Return to Transcripts main page
The Lead with Jake Tapper
Third 1/6 Hearing Focuses On Trump's Attempts To Pressure Pence; DOJ Pressed 1/6 Committee For Witness Transcripts; Jan. 6 Committee: Trump "Directly Contributed" To Pence Pressure Campaign; Sources: Trump Angered By 1/6 Committee Video Clips Of Pence Chief Of Staff. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jeffrey Toobin, we have the clip of John Eastman, who was a personal lawyer to the president, repeatedly telling the then-vice president, Mike Pence, go ahead and do certain illegal acts, violate the U.S. Constitution, undermine democracy. And he suspected he himself may be committing a crime, Eastman, and the result when he was questioned by the committee, he went through more than 100 times pleading the 5th Amendment.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EASTMAN, TRUMP LAWYER: I assert my Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against myself. Fifth. Fifth. Fifth. Fifth.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Dr. Eastman pled the Fifth a hundred times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he put Mike Pence in tremendous danger. I got to say, this was more like a Harrison Ford movie than a congressional hearing. I mean, the idea of Mike Pence, as his staff, gets into cars, Pence says we're not leaving here, we are going to stay, and I'm going to do my constitutional duty as vice president of the United States. Get out of the cars, get back into the Capitol.
I mean, that's a very moving scene, and good for Mike Pence. And, you know, to see those pictures of him at this loading dock, wherever that was -- I mean, this was a moment in American history that could have gone either way. I mean, I think that's, you know, so reinforced.
I mean, there could have been a lot more deaths. There could have been a constitutional crisis. It was bad enough as it was. But it could have been a lot worse.
And Mike Pence deserves a lot of credit for the resolution was as good, if that's the word, as it turned out to be.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: I was a little surprised. I think it was the first hearing that the evidence came out from members of the committee that -- I think it was Liz Cheney said that when this question of "hang Mike Pence" got back to Trump, that Trump supposedly said, you know, I understand what they -- maybe they have the right idea, and suggested he had some sympathy with the idea of hang Mike Pence.
I was a little surprised that whatever evidence they have of that, was not brought forward by the committee today. I suspect it will come out when they do what was going on in the White House during the 187 minutes. But, you know, when you're talking about Mike Pence and you're seeing the gallows and the crowd, I was surprised whatever evidence they had of that.
You know, you talk about willful ignorance or criminal ignorance, I also thought it was very interesting when Greg Jacob, the chief counsel to the vice president, was talking about this long, somewhat academic conversation that he's having with John Eastman on the morning of January 5th. And he's saying, remember, there were two possibilities. Either you send it back to the states, or you just reject the electors.
And Eastman had said, well, reject the electors may be going too far. It might be more politically palatable to say, ten-day recess, send it back to the states. Then the next day, he says no, no, we want to go to plan A, reject the electors, which is even more outrageous, that the vice president is going to summarily going to say those states don't count.
And there's a discussion about how that would stand up on the courts. And Eastman and Jacob discussed and Jacob says, well, you know, you're going to lose in the court, it would be 7-2. And after some discussion as well, no, it would be 9-0.
So, you realize, I mean, Eastman, the man who is advancing this day after day with the approval of the president, and very much to the distress of the vice president, is admitting if this goes to the Supreme Court, we would lose in a unanimous ruling.
BLITZER: And not just to the distress, but the threat the vice president was facing, potentially life threatening developments unfolding, and the president -- and they made a big point during the course of this hearing, of showing all the times that the president at that time was further reinforcing this notion that Pence might be a traitor, and it's time to do something about it.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, and you have those images of Pence down in the Capitol basement looking at his own phone, looking at the president's Twitter feed, trying to get a sense of when he might say something.
I mean, I want to step back for a minute, and say that number, this is a hearing that's built for the TikTok age. This is not a Watergate era hearing. Everything we're seeing is produced in these just small enough bites. And I know that there's a lot of conservatives and Republicans saying, look, all of this taken out of context. Look at all these snips.
I also see it in the context of people who see these things online. That you could cut any of those clips and put them out in 15 seconds or less and you're in someone's Instagram stories.
And I feel like this is designed to counter a narrative that Trump and his allies have built consistently, not just through the president, but through their own documentaries, their own films, their own rallies.
And this is also about getting something on the record with the public in a way the public can understand. Not necessarily are they going to watch every single bite of this.
WALLACE: Can I just pick up on this question of the threat because I think it's so --
BLITZER: The threat to Pence?
WALLACE: To Pence, yes. I think it is so chilling that after the events of January 5th, and the back and forth between Pence and Trump, that Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, is sufficiently concerned this is going to become public, and instead of this happening privately, quietly, in the Oval Office, that Trump is going to, as in fact he did, go after Pence in public on January 6th with the crowd there.
CORNISH: Can I ask --
WALLACE: Let me just finish.
WALLACE: And that he informs the head of the Secret Service detail for pence, there's a new threat to the security of the vice president of the United States, because this is about to become very public.
BLITZER: His life is in danger because of what the president at that time was saying.
GEORGE CONWAY, LAWYER: And Trump was setting him up.
CORNISH: Yes, but just hold on one second, given all you just said, how does that make you think of Pence's lack of participation here, right? I mean, we're seeing every one of his aides say this, that, the other thing. How do you read what's going on with Pence himself in this moment in time?
WALLACE: Are you talking about the fact that -- CORNISH: There's no other, you know, sort of close -- he could be
saying something right now. He could be interacting with the hearing, but we're not seeing that.
TOOBIN: You mean now?
CORNISH: Yeah, right this moment.
WALLACE: Pence is walking a tight rope because on the one hand, he did speak to the Federalist Society and they ran those clips where he said the idea that a single man could overturn the election would be un-American. So that's pretty strong.
On the other hand, you're exactly right, Audie, that he is not willing to completely break with Trump, and more importantly from his point of view, as a potential 2024 candidate, with Trump supporters, with the base.
CORNISH: And I bring that up, because through May, I think "The Washington Post" found that more than a hundred candidates were running on an election denial platform around the country.
So, this is a live and active discussion for voters right now at home. You are going to see candidate who uses a similar style or who very much is in line with the former president's election --
CONWAY: That's the point that Luttig closed with.
TOOBIN: Right, about the future --
CORNISH: The clear and present danger.
CONWAY: Clear and present danger.
TOOBIN: But also, speaking of clear and present danger, one of the things that I think has come out today, but also earlier in the hearing is the centrality of the 2:24 tweet, the tweet that the president sent at 2:24. I hope we can call it up.
They have already breached the Capitol, and the White House aides are going to Trump and saying, this is the time to lower the temperature. And what does the president do? He tweets a very much anti-Mike Pence tweet at 2:24, and that incites the crowd further and jeopardizes Trump's -- Pence's life even more.
That tweet is such a malevolent act and such incitement to evidence --
CONWAY: Just as malevolent was the flat-out lie that he dictated to be tweeted how he and Pence were on the same page. That was -- that was about as malicious as you could get. WALLACE: Can I pick on what you just said about -- about the
continuing threat, because that's exactly right. I mean, obviously, we're very concerned here with January 6th, 2021. But there's also the question of 2022, and 2024.
Let's look back to the primary results of two days ago, of Tuesday. You had Tom Rice, congressman from South Carolina, five-term congressman, one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump running in a Republican primary. He gets 25 percent of the vote, and an election denier gets 50 percent of the vote. In North Car -- I mean, in Nevada, a swing state, you have election deniers winning for secretary of state in that state, and for Senate and governor in that state. So this is not a history lesson.
CONWAY: Not at all.
BLITZER: And that point was made repeatedly over and over again by Judge Michael Luttig in his prepared statement. He wrote, over a year and a half later, after January 6th, in continued defiance of our democracy, both the former president and his political party allies still maintain the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, despite all evidence, all evidence now that is simply false.
So we keep hearing that over and over again.
Jake, back to you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks, Wolf.
And you're watching THE LEAD after this hearing.
We're joined now by a member of the House Select Committee, who played a leading role in today's hearing, California Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us today.
We heard numerous Trump insiders admit that John Eastman's legal theory didn't hold water in any way. One of them, Eric Herschmann, even each said to Eastman, are you out of your f'ing mind? John Eastman, according to testimony, himself admitted that such an argument would lose 9-0 at the Supreme Court, although originally he said 7-2.
Why is it important for the committee to establish for the public that they all understood, including Trump and Eastman, that this was not legal, this was not constitutional?
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, it's important to build off of the second hearing. And in the second hearing, we heard very clearly that the president knew he lost the election. And so, what we wanted to establish in this third hearing was that not only did he know he lost the election, but he knew that these theories, these leaked -- reported legal theories, had no basis in law. We needed to establish that because it's so important, that is the
campaign -- as the pressure cooker of the campaign on Mike Pence gets closer to January 6th, it's only because every possible remedy has been extinguished. He loses 62 cases in state and federal court. The timeline and the calendar is not helpful.
And so, he gravitates to this crazy theory. And so, that's what is important to underscore here. And then, obviously, how that led to the violence, and that he was willing to put his own vice president in physical danger just to stay in power.
TAPPER: On December 1st, 2020, Gabe Sterling, who was an election official, a Republican down in Georgia, made a plea to President Trump to stop the lies because somebody was going to get killed. We heard a similar comment today relayed by the White House attorney Eric Herschmann, who told John Eastman that his crazy legal theory would cause riots in the street. And Herschmann says that Eastman responded with something to the effect of, there's been violence in the history of our country to protect democracy.
What was your response when you heard John Eastman kind of brush off the idea that all of this was going to cause violence and riots?
AGUILAR: It's absolutely scary. Look, as someone who was in the Capitol and on the House floor that day, it was scary hearing that, because they were clearly willing to sacrifice the safety of members of Congress and the vice president just to stay in power.
And, clearly, this was something that even in the days leading up to January 6th, his advisers knew was going to be dangerous, and knew that there could be concerns about individual safety.
TAPPER: We're just learning that the committee sent a letter to Ginni Thomas, who is a conservative activist, and obviously also the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. What can you tell us about this letter? What are you asking for, what do you want to know more about?
AGUILAR: I'm not going to talk about specific interactions that we have with potential witnesses. What I can tell you is our threshold test has and will always be whether someone can provide information that is relevant to the January 6th committee. We're talking about protecting democracy, and the threat we faced leading up to January 6th.
And it wasn't just about one day. It was about this concerted effort that we have continued to talk about, building up to January 6th. And so, individuals who have knowledge should come forward, whether that's Kevin McCarthy or Barry Loudermilk or Ginni Thomas.
But what I can tell you also is that there were a lot of conspiracy theories that were thrown around in those -- in those times that the president gravitated to. There's nothing unique about the crazy theories that were floating around the White House at the time.
TAPPER: We're also hearing that your committee has not completely closed the door on the notion of hearing from then Vice President Mike Pence. Is that true?
AGUILAR: We're focused on these hearings. This hearing was titled "Hang Mike Pence." And we feel that we heard from his chief counsel, who had those experiences.
We're not going to close the door from hearing from anyone. But what I can tell you is we're going to have a specific set of hearings in the next few weeks. Our focus is on making sure that those hearings help convey just how fragile our democracy is, and how close we came to democracy having serious, serious concerns that day.
And so, we're going to help -- we're going to help tell that story, and we're going to do it in a truthful and honest way. But if there is still room to have conversations with anybody after that, we're not going to shy away from it. Our work will continue.
TAPPER: Obviously, I'm sure you would accept a live testimony or recorded testimony from former Vice President Pence. Is there any indication that he hasn't shut the door?
AGUILAR: I'm not going to get into any interaction with potential witnesses. But what I can tell you is that we're not closing the door on talking to anyone who can provide relevant testimony. We felt we made a clear and compelling case that the vice president's safety was in danger, that he was 40 feet away from the mob as he was being evacuated.
And I think that's just absolutely stunning, and that the president's own tweet became such a focal point at 2:24 p.m. toward the violence within the crypt and within the Capitol.
TAPPER: Former President Trump is apparently on his social media app, Truth Social, saying he demands equal time. Would you invite him? It sounds like he wants to get something off his chest.
AGUILAR: You know, I'll let the chairman speak to that offer, if it is a real offer. I think that clearly what we also conveyed is that the former president only has a passing relationship with the truth. So we want to make sure that we protect the integrity of the committee if we took any of those steps.
But, look, like I've said, any potential witness, no matter who it is, if someone has things to offer, we want to be in a position to have those conversations.
TAPPER: The committee referred to some -- an indictment I believe from last year where an informant from the Proud Boys said that there were Proud Boys he had heard from, specifically one of them was nicknamed Spaz (ph), I apologize for repeating that nickname. But saying that he actually had a desire to kill -- I believe Spaz was going to kill Pence. I believe somebody else was willing to kill Pelosi.
In any base, how serious do you think those threats were as opposed to bluster from these types of individuals? Obviously, they were violent individual if they breached the Capitol, but beyond that?
AGUILAR: Well, you know, by default, Jake, is going to be that if it ends up in a Justice Department filing, it's a pretty serious allegation. And so, you know, with that as my base, I'm going to say that this is -- this is very real.
We also know from court filings very recently that buildings within the Capitol complex could have also been targets.
So what I would say is this concerted effort that individuals undertook to threaten the safety of members of Congress who were exercising their constitutional obligations, in addition to senators and the vice president, is very shocking and we shouldn't take it lightly at all.
TAPPER: One of the people that you shared questioning duties with today was former U.S. Attorney John Wood, I believe from Missouri, who was a Republican appointed U.S. attorney.
Was that at least in part an attempt to take the partisanship or the appearance of partisanship out of the hearings, which obviously Republican Leader McCarthy and others have not made easy, given their boycott of the hearings? Was that why Wood participated?
AGUILAR: John Wood participated in those hearings, and I asked him to offer questions with me, because he's a senior investigative counsel for the committee. He was in many of these depositions that we played. He's an amazing attorney. I don't care who appointed him as a U.S. attorney.
And his work product of that and his counterpart, Tim Hefe (ph), who was an Obama assistant or U.S. attorney, full U.S. attorney, they're just amazing individuals who helped to guide our efforts. And I learned from them the entire time.
But, you know, I'm not going to accept the premise, because that mean there is politics that's -- we're not taking politics out, because there's never been any politics within the January 6th committee. Everything we do is in an apolitical way. And that's why it's been such an honor to serve with the eight colleagues that I serve with on this committee, and an amazing staff two has helped guide our efforts.
TAPPER: All right. Congressman Pete Aguilar, Democrat of California, member of the January 6 Committee -- thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.
AGUILAR: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up next, new CNN reporting about a disconnect between the January 6th Committee and the Biden Justice Department.
Stay with us.
[16:23:25] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Over the last few hours, we heard the January 6th committee lay out new evidence designed to draw a direct line between former President Trump's bogus claims about the election, and that MAGA mob's threats against Vice President Pence's health and life on January 6th. This hearing has been squarely focused on Trump's unconstitutional demands for Pence to overthrow the election results and the deadly chaos that followed at the Capitol, premised on that lie.
We have been told that federal prosecutors investigating the insurrection have been watching these hearings.
So, let's bring in CNN's Justice Department correspondent Evan Perez.
Evan, what can you tell us about the status of the Justice Department's probe?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you know, one of the things that the Justice Department is doing is asking the committee to turn over transcripts of 1,000 interviews that they have done so far. And so far, the committee has declined to provide those transcripts.
And so, one of the things that just happened today in a court filing that we just -- we obtained today, the department is expressing some frustration to the committee. They wrote to the committee saying we need these interviews, because it's causing delays, not only with their investigation of some of the suspects who attacked the Capitol on January 6th, but also the prosecution of people who are already charged, people who are scheduled for trial. In one case, they're asking for trials of members of the Proud Boys to be delayed a couple of months because they're waiting to get some of those transcripts.
And I'll read you just a part of what it says in this letter to the House counsel. It says that it is critical that the department be able to evaluate the credibility of witnesses who have provided statements to multiple government entities in assessing the strength of any potential criminal prosecutions.
And, you know, look, this is key for lawyers to be able to get discovery from the government, as part of their ability to defend their clients. And what the Justice Department is saying to this committee is, you're impeding our ability to do our jobs. And as you know, Jake, this has been a bit of a friction between the committee.
Members of the committee have been calling on the attorney general to move more quickly, to go after people beyond the rioters, to do more and to act more quickly to make sure that people are held accountable for January 6th. And see here, you have the committee saying -- I'm sorry, you have the prosecutors saying, well, you know, it's in your court. This is -- the ball is in your court. You need to provide us these transcripts so we can do our jobs.
TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez at the Justice Department for us, thanks so much.
Let's go to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill to get a response.
And, Manu, you just heard from the January 6th chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, on this issue. What did he have to tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we just spoke to him about this. He made clear that he views these two things separately. He views the Justice Department moving on its own track. And his committee's investigation will continue to move forward, regardless of what the Justice Department is doing and rejected the demands by the Justice Department to turn over those transcripts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We are not going to stop what we are doing to share the information that we have gotten so far with the Department of Justice. We have to do our work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So he was asked whether or not they would turn them over this week. He said no, but that does not mean we are going to cooperate. They have spoken to more than 1,000 witnesses, Jake, and there's been a lot of questions about when those transcript also be released. Thompson indicated they would eventually be released, but that could be months in the making. So it could turn out to further delay the justice department's investigation, which is why there are concerns.
One other thing, too, Jake, I asked the chairman whether or not his view had changed against making a referral to the Justice Department to investigate Donald Trump over his role over January 6th. Earlier this week, he suggested that was not the way the committee was going. He got some pushback from members of the committee.
Just now, he would not go as far as he did earlier this week. He said we're working as hard as we can to get to the facts and circumstances around what happened. Now, when we complete our work, then we'll discuss at that point what we will do.
TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks so much.
I have two legal experts.
Jeffrey Toobin, first of all, we should note that the committee has a ticking clock, right?
TAPPER: Republicans are expected to take over the House in November, and they will immediately kill the January 6th Committee. They don't want any attention on it at all. So Bennie Thompson feels, the chairman of the committee feels a certain pressure to get this done. And the Justice Department doesn't have that pressure because Democrats ares going to control the White House until at least 2025. But that said, what do you make of this?
TOOBIN: I -- it's peculiar, because we've heard a lot of conversation whether this committee will -- will recommend charges or not, which is a literally irrelevant debate, because the Justice Department is going to make that decision regardless of what the committee does.
However, this investigative material, these transcripts, this is gold for prosecutors. They need this. If you care about the Justice Department doing a serious investigation, and doing it quickly, which is obviously a concern of a lot of these members, they should turn over the material.
Now, it sounds like it will get turned over at some point. But it doesn't seem to me that photocopies or electronic copies of this material is such a difficult task to turn over and if they want to help the Justice Department, they should do it sooner rather than later.
TAPPER: I find it odd, why not just -- I mean is the -- do they not have a functioning Xerox machine?
CONWAY: It wouldn't be a Xerox machine. Just copy something to a hard drive or a thumb drive or email -- well, not an email, but it would be --
TAPPER: Oh, because of security issues.
CONWAY: Well, security issue, and also it's probably, you know, some several megabites, or gigabites, I don't know what to pick --
TAPPER: But what's the problem?
CONWAY: They're busy, that's true. But I can't imagine there isn't a system that's already in place to manage all of this that they can't make access to the Justice Department.
TAPPER: But what crimes could they possible not be -- not be charging somebody for, like it's not about the people who stormed the Capitol. This is about like the John Eastmans, is that --
CONWAY: Well, I think it could be about both. I think, in the first instance, I mean, there may be, if you have statements from witnesses that you are going to be calling in upcoming criminal trials, lower level types, you know, you might have -- you might be surprised by something that comes out, that comes out at the wrong moment during a trial, and the defense gets it, and you're in trouble.
I understand why they would want to have that testimony. At the same time, there is an overlap or there is -- they want to move up, as Attorney General Garland said in his January speech, they're moving their way up in the committee, although the thousand people they interviewed includes a lot of people --
TOOBIN: There's also a law -- there's a law called the Jencks Act --
TOOBIN: -- that says the government, and the whole government, not just Congress, not just the executive branch, has to turn over the prior statements of any witness who testifies.
CONWAY: And could be Brady material, could be Brady material too.
TOOBIN: So they need to get this material to the defense in order to try these cases.
TAPPER: All right. Stay with CNN's continuing coverage. Tonight at 9:00 Eastern, CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates will take a deep dive into today's testimony. Watch her report right here on CNN.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Some of the testimony that we have heard today is apparently getting under the skin of Donald Trump.
Kaitlan Collins has some details on that.
Kaitlan, what are you hearing from your Trump sources?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, the former president has been watching these hearings very closely. He's been complaining to people that he thinks that the committee is only using testimony that paints him in a negative light. Obviously, a fair amount of the testimony today was from Marc Short, who is Pence's former chief of staff, who is with him on that day. That is someone Trump has despised ever since January 6th. He even told people he banned Marc Short from the White House grounds right after January 6th had happened.
And my colleagues Gabby Orr and Melanie Zanona are told that even yesterday, when Marc Short was on CNN talking to Wolf Blitzer about the concerns he had that day about Mike Pence's safety, they are told that Trump got annoyed with that appearance from Short on CNN where he was talking about that.
Obviously, today he testified what the committee showed today, he testified that he went to the Secret Service the day before January 6th, because he was concerned about what the former president might do, and potentially put the vice president in danger, his safety in danger. That was a concern that he had, and clearly still those are not concerns that have been taken by the former president. He's so rankled by the fact that Mike Pence's former staff is talking about the concerns for his safety on that day.
Jake, one other thing we learned from this testimony today that I think is important to about that is that statement Trump put out early in January 2021 saying that he and Pence were in total agreement about what he could do that day, the committee played testimony from Marc Short and Jason Miller basically arguing about the fact that Jason Miller put out that statement and it had not been checked with the vice president's office.
And they said it was not true. It was an inaccurate statement. That was not how the conversation went down between the former vice president and the former president who, Jake, we should note, still have not spoken in over a year now.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.
It has been remarkable to hear from so many members of Donald Trump's inner circle.
John King is at the magic wall now to talk us through. Of course, we have to start with members of Trump's family.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not just who we're hearing this from, not just what we're hearing, I mean, but who we're hearing this from. And so, this is not coming -- the president likes to criticize Democrats or RINOs, Republicans in name only, you don't like him. He criticizes anonymous sources.
How can he criticize the case being laid out by this committee that includes his own daughter Ivanka, saying she respected Bill Barr and accepted his opinion when he said there was no fraud. Today, we heard from Ivanka Trump that she was disturbed when she saw the heated conversation with Mike Pence about that.
Jared Kushner tried to blow off the --
KING: The significance of all this in the White House counsel's office. They were threatening to resign if the president went forward with this. He sort of blew that off. I think we'll hear from that.
But this is what's interesting. They're laying out -- you know, the president was being told by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and others, there was fraud, there was fraud, keep pushing, keep pushing.
Eric Herschmann among the White House attorneys who kept saying, show me, show me, we've lost in court. Where's the proof? This is crazy.
You need to stop this. It's illegal. You need to stop this.
TAPPER: And we should just point out, when it comes to Eric Herschmann, I mean, this is guy who helped defend Donald Trump during the impeachment about Ukraine. This is a guy who likes talking about Hunter Biden's laptop. This is not some secret deep state liberal. I mean, this is a MAGA guy.
KING: This is a Trump guy. That is why it's so damning, because it's coming from people very close to Trump himself, including this -- we just showed you inside the White House and his family, his campaign. His campaign manager said he told him on election night, we're not going to succeed here. We're not going to succeed here. It's not going to happen.
Jason Miller saying very different things publicly. No surprise there to any reporter in this town, but about how they got it. They are all the people in the campaign who know how to run a campaign, who know the math, who know recounts, saying, there's no "there" there. There's no "there" there and we know it.
We're not going to win and we have no evidence. Alex Cannon in particularly kept being charged with, check out this fraud, can you find any proof of this fraud? There's just rumors. He kept saying he kept looking, there was no evidence. And he kept going back to it.
And then you're inside the administration, especially the lawyers, and the top general in the United States, significant.
You heard his testimony. He said Mike Pence called him that day. Mike Pence, with the Secret Service, checking in with Mark Milley, what can the military do to help? He never heard from Donald Trump that day. He only heard from Donald Trump's chief of staff.
TAPPER: Right. And he said that what Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was focused on was the quote unquote narrative. Milley heard that, that Trump was helping out and Milley testified he heard that and said that's political. I'm not going to keep away from that. I'm going to focus on what the vice president is talking to me about which is national security.
KING: Right. And so, Trump was leaning on the Justice Department. Richard Donoghue said the idea was crazy, that they sounded having fraud. You heard Bill Barr, probably the most damning factual witness so far, saying three times he told Trump three times we looked into in, there's no "there" there. It's crazy, it's B.S., stronger language from him.
So, again, all people -- these are all people appointed by Donald Trump or who worked for Donald Trump. These are not people outside.
B.J. Pak, the U.S. attorney, former U.S. attorney in Georgia, Bill Barr called him and said the president says he's hearing they had a suit case and they brought votes in and they illegally -- you know, they brought in fake votes and counted them. He says he looked into that and said, no, actually, that was a locked box.
When they suspended the count, they locked up the ballots, as you would, a secure process, how democracy works. They were preparing to leave the room, they said, actually, let's continue the count, so they took the suitcase out of locked box and opened the ballot.
TAPPER: Go back to admin for one second, because I just want to point out, BJay Pak said that. He was specific about one charge. We have also heard testimony I believe from Donoghue and Barr, and I think even Jeffrey Rosen, talking about specific lies about the election. And debunking them, explaining each one of them, taking them seriously, explaining why they were false, and then the testimony from one of them was then, it didn't matter, Trump would move on to the next one.
KING: Right. That they would debunk something and he would have another conversation with Giuliani or another conversation with Powell, or another conversation with Eastman, he would come back with, okay, then look at this. That's what's so frustrating to them. The president kept asking them, and because of the stakes, they kept looking to see it.
So you go through the Trump appointees. And then today, powerful in many ways. A, because the vice president's life was in danger, but both Greg Jacob, the vice president's counsel, and the chief of staff just talking about essentially from election day on, you know, there was just all this pressure on the vice president.
Let's keep finding fraud. They kept pushing and pushing, the vice president kept saying, is there any options? Just damning testimony from inside about how every time that Pence went to the president and said I can't do this, he would push some more, and push some more.
So, again, Donald Trump likes to say, fake media. He likes to say, RINOs. He likes to say this is all coming from Democrats. These are all people who are loyal to Donald Trump, who worked for Donald Trump, who were right there --
TAPPER: Who made it to the end of the Trump administration.
KING: Who made it to the end. And so, this is just a sample.
You can understand why he's mad because his corruptness and his lies are being detailed by people he knows very, very well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Absolutely zero basis for the allegations.
IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.
JASON MILLER, TRUMP ADVISOR: There's suggestions by, I believe, it was Mayor Giuliani to go and declare a victory and say that we won it outright.
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: What you are proposing is nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.
JACOB: It is unambiguous that vice president does not have the authority to reject electors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have laid my body across the floor before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And so you just see again, when you bring it up, that it's incredibly damning and it comes from people loyal to Donald Trump, as you point out, to the end.
It also raises another question, what does it take? What is it going to take for the Republicans who keep trying to push this aside or say it's a sham committee, whatever you think of the committee, yes, there were some politics involved, but these are all loyal Republicans, loyal Trumpees, saying he knew he lost, he knew it was illegal, he knew it was unconstitutional, he knew it was corrupt, and he kept telling us to do it.
TAPPER: What will it take? It will take a patriotism and take a sense of shame. I'm not sure either of those exist in abundance right now.
Coming up on THE LEAD, law enforcement experts react to the Select Committee's gripping new account of Vice President Pence's evacuation from the Capitol on January 6 and how dangerous close he was to that MAGA mob.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
House investigators just shared a look at the evacuation of Mike Pence on January 6th, saying at one point that he was only 40 feet away from the MAGA mob rampaging throughout the Capitol.
Let's bring in former U.S. Capitol Chief Terry Gainer, and the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, who's a CNN senior law enforcement analyst.
Let me start with you, Terry Gainer. As rioters were coming closer to Pence, Trump tweeted about him not showing the courage, not doing what the United States of America needed, as a law enforcement matter, not as a prosecutorial matter. It does seem like that incited the crowd.
TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Absolutely it did. I think it added to the kind of conversation he had down on the ellipse, and when I heard it, it sounded to me like he could have tweeted, torah, torah, torah, attack. He gave them the signal to go and they got worse in the Capitol at that time.
TAPPER: Let me just put up the pictures of Pence from that day that we got, because I want to ask you how close Pence -- this is when he's actually underground in a secure location.
Before that, you saw the model, the schematic of the Capitol 40 feet away. How close was he actually to danger? GAINER: He was extremely close. 40 feet, picture less than half of a
football field. So, even when he was in his office, and rioters were below, the actual distance was close. So we know how to get people in and out of there. We would have been coordinating with the Secret Service, and it relies on having clear access to some of those things.
And the access was choking and choking and choking, which could have led to a shootout when he got down to that area where he was 40 feet away from the vice president.
TAPPER: That secure location was several stories underneath the Capitol, we're told. Is that -- I mean, can people breach that? Is it possible for a mob to breach it?
GAINER: Well, we hope it's not possible. It doesn't do good for security to be showing everything that we're showing.
TAPPER: OK, fair enough. So, let me ask you something, Deputy FBI Director McCabe. One of the documents that the committee leaned on comes from this 2021 prosecution of a Proud Boy and a witness, some of the informant in the Proud Boys. I'm just reading from their affidavit in support of a criminal complaint in the charges against this individual, Dominic Pezzola.
According to the witness, they, meaning the group, said that anyone they got their hands on would have been killed including Nancy Pelosi and they would have killed Mike Pence if given the chance. That's from a witness who was, I suppose, a member or embedded with the Proud Boys.
How do we know -- that sounds awful, and if it was describing a threat to me and my family, I would be upset. But how do we know that's actually real and not just bluster, if you look at the crowd out that day? I'm sure there were a lot of people saying a lot of things.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we don't know, right? So, let's remember that. This is a cooperating witness, maybe an informant or maybe someone who's been charged and is now cooperating with the government and is being interviewed about everything they saw and spoke and heard over the course of that day.
And this statement is that witness' personal assessment of what he thinks they were capable of at that moment. It's not the same as the witness saying I asked so and so and he was planning to kill the vice president. This is just a general assessment of what he thought his co-conspirators were willing to do in that moment.
We don't know how accurate it might be. Maybe he's bluffing a little bit. But nevertheless, the language is incredibly damning and something that law enforcement takes seriously.
KING: Having seen a lot of the video from the riots that day, I am personally surprised more people did not die given how violent a lot of them were. What was your reaction?
MCCABE: Well, I mean, even the video that came out yesterday of the individual who was touring the -- some of the Capitol grounds with Representative Loudermilk on the day before the riot. So, when that -- the video that came out yesterday, that individual was talking about dragging Nancy Pelosi and AOC out of the Capitol by the hair, we're going to take them.
I mean, those words are not insignificant. You heard those sort of statements repeatedly across the crowd. We heard some of that today in the comments about hang Mike Pence. Mike Pence has betrayed the country.
So there's no question. I'm shocked more people didn't get seriously hurt.
TAPPER: All right. Andrew McCabe and Terrance Gainer, thank you both so much.
Still ahead on THE LEAD, I'm going to talk one on one with a key member of the January 6 Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California.
And our world lead, two Americans fighting alongside Ukraine are now missing. I'm going to talk to the mother of one of them about why her son decided to join that fight. That's next.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Hello and welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we begin this hour on Capitol Hill where the January 6th select committee wrapped up its bombshell third public hearing in 2022. We're learning former President Trump was watching the hearings, and complaining to his confidant that so much of the testimony painted him in a negative light and he's rankled by the fact that Mike Pence's former staff is talking about what happened behind the scenes.
The focus of the hearing today, Trump's pressure campaign to try to force his vice president to follow a legal theory that claimed the vice president had some sort of power to overturn the resulting of the election, all by his lonesome. But the committee laid out proof that President Trump was told over and over and over again that the theory was not legally sound, and that the president was told by multiple people that Vice President Pence was not planning to go along with the scheme.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it your impression that the vice president had directly conveyed his position on these issues to the president, not just to the world, through a dear colleague letter, but directly to President Trump? MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP PENCE: Many times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And have been consistent in conveying his position to the president?
SHORT: Very consistent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did John Eastman ever admit, as far as you know, in front of the president that his proposal would violate the Electoral Count act?