January 6th Committee. So, it's not just Ryan and Manu trying to chase them down, to figure out, what was going on there.


The committee has actually subpoenaed, four of their fellow Members of Congress. And, as we know, they've been totally unwilling to talk.

CORNISH: And one of them was put up as a name to potentially be on this House committee, as an investigator, which was Jim Jordan.

CHALIAN: Jim Jordan.

CORNISH: And that didn't come at that.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And, real quick, if I may say? While, I appreciate that Pat Cipollone came forward, and I think there's going to be very helpful testimony, from him, in that future hearings, this sort of almost like, "Oh, this was so ridiculous attitude?" He has not been speaking publicly about this, for the last year. Well, about 30 percent of the country, if not more, believes that the election was stolen.


FARAH GRIFFIN: So, it'd be very helpful, to have him saying this more, forcefully, publicly.

COOPER: Sure. Thank you all.

Coming up, the importance of this day, beyond today. Presidential Historian, Doug Brinkley, is here to look at the most unforgettable moments, and evidence. What will they mean, for the legacy of the already-impeached former Commander-in-Chief, as the committee's work continues? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: The reality of these January 6th hearings, no matter how damning, is that the Select Committee does not have prosecutorial powers.

If the Justice Department, the Fulton County, Georgia grand jury, or any other entity takes actions, such as indictments, against the former President, or his top allies? That'll be a separate matter, out of the committee's reach.

Now, the most that this panel can do, is put extraordinary testimony, and evidence, out there, for the world, and for history, to see. But, from Watergate, to Iran-Contra, we know history may not be quick to forget. And the committee's work is certainly not done.


Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, at Rice University, joins us now.

Doug, from your perspective, as a historian, can you just talk about what you see, as the importance, of these hearings, and what's come out of them, so far?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, HISTORY PROFESSOR, RICE UNIVERSITY: Well, it's holding power, people that abuse power, in this case, Donald Trump, accountable. It's been just electrifying, to watch. Every day, Trump is more and more danger, of being indicted, Anderson. I never thought I'd say that, about a sitting president.

And you're right. I mean, this committee, this, the documentary evidence, that's being pulled together, right now, this is going to be the father of history, for times, to come. I mean, since the Civil War, we've never had such an event, where the Congress was being, basically attacked. And Donald Trump's fingerprints, seem to be all over this.

And you just think about - it makes your mind real back to the role Roger Stone, Anderson, has played. He has a tattoo of Nixon on him. And he was angry then, they got Nixon, in Watergate, and now he's going to kind of save Donald Trump. And Trump pardoned Roger Stone.

And more and more, we're realizing, there really is a rightwing, white supremacist, conspiracy-driven QAnon-infused group that really believe they could topple the U.S. government.

COOPER: And had access to presidential power. I mean, we know this now.


COOPER: Looking ahead, to the next hearing, what more, do you think, you want to know, or does history want to know, about the then- President's actions, inactions, on that day?

BRINKLEY: This is a crime scene, what happened, at the U.S. Capitol. And we want a tick-tock timeline of it. But we also want to know, every second in the White House, what Donald Trump did, and said. What does Cipollone know? There is no privilege for him. There is not an executive privilege. And he hasn't said he was the personal lawyer of Donald Trump.

So, I think that we just got to keep getting the puzzle pieces, put together. But when George W. Bush had to deal with the 9/11 attack, I once worked on a tick-tock timeline, where every second's accountable.

We need to know every comment that Trump made. And it might be like pulling teeth, to get it out of some Republicans.

But there are people that are being patriotic. We saw Cassidy Hutchinson, last week. Liz Cheney's doing an extraordinary job, as prosecuting this.

And, I think, if I were Trump, I seriously would be worried, each time, this becomes a televised event. We're still a divided country. But you're - he's in deeper trouble, every time the public really learns, what his agenda was, starting in December--


BRINKLEY: --and leading into the January 6th morass.

COOPER: If the Attorney General, is weighing the historical precedent, of charging a former President, what do you think the pros and cons, he may be considering are?

BRINKLEY: That's the key question, I think, right now.

When Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, I kind of, back then, I was young. I first didn't like it. But then I thought he did the right thing. Ford called his memoir, "A Time to Heal," and he healed the country, by pardoning Nixon.

But we could see the problem with Ford doing the pardon, right? I mean, if you're Donald Trump? He likes to quote, from Nixon. "If the President does it, it's not illegal." That's what Nixon said. And that's what Trump believes.

And I'm afraid this Justice Department has the onerous task of indicting Donald Trump, because we have to drive home to people that nobody is above the law, including the President of the United States. That's as fundamental to our democracy, as any principle.

COOPER: Yes. Doug Brinkley, thanks so much. Great to talk to you, Doug.


COOPER: Jake, I know you have some thoughts, about what we saw today.

TAPPER: That's right. Some difficult revelations, today, about events, in our nation's past, with only one common theme that the need for government transparency, and the reluctance of government officials, to allow it, to those of you, all of us, who pay their salaries.

First of all, of course, shocking testimony from former Trump White House officials, including then White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, who described to the House committee, a screaming match, between him, and other White House lawyers, with Trump super-fans, Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of, who allegedly were in a meeting, discussing plans, to undermine your, our, democracy, and a scheme to declare martial law, to seize voting machines.


CIPOLLONE: To have the federal government seize voting machines, that's a terrible idea for the country. That's not how we do things in the United States.


TAPPER: Now, we know this, not because Cipollone voluntarily, immediately, told the American people. We only know it because of journalists.


And because, in this case, of this testimony, Democrats now control the House. And Democrats formed a bipartisan committee, one that Republican congressional leaders fought tooth and nail, and that bipartisan committee subpoenaed Cipollone, to testify. That's oversight we would not have had, that is knowledge of facts we would have been denied, had Trump's party been in charge.

And today, we also are finally getting some answers, about what went so wrong, seven weeks ago, at the Uvalde school shooting, where 19 children, and two teachers, were killed, with the Austin American- Statesman newspaper obtaining school video, which I want to warn you, is disturbing.

Video showing police standing in the hall, for more than an hour and 15 minutes, during the massacre, with the sound of gunshots, going off, and screaming by children.

One even taking a moment, to put on hand sanitizer! God forbid he catch a cold!

Remember how Texas police, and Texas politicians, originally described the police response, seven weeks ago?


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The reason it was not worse, is because law enforcement officials, did what they do. They showed amazing courage, by running toward gunfire, for the singular purpose, of trying to save lives.


TAPPER: That's not how I would describe what we just saw on that video!

Now, Governor Abbott has since taken back that statement. But just remember, who told him this incredibly false version of the events that day? Two local police officers, and one state police officer.

For our democracy to survive, we need transparency, from our public officials. If we do not get it, we get lied to, and people get away with misdeeds, and even crimes.

The Uvalde parents pay the salaries, of those cops, and politicians. And all of us, who pay federal income tax, we pay the salaries, of Donald Trump, and Pat Cipollone.

We learned again, today, by the hearings, and that video, we cannot rely on officials, to tell us, of the ugliness that's going on, unless our system demands that the facts come out.

People, who work for you, will sometimes lie, to hide their crimes, to hide their failures. Just remember that, next time you hear someone in power, or someone whose salary you pay, complaining, about citizens, or journalists, who have questions that they would rather not answer.


COOPER: Jake, thanks for that, and to all our guests, tonight.

Stay with CNN, for more coverage. The news continues, in just a moment, with "DON LEMON TONIGHT."