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House Oversight Hearing on Response to January 6 Insurrection; Biden, Harris Meet with Congressional Leadership. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired May 12, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Constituents demand answers.
But the truth is being censored and covered up. As a result, the DOJ is harassing -- is harassing peaceful patriots across the country. Without accurate answers, conspiracies continue to form. Russia hoax promoter, riot enabler, and Washington state Representative Pramila Jayapal who objected to the electors in 2016 without the required support of a senator filed an ethics complaint against me for the following -- for following the law under three USC Code 15, the Electoral Count Act, which she herself filled at in 2016.
Thirty-three of my Democratic colleagues wildly speculated that Republican members of Congress gave reconnaissance tours to protesters, offering no proof whatsoever. I've repeatedly asked for the Capitol footage from before and during January 6. Such footage would provide answers, could contain exculpatory evidence regarding outrageous accusations against members of Congress, and most importantly, exonerate the many Americans who peacefully protested and never set foot in the Capitol.
Mr. Rosen, wouldn't you agree with the security footage of a public building of public officials paid for by public taxpayers potentially containing exculpatory evidence should be provided to public defenders?
JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman, I'm going to have to refer to my opening remarks again, that there are certain limitations I have here today.
GOSAR: I do and I believe the American public should see that footage.
Madam Chairwoman, I and the American people commend you for holding this hearing. If my Democratic colleagues really want the truth, they would join me in demanding the release of this Capitol surveillance footage on the proceedings in January 6. I yield back. Thank you.
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): The gentleman yields back.
I recognize the gentle woman from the District of Columbia, Ms. Norton. You're now recognized for five minutes. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), DC DELEGATE: Thank you very much, Madam
Chair. I very much appreciate your holding this hearing so we can bring out the role of the respective parties.
And I appreciate, Madam Chair, that you praised the role of the D.C. Police Department which needs to come out in this hearing.
My questions are for Chief Contee who illuminated that role in his testimony and noted the MPD cannot enter the Capitol without the permission of the Capitol police board. And yet, the D.C. Police Department played a historic role in putting down the insurrection and saving the lives, by the way, of members of Congress, of staff, of employees, and I would see, indeed, of democracy itself.
It should be noted that they have been repaid by Republicans who voted unanimously against my D.C. statehood bill which is moving along quite well notwithstanding, and the district meets all the traditional elements that Congress has considered in admitting new states.
Surely, the role of the MPD on January 6th supports or bill for D.C. statehood.
Chief Contee, I would ask -- like to ask you about two bills which can be implemented without statehood. My D.C. National Guard Act would give the D.C. mayor control over the D.C. National Guard. We know the governors of the states and even of the territories control their National Guards, but the president controls the D.C. National Guard.
If the D.C. mayor, Chief Contee, had control over the D.C. National Guard on January 6, do you believe that the D.C. National Guard would have been deployed to the Capitol earlier than it was on January 6th?
CHIEF ROBERT CONTEE III, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE: Yes, I do believe that.
NORTON: I think we see that in your deployment, when things got out of control and the mayor was finally able to send you to the Capitol. Chief Contee, my D.C. Police Home Rule Act would repeal the president's authority to federalize the D.C. president.
Now, the president doesn't have the authority to federalize eye other state or local police department. During protests in D.C. after the murder of George Floyd, the Trump administration threatened to federalize the D.C.
Chief Contee, do you think the president should have the authority to federalize the D.C. Police Department?
CONTEE: No, I do not.
NORTON: Whose authority should and whose hands should the authority of the D.C. Police Department be even without statehood?
CONTEE: The mayor of the District of Columbia. NORTON: Madam Chair, it is long past time for Congress to give the
D.C. mayor control over the D.C. National Guard and to repeal the president's authority to federalize the D.C. Police Department. I believe the events of January 6 spell that out completely, and I thank you and yield back.
MALONEY: The gentlelady yields back.
We're now recognizing the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Hice.
Mr. Hice is recognized for five minutes.
REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): Thank you, Madam Chair. I would like to take time to comment -- let me mute this. There we go.
I would like to take some time to comment on how the media and the many Democrats have put forth a narrative that has been circulating around since January 6th and has never been corrected. For example, the narrative that President Trump incited the riots on January 6th. I don't even understand, Madam Chair, why you, yourself, don't speak the truth as to what President Trump stated.
What he said on the morning of January 6th, he said that: I know every one of you will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard today.
Madam chair, why don't you talk about how the president used those words to peacefully and patriotically instead of cherry-picking words that you want to use to portray an image of something that did not happen? The timeline of what happened on January 6 -- and these are approximate times but the best we have been able to gather.
In the ball park of noon, President Trump began his speech. At about 12:45, violent protesters started arriving at the Capitol. Now, let's keep in mind that the location where the president started his speech, where the speech took place, it's a 45-minute walk from that location to the Capitol. So if the individuals who were at the speech were involved, they would have had to leave before President Trump even started his speech.
He started speaking at 12:00; 12:45 the violent protesters arrive at the Capitol. Around 1:00, the Capitol is overrun and there are efforts to make a call to the National Guard. Between 1:10 and 1:15, President Trump ends his speech and tells attendees to peacefully and patriotically make their voices heard at the Capitol.
About 1:50, the Capitol is breached. Now, in this timeline, it would have been about 2:00 before the earliest attendees of Trump's speech could have arrived at the Capitol.
So, the Capitol is attacked right -- shortly after the president begins his speech. It's breached before individuals could have gotten there. Where is the real narrative in all of that?
Another narrative I want to bring up is that the media claims that the tragic death of Officer Brian Sicknick was a result of pro Trump mobs bashing his skull with a fire extinguisher, which we all know now did not happen. Officer Sicknick, his autopsy revealed that he suffered no blunt trauma. In fact, his mother has since come out saying he died of a stroke.
In fact, it was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others. You go down the list here -- Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer. Kevin Greeson suffered a heart attack. Rosanne Boyland reportedly was crushed by rioters. And Benjamin Phillips died of a stroke.
So the narrative needs to be cleared up.
The truth matters.
I'd also like to discuss what we know about those who were present on the day of the riots that took place. I actually have here something that was sent to me by an individual who was present.
He said: It was a beautiful day, a peaceful, faith-filled support for free elections, when agitators rolled in and began to coordinate a very different agenda. I could see their spirit was not the same. They were forceful and angry. They were physically disguised, but they could disguise their spirit.
They had tactical gear, walkie-talkies, gas masks and had a plan. I was close and got teargassed. I saw these agitators from six feet away. Make no mistake about it. I was there.
We've heard reports of buses of these individuals rolling up. Who are they? Where is the information about these individuals who rolled up?
We saw reports of the -- of John Sullivan on CNN disguising himself as a reporter, which he was not. He -- it's later found out that he is founder of Insurgent USA. He was involved in insurgent activity inciting violence. Why is that type of thing not reported?
I see my time is running out. It's unfortunate that Mayor Bowser is not here today. I have a letter from her urging no support from the National Guard and what little support they got. She wanted it for mere crowd control rather than stopping the incidents that were taking place.
She should be here today testifying before us. It's extremely irresponsible, in my opinion, that she's not here. It's time that we get to the truth and we start telling the truth and we stop creating narrative that is untrue, and misleading to the American people.
With that, I yield back.
MALONEY: The gentleman yields back.
The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Lynch, is recognized for five minutes. REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA): I thank the gentlelady for yielding and
thank the chair for having this hearing.
I find it hard to believe the revisionist history being offered by my colleagues on the other side. It is not a 45-minute walk from the ellipse to the Capitol. You would think the gentleman has probably taken that walk himself several times. It's several blocks. So, it just collapses the entire scenario that he has put forward.
But, Mr. Miller, I live near the capitol. And on January 5th and January 6th, I had an opportunity to walk through the crowds. They gathered on the 5th and then grew considerably during the 6th.
And my personal observation was that the crowds on the 5th, January 5th were relatively peaceful. I walked in and among them, and then again on the morning of the 6th.
The business of congress, we were compelled to walk back and fourth through these crowds as they gathered around the Capitol. What struck me, though, was after president Trump's -- his speech and how the crowd changed, the mood of the crowd changed after those remarks.
In addition to what he said about initially a peaceful protest, also in those same remarks that the gentleman from Georgia neglects to repeat. He said you better get up to the Capitol and fight like hell or you're not going to have a country anymore. And that's when -- that's when the mood changed in that crowd.
Mr. Miller, you had some opportunity to comment on that. Let me ask you. You've already done this in an interview with vice, but -- but for President Trump's speech, do you think anyone would have marched on the Capitol and tried to overrun the capitol without the president's remarks? I know you've answered this question several times, but I'd like for you to answer it for the committee?
CHRISTOPHER MILLER, FORMER ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think I'd like to modify my original assessment.
LYNCH: Why am I not surprised about that. Go ahead.
MILLER: Based on, as Chief Contee said, we are getting more information by the day, by the minute about what happened.
And to highlight some other observations that were made, it's clear now that were organize -- although we're going to find out through the Department of Justice process and the legal system, it seems clear that there was some sort of conspiracy where there were organized assault elements that intended to assault the Capitol that day.
LYNCH: Reclaiming my time. I'm asking you the same question you answered before. Did the president's remarks incite members to march -- people in the crowd to march on the Capitol, or did they not?
MILLER: Well, he clearly offered that they should march on the Capitol. It goes without saying that his statement resulted in that. The question --
LYNCH: I'm reclaiming my time.
MILLER: I'm trying to answer --
LYNCH: Let me just -- let me just share with the committee what you said before. This is your quote. This is your quote. Would anyone -- would anybody have marched on the Capitol and tried to overrun the capitol without the president's speech? I think it's pretty much definitive that would not have happened.
MILLER: I think now I would say that that is not the unitary factor at all.
LYNCH: What's that?
MILLER: I would like to offer, I have reassessed, it's not the unitary factor at all. There was -- it seems clear there was an organized conspiracy with assault elements in place --
LYNCH: In your written testimony for today --
MILLER: -- regardless of what the president said.
LYNCH: Reclaiming my time again. For your written testimony for today, for today, this morning, you stated the following about the president, quote, I personally believe his comments encouraged the protesters that day.
MILLER: That's a fair statement.
LYNCH: So this is -- a very recent reversal of your testimony?
MILLER: Absolutely not. That's ridiculous.
LYNCH: You're ridiculous.
MILLER: Thank you for your thoughts. I also want to highlight --
LYNCH: Wait a minute. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time.
You also said and I quote, the question is did he know he was enraging the people? That's a different matter.
And I understand your reluctance to try to portray what was in the president's mind. But in multiple occasions your testimony, both written and oral, you said that -- and again -- without the president's speech, people would not have marched on the Capitol and tried to overrun the Capitol and that you wrote this morning, I personally believe his comments encouraged the president that day.
MILLER: There's a difference -- LYNCH: So, you understand how not believable your new testimony, your
new version of testimony that was apparently created between the time you wrote your testimony this morning and when you came before the committee today. I yield back.
MILLER: There's a difference --
MALONEY: The gentleman's time has expired.
You may answer that. What? Okay.
MILLER: There's a difference between marching the Capitol and assaulting the Capitol. That's the delineation I'm trying to make, despite the partisan attack that I was just subjected to.
MALONEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman yields back.
The gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Gibbs, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. BOB GIBBS (R-OH): Okay. I wasn't ready for that.
First of all, thank you for holding the hearing. I want to associate some of my -- my colleague Mr. Hice on the time frame. I think he made a lot of sense.
I'm trying to understand, first of all, Madam Chair, I think we should have somebody from the Capitol Police Board maybe to testify, too.
Anyways, we had these pipe bombs, Chief Contee, they were placed at the RNC and DNC headquarters. Obviously to me that was a preplanned attack. Would you agree?
And also, when you responded to the pipe bombs, do you know what your motivations were or have you identified who the perpetrators were?
CONTEE: Yes, to answer your question. I do think these things were preplanned. We know through investigation that these devices were sat out there, positioned out there by a lone individual. In terms of our response to that, the Metropolitan Police Department responded along with federal assets to the threat. To mitigate the threat we were facing at that time.
GIBBS: Do you know if this individual or individuals had any contact or coordination with the people that entered the Capitol?
CONTEE: No, sir. At this point, we do not know that. No one has been apprehended.
That investigation continues on.
GIBBS: The people that illegally entered the capitol, I've seen some reports. It looked like a lot of them had military-type apparel on, gas masks and so forth -- things like that. Is that correct?
CONTEE: That is accurate, sir, yes.
GIBBS: So you'd have to come to a conclusion that that was preplanned initiative before January 6th? Would you concur?
CONTEE: Yeah -- yes. You know, we've seen individuals who wear protective gear to demonstrations when they attempt to negatively engage law enforcement. But in this one with the tactical gear and certainly with the helmets, there was certainly some thoughts that things were going to be bad there.
GIBBS: Your thoughts -- the FBI reported I believe I think maybe three days before or the day before, of possible violence at the Capitol. Was your department notified? Were you aware of that?
CONTEE: No, sir, not three days before. If you're talking about the intelligence bulletin from Norfolk, no, sir.
GIBBS: And what was -- did you have notification the day before or not?
CONTEE: No, sir. I think my previous testimony at another hearing, we kind of addressed this issue. But the notification was sent through -- it was basically sent through an email -- it was emailed to the various agencies within the intelligence network.
GIBBS: Did the Capitol police have notification, are you aware of them or not?
CONTEE: I found out later on that Capitol Police, they did have information, but this was after January 6th occurred.
GIBBS: Okay. I guess for the other witnesses, there was chatter -- apparently chatter going around on social media even days before organization or coordination. Our attorney general, Mr. Rosen, was there any chatter that the department was aware days before January 6th?
ROSEN: Congressman, FBI Director Wray addressed this in a previous hearing and I gather will again. Let me address it at a high level. There were very robust mechanisms for looking for such things.
But the bureau has to sort out what's aspirational, versus what's real and collaborated and verified. But they had a mechanism with the police forces and with the other federal partners to share information. My understanding is that information was shared in a timely way.
GIBBS: Do you think big tech could have had a role to surface of help surface that information out or not?
ROSEN: Well, I think -- again, I'd probably direct you to the FBI for more specifics about this. It's often the case that they seek assistance from private sector counterparts as well.
GIBBS: Thank you. And I guess -- I'm out of time and I yield back.
MALONEY: The gentleman yields back. And the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Connolly, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. The January 6th insurrection was fueled by a big lie, fueled --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to jump out of this really quickly, and we're going to come back to this hearing in just a second. We want to go to the White House where President Biden is meeting with top congressional leaders, Republicans and Democrats for the first time.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And what we're going to talk about today -- when I ran I said I wasn't going to be a Democratic president. I was going to be a president for all Americans.
What the bottom line here is we're going to see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise going forward. We're going to talk a lot about infrastructure today to see if there's a way we can reach a compromise that gets the people's work done and within the bounds of everyone agreeing.
And that's the purpose of this meeting. Not much more to say right now. But we're going to -- we're going to get going. That's it.
REPORTER: How do you expect to do that, sir?
BIDEN: Easy. Just snap my fingers. It will happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys. Let's go.
BIDEN: Thank you.
BIDEN: Come on, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, guys. Thank you. Let's go. Thank you.
REPORTER: On inflation though --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, guys. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: All right. Just listening in to see if we could hear any questions that were being bandied about.
Let me bring in CNN's Dana Bash. Jeremy Diamond might be joining us as well.
Dana, let's talk about what we're looking at here today. One of the things that I think even before we talk about any chance of bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, I think just looking in that room, you see Kevin McCarthy sitting right there.
According to the pool note, Peter Alexander, one of the reporters in there, you know what happened with Kevin McCarthy and his leadership. Can you trust him and work with him? No answer.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really fascinating and such a pertinent question.
The reason is because Kevin McCarthy is sitting in the Oval Office as one of four bipartisan members meeting formally for the first time with the president of the United States coming from what, just two hours earlier, overseeing a vote to oust a member of his own leadership because she deigned to speak out and say that the election wasn't stolen and that Joe Biden was fairly elected. That same Joe Biden, President Biden, Kevin McCarthy is sitting with in the oval office as we speak to discuss whether or not they can find bipartisan compromise on a host of issues, first and foremost the infrastructure legislation.
I mean, you just can't make this up and --
BOLDUAN: No, it feels like an encapsulation of everything that is messed up about Washington.
BASH: Right? It is, pretty hard to do because it's a very complicated and deep and wide ranging mess, messed up in your terms.
So, that's first and foremost. And the thing is, Joe Biden has been around for a very long time. He's never quite seen this kind of division within parties, particularly with the Republican Party. But he understands what it takes to make a deal. And so, you know, knowing him, observing him as I did on Capitol Hill, as you did as well before he became the vice president, that's clearly the way he's going to approach this, kind of pretend it didn't happen.
BOLDUAN: Try to move forward somehow from it.
Dana, stick with me.
Jeremy Diamond, I'm bringing you in real quick.
Jeremy, this is the first time the president -- there's this joint meeting between top congressional leaders. The focus, as Biden said, is going to be on infrastructure. Clearly he's making a joke on how easily coming to compromise is going to be.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt. Nobody here at the White House is expecting them to emerge from this meeting, suddenly having a deal from these multitrillion dollar proposals.
But that being said, the White House does see this meeting as an important step to demonstrate he's committed to this issue of bipartisan. But how much can come out of this meeting remains to be seen. So, I've been speaking with senior White House officials over the last couple days who says the president wants to find common ground and plans to focus on that in these discussions, but also noting that the rest of that is up to those Republican leaders in that Oval Office meeting.
The president can steer the direction towards common ground. But what the reception will be from Senator McConnell and Congressman McCarthy, the leaders from the Republican Party in both houses of Congress is up to them.
And, obviously, we know Senator McConnell, for example, has made comments in recent days about being 100 percent committed to stopping the Biden administration's agenda. Kevin McCarthy is dealing with this intraparty feud, focused on the fact that somebody in his party's leadership, Congresswoman Cheney, who's essentially saying Joe Biden is a legitimate president who's legitimately elected.
So, it is difficult, of course, for President Biden to deal with those officials. But White House officials insisting he's not going to raise any of that. He's going to set that aside during this meeting and focus on the issues of infrastructure, also some discussion of police reform where there have been bipartisan talks that have shown progress in recent weeks.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, there actually has been signs of progress on that very important issue.
Jeremy, thank you very much.
We're going to keep an eye on the White House.
We're going to head now back to Capitol Hill to get back into this important House hearing into the January 6th insurrection. Some of the questioning from Republicans, especially so far, has been just bonkers. Listen in.
CONNOLLY: -- previously during this hearing about the nature of the insurrection. Rewriting history serves no purpose other than the cover-up, the violence and brutality that we experienced and that was exhibited on January 6th, a shame for America, a shame for this Congress. And revisionist history serves no purpose but to cover that up and protect that brutality and that violence.