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At This Hour

Ex-Aides: Trump Watched Attack On TV Instead Of Taking Action; Official: Pence Security Detail Feared For Their Lives. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2022 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

At This Hour, it was a late night on Capitol Hill as the January 6th Committee laid out in damning detail more evidence of Donald Trump's repeated refusal to do anything to quiet, calm, or call off the Capitol rioters for hours. Last night's primetime hearing focused on the more than three hours that Trump actively did nothing to stop the deadly violence. Two former West Wing aides, testifying that Trump watched the violence unfold on television, confirming that he never called the military or law enforcement, not a single call. And we saw in testimony -- we saw a testimony of how he refused the pleas for action from essentially all of his advisors and his family. We also saw outtakes of a video Trump recorded the day after the attack. In it, he refuses to say even then, that the election was over.

Let's begin with CNN's Jessica Schneider live in Washington with highlights from last night. Jessica, there was a lot there.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There was, Kate. The Committee compiling this comprehensive and compelling minute by minute account of Trump's inaction, and they documented the pleas from everyone inside and outside the White House for Trump to condemn the violence. But instead of telling his supporters to back down, Trump spent most of his time in his private dining room, watching the attack unfold on T.V. until they finally and really reluctantly sent out a video message that advisors ultimately said still missed the mark.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): President Trump did not fail to act. He chose not to act.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The House Select Committee investigating January 6th making the case that then President Trump betrayed his oath of office during the Capitol attack. A White House security official whose identity was concealed by the panel, details the security concerns and allowing Trump to go to the Capitol after his rally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President wanted to lead tens of thousands of people to the Capitol. I think that was enough grounds for us to be alarmed.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Committee said within 15 minutes of his speech, Trump returns to the Oval Office and is informed about the violence. From 1:25 until 4 o'clock, Trump is in the dining room watching the riot unfold on T.V. The official White House call log reflects no calls during that crucial period. And the daily diary is blank. The White House photographer said she was told not to take pictures. That Committee has learned from former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's phone records that the two spoke at least twice during those 187 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to try and get compliance, but this is now effectively a riot.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Once the D.C. police declare a riot, White House staff start to push Trump to release a forceful statement condemning the violence and telling everyone to leave. He resists instead sending tweets that many close to Trump think aren't strong enough.

PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I believe more needed to be done. OK. I believed that the public statement needed to be made. I can't think of anybody, you know, on that day, who didn't want people to get out of the Capitol wants to, you know, particularly wants the violence started, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the president?


CIPOLLONE: I can't reveal the communications. But obviously I think, you know, yes.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Committee released audio of the frantic dash by the Secret Service to get then Vice President Pence to safety.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are moving. We need to move now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on so forth. It was getting for whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Some rioters we're reading Trump's tweets too as revealed an audio presented by the Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump just tweeted, please support our Capitol Police. They are on our side, do not harm them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's saying a lot. But what he didn't say, he didn't say not to do anything to the congressman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he did not ask him to stand down. He's just said stand by the Capitol Police. They are on our side, and they are good people. So it's getting real down there.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Hours into the attack, Trump finally releases a video message telling rioters, we love you and they should go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here delivering the President's message, Donald Trump asking everybody to go home.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): He sends another tweet just after 6:00 p.m. falsely repeating that the election was stolen. Within a half hour, he retires to the residence for the night.

KINZINGER: President Trump reflected on the day's events with a White House employee. He settled on the quote, Mike Pence let me down.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Several witnesses testified that Trump didn't not try to call law enforcement or military officials on January 6th while Pence worked the phones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever hear the Vice President or, excuse me, the President asked for the National Guard?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever get the President ask for law enforcement response?


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Vice President Pence? There were two or three calls with Vice President Pence. He was very animated. And he issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Committee also presented never before seen video outtakes of Trump recording a speech the following day, where he refused to say the election was over.

TRUMP: And to those who broke the law, you will pay. You do not represent our movement. You do not represent our country. And if you broke the law, I can't say that. I'm not going to -- I already said you will pay but this election is now over. Congress has certified the results. I don't want to say the election is over.


SCHNEIDER: And with all those outtakes, our team has actually learned that that three-minute video took one hour to actually complete. And also, last night, we heard for the first time from a D.C. police sergeant who confirmed that he heard Trump had a heated discussion with his security detail about his desire to go to the Capitol. Committee Member Zoe Lofgren now says that the agents who are involved that includes Tony Ornato and Bobby Engle, they have now retained private lawyers and there is some concern in the Committee, that means that they will now refuse to talk and share their account of things.

And Kate, all of this developing as the Committee also says they're getting more information by the day, and they actually expect to have more hearings starting in September. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, definitely more to come. It's good to see you, Jess, thank you so much. Joining me right now for more on this is CNN senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates, and Miles Taylor, former chief of staff to Trump's Homeland Security secretary. Thank you, guys, for being here.

Nia, just laid out the highlights really, really well. In what you get in summary is the President knew, Donald Trump knew that the Capitol is being attacked very clearly. He knew that people were armed. We learned that from previous hearings. And he had all of his advisors and his family, telling him that he singularly could be the one to calm it, stop it, or at least cool it off. And he singularly chose to stand by and watch it continue.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: For three hours he did that, sitting in the dining room, watching it all unfold on T.V. were the main arguments of this Committee has been, I think, effectively making is this was Donald Trump's plan and strategy. He failed in the courts. He failed to get officials in different states to do what he wanted to do. He failed in terms of installing a new attorney general. And this was sort of the final blow that he thought he could strike with Mike Pence's help with this violent mob.

And, you know, one of the -- I think the arguments are trying to make in connection with that is that Donald Trump should never be allowed to hold power ever, ever again. This was a massive dereliction of duty. He sat there as people were in harm's way. He could have stopped it. He chose not to because this was his plan.

BOLDUAN: And he continues today. He continues those arguments. And Miles, you said ahead of this hearing, that you thought the 187 minutes were talking about what serve as a smoking gun for Donald Trump. Is that what you saw on the end?

MILES TAYLOR, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO TRUMP'S HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, I think this was the most compelling hearing that the Committee has done, everything really built up to this moment. But Kate, it's not so much about what we heard. It's what we didn't hear. And we have not heard up until this point, any excuse for the 187 minutes that Donald Trump did nothing, no one, not from Trump, not from his allies. No one has given us a credible explanation for why Donald Trump waited the length of a "Lord of the Rings" movie, or the "Batman" movie or the "Godfather" to do anything. And it's not like he didn't have his phone with him.

We know that there were text messages with his family members, with allies at "Fox News" and phone calls with people like Rudy Giuliani. So while his aides, especially his National Security aides, were pleading for him to do something. Trump was doing nothing. And I think again, the takeaway here is, if Trump could have done anything to stop this and didn't, the likeliest answer is it's because he didn't want it to stop. And we saw that with those outtakes is a Trump that's very frustrated, not only that the insurrection failed, but also that he's having to potentially concede to have losing that election.

I mean, one other thing that I would add, Kate, is you've got to compare this to another historical analogy. And Laura and I have talked about this before, and that is, look 20 years ago, the last time we had a major terrorist attack against this country on 9/11. And George W. Bush was excoriated for waiting seven minutes to respond in an elementary school down in Florida, seven minutes. Donald Trump waited 26 times that long to respond to the terrorist attack on the United States Capitol. That is indeed, Kate, the biggest smoking gun and all of this.


BOLDUAN: And Laura, there's a political and there's the legal. We've -- this has been a conversation throughout, right? George Conway suggest this morning said that if the Justice Department now doesn't look seriously at charging Trump after all of this, the way he said it is, then there's something seriously wrong. What do you think after everything presented last night?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think their case is immeasurably, strengthened in what we saw last night. I mean, we had all for anyone who is looking out and holding out hope for some reason that during that 187 minutes, Donald Trump was actually running around trying to get the levers of power in motion. This was the bureaucratic wheel that was really, really slowly coming into motion. You confirm yesterday that that was not the case. There was no opportunity for a glimmer of hope.

He was watching it all unfold. And that's why December 18th meeting, that explosive meeting that they focused on in the last hearing and before was so important to talk about this now becoming the plan. All legal channels have been exhausted. The judges weren't buying the nonexistence, obviously, if any claims that were being made. You had the state legislators like Rusty Bowers and the Brad Raffensperger, not playing being called wimps and weak by Rudy Giuliani like.

And now you have the idea of, OK, let's assemble the minions and let things go from there. Why this is important legally, of course, Kate, is because the official proceeding was supposed to go on in the Capitol. If you try to obstruct that, you can violate the law. If you do so by corrupt purposes, or with corrupt means, and you're trying to deceive and defraud the American electorate or the American public more broadly, there are criminal laws on the books to try to deter and actually hold accountable for those violations.

Last night's testimony, last night's hearing, check the boxes to suggest that there was such a strong criminal investigation that ought to be conducted. Also civilly, there are existing civil lawsuits against Donald Trump right now from officers and others who were endangered that day, based on even a lower standard of evidence, the preponderance of evidence. DOJ is sort of look at those very closely because those lawsuits hinge on whether the President of the United States had some duty owed to people to be able to prevent their injury or their harm, and chose not to do so.

But finally, the phrase dereliction of duty, people use it very colloquially, I understand why. And you did see a clear dereliction of duty. But legally, that actually means something. It normally is for the U.S. military code. And it really only applies to those in the military. Although he's the commander-in-chief, he's a civilian commander-in-chief. But likely it's not a standalone crime. But it's the culmination of that obstruction of that defrauding that we saw evidence of last night.

BOLDUAN: Yes, there -- Miles, Nia, Miles mentioned the outtakes, which was something that was kind of highly anticipated and delivered last night. I want to play a bit of that. Listen to this.


TRUMP: But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results. I don't want to say the elections over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the elections over, OK.


BOLDUAN: You take that and then the final thing we learned, the final thing that Donald Trump said before turning in for the night, he tells an aide, Mike Pence let me down. It's striking, that he's consistent, if nothing, but even after everything he saw for those three hours, he still at the end of the day saw him the victim.

HENDERSON: Yes. And that is who he is to this day, that is likely the sort of identity that he will run for president on. It seems to be only a matter of time for him announcing that he'll run again. And he's going to run as someone who says to the American people, says to Republican voters, that the election was stolen from him, stolen from them. And you can see him there in that moment, essentially saying, I'm going to continue this. I can't say that the election is over now. Because tomorrow and the next day and for the next many, many months and months and months, I'm going to carry this lie forward that has already gotten into this mess, you know, for January 6th, he's been lying about the election for months and months and months even before the election was held.

And so, yes, you can see the wheel spinning and you can see that this is going to be his identity and the identity of the people who are still so closely attached to him emotionally, who believed his lie. Something like 60 to 70 percent of Republicans believe Donald Trump, believe that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president because of all of the lies that Donald Trump has told over and over again.


BOLDUAN: Nia, stick with me, Miles, Laura stay here because coming up the security detail with former Vice President Mike Pence on that day, they feared for their lives. That is what a White House official testified to. And also what those agents did as rioters stormed the Capitol, that's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: One of the most dramatic moments from last night was hearing from an anonymous White House security official testifying to how members of Mike Pence's security detail on that day feared for their lives. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. There were a lot of, there was a lot of yelling, a lot of very personal calls over the radio, so it was disturbing. I don't like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on so forth. It was getting for whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly.



BOLDUAN: Back with me, Nia-Malika Henderson, Laura Coates, Miles Taylor. Miles, what did you think of how Pence's detail was described by that aid? How close the danger was? How real the threat was to the VP?

TAYLOR: Well, this also was another moment, Kate, that I think for many people had eerie, eerie resonance to the 9/11 attacks. When we heard those lines that law enforcement officers were calling to say goodbye to family members, I think that made everyone think about people who were in airplanes calling their family members on 9/11. That's how serious this became.

Now, Kate, I want to look at this from a national security perspective. When I was at the Department of Homeland Security, I used to oversee what's called the COOP COG programs in the federal government, that's Continuity of Operations, and Continuity of Government. These are the super-secret plans, we put in place to make sure that in moments of extraordinary national crisis that the operations of the government continue.

And I'm willing to submit that even including 9/11, in this mix, this is the closest we've gotten in our lifetimes to potentially some of those extreme break glass in case of emergency measures needing to be used. You not only had the Vice President of the United States, who was fearing for his life, his detail fearing for their lives, you have protesters storming one of the major branches of the government potentially, people in line to the -- president and the President of the United States in the White House, who didn't want to do anything about it.

I mean, remember, not just in this moment, but before this, the days before this, Pence's team was worried about potential threats to his life. Pence himself didn't want to get in the car because he was unsure whether there was a potential insider threat from the Secret Service. And I will tell you, nowhere in the COOP COG planning that I've been a part of to keep the federal government stable, have I seen any consideration about the possibility of an insider threat inside the Secret Service against the President or the Vice President.

This was an exceptionally scary moment. And it also goes to show you at the end of the day, that we really need better mechanisms in place to prevent something like this from happening. Again, my worry here is not just the people who were responsible getting held accountable but whether we actually do have a robust system to stop something like this from happening again. And I think that's an open question for the Committee, the Congress, and the country.

BOLDUAN: Yes, going forward, for sure. And maybe a look at what this all means in upcoming hearings, this could very well be a question. Laura, there are now people, some people, questioning some of what the White House -- that White House security official has said specifically about calling family. A former Pence staffer who was with the VP on January 6th, told Gloria Borger last night that they are a little skeptical is how they put it about that account.

A former secret service agent was on CNN today saying that his sources with the agency say there was no time to call to place calls for -- to family, they were doing their jobs. And I hear this in -- do you think this complicates this kind of important and striking element of the picture? And why is everything involving the Secret Service on and around that day seems so complicated?

COATES: Well, the last question I can't answer, but maybe if they had handed over text messages would lessen the complications and transparency would essentially emerge. But I see it only handed over one so no further into that. However, when I heard that statement, the idea of a voice disguised witness already gave me pause as a former prosecutor. The idea of anonymity might be working on social media, but oftentimes an anonymous witness. I mean, the whole lodestar fiasco and notions of things. Anonymity doesn't really buttress one's credibility in the court of the electorate or public opinion.

Having said that, if there were security reasons to try to conceal their identity, I understand that I'm not begrudging, I'm just from a credibility standpoint, it already gives you pause. But when I heard that statement last night, I interpreted that not to mean a cell phone call that was made to family members, but a calling out over the radio that you could actually hear someone talking tell so and so this, tell so and so that. You know, in the in the cop world, you've got these things called the radio runs, where you got the 911 call, where you're talking to a dispatcher, if you're the person in need, then there's the radio run communications between officers that are happening, either in route or leaving the scene or while on the scene.

I interpreted, and perhaps I'm mistaken, but I interpreted that to me, some sort of communication that was happening behind the scenes. We obviously heard those conversations in part, the idea of saying, hey, are we compromised? There's no way out. Are there people below us? Who's around us? That was my impression of the aura around us. But having said all that, remember, there was -- these are Secret Service agents. They will put their life and they do put their lives on the line every single day for the President of the United States, for the Vice President of the United States, for the entire line of succession as well.


And one person could have done more or anything or something to lessen their load, and it was the President. And he not -- didn't make a single telephone call and only one to change the narrative that it was Mike Pence, who was running the show.

BOLDUAN: And we're tight on time Nia, but I did want to ask you about everyone else that the Committee also called out specifically, Josh Hawley, it's gotten a lot of attention, has raised from his raised fists to then watching him run for his own safety in the Capitol. Today, we now have Hawley's first reaction. He tweeted out a link to buy a mug with that raised fist image. That says what?

HENDERSON: Right. I mean, we saw from the hours after this insurrection on January 6th, there was an attempt to erase what happened, right? So attempt to say, oh, this wasn't really a big deal, these were just tourists that, you know, we weren't really afraid. But we see there that Josh Hawley was very afraid. He was running for his life along with everyone else. This was a danger to him, and everyone who was in that building that day.

So it's not really surprising that he's sort of doubling down on I'm with the mob, you go girls and boys in terms of this insurrection is essentially what he's saying there. But listen, this hearing is letting us know that, A, they were in danger that, B, they came close to disaster, right, in so many ways. It could have been so much worse than it already was. And yes, he can try to raise money off of his race fist. But we also saw him running because he was afraid. And he should have been afraid because he was in danger, along with many, many other people in the Capitol that day.

BOLDUAN: So a lot of what we may see still to come. It's good to see you. Thank you. Laura, Miles, thank you both so much.

Coming up for us, we just received a statement in from President Biden's doctor updating us on his condition after he tested positive for COVID, the details on that next.