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House Oversight Hearing on Response to January 6 Insurrection; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Ousted from GOP Leadership Post over Trump Criticism. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired May 12, 2021 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D-VA): Ashamed for America, ashamed for this Congress and revisionist history serves no purpose but to cover that up and protect that brutality and that violence.
I yield back.
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): The gentleman yields back and the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan, is now recognized for five minutes.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. Rosen, four years ago, on January 6, 2017, was it appropriate for Democrats to object to the 2016 presidential election results?
JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman, I think the things that are appropriate or inappropriate for Congress to do are that they -- all members, of course, and all the rest of us have to adhere to the Constitution. And so I'm going to say that that's an issue for you as members of Congress to discuss.
JORDAN: You're former acting attorney general. We appreciate your service to the country. I'm just asking, was it okay for them to -- they have told us we're not allowed to object, we weren't allowed to object on January 6, 2021. In fact, you're not even allowed to co- sponsor legislation that Democrats introduced if you did object to accepting and counting the electors on January 6, 2021. I just want your thoughts on was it okay for Democrats to do that on January 6, 2017?
ROSEN: What I would hope is people of all parties, all political perspectives would respect the Constitution, our system of government and the rule of law.
JORDAN: And does the Constitution allow members to object to the Electoral College results on January 6 after a presidential election?
ROSEN: My understanding is that it does.
JORDAN: It does, right? And Democrats did it -- I mean, Jim McGovern, the Democrat chairman of the Rules Committee. He objected to the very first day called -- he objected to Alabama back on January 6, 2017, a state President Trump won by 30 points. Mr. Raskin objected to Florida. Mrs. Waters objected to Wyoming, maybe the only state that President Trump won by more than he won Alabama, she objected to Wyoming. And you're saying that was okay for Democrats to do? Mr. Rosen? That was fine?
ROSEN: I'm sorry. I didn't understand if you were asking me to respond to that. Again, I mean, I think --
JORDAN: Is it okay for Jim McGovern, a Democrat member of Congress, to object to Alabama on January 6, 2017? Is that all right? He's allowed to do that, right?
ROSEN: I think if members are adhering to their rights and roles and responsibilities, that's, again, a question for all the folks in Congress --
JORDAN: And Ms. Waters can object to Wyoming even though President Trump won Wyoming by lie 40 points? She can object to that if she wants to, right?
ROSEN: Well, at least the Constitution allows members of Congress to raise objections.
JORDAN: Yes. We've heard a lot of talk from the Democrats about revisionist history and the big lie. I just think it's important that -- we've had Democratic members of Congress tell us that we weren't allowed to object, that somehow we were trying to overturn the will of the American people even though we objected to states like Pennsylvania, for example, where they, I believe in an unconstitutional fashion, changed their election laws in the run-up to the election. But somehow they're allowed to object to Alabama, they're allowed to object to Wyoming, they're allowed to object Florida, but we're not allowed to object. I fail to see the logic there.
How about the previous gentleman from Virginia talked about brutality, talked about -- I just want to read you a couple statements here. Let me ask you this question first. Was the 2016 election stolen?
ROSEN: I do not know of evidence that would say it was. I think you're alluding to a troublesome thing about the legitimacy of our past elections, sometimes governors' races being called into question. And I think it's really necessary and important for all of us to find ways to restore our citizens' faith in the electoral process and in our representative system of government.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton said on May -- speaking toward May 2019, you can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee and you can have the election stolen from you. September 2019, she said on CBS Sunday Morning that President Trump was an illegitimate president. On October 2020, just a month before our last presidential election, she was referring to the 2016 presidential election and she said it was stolen from her. Is she wrong?
ROSEN: She is wrong.
JORDAN: Yes, she is wrong, because the election was valid in 2016. President Trump won.
So when we talk about revisionist history that we've heard from the Democrats and we talk about the big lie, their nominee, as recently as last October, was saying the election in 2016 was stolen. They can object to Alabama, they can object to Wyoming, they can object to states in 2017, but we're somehow not allowed to object to anything, raise points about the 2020 election.
I just -- it's just not about revisionist history. It's about the double standard the Democrats want to have. That's the part that bothers me the most and, frankly, I think that's what bothers the American people the most.
With that, Madam Chair, I yield back.
MALONEY: The gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Krishnamoorthi, is now recognized for five minutes.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Thank you, Chairwoman.
Mr. Miller, you don't deny that at least four people died in connection with January 6th, correct?
CHRISTOPHER MILLER, FORMER ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I don't know how to answer that.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And you don't --
MILLER: Yes or no? KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes.
MILLER: It's not that easy. It's just not that easy.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And, sir, 140 police officers were injured, right?
MILLER: I don't know.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And two Capitol Police officers later died by suicide, correct?
MILLER: I don't know. That's what I read in the papers.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Hundreds of rioters breached the Capitol, right?
MILLER: I'm sorry?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Hundreds of rioters breached the Capitol on January 6th, correct?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Now, sir, I want to highlight a paragraph in a Vanity Fair article about you from January. In that, in response to the critique that you were too slow responding to the January 6 breach, you said, quote, I know for an absolute fact that historians are going to look and go those people had their game together.
Mr. Miller, I have a picture of January 6th and what the nation saw on T.V. I can assure you these pictures of mayhem and insurrection do not suggest anyone had their game together that day.
Let me turn you attention to another topic, namely Russia. You said, quote, I have professional respect for how they do things. I kind of, you know, like professionally, I'm like, wow, they're doing pretty well. And they're using a lot of irregular warfare concepts, information, all that stuff in a way that, you know, like, oh, good on them.
Mr. Miller, according to the ODNI on March 10th, 2021, Russia interfered in the 2016 and 2020 elections, correct?
MILLER: I didn't read that report.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: On top of that, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, right?
MILLER: I am aware of that, yes, sir, they did.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Mr. Miller, you know Vladimir Putin tried to kill his political opponent, Alexei Navalny, with a nerve agent, correct?
MILLER: I don't know what that has to do with the subject of this hearing.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Mr. Miller, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA, Russia is responsible for SolarWinds, the largest cyber attack waged ever against the U.S. and our history. You're aware of that, right?
MILLER: I thought I was here to discuss the unexplained delays and unanswered questions of the events, 6th, January.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sir, you said good on them with regard to Russia. Meanwhile, regarding the Department of Defense, which you headed, you told Vanity Fair, quote, this f'ing place is rotten.
I think your comments, Mr. Miller about Russia and the DOD are blizzard and rotten and I think they illustrate, unfortunately, the problems of the response on January 6th.
Now, Let me turn to January 6th. On January 3rd, you informed the president that Mayor Bowser requested National Guard support. And according to page 11 of your written statement, the president said to give the mayor the support she requested, correct?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: On January 6th, according to your statement, you became aware sometime on or before 1:30 P.M. that day that the rioters breached the perimeter of the Capitol, right?
MILLER: Yes. KRISHNAMOORTHI: According to a DOD-created timeline, at 1:34 P.M., Mayor Bowser called Army Secretary McCarthy to request, quote/unquote, additional forces to respond to the Capitol. According to page 8 of your statement, at 3:04 P.M., so one and a half hours later, you authorized mobilizing the D.C. National Guard in providing these additional forces. That constituted a gap of 1.5 hours.
During that 1.5-hour gap, why did you and the secretary disobey the president's order to give the mayor the support she requested?
MILLER: She already had the support she requested. What's your question?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sir, she requested additional support. You say this mayhem and pictures of insurrection on January 6th? She requested additional support from you. And during that 1.5 hours, either you disobeyed an order given to by the president to help Mayor Bowser or the president changed his order and asked you to delay support or you just plain froze and were indecisive while people were being injured, killed, while hundreds of rioters breached the Capitol and a nation was traumatized.
Sir, because of your actions --
MILLER: There were 8,000 badged and credential police officers on duty.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And you weren't there.
MILLER: The United States Armed Forces should only be used as a last resort.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And you were AWOL. You were AWOL, Mr. Secretary. You were AWOL.
MILLER: That's completely inaccurate.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Remember, as you said before, you have responsibility for everything. Something goes wrong, quote/unquote, I own it completely, 110 percent. Sir, you partially own this mayhem, and that's why I'm going to ask for a DOD investigation into your actions. Thank you.
MILLER: I already requested that before I left the Department of Defense.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I look forward to the report. Thank you, sir.
MALONEY: The gentleman's time expires. The gentleman from Louisiana --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You're listening into this oversight hearing in the House into another element of January 6th insurrection, what happened, what can be learned, who is at fault. Let me bring in right now Andy McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI, as well as Chief Charles Ramsey.
Andy, can I just get your take on what we've heard in this hearing?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's really been a tale of two totally different stories. If you look at it from the perspective of the questionaires, I think in that last series of questions from Representative Krishnamoorthi is a great example. You have the Democrats really pushing on these witnesses to shed some light on specific facts, when they received request for assistance, how long they spent thinking about that, whether or not that assistance was granted and you have the witnesses shifting back.
You shift over to Republican questionnaires, and it's like we're in a different hearing. It's talking about referring vaguely to unproven allegations of Antifa conspiracies and re-litigating the 2016 election, and objections that Democrats may have posed to the verification of electors. It's really -- I think it's an unfortunate and unproductive example of how incredibly divided we are on this and seemingly every issue right now.
BOLDUAN: Unproductive seems to be a great word for it because, Chief, I don't know what answers we've gotten out of this. And there are very important questions still outstanding and gaps in timelines, why more Guard troops weren't deployed, the timeline. There're gaps in time of why it took so long for them to learn they had been given authority to deploy the Guard. These are serious questions. No apologies from anyone, no responsibility taken by anyone in this hearing, them saying they wouldn't do anything different if presented with this again. Chief, your reaction?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, you haven't gotten any answers to questions and you're not going to get any answers to questions in this hearing. It's pretty much a waste of time, which is why you need to have an independent commission to really take a deep dive in this.
We're so divided politically, you're not going to get at anything. All you're listening to are a lot of grandstanding speeches and so forth. And the secretary of defense, the former secretary, he's very defensive. I mean, this is just -- it really shows how dysfunctional Congress has become.
If we're serious about finding out what happened on January 6th and really get into the details so that we can see to it that it never happens again, it is not going to happen in the United States Congress. It's going to happen if there's an independent commission, period. That's it. And I'm not optimistic that that's going to happen because I don't think they can agree on that, to be honest with you.
And so we'll all form our own opinions about January 6th but there will be a lot of unanswered questions that will remain.
BOLDUAN: But, Chief, real quick, I mean, a couple of things that we heard from Republicans, like Paul Gosar and Jody Hice, I took notes on, was that Trump did nothing wrong on the day of the insurrection, Gosar even trying to paint a picture that the rioters were not violent, talking about peaceful patriots. Jody Hice talking about trying to say that the rioters weren't showing up at the Capitol because of what they had heard from Donald Trump. We have video of rioters there on the ground saying they are there because of Donald Trump. That is the core defense of a huge group of people now charged by the Justice Department with federal crimes for why they went to the Capitol.
It's just -- I do think this hearing is important in the sense of just laying bare the complete rewriting of history that many Republicans, not going to say all, are still trying to do. And it was such a horrific day for this country.
RAMSEY: Yes, but we already know that. I mean, they've been trying to do it. Thank God for video, because the video shows exactly what happened. But, I mean, some of the members, unfortunately, in my opinion, are just so out of touch with any sense of reality that it's embarrassing.
I mean, something like this is being shown around the world. I mean, what can people possibly be thinking about the United States right now when they listen to some of these guys. And you've got the video right there.
But that is what it is, and you're not going to get at any kind of truth or anything that even remotely resembles it unless there's an independent look. If there's such a thing as being independent, we've gotten so polarized. But I'm optimistic that maybe there is. But you're going to get that from some of these members of Congress. It's really an embarrassment, in my opinion.
And I'm not saying that from a partisan perspective. I mean, the truth is the truth. The video is the video. I mean, how can you pretend as if nothing ever happened on January 6th. I mean, to me, it's ridiculous.
BOLDUAN: Andy, two things I did want to get your take on that we did hear from the former acting secretary of defense, Miller. He says that criticisms of the military response were unfounded. He blamed politics as motivating part of this. And he says this isn't a video game. I stand by -- we responded so effectively and quickly. But that is not what we had heard.
We were sitting here together on another hearing when the commander of the National Guard, the D.C. National Guard, he said that they were -- he was ready to deploy. He put guys on buses ready to deploy because it was taking so long. That's not just some outside observer saying that things didn't move fast enough. That's the commander of the D.C. National Guard. There's a disconnect here.
MCCABE: There's a complete disconnect here, Kate. And in this environment, in a hearing like this, essentially, you have a situation where the former secretary of defense can say, and I quote him, he refers to his enormous accomplishment of the quick and effective response of DOD. I mean, look at the videos. If that's an enormous accomplishment of a quick and effective response, I'd hate to see what a failure looks like.
There is just absolutely no realistic explanation between his astonishing review of his own and his department's performance as compared to the testimony of people like General Walker, who said, as you've pointed out, that he had requested authority days before, he was given the authority on the caveat that he had to basically come back again and submit an entire concept of operations plan before he could deploy even his quick reaction emergency force.
So we are still not getting to the very nitty-gritty facts that will expose which of those two versions of the events are inaccurate.
BOLDUAN: And who is to blame, which gets to how to avoid this -- for corrective action being taken and how to avoid this ever happening in the future, that's why these postmortems, these independent commissions are so critical, and as you said, Chief, one thing we saw in this hearing, it seems very clear, a bipartisan independent commission seems necessary after you saw this hearing today. Thank you both very much. I really appreciate it.
So, coming up for us, we're going to stick on Capitol Hill, because House Republicans, they voted to oust Liz Cheney from her leadership role for speaking out against the big lie, for speaking out and telling the truth. Cheney makes very clear though that she is not going to stay silent. And she promises to fight on. That's next.
BOLDUAN: It only took about 15 minutes but the impact could last and likely will for years. House Republicans voting to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position this morning, they pushed her out because she refused to stop speaking out against former President Trump and the election lies that he is still promoting.
Right after that vote, Cheney made clear that she will not be backing down. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution.
I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office. We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution, and I think it's very important that we make sure whomever we elect is somebody who will be faithful to the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Joining me now, CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Manu, this moved fast today, but what are you learning all that went on behind closed doors?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it did move fast. I mean, this came out, of course, after an acrimonious several days of debate and a quickly removed by the Republican leadership to oust her with the support of the former president, Donald Trump.
But what happened was that she addressed her conference behind closed doors. Cheney said that she did not want to go down the path of destructive lies of Donald Trump. She said that if leaders want to go down that route, that will be their legacy.
She closed by saying a prayer. And then afterwards, Virginia Fox, a North Carolina Republican, offered a resolution to oust her from her leadership post. Then McCarthy, the Republican leader, who has engineered this behind the scenes, essentially made some comments, said that we need to unify. And because of his support, this became a privileged resolution. It was essentially meant that it can move quickly for a vote, and that's exactly what it did. They voted by voice, not by secret ballot. And, overwhelmingly, the vote was yay to remove her, and she was removed.
Now, afterwards, Cheney defenders spoke out about this effort and warned about the implications for the Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What did McCarthy say?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Basically, it's time to move on from her. He said we have to be unified and continue with this whole unity theme.
And, look, I'm all for unity, I'm all for unity and truth, you know? Truth cannot co-exist with lies. Truth cannot co-exist with falsehoods. You cannot unify with that.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Donald Trump owns the soul of the Republican Party of America. It was proof today in the House of Representatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, one person who has aligned herself with Donald Trump is the likely replacement of Liz Cheney, that is Elise Stefanik. She is the New York Republican who has the support of Donald Trump, who got on Trump's radar when she defended him during his 2019 impeachment proceedings and has backed his efforts to overturn the election.
And she has essentially locked down the support all across the Republican conference, although she is getting some blowback from some conservative members over her more moderate voting record in the past, in fact, more moderate than Cheney's voting record. But in the letter she sent to her colleagues today, she says, today, I humbly ask to earn your vote for the House Republican Conference chair to unify our message as a team and win the majority in 2022. She says, we know the American people overwhelmingly reject the Democrat' socialists agenda, but we need to ensure they are hearing our unified conservative vision on the issues that mattered to them. If we get our message out, we will win and save America.
And, Kate, she is meeting with the conservative faction, the House Freedom Caucus, tonight. And I am told that she has made the case, she won't buck her party on key votes perhaps that could win over some of those skeptics. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Manu, I appreciate.
For more, joining me right now is CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel. Jamie, you have just this top-ranking Republican woman in the House, a conservative, more conservative than Elise Stefanik and her voting record, and voted out for telling the truth. Just reflect on this moment.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So I'm laughing because both Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump keep talking about a big tent, but it's clearly only a big tent if you are Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz. It is not a big tent if you are Liz Cheney.
I think one sentence that she said, and you played it earlier, where Liz Cheney said, I will do everything I can to make sure the former president never gets anywhere near the Oval Office, that is what this moment is about for Liz Cheney. That is her mission, Kate.
BOLDUAN: And that didn't seem an accident, right, Jamie? That seemed -- she was very clear-minded when she said that statement.
GANGEL: Absolutely. And this vote was not an accident. I was actually speaking to her over the last couple of days as she was writing this speech. She knew this was coming. She could have been quiet. She didn't have to answer questions. She didn't have to tweet. She didn't have to make public statements. This was her red line. She feels so strongly that Donald Trump is a threat to the party, a future threat to the country and democracy. But I would say she paved the way for this vote to happen.
BOLDUAN: I am curious because she didn't whip votes. I mean, for everybody out there, that means she did not like ask around trying to get people on her side. She -- and as you said, she knew this was heading in this direction.
And I'm wondering if she has a sense yet in your conversations of how this effort -- whatever she does going forward is different and impactful than what we've seen from other Republicans, like Adam Kinzinger standing up so far. They seem alone right now.
GANGEL: It's a great question because this is a lonely group. There are not lot of people here, Mitt Romney, Adam Kinzinger, Liz Cheney, as far as elected Republican officials. I think what they are hoping to do is go after voters who used to be registered Republicans but now consider themselves independents, never Trump Republicans, moderate Republicans.
The real question is, remember, Jared Kushner told Bob Woodward that Donald Trump had hijacked the Republican Party. I think the question is can they wrest it back or are there too many voters out there who are going to stay with Donald Trump. But that's the mission, to try and go after Republican voters and independent voters who are not with Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: That could be for 2022, but most definitely looking towards 2024, that is for sure.
BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Jamie. Thank you very much. Your reporting has always been amazing on this, as always. I appreciate your time.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: All right. Thank you very much for joining us today. It has been a rocking and rolling roller coaster day At This Hour. I'm Kate Bolduan.
John King, very importantly, picks up our coverage.