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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

January 6 Committee: DOJ Should Charge Trump With Obstruction, False Statements, Conspiracy & Aiding An Insurrection; Pence: Trump "Reckless" On January 6 But Shouldn't Face Charges; January 6 Committee To Release Final Report On Wednesday. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 19, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN CO-HOST: Just about the top of the hour, special edition of 360, at the end of a remarkable, remarkable day.

LAURA COATES, CNN CO-HOST: Unbelievably remarkable, because there has actually never, as in, Jake, never ever been a day like this, in this country's nearly 250-year history, the House committee making four criminal referrals, against a former President.

You've got, obstructing an official proceeding. You got, defrauding the United States, making false statements. And one of the most serious charges there is, against anyone, let alone a former President of the United States, aiding or assisting an Insurrection.

TAPPER: And, at the center of it all, according to the Committee, was a man, even close aides described as, as fixated on winning, at any cost, even his legacy.


HOPE HICKS, FORMER TRUMP COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He said something along the lines of, you know, "Nobody will care about my legacy, if I lose. So, that won't matter. The only thing that matters is winning."


TAPPER: Somewhere, even Vince Lombardi, shaking his head, at that one!

In making their case today, the Committee also hinted at more, outlining possible attempts, to sway witness testimony, by dangling potential employment, to one unnamed witness, and coaching a client, to give misleading answers.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): For example, one lawyer told the witness, the witness could, in certain circumstances, tell the Committee that she didn't recall facts, when she actually did recall them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: Who is that lawyer?

Committee members also referred House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, and three other GOP members, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry and Andy Biggs of the House Ethics Committee, for failing to comply with Committee subpoenas.

Now, as to the former President, he erupted on social media, spreading falsehoods, about his response, on January 6, and referring to the FBI as quote, the "Democratic Bureau of Investigation," forgetting perhaps that he himself appointed the Bureau's Director, Christopher Wray.

And, by and large, Republicans have made deflection, the name of the game. With some exceptions, they have tried to shift attention away, from the Committee's focus, on the former President.

To hear them say it, the Committee has given short shrift to questions about security, at the Capitol, and Intelligence, leading up to January 6. Now, the truth is though the Committee's report apparently will cover that ground. And Congress, as an entire institution, has already done some of that hard and clearly necessary work.

Joining us now, in fact, to talk about that, retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who oversaw the security review, for Congress, in the wake of the Insurrection.

General, thank you for being here, tonight.

And just given how deeply you were involved, in investigating the security breaches, at the Capitol, on that fateful day? I wonder what your reaction is to this final hearing of the January 6 committee.


It played back for many Americans who, and the world, who had a chance, to be watching, from the President's speech, to the media, tracking the crowd, through the Capitol, to the crowd, the mob going into the Capitol, all live on television. So, we saw this Insurrection happen, live, on television, and even videos of the President, watching it, as it was happening.

So, it was very surreal, today, and it brings forth information that capitalized almost two years of investigation. But Laura, I'm waiting to see, what will be in the written report, about the recommendations, we made, on security, in the Capitol.

COATES: Surreal, is the right word, for what we are continuing to recall.

But, General, on that notion of recommendations, I mean, you submitted your security review, which was commissioned, by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. You submitted that earlier this year.

[21:05:00] And I'm wondering, where do you feel the most progress has been made, in trying to ensure the security of the Capitol, if there has been progress at all in your mind. What do you say?

HONORE: Well the House Speaker Pelosi and the House sent a $2.9 billion requirement to the Senate. And that was reduced to a $1.9 billion pie, led by Senator Leahy, who did not approve the 400 additional officers, we requested, to be in the Capitol, and another 400 officers that would be detailed out to what we call, a dignitary security.

None of that was approved in March of 2001, when we submitted that to the House and subsequently to the Senate. The only thing that was approved was the overtime, and to pay to Guard, the National Guard, who did a great job of coming in, and securing up to the Inauguration. That was a lot of resources, as well as overtime, for all the federal agencies.

But substantive hardening of the Capitol was not in that budget. There was some telephones bought, so every officer now has a telephone, and some improvements in communications, and some positions, to increase a few Intelligence people. But the substantive recommendations, we made, Laura, were not implemented, because they were not funded, in the Senate, such as fencing, improving the dogs that are available in - sniffing dogs, in the Capitol.


HONORE: And improved cameras, those were not funded, Laura.

COATES: I find that surprising, thinking about the idea of what you've laid out, and what was actually provided, in terms of a substantive. Perhaps the report will go into greater detail.

But I want to point this out. Because, Republican congressman, Jim Jordan, and others, have responded to the attack, by actually blaming Speaker Pelosi, for the fact that there wasn't a proper security presence, at the Capitol, on that day.

And I wonder, based on your investigation, and of course, what you've recommended, in terms of ways to address any shortcomings, do you think the accusations that had been made, by people, like Congressman Jordan are valid?

HONORE: Well, it's a point to be debated. But we all saw what happened. We had 800-plus uniform officers, at the Capitol, on duty. And government failed in a way that the - because the security of the Capitol, is the combined effort of the Capitol Police, and all of the Police, in and around D.C.

And thank God, for the Metropolitan Police, who quickly responded, and response from the National Guard, which we know, got a convoluted chain of command, in the Pentagon, that slowed down the Guard, responding. That has been documented. And hopefully, that will change.

Because, in our recommendations, and that was approved, by the House and the Senate, that the Capitol Police Chief can now go directly, to the Pentagon, and request the Guard. That was changed. That was a procedural change that will save time.

COATES: General, thank you so much. We look forward to reading more recommendations.

HONORE: And condolences to Drew Griffin, and his family. God bless him.

COATES: That's very nice of you to say. Thank you for making a point of reaching out to his family, in that way. I appreciate that.

HONORE: Good evening.

TAPPER: Reaction and perspective, now, from the panel, our long- serving Bancha, Jamie Gangel, Audie Cornish, and Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, let me start with you. You heard General Honore. How much focus, do you think, there should be, on the actual physical and departmental security failures, at the Capitol, that day? Which, Donald Trump and the Insurrection aside, that is a legitimate issue.


And, there's, I cut this into two different buckets. The first is, of course, the physical manpower resources, fences, security situation, at the Capitol. I know there are legitimate conversations, and debates, around what do we want our Capitol to look like. Is it, people - some people, support hard-fencing, some others don't?

I think an area where you can't debate is the fact that the Capitol Police have been chronically underfunded, and undermanned, for years, and not supporting the sorts of manpower additions, to the Capitol Police that Lieutenant General Honore's commission suggested is really just inexplicable.

The Intelligence failures are an entirely different set of questions that I have, and unfortunately questions that remain completely unanswered, to this day. We have heard little to nothing, from the agencies involved.


And I speak principally of the FBI and DHS, about any sort of legitimate internal inquiry, to understand, how exactly they allowed this Intelligence failure, to take place that ultimately led to the conditions, we saw, on January 6.

TAPPER: And, Audie, just as a resident, as fellow resident, of Washington D.C., I have been stunned that there have been such failures, to anticipate the kind of violence that we saw.

I mean, I remember that morning, telling my family, "Do not go anywhere near downtown. There's going to be a rally. And Trump rallies have been violent, since 2015. Who knows what's going to happen?" AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the same time, you don't expect the call to be coming, from inside the House, so to speak.

TAPPER: Right.


CORNISH: And so, I think as much as you may hear people, saying that they want to focus on this security issue?

Remember, when Kevin McCarthy turned down the idea of a 911-style commission, he didn't say because he wanted it to focus on security of that day alone. He said it's because he wanted to focus on political violence, on the left, and cities, around the country, after Black Lives Matter.

There was not necessarily a serious discussion, about the scope, and how to approach this investigation. And I think what we have now, is at least something that is a good historical record, and accounting, of what happened that day.

So, we're not in the scenario of being asked to believe our lying eyes, right, that this was a bunch of people a riot that got out of hand.

There were people, who were armed. There were people there, who had made tactical plans, for what they were going to do. And more importantly, it was part of this kind of multi-prong effort that was going on, at Justice Department, that was going on at the state level, and that was going on, on social media.

All of these things came together on that day. They didn't start on that day. And I think that's one thing that I think the Committee tried to really underscore.

TAPPER: Jamie, I have to say, I am constantly stunned at how little, the MAGA folks think, in terms of how is this going to look to history?

How is this going - like this whole idea of - this whole idea of, "Oh, it's a Democrat-kangaroo-court hearing, blah, blah, blah," it's just, we know, there are two Republicans on it, including two quite conservative Republicans, especially Liz Cheney. We know most of the people that testified are not only Republicans. They are MAGA Republicans.

Like, all of that is nonsense. History is not going to record this, as a witch-hunt committee. It's going to be a bipartisan committee. And this is what they found.

GANGEL: The ability to rationalize both, about the Committee, and frankly, about what happened that day--

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: --is nothing short of remarkable. The number of people, who seem to believe, "Oh, it was just a couple of bad apples. It got out of control," people who stand with Donald Trump are standing with Donald Trump. I do think these hearings have had an incremental value, in chipping away, at some people. But people don't believe what they don't want to believe.

CORNISH: It's not about convincing the people, who are hardcore conspiracy theorists. Because the thing about being in a conspiracy, is everything fits the narrative, right? It's not about just this day. To them, it's saying every single investigation happening--

TAPPER: Right.

CORNISH: --to Donald Trump, is part of this bog that's out to get him. It doesn't matter, the details of any given one. What they're saying is "We're on the right side of history," and he makes them feel that way.

What is important, and I think that you're underscoring is, at the margins, the independent voters.

GANGEL: Right.

CORNISH: The people, who are saying, "OK, maybe enough, and maybe no copycats of you, maybe we're done with this," I think that's significant, in an era, when all of our elections are so close, means every one of those people really matter.

TAPPER: And Andrew, you mentioned, earlier today, the January 6 committee is giving us sort of a roadmap, to the Justice Department, of where they think, there's a lot of information.

But it's also possible that conducting some of these interviews, gathering some of this evidence, not under the purview of the Justice Department, might have made the Department's job harder, in some ways, you say?

MCCABE: There's no question. So, when you're conducting an investigation, and Congress is looking at the same activity, you never want them to beat you, to a witness. Prosecutors want to be the first, and only people, to interview a witness, to control, who has access to that person, because you don't want that witness putting out potentially conflicting statements, recorded statements, statements under oath.

You have the reverse situation, now. You have hundreds of witnesses, who have been interviewed, by the Committee, under oath, who the DOJ may not even know about. Those transcripts are out there. They potentially hold all sorts of problems, create issues, for the Department.

The Department now has a big job, ahead of them, trying to get their hands around that material, and understand what exactly what sort of quality, what sort of issues, do they have, with witnesses that will likely be essential, to proving these cases in courts, though.

GANGEL: And it's going to be public. TAPPER: Yes.

GANGEL: Right? Everybody is going to know.

MCCABE: Absolutely.

TAPPER: And it's all going to be public, that's right.

MCCABE: Outsourced.

TAPPER: Back with the panel, shortly.


But next, the former Vice President's reaction, and reaction, to that, from a former top adviser, of the Vice President's, who testified before the Committee, Olivia Troye will join us.

And later, the legal hot water the former President was in, at the Justice Department, long before this Committee decided to make its own referrals, today. That, and more, as this special 360 continues.


TAPPER: Former Vice President Pence, today, said his old boss should not face charges, based on today's Select Committee referral. He said that today, on, where else, Fox. And he also said this.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm must say, from very early on, I've been disappointed, in the partisan nature, of the Select Committee, on Capitol Hill. I mean, to have a committee that was literally appointed, in its entirety, by the Democrat Speaker of the House, really violates the history and tradition of the Congress, and the United States.

This Select Committee, from the very beginning, has represented a, kind of a partisan taint that I think it's one of the reasons why so few Americans, are paying much attention, to what will happen, today, or to the results or recommendations of this Committee.



TAPPER: Keeping them honest, the former Vice President there, is being disingenuous, at best, to the extent that the Select Committee lacks members, appointed by Kevin McCarthy. It does have two Republican members, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. That's because Kevin McCarthy decided to withdraw members.

And I could go on and on. But let's talk with Olivia Troye, who served as Homeland Security & Counterterrorism Adviser to Vice President Pence.

I mean, he keeps on doing this. And it's - he's smart. He knows this is disingenuous.

There was a move, to have a bipartisan commission, like the 911 Commission. And McCarthy pushed back and made demands. Pelosi gave him everything. And then, he said, "No, I don't want it at all."

Then, there was a committee. He put witnesses, to this, on the committee, like Jim Jordan. Pelosi said, "You can't put these two witnesses on. But these three, you can keep on." He withdrew everybody.

I mean, it's just - why does he do this? This is, he's defending the same folks, who were yelling "Hang Mike Pence!"


And it's also, honestly, it's offensive, to all the people that I worked with, in the Trump White House, who came forward and testified. These are true-believing Republicans, who were all-in, on the Administration, for the most part, who were up there, testifying truthfully.

And also Liz Cheney? Come on, that's partisan? She is as conservative as Mike Pence. I mean, they are on the same level of that.

And so, I think, he's like, once again, even though Donald Trump, sent an entire mob, his direction, and put him at great risk, by the lies that he was peddling, he's still defending him. And it's infuriating to me to watch this.

Because as someone, who worked for him, got to know him, on a personal level, and I actually believed in him, and believe that he's actually a good person at heart, and who really cares about this country? I think it just shows cowardice, and it shows a lack of leadership. And as for someone, who wants to run, possibly for 2024, I don't think he's distinguishing himself, in any way.

TAPPER: He did call Trump's actions, "Reckless," which, I guess, is the bare minimum, he could say, given the fact that his, literally, his wife and daughter were put in harm's way, because the President was demonizing him to the crowd.

TROYE: Right.

TAPPER: He stopped short of blaming Trump. He said, "I don't know that it's criminal to take bad advice from lawyers." It is, if the bad advices, they're taking is criminal advice, is criminally bad.

Why? Because he wants to be President, like, what is the reason?

TROYE: I think it's political cravenness.

I think that's what it is. And honestly, when I see this, though, I kind of - I kind of want to say like, "What role are you actually running for though?" Because, it almost feels like he's running for Vice President, again, to Donald Trump, because I feel like he's continuing to pander to this man, who, quite frankly, his supporters want nothing to do with him. There's no benefit of this.

And really, it's a disservice, to the country, to continue, to kind of behave that way, and say, it's reckless. It was more than that. It was an attempt to overturn an election, where a lot of enablers, came together, and were part of this.

And you should be, as a person, who had to make a really, hopefully, the right decision. And he did make the right decision to uphold the Constitution. That day, he was a hero, right? He made the right decision. He did his job.

And I just keep - I kept wanting him to come forward and say, "Hey, this is really what happened. This is where we are, as a country. We need to move away from this."


TROYE: But he doesn't want to do that. And I think it's because he believes that somehow that voting bloc that is supporting Donald Trump, is going to come back to him. And I don't see that coming back to him at all.

TAPPER: I think he's kind of pitching himself as Trumpism without Trump, the Trump policies without the nastiness. But I don't know that he's negotiating it correctly.

Olivia Troye, thanks so much.

COATES: Seriously, Olivia Troye, thanks so much.

Because, I'm wondering where that fire was, with somebody, Alyssa, who says he might be running for president, right? Vice President Mike Pence. Where is this level? I mean, if somebody is saying, and claiming to have you hung, with your family? I don't understand why there isn't more rage or anger, why that person is still getting the deference.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WH DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I will always give Mike Pence credit, for what he did, on January 6. But I think any red- blooded American, if their family is threatened, if their life is threatened, they're going to react.


FARAH GRIFFIN: They're going to show some emotion, some anger. And even as someone who knows him, and respects, Mike Pence, it's so bizarre, and a little hard, to see this tepid kind of criticism of him, at this point, in it.

URBAN: Yes. FARAH GRIFFIN: Especially, just real quick, if he wants to run against Donald Trump, you have to be ready to take him on. And he's clearly not willing to.

URBAN: Listen, I think if Mike Pence had left the Capitol, gone down, and got in a fistfight, with Donald Trump, in the Oval Office, for putting his family at risk? I think a lot of people would say, "Wow! I like Mike Pence. He did what I would have done," right?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes, he'd be polling higher.

URBAN: There, "Hang Mike Pence!" you don't go - you go on there, the Secret Service would have to separate me, from the President, at that point, right? And I think that people see this, and say, "That is a little tepid." It's a nice word to say, right?


URBAN: I don't know if it's weak. Mike Pence would just say he's just Midwest-nice, but a little too Midwest-nice.


COATES: No, no. I'm from Minnesota. I'm Midwest-nice. That's not the same thing.

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER, WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST: It really is. And, I mean, he did the right thing. He did the right thing, in the annals of history.



CONWAY: Why can't he own that? I understand, people in politics not wanting to own the stupid stuff that they do, and the unlawful stuff that they do. He just refuses to own it, sometimes.


CONWAY: But the other thing about him, though, is much as I agree with Alyssa, that he deserves a lot of credit, for what he did that day, he was a hero that day? The fact of the matter is, he deserves some of the blame, because he had his own individual responsibility, as a candidate, on the ballot, in 2020, to concede that election. And he should have done that, by the latest December 16, when the electors voted. And so, he is actually partially responsible, for allowing things just to happen.

URBAN: Yes. But I think--


URBAN: --I think they pushed back. I did think they pushed back a lot, internally.

CONWAY: Yes. But he should have said--

BORGER: Why did he--

CONWAY: --he should have said, outright, "We lost."

BORGER: Right. And I agree with you.

CONWAY: "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that the President declines to acknowledge that, but we lost."

BORGER: I agree with you. And I think he has to figure out who he is, and what he stands for. Because if you get--

CONWAY: How old is he?

BORGER: I don't know. When you get in a Republican primary--

URBAN: Younger than Joe Biden.

BORGER: --when you get in a Republican primary, and say, Donald Trump is there, on the stage with you, and you know that Donald Trump has called you a name, right, to your face, something that upset Ivanka, et cetera, what are you going to do? Are you going to say, "Well, on the one hand, and on the other hand." No.

What you did was correct. Some would even say courageous, because I'm sure he had death threats, out the wazoo, after that, and stick with it.


URBAN: Well remember--

FARAH GRIFFIN: And the little bit--


BORGER: And stick with it.

CONWAY: But that's not Mike Pence.

FARAH GRIFFIN: But it's half--

URBAN: The rioters were 40 feet away. These guys were 40 feet away.

FARAH GRIFFIN: But listen?

URBAN: The Secret Service protected him.

FARAH GRIFFIN: I have literally been standing with Mike Pence, when he has confronted Vladimir Putin. And he's done it forcefully, and bravely, and strongly.

The fact that he cannot dedicate that same level of strength, in just standing up for the Constitution, to the former President, it's going to be his own undoing. If he wants a political future, he needs to call a spade a spade. Donald Trump tried to overthrow the government. He's unfit for office, and call him out, and move on.

COATES: No, wait, hold on, hold on.

CONWAY: His best chance to become a president--

COATES: I'm sorry. I'm--

CONWAY: --was under the Section 40 (ph) of 25th Amendment.

COATES: Yes. But I'm curious--

CONWAY: It's never going to happen.

COATES: Hold on. I got to know. What you are saying was in stark contrast? In what way did he stand up to Putin that is so distinct here? I mean, I'm imagining him, as well, use your word, tepid, are you saying that to, Vladimir Putin, he was able to scream, in some way?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes. We were in Singapore, once, and he called him out on meddling in the election, directly, to his face. It was off-camera. But he has that capacity. But he's giving - he shrinking back into his worst instincts, like he's somehow going to win the diehard MAGA. And you never will.

BORGER: Was that at the time, when the President was saying that he believed Putin that there wasn't any meddling in the election?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well that's always--

BORGER: Was there--

FARAH GRIFFIN: Therein lies the challenge of working--


FARAH GRIFFIN: --for Donald Trump.

BORGER: Right, a disagreement between the two of them? And how did that always get settled?

COATES: There's a common thread.

BORGER: He's a Donald Trump saver?

COATES: Common thread.

URBAN: I like to say, look, again, Mike Pence is a - I think, we all agree on this table, good American, good person, did the right thing on January 6. I just wish you would have seen a little bit more fire, a little bit more, like, to George's point, little more owning it, and kind of coming down, and saying, look, we - before the election - "We lost. Let's just move forward." I wish I'd have seen a little more anger.

COATES: Let's not just single him out, though, because many other Republicans have not said anything, as well.

CONWAY: Oh, absolutely.

COATES: I mean, Mike Pence is obviously the poster child, we're talking about, right now.

But why is this strange dance happening? Why is it so difficult, to have a full-throated condemnation, especially, because look, there is political baggage going into yet another election season. One would think, cut the cord!

BORGER: Well, but you have to blame the Democrats here, right? I mean, this is the game that Pence--

URBAN: I'll blame them. Hold on, I'll do that.

BORGER: This was the game that Pence was playing.

CONWAY: Yes, let's do that.

BORGER: It's the game they all played, which is "Oh, if we had only had more Republicans on the committee!" Well, guess what? You could have had more Republicans on the committee. And I would argue if you had had more Republicans on the committee, maybe you wouldn't be able to say, "Oh, we didn't have our point of view heard."

URBAN: Well it's a - clearly, look, even the former President, at one point in time, spoke up about this point, and said, like, "Why aren't we asking more questions? Why aren't we cross-examining people? Why aren't we doing this?"

BORGER: Right.

URBAN: And you don't get that well exactly because--

BORGER: Gave up a couple of slots.

URBAN: --you gave up those slots, right?


URBAN: You could have had people, and maybe not Jim Jordan, maybe not the people that they wanted.

BORGER: They could (ph).

URBAN: You could have very smart people on there, asking very tough questions. And you could have peeled back the onion on some of this stuff, and maybe it made it a little bit more balanced.

I don't think the outcome would have been any different. I think, today, we'd be exactly where we are, today. The January 6 Commission, is doing the exact same report. But you would have had a little bit more bipartisanship on this whole thing.

COATES: You agree? CONWAY: Meh - I don't think we would have had - yes, I don't think we would have had more bipartisanship. I don't. I don't.

URBAN: Come on! Disagree with me, George. Come on!

CONWAY: I mean I honestly don't. I do--

FARAH GRIFFIN: But it was - it was--

CONWAY: I do think--

FARAH GRIFFIN: He was not smart.

CONWAY: I do think you couldn't--

BORGER: The seats.

CONWAY: --you couldn't - that kind of hearing would have worked in the 70s. I don't think it really works today. So I do like the way it came out. And there's going to be plenty of time, to look through these transcripts, to see what it was that the Committee didn't put into the report. If there's something there? We'll see that.

BORGER: That's what Republicans want to do now.

CONWAY: Yes. We'll see that.

BORGER: They want to have their own hearings, and they'll go through all the transcripts.


BORGER: Because they've been saying they've been taken out of context. They're going to have an opportunity to read everything.

URBAN: If you had--

CONWAY: Well some--


URBAN: --if you had - if you had real bipartisanship, you could have had that right? You'd have had those cross-examinations, ask tough questions to people, and really given the other side, and I think that's what was missing.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, it was hugely strategically unwise, for McCarthy, to not sit Republicans. I think it's still biting him, right now, as he's trying to get the Speakership.

But, to George's point, I'm not sure what a committee like that would have even looked like. You would have had one, speaking from one sheet of music, and one, completely unrelated. And the fact is the events of January 6, were indefensible, and no Republican wants to talk about them.

COATES: And, by the way--

BORGER: But you could have minority report.


BORGER: If you wanted to.

URBAN: Exactly. You could have--

BORGER: Like you did in the Iran-Contra committee, there was minority report.


COATES: Well, I don't know how you have people, who are going to do a cross-examination, if they themselves would be fact witnesses, or subpoenaed. But you know, that's just the name of the game! Thank you, everyone.

CONWAY: And asking questions about Hunter's laptop--

COATES: And asking question about - look, we have until January--

URBAN: Well, listen, I mean, a lot of people still--

COATES: --for a new thing. It's coming up.

URBAN: --listen, George, I mean, you laugh. A lot of people, I mean, 40 percent, 30 percent of the Republican Party--

CONWAY: Absolutely.

URBAN: --still believes that very strongly. They see this report, and they say, "Department of Justice, where's the indictment on Biden? Why is this not coming forward?" right?


URBAN: And that's Merrick Garland, he's got a big challenge. If he wants to mean any credibility--


URBAN: --there better be indictment to Hunter Biden, come in someplace.

COATES: Well, there's Merrick Garland. Then, of course, there's Jack Smith, who will oversee these criminal referrals, likely.

Coming up soon, and more on this - thank you, everyone.

The DOJ, of course, doesn't need any referrals, to actually prosecute Donald Trump. But it does seem to need evidence, this Committee has, and an update on where the effort to get that stands, along with the many investigations swirling around the ex-President. We're going to talk about all that next. [21:35:00]


COATES: So, criminal referrals from Congress are largely symbolic, right? I mean, they carry no actual legal weight. That's probably the only good news, for Donald Trump, today, because he is still in very serious legal jeopardy.

The Justice Department's already been investigating, the former President's role in January 6 and, not to mention the, classified documents that were found, at his home. Special Counsel Jack Smith has issued a flurry of subpoenas, moving very quickly, since he was appointed, just last month.

I want to turn now to CNN's Evan Perez, with more, on the DOJ's ongoing probes and push for access to the evidence that the January 6 committee was able to gather.

Evan, it's been a heck of a day, a heck of a 10-plus hearings!


COATES: So, how are these criminal referrals going to fit, in this massive scope, of the overall DOJ investigation?

PEREZ: Well, Laura, I think the Justice Department investigation is going along some of the same path, right? We've seen though, very recently, a bunch of subpoenas, going out, in this investigation, the investigation that the Department has, into the effort, to overturn the elections.

And what we can discern at least, from the subpoenas that we've seen, in the last few weeks, is that they're focused a lot, on what the former President's role was, in trying to get people, in these States, to be fake electors, and to try to find a way, for him, to remain in power, despite losing the election.

So, this is where you see a lot of what the Committee has turned up, really aligning with what the Justice Department is doing, on its own, separately. And so, now we'll see whether that leads - where those roads lead. We don't know whether the former President himself is going to be charged, or whether there's just people around him, who were involved in that effort.

COATES: A really important point. And also, we're putting a lot of emphasis, on the idea of a referral, a criminal referral.

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: But given that this is a congressional committee, versus prosecutors, who have the ultimate discretion, to do something about recommendations, let alone what they're already doing? The real value is not the referral, I mean, for the DOJ. It's the information.

PEREZ: Right. COATES: The information itself is the currency, the thousands of hours, or however much it is, in the witness testimony, et cetera. That's what they're really looking to perhaps capitalize on, or supplement, what they already have, right?

PEREZ: Absolutely. And look, they've been asking for these transcripts of these thousands of pages of interviews, hundreds of witnesses, who have come in. And a lot of these witnesses, some of them sat for 11 hours, 12 hours of testimony. This is extremely valuable to prosecutors. It will supplement to the things that they've already gathered.

Some cases, though, some of these witnesses have not yet spoken to the FBI. So, for the people who have, they want to see, whether the answers are different, from what they've provided, to the FBI. And if not, they can try to use that to gather up additional information.

COATES: So important to think about where things go from here, and what they will ultimately use it for.

Evan Perez, thank you so much.

PEREZ: Thanks.

TAPPER: Insight now, on Trump's legal peril, from the man, who blew the whistle, on Richard Nixon, former Nixon White House Counsel, and CNN Contributor, John Dean.

John, thanks so much for being here.

Put this day in perspective. What do these criminal referrals mean, for the Justice Department? And what do they mean for the history books?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the big referral, of course, is Donald Trump. That's unprecedented. We've never had a president be referred to the Department of Justice, for potential criminal prosecution, by any measure, in our history. So, that's a big deal.

The other ones, they're all going to be looked at, with a very squinting eye, by the Department of Justice. They will not be influenced, necessarily, by the fact that Congress has made that suggestion. But they will also won't be ignored, Jake.

So, it really educates the public, and the Department of Justice is aware of that. So, they're going to be very cognizant, of trying to answer the question, of why this person should or shouldn't be prosecuted. And I think a lot of these people will be prosecuted.

TAPPER: How much did it strike you that Chairman Bennie Thompson referred to the referrals as a quote, "Roadmap to justice?"

Did that remind you of all of Watergate? Because, as you know, back then, special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, provided Congress with this so-called roadmap that was actually kept under seal, for 44 years. [21:40:00]

DEAN: Yes, it was actually kind of. I heard that in his opening remarks. He referred to the fact that this was a roadmap. And indeed, I think, from what he described, and what I've read, so far, in the summary of the report, it's very much is a roadmap, because these roads now have been traveled, for 18 months, by this Committee. They know the way. So, Justice will look at that.

And I think it's an apt description. And it's ironic, because, as you say, it was the special prosecutor, advising the Congress, during Watergate, when they were kind of fumbling, how to deal with Nixon, and what they should look at. And the roadmap made it very clear, to the House Judiciary Committee, which was the Impeachment committee, what they should be looking at, and where they should be focusing.

I don't think that's the case here. I think this is a bigger roadmap than the Watergate example. But yet, I think it's an important one.

TAPPER: As a former White House Counsel, could you help us read between the lines, of the summary, released by the Committee?

What are they signaling to the Justice Department, when they write something like, quote, "The Committee believes that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone gave a particularly important account of the events of January 6," unquote.

What does that tell you about the importance that they place, on Cipollone, as opposed to other witnesses that they very clearly consider, evasive, and not fully cooperating, like Tony Ornato or Kayleigh McEnany?

DEAN: Well, apparently, this report throughout gives credibility assessments of many, many witnesses, which is important to the Department, because if a witness is dissembled, in front of the Congress, they'll want to know that that isn't a very reliable witness. It also may be somebody that can be prosecuted, or squeezed, if they have important information.

So, all those will be signals to the Department, and it'll be a record for them to study and pursue their own case. They'll make their own judgments, though very much so. Yet, they'll have this additional material.

Cipollone is probably one of the key witnesses, going forward, if both the documents case, out of Mar-a-Lago, and the January 6 case, go forward, into trials.

TAPPER: Former President Trump, today, used the same language we've heard from Nixon's press secretary, Ron Ziegler, in July 1974, calling this a "Kangaroo court."

Does the evidence, presented by the January 6 committee, overwhelm the partisan talking points, the way it ultimately did with Watergate?

Or is the political climate today, so polarized in a way that the Nixon White House couldn't even imagine? I mean, there was no - one could imagine, if Nixon might have survived, if he had this Republican Congress, and news organizations, like Fox, out there, fighting for him, despite his crimes.

DEAN: Very true. It's a very different climate, today. But also, Donald Trump's a very different character, and his supporting cast is very different than those, who were involved in Watergate. Barr may be Gordon Liddy as an exception.

But I think that the climate will - this - to answer your basic question, this was not a kangaroo court. I think they went out of their way, to be fair.

And I think they, as the footnotes indicate, in the summary, they have documented everything they've said. They have solid material, witnesses' statements, sworn testimony, or hard documents, and text documents, and things of that nature, to support the contentions they're making.

So, this isn't a kangaroo court. A kangaroo court doesn't bother with such detail.

TAPPER: All right, John Dean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

DEAN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: With me again, Jamie Gangel, Audie Cornish, and Andrew McCabe.

And Jamie, let me start with what he just talked about. The fact that this executive summary, and I assume the full report, on Wednesday, assessing the credibility, of different witnesses, telling people, "This is who we think is telling the truth, and this is who we think is less reliable."

Now, they don't call people liars, the way that we might - not Andrew, but though the way that we might, over a drink or two. But, for instance, when it comes to former White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Tony Ornato?

GANGEL: Right.

Don't recall! Don't recall!


GANGEL: Don't recall!

TAPPER: This Select Committee found multiple parts of Ornato's testimony, questionable.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: That's them saying, "We don't think he's telling us the truth."

"The Select Committee finds it difficult to believe that neither Mark Meadows nor Ornato told Trump, as was their job, about the Intelligence that was emerging as the January 6 rally approached."

They're saying, "We think that Meadows is a liar. We think that Ornato is a liar." They're not saying it like that, but that's the message they're conveying.


GANGEL: No question about it. Look, there are a lot of loose ends that will be very interesting to see, when we get these transcripts. We will see a transcript, of Tony Ornato's testimony. And my understanding is there's a lot of "Don't recall," there, and that that was a problem, for a lot of other witnesses.

The Committee also pointed out that former President Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his press spokesman, Kayleigh McEnany, were less than forthcoming, in their testimony. We're going to see that as well.

TAPPER: That's, again, just for our viewers at home, that's code for "We think that they're lying. We think that they're not telling us things that we think that they know."

CORNISH: And the code is I think - think of it a different way. If we've been calling it a roadmap the whole time, these are the road signs, right? These are the signposts that say, "Hey, maybe you should look here. Hey, maybe this is a place to pump the brakes. Maybe this is a place to pause."

TAPPER: Perfect, yes.

GANGEL: No question about it. We've talked, over the last two years, about the Big Lie, which was Donald Trump, continuing to push that the election had been stolen, which was not true.

These are the little lies. These are the sins of omission. But they're - I am told by sources at the Committee, that they're very obvious when you see the transcripts.

TAPPER: And what is the message conveyed, to the Department of Justice, when they see the road signs, as Audie calls them, "Oh, we think Kayleigh McEnany doesn't tell the truth." What is - does that mean, "Oh, let's not bother talking to her." What does it mean?

MCCABE: No. But it gives you this sort of background, and the granularity, and the impressions that the investigators got, from their interview that otherwise you wouldn't have, going into a cold interview, of somebody, like Kayleigh McEnany, or Ivanka Trump, right? So, that's what makes the roadmap more granular, more detailed, more informative.

It's not going to get you to the end. It's like you know what your destination is. You know, you're going to have to do the work to get there. But it's a helpful sign to say, "Think twice about what this person is telling you. We've been down the road with them already. We found them to be maybe not cooperative, not fully forthcoming," or flat-out, "We don't think they told us the truth." TAPPER: Do you think it's also - because, one of the things we know that G-men love to do is when they can't get them on the crime is get them on lying to the FBI, right?

CORNISH: Look, as journalists, we read interviews--

TAPPER: No offense!


TAPPER: No offense! But I know you guys love that.


TAPPER: "We can't - we can't get you on the crimes. So, we're going to get you on lying to us about the crime." It's one of your favorite tricks. Do you think that they're saying, "You could probably get these guys, on obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI?"

MCCABE: Right. I think they probably don't need to highlight that technique, and the folks that'd to be following up on this investigation. But the fact is that that is a very, very powerful piece of leverage that federal investigators have, in any interview environment. You cannot tell a lie, to a federal agent, in the course of an interview.

GANGEL: May I give you one word, to look for, when we get to the transcripts, Tony Ornato and others? The word, "Peacefully."

I am told that when we see these transcripts, in very odd ways, all of a sudden, Tony Ornato, and others are making this point, over and over again. "Well President Trump said he was going to peacefully do it."

TAPPER: Oh, they keep inserting the word?

GANGEL: "Peacefully." My sources say it looks like very obvious coaching. You would know this better than anyone.

MCCABE: And that's what they said about Kayleigh McEnany as well.

TAPPER: Right.

MCCABE: "Her responses seemed more like talking points than actual responses."

The question, those are tells, they're giveaways that this person is not only not being forthcoming, but that they've been coached, or instructed, or pushed in a certain direction, to answer this way, which would also be consistent with what we've heard, about some of the conflicted potential representation that some folks had.

TAPPER: Thanks, everyone. You can go home now.

Up next, we remember our friend, and our colleague, Drew Griffin.


TAPPER: A story, I never wanted to tell. Our colleague and friend Drew Griffin passed away, over the weekend.

Drew, as you know, was an outstanding journalist. What you may not have known is that he was an even better human being. And, in this business, TV journalism, that is a rare quality.

And though he would hate to hear anyone say it, preferring that his work, say everything that needs to be said, Drew Griffin truly was one of the good guys, the best. In fact, not just at CNN, but in life. He was tireless. He was honest. He was self-effacing.

He was utterly devoted to his family. Every producer, who ever worked with him, will tell you that on the road, Drew was always thinking about the fastest and best way, to do the story, so he could return home, to them. He'd do the work. He'd do it better than anyone. But he couldn't wait to get home.

And often his work changed governments. His investigations into charity fraud, resulted in a nearly $25 million settlement, with one of the largest direct mail operators, in the United States.

His investigations, into the way the Veterans Administration was run, sparked a complete overhaul, of VA leadership. It changed the way Veterans received the care they need and deserve.

Drew and his team earned a Peabody Award, for that work. And he actually went to the ceremony. One of the rare exceptions he made, to the life he preferred, which was away from the spotlight, allergic to accolades, but drawn to the work, drawn to the cause, and the ones his work truly counted so much for.

It showed in his talent for getting people to talk to him, which was frankly legendary, matched only by his knack, for getting answers, for those, who did not want to give those answers, to anyone.

Unless you've tried to interview someone, who doesn't want to talk to you, you can't truly appreciate how difficult it is. And Drew was a master, fearless.


Even when the person in question was a senator, caught in the act of doing the very thing he had just spoken out against, getting cozy with high-dollar lobbyists, after publicly chastising that same kind of business as usual.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Just want to ask you why they're so important? I mean, you're not the only guy that does these. Everybody does them.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Yes. I didn't really consent to an interview right now, I don't think.

GRIFFIN: Well, I'm just wondering if we can ask you a few questions about why you have these, in general, why you have these kind of weekends for those lobbyists?

LEE: Yes. Politicians raise funds. And this is what we do.

GRIFFIN: Do you like to do it? You spoke so eloquently about the disconnected not being represented. I just wonder if you like this?

LEE: I enjoy skiing. Thank you very much.

GRIFFIN: You enjoy skiing?

LEE: Yes. Thanks a lot.


TAPPER: As good as Drew was, with the chase, he was just as good at confronting lies with facts.


GRIFFIN: Why do you continue to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen?


GRIFFIN: It's a lie. You have no proof. We've looked at all the facts.

BANNON: Well, no. You haven't. I'd tell you what.

GRIFFIN: You don't have the facts.

BANNON: Hey, hold on.


TAPPER: Drew was level-headed, surefooted, a truly genuine human being. And, in a business, where cynicism is paramount, his sincerity shone through.

His wife Margot, his three children, Ele, Louis and Miles, his two grandchildren, you're all in our thoughts tonight.

Drew Griffin was just 60-years-old.


COATES: So important to really address, and think about his legacy.

And, I just remember, I'm pretty new to this business. And he would take the time, to write me the nicest emails of encouragement, and just to say, words of wisdom, words of advice, or just "Job well done," and to share and exchange in the work that he had done, as an informal mentor, in those ways. I'll never forget it, and I'll never forget the work that he has done. So, I'm so glad, to honor him, tonight. And I think only of his family.

TAPPER: Yes. One of the things I think about with him is he had no partisan allegiances whatsoever.


TAPPER: He didn't care. If you were corrupt, or you were lying, you're full of crap? He was coming after you.


TAPPER: It did not matter what party you belong to, or even if you belong to a party. He didn't care.

The news continues. "CNN TONIGHT" with John Berman, is next, right after a quick break.