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At This Hour

Steve Bannon Says He's Willing To Testify Before 1/6 Committee; President Biden Marks New Gun Safety Law At White House. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. At This Hour the January 6th Committee zeroes in on the role of extremist groups in the insurrection. And hundreds in Uvalde demanding answers as a journalist tells us what he saw in surveillance video of the attack that the public has yet to see.

And a lack of vaccines could make it harder to contain the monkeypox outbreak. This is what we're watching At This Hour.

Thank you all so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. What could be the final hearings by the House Committee investigating the insurrection all happening this week.

The key witness at tomorrow's session is a former spokesman for the far right militant group, the Oath Keepers. Committee members are promising that this testimony and others will help connect the dots linking members of Donald Trump's inner circle to these extremist groups.

And now another wildcard added into the mix, former chief strategist to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, he now says he's willing to testify before congressional investigators just days before his criminal contempt trial is set to begin.

Also happening at this hour showing you live pics from the White House. President Biden is holding, will be holding an event at the White House to mark the passage of the bipartisan gun safety bill marking a big achievement for Washington, even though cities and families around the country continue to grieve amid more gun violence every day.

We'll bring you that at the White House from the White House when it begins. But let's start with the insurrection hearing. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, what are we expecting from tomorrow's event?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, all along in this Committee has tried to establish Donald Trump's direct role in the violence that occurred here in the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 both his pressure campaign on key incidents (ph) of government like the Department of Justice, state officials, Vice President Mike Pence.

And also tomorrow, they're going to show what they say is direct evidence showing Donald Trump's actions to the efforts by the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, the militia groups that committed so much violence on January 6th.

Now, one of the people we will be hearing from in this testimony will be from Jason Van Tatenhove. He's a former spokesperson and self- described propagandists for the Oath Keepers.

Now, he was not a direct employee, but he told a Colorado T.V. station quote, I did get a lot of inside access to the Oath Keepers. So we'll hear about that. And also leading this hearing will be Jamie Raskin.

He's a Maryland Democrat, one of the lawmakers who will be doing the questioning. And when he talked about this hearing yesterday, he indicated they will discuss a key meeting that occurred in the White House in December 18th, 2020.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: And on that day, the group of lawyers of outside lawyers who have been denominated team crazy by people in and around the White House, came in to try to urge several new courses of action, including the seizure of voting machines around the country.


RAJU: And we could also get a glimpse of what Pat Cipollone, the former Trump White House Counsel, told the Committee last week when he privately testified in a closed deposition for roughly eight hours discussing all sorts of issues about Donald Trump's actions, those -- we could see some snippets of that interview take place tomorrow, as this Committee moves ahead with these public hearings that they're trying to wrap up in the days ahead. Kate?

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Manu, thank you so much.

So another top adviser in Donald Trump's inner circle, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, as we've mentioned, he is now says that he's willing to testify before the January 6th Committee, the Justice Department though quickly casting doubt on his sudden change of heart, if you will. CNN's Jessica Schneider live in Washington with more on this one. Jessica, what is going on here?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, right now this hearing is ongoing, the federal judge inside the courthouse here hearing arguments about what to include in this trial that right now is set to start one week from today.

That's if that date sticks. That's because Bannon's legal team is arguing for a delay of trial. At the same time that prosecutors are arguing that any evidence that Bannon is now agreeing to testify before the Committee, they want any of that evidence excluded because they say it is just not relevant to his contempt of Congress criminal charge.


They basically say that he is trying every trick in the book right now to change the narrative about his criminal charge. And they're saying that he's doing everything he can to delay this proceeding.

They say that the fact that he's now agreed to testify doesn't change the fact that he did commit a criminal act here. In their filing overnight, prosecutors from the Department of Justice, putting it this way, saying that defendant apparently has not told the Committee he wishes to provide documents responsive to the subpoena, so his 11th hour efforts do nothing to begin to cure his failure to produce records.

Instead, his continued failure to comply with the subpoena's documents demand while claiming he now will testify suggests his actions are little more than an attempt to change the optics of his contempt on the eve of trial, not an actual effort at compliance.

So prosecutors here really trying to paint this picture that Steve Bannon is doing everything he can to change the narrative, delay his trial, as well.

So a lot to come here at this hearing, it's still ongoing, Kate. We'll learn more as to whether this trial date one week from today will in fact stick. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you so much for that.

Real quick, let's take a live look over the White House. I just want to make sure we're keeping an eye on what we're looking at the White House.

So we have -- we're going to keep an eye on this. We're going to bring you back to the White House event with President Biden as soon as he takes to the podium.

In the meantime, joining me right now is CNN chief political correspondent, co-anchor of State of the Union, Dana Bash, and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. It's good to see you guys. So Dana, let's start on tomorrow's hearing. As Manu was laying out kind of what is expected, what could be coming, what's the puzzle piece that you see that the Committee is trying to add to the picture with this hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The real impetus, and maybe the better word is coordination for the actual attack on January 6th. So far, we have seen and heard testimony about the pressure campaign from the President, the advice that he was getting from his top officials that the election actually was not stolen.

And the fact that there was an entire system in place put in place by the President, and even with the members of Congress that he was working with, to try to undermine the election.

Tomorrow, we're going to hear about the actual people who were at the Capitol, the people who executed the attack, and whether or not they had direct contact with and even coordination with people in the White House and people in the Trump orbit.

BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, the Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, he seemed to kind of set the stage for this from the very first night, the very first hearing. I want to play for everyone this moment, Thompson speaking to Jake Tapper.


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


TAPPER: There will be?

THOMPSON: Yes. Obviously, you'll have to go through the hearings. But we have a number of witnesses who come forward that people have not talked to before that will document a lot of what was going on in the Trump orbit while all of this was occurring.


BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, how close of a connection do you think the Committee needs for it to have a real impact?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think it's all having an impact. And the great question there is, what does the word orbit mean? You know, how close should the President will these conversations have taken place?

Well, you know, this is really one of the very big questions about the entire January 6th investigation, because there was this effort by the President to overturn the results. There was this violent attack on the Capitol on January 6th, but how much the President knew in advance and what he did to encourage the violence, that's really one of the great unanswered questions, that is still unanswered.

And I think that's why tomorrow's hearing is so important, because it really will, if it's delivers, present -- represent the first real connection between the planning of the violence and the Trump White House. And that's why it's very important to know what the word orbit means, because that is how close do President Trump will the context be?

BOLDUAN: And then Jeffrey, add in Steve Bannon to this, you know, over the weekend, as Jessica was laying out, saying that he's now willing to testify and then very quickly, federal prosecutors saying in a court filing that it's irrelevant to the case against him, and let me read a quote from their filing. the defendants last minutes efforts to testify almost nine months after his default, he has still made no effort to produce records, are irrelevant to whether he's willing -- willfully refused to comply in October 2021 with the special -- with the Select Committee's subpoena. Do you agree that it's irrelevant?


TOOBIN: Totally irrelevant. The, you know, Steve Bannon is doing what Steve Bannon does, which is tried to create chaos, and misdirection. But, you know, when Steve Bannon refused to participate in the hearing nine months ago, that's when the crime took place.

The crime was then over. The -- it was like, that's when the bank robbery took place. Much later, if you want to give back the money for the bank robbery, that doesn't mean you didn't commit the bank robbery. That's what Steve Bannon is trying to do here and say, look, look, look, I will testify. So there's no harm, no foul.

First of all, he's probably not going to testify anyway, because all he wants to do is put on a show and he's on more or less acknowledged, he's not going to turn over the documents that the Committee wants.

This is a total side show. I anticipate the judge will simply say, let's go to trial. Let's try what happened nine months ago, because that's the only issue in this case.

BOLDUAN: And Dana for the Committee members, they have made clear that he is not going to get a public hearing right out of the gate, none of their witnesses have. How do you think the Committee approaches this testimony? He is a unique character to say the least.

BASH: They are approaching it with deep skepticism and trepidation for all the reasons that Jeff just laid out. Number one, because of the fact that just dealing with this Committee itself, they've been waiting for nine months and they filed a contempt complaint, which has been the Justice Department has started.

But also when it comes to the notion of public testimony, if you think about the way these hearings have gone so far, the only person who might have been a quote unquote, hostile witness or somebody who wasn't willfully coming forward was Bill Stepien, who didn't end up showing up because his wife was in labor that day.

Steve Bannon is to say he's a wildcard is probably the biggest understatement in history of understatements.

So nevermind the way that they conduct their investigations, which would as Lofgren said yesterday to Jake Tapper, make it so that they would want to talk to him in private before they put him in public.

Even if they get to the point of a potential public testimony, you never know what is going to happen with him.

And whether or not this is all not just a ruse to help him, try to help him with his own legal problems. But a ruse to inject something into the public discourse that, frankly, might not just fly in the face of what we've heard so far, but not entirely be accurate.

I'm not suggesting that he would, you know, lie under oath. But I'm saying that the fact that he's working with the former president, the former president sent that letter saying he's OK to testify. I'm sure it's giving the Committee a lot of pause.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And first things first, let's see if he actually makes good on saying that he'll come to meet with them. It's good to see you guys. A lot to come tomorrow as you guys perfectly layout.


Coming up still for us, President Biden is putting the spotlight on gun violence today with victims and survivors by his side. This is a live look at the White House, this event underway, huge audience there for this bipartisan event marking a bipartisan -- a rare bipartisan moment in Washington. We're going to have a live report from the White House, next.


BOLDUAN: All right, let's get right over to the White House. President Biden now taking to the podium speaking -- hosting and speaking at the event to mark the passage of the bipartisan gun safety bill, a historic moment in Washington and a rare one at that a bipartisan of celebration. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doc, thank you. Your heroism in treating wounded children in Uvalde. Many of whom you've known their whole lives, their whole lives and treated them with normal child problems as a pediatrician. And it's something we'll never forget.

And Darnell (ph), it's good to see you again. I know how tough it is. A lot of people in here have been victims of gun violence, lost sons, daughters, husbands, wives, they understand your pain.

And every time you stand up to talk about even for good cause, it brings it all back like it happened yesterday. But thank you for the courage to do it.

Jill and I will never forget the time we spent with you and your families. And I want to thank the Vice President Harris and the Second Gentlemen, members of the Cabinet, eight of whom are here today, as well as mayors elected officials from across the country.

I want to particularly thank the governor of Illinois and the mayor of Highland Park for being here.

We've had, no, I mean it sincerely. We had a number of conversations immediately after the attack in Highland Park. And I've been impressed with the way they've handled things they -- it's been extraordinary.


And as with -- -- and you have felt and you feel the price of an action that this has taken too long with too much --

-- action. I say yes. And that's what we're doing here today. Today is many things, is proof that despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence. Because make no mistake sit down you'll hear what I have to say, if you think -- you.

One more thing, it's a call to action to all of us to do more to take away from the legislature is not, that's not what we can do is to take the -- takeaway from this is that now, now we're opening to get much more done.

Senator Murphy has said when you look at the biggest social issues of America has faced throughout our history, quote, success begets success.

And that's when you quote, finally move that mountain. You can ignite a movement when you do that for more progress to follow.

We finally move that mountain, a mountain of opposition, obstruction, and indifference that stood in the way and stopped every effort of gun safety for 30 years in this nation.

Now is the time to galvanize this movement because that's our duty to the people of this nation. That's what we owe those families in Buffalo where a grocery store became a killing field.

It's what we owe to those families in Uvalde where an elementary school became a killing field. And to those families in Highland Park where in July 4th, a parade became a killing field, that's what we owe to all those families represented here today.

And all over this country the past many years across our schools, places of worship, workplaces, stores, music festivals, nightclubs, and so many other everyday places that have turned into killing fields.


And that's what we owe the families all across this nation, where every day, a tragic killings that don't make the headlines are more than passing mentioned little more than passing mentioned local news, neighborhoods and streets have been turned into killing fields as well.

Today's legislation is an important start. And here are the key things that it does, provide $750 million in crisis intervention and red flag laws so the parent, a teacher, a counselor can fly for the court that a child or student a patient is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening class space, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, and makes them a danger to themselves and to others.

Fort Hood, Texas 2009, 13 dead, 30 more injured. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 1980, 17 dead, 17 injured. And both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds. In both places, red flag laws could have stopped both those shooters.

You know, this new law requiring -- requires young people in their 21 to go enhance background checks before purchasing a gun.

How many more mass shootings do we have to see where a shooter is 17, 18 years old, and able to get his hands on a weapon and go on a killing spree?

You know, it closes the so called boyfriend loophole. If you're convicted of assault against your girlfriend before you can buy a gun, you can't do it.

According to a recent study, over 50 percent of mass shootings, the shooters shot a family member or a partner. So if we keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, we can save the lives of their partners.

And we can also stop more mass shootings. One, this law includes the first ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchase explicit federal crimes.

It clarifies who needs to register as a federal licensed gun dealer and run background checks before selling a single weapon. Invest in anti-violence programs work directly with the communities most at risk for gun crimes.

And this law also provides funding vital for funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country, including the trauma experienced by the survivors of gun violence will not save every life from epidemic of gun violence.

But if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved. It matters, it matters. But it's not enough.

And we all know that. In preparation for today signing, I asked to send me their story of people to send me their stories about their experience with gun violence. I received over 2,500 responses in 24 hours. I didn't get to read them all but I read some.

A 17-year-old wrote me saying quote, a school shooting sophomore year had shattered every sense of normalcy I've ever felt. Almost three years later, I still have nightmares.

Twenty-four-year-old wrote about growing up and what was quote, seemingly endless era of gun violence. A 40-year-old wrote me, my two friends shot and killed by abusive partners and former partners.

Someone else wrote me, about a six-year-old child who's sitting near his father's coffin was asking, quote, why is Daddy in that scary box? Wake up Daddy, wake up daddy. His father had been gunned down. I read these stories and so many others, so many others.

And you know, I see this statistic, over 40,000 people died from gunshot wounds last year in the United States, 25,000 by suicide. I think can this really be the United States of America? Why is it coming to this?

We all know a lot of the reasons, gun lobby, gun manufacturers, special interest, money, and the rise of hyper partisan tribal politics in the country. We don't debate issues on the merits. We just rather turn on each other from our corners and attack the other side.

Regardless, we're living in a country awash in weapons of war. Weapons that were designed to hunt are not being used. The weapons designed that they're purchasing are designed as weapons of war to take out an enemy. What is the rationale for these weapons outside war zones?