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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Fourth January 6 Hearing Focuses On Trump's Intimidation Of State Officials; Sources: Trump Continues To Defends Call Pressuring Georgia Election Officials; January 6 Committee: Trump White House Counsel Should Testify. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 21, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You're watching THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Today, revelation after revelation from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. The Arizona house speaker, the Georgia secretary of state, his top deputy, all of them conservative Republicans, all of them giving new insights into the multi-layered Trump intimidation campaign to subvert the 2020 election.
I want to start the show with CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
And, Kaitlan, you're hearing from people in Donald Trump's circle. What are you -- what are you hearing from them?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, that call that was on full display today during this hearing was, of course, the hour-long phone call that then-President Trump had in January with these election officials in the state of Georgia, mainly the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who you heard from today.
And I'm told that despite what you saw today, which was the committee playing clips of that call with claims from Trump saying thousands of ballots had been shredded or thousands of dead people had voted, and then flashing to Raffensperger saying that's not true, we checked that out. That's also not true.
Trump has continued to defend that call. He has said it was a perfect call. He has told people he assumed it was being recorded.
There were attorneys on the line as they were in this hour-long call where he alternated between asking for Raffensperger to find these votes, thinly veiled threatening him when it came to certain pushback on claims he was making, and despite the fact you heard from them talking about the harassment that not just they faced but their families faced and you heard from Raffensperger saying his daughter- in-law was one of those people. That is -- despite that, Trump has continued to defend his call and stand up for it and say he believed it was the right call, it was a perfect call, and whatnot.
And, Jake, that's notable given you see this testimony that's being used today from Republican officials who said they supported Trump when it came to the election, but obviously not in his election lies.
One other thing to note, Jake, that was incredibly notable from the end of the testimony was what Liz Cheney said as she was in her closing remarks, seeming to look directly into the camera and speaking to the former White House counsel for Trump which is Pat Cipollone. He has done an informal sit-down with the January 6 Committee, but he has not formally testified. She looked at the camera and said they believe the American people deserve to hear from him, that he needs to testify, and she's working to secure his testimony.
That seemed to imply there is some kind of breakdown behind the scenes in getting him to testify. And, obviously, his testify would be critical, Jake. He was there on January 6th. He threatened to quit for some of the moves that Trump had threatened to carry out when it came to the Justice Department.
And so, that is going to be a point of concern going forward for whether or not this committee actually gets Pat Cipollone's testimony.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.
Let's talk about all this with my panel.
But let me start with what Kaitlan just referred to, the vice chair of the committee, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, talking directly to former Trump White House counsel, almost, Pat Cipollone, about the fact she feels the American people deserve to hear from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): To date, more than 30 witnesses called before this committee have not done what you have done, but have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Roger Stone took the Fifth. General Michael Flynn took the Fifth. John Eastman took the Fifth.
Others like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro simply refused to comply with lawful subpoenas. And they have been indicted.
Mark Meadows has hidden behind president Trump's claims of executive privilege and immunity from subpoenas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And yet, Cheney said, it was time for Pat Cipollone to come forward. So many witnesses have talked about how he was trying to keep Trump and his gang from the lawless illegal potentially, unconstitutional certainly, activities, and he should come forward and talk -- to tell the American people what happened.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Liz Cheney doesn't say anything by accident. That was a complete call-out of Pat Cipollone, who my sources have been telling me for months was a critical witness, and who I believe the committee thought for a long time was going to show up and Cooperate. So something happened along the way in the last couple weeks that
changed that. And she was going public. She didn't have to do that today at this hearing. She wanted to be on the record saying that this one hid behind this and this one, you know, took the Fifth.
Pat Cipollone, where are you?
TAPPER: And there's certainly an argument to be made that Pat Cipollone's conversations with President Trump could be covered by executive privilege, right?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, though he is the White House lawyer. He's the institution's lawyer, not the president's lawyer.
Now, there are certain conversations you're having about certain things just like Mark Meadows. The committee has not said he has no privilege. They just said you don't have blanket privilege and you don't have privilege if you're discussing a criminal act. There's no such privilege. You can't hide criminality.
The committee is trying to build a pyramid of intent and corruption of Trump. And so, what did they so today? Three different campaign lawyers said we're out of this. This is no good.
TAPPER: Trump campaign lawyers.
KING: Trump campaign lawyers saying, no, we're done. We're done. What you're doing now is illegal. We're done.
And they passed it off on the private lawyers. They have shown some of Pat Cipollone's deputies saying we think this is crazy. Other lawyers in the White House Counsel's Office.
Today, they had Mark Meadows' chief of staff saying she was in a meeting where the White House Counsel's Office said, this is illegal, you cannot do this.
TAPPER: These fraudulent state electors.
KING: They want Cipollone so they can look the camera in the eye and say, Donald Trump was told by everybody, his attorney general, the top guy, they want to say his White House counsel, the top guy, his campaign manager, the top guy, the campaign counsel's office, the lawyers there.
And so they want to make the case, Donald Trump was so determined to keep going after being told wrong, illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, that he got Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, to keep going on this rogue operation after being told by all the people who know the law, no.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And look, this is a question of whether or not Pat Cipollone, who as you were saying, Jamie, clearly has had a lot to talk to, whether it was informally or not, a lot to talk to the committee about. He knows so much.
And we already heard some testimony today talking about what he said. But it goes to the question, you said it's a pyramid of intent. You could just avoid the pyramid and knock it off with one interview, whether it is on tape or public, with Pat Cipollone asking point blank, did you ask, did you tell the president no go?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And some of these other lawyers we have heard from over the last few days have basically given a road map of how you can testify without necessarily divulging everything that the former president said to you. But there were a lot of other conversation happening with John Eastman, with the outside lawyers that paint a picture of what was going on here, and I think the fact he won't is just another sign that a lot of these people, they think this is all crazy, but this is also about self- preservation.
Nobody wants to throw themselves under the bus, even at this stage, because they all still have to work in this town. They all still have to find things to do in the Republican establishment, and it's hard to do that when you have testified effectively against Trump in this kind of setting.
TAPPER: And especially after you just heard hours and hours of testimony by election officials and Republican officials who just talked about the mob that supports Donald Trump that was unleashed upon them and their families. That's intimidating, and as you noted earlier, that's the reason they do it.
We're joined now by the select committee member who played the lead role in today's hearing, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.
So, your panel laid out some pretty stunning evidence today from stalwart conservative Republicans in addition to the election workers.
In your view, how much, if any, of what we heard today reaches a threshold of actual criminality?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, you know, again, look, I have said for some time that I agreed with David Carter, the federal judge in California, that this plot to overturn the election likely violated multiple federal laws. Now, it's one thing to say there's evidence to begin an investigation, it's another thing to say, is there proof beyond a reasonable doubt? And that latter judgment is going to be one for the Department of Justice to make.
But I do think that these issues have to be investigated by the department. Some of them, you know, obviously, those who broke into the Capitol are under investigation and prosecution, but the plot went beyond those that were in the Capitol that day, and I do think those allegations merit investigation by the department. TAPPER: Today, we heard a lot about this scheme to have states submit
slates of fraudulent electors. And I suppose the hope was that Vice President Pence or somehow the confusion would allow pence or the Congress to throw this back to the states and thus allowing Trump to hold on to power.
We finally heard of Donald Trump's involvement in this scheme, direct involvement. And we heard this from the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. She testified about that call in which Donald Trump was involved.
I want to play that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states. I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them, but my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that -- in that role.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What is the significance, if any, of the fact that Trump initiated that call with the RNC chair?
SCHIFF: Well, look, he was initiating that call to give the imprimatur of his support, his weight behind what was being asked of this head of the Republican National Committee.
Likewise, this is why he's on the call with Rudy Giuliani to the Arizona speaker of the House of Representatives, because this is Donald Trump's request that the speaker of the house, a fellow Republican, in the absence of any proof, call the legislature back into session, decertify the Biden electors and appoint some illegitimate electors for Donald Trump.
And you know, likewise, here he is meeting with his own attorney general, being told that these claims he's making are B.S., but he's out there continuing to make these fraud claims that underlay the whole scheme. So look, this was his plot. And I think we demonstrated today his key involvement in different points along the way.
TAPPER: Is that illegal? Is it a crime to submit fraudulent slates of electors?
SCHIFF: Well, this will be ultimately up for the Justice Department to decide. Our job is really to expose what went on, to prescribe legislative remedies, to protect the country going forward, but those kind of calls will have to be made by the Department of Justice.
TAPPER: I understand -- I understand the decision to prosecute is up to the Department of Justice. But you used to work in the U.S. Attorney's Office in California. You're a former U.S. assistant attorney. You have an idea of what laws might be involved.
Without saying whether or not somebody should be prosecuted, is that potentially a crime? I'm not a lawyer. Help me out here.
SCHIFF: Look, I think the broader plot to overturn the election of which this was a part likely violated multiple federal laws as Judge Carter held. I think it needs to be investigated not just by the Congress but by the Justice Department.
But again, I'm not prepared to reach a conclusion about what the Justice Department ought to do in terms of whether they prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of a particular crime, but I do think it needs to be investigated not just by the Congress.
TAPPER: The vice chair of your committee, Liz Cheney, gave a rare public request, it seemed, for White House Counsel Pat Cipollone -- former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to testify.
What's your understanding about why he has not yet agreed to testify? And do you feel like ultimately we will hear from him whether it's in taped recorded testimony or live?
SCHIFF: Look, I hope he comes forward, whether he ultimately will, I don't know. People are showing courage to do so. We had several courageous people come before the committee today, all of them in terms of the secretary of state, the speaker from Arizona, Gabe Sterling.
You know, they're members of the president's party. Two of them talked about how they supported the president. One of them was out there campaigning for the president. And they have had the courage to stand up and do what's right and fulfill their duty as public servants.
Whether Mr. Cipollone will feel that same, you know, patriotic duty will be up to him, and it will be up to the committee how to respond if he doesn't.
TAPPER: What reasons are Cipollone or his attorneys or his representatives giving for not testifying?
SCHIFF: You know, that I really can't say.
TAPPER: It was gut-wrenching listening to the two women, the election officials, talk about the threats against them, emotional testimony from Shaye Moss. The Arizona speaker talked about the guns, the loud speakers, the insane allegations against him, sexualized threats, threats against kids.
Do you think the Justice Department is doing enough to go after the individuals behind these threats against election workers and public officials?
SCHIFF: You know, I can't speak to whether they're doing enough in every particular case. I can tell you, you know, as an elected official, that so many of us are getting those kinds of threats. We're getting them all the time, and they seem to be increasing in intensity, and it's just a danger not only to the individuals who work within our democracy, but a danger to the democracy itself.
And I'm glad that Ms. Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, and these other officials could put a human face on what it means when the president of the United States comes down on you like a ton of bricks. And as I mentioned at the hearing, if he can do that to Ruby Freeman, and Shaye Moss, and he can do that to loyal members of his party, he can do it to anyone. And that ought to get people to sit up and take notice because anyone could be next.
TAPPER: Your Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said if people who support Trump's election lies, the big lie, if they win key state government jobs, in 2024, quote, we won't have close calls. We'll have a catastrophe.
We saw what happened in New Mexico with a county official refusing to certify because of some deranged theory having to do with election software.
Do you think the nation has -- the public at large have any idea what's coming down the pike here?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't know. Part of what we're trying to do is to sound the alarm. That the system held, but barely, and the lie that put our system in jeopardy is still being used around the country in ways like you just described in New Mexico, and elsewhere. And people are running for office on a platform of ignoring the actual election results and just doing anything, saying anything, adopting any lie necessary to support whoever they want to win.
That's how a democracy comes to an end, and we need to wake up to that threat because we have had the good fortune to live in a democracy all our lives, and this democracy is centuries old. I think we have come to believe that somehow it is inevitable. And it's not. We're going to have to really stand up to protect it.
TAPPER: Now, it's the American experiment. It's not the American proven theorem.
Congressman Schiff, thank you so much. Good to see you as always.
Coming up next, the new never before seen witness in the committee's investigation. The panel uses the words of the former top Trump campaign lawyer against Donald Trump.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And welcome back to THE LEAD and our continuing coverage of the January 6th Committee hearing. I'm Anderson Cooper back with the team here in Washington.
Jeff Toobin, one of the things that interested you, which I think we hadn't heard before that Ron Johnson, according to testimony, attempted to give Pence some fake electors.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. The whole subject of fake electors was a big part of the Arizona section of the hearings today. And also, I think it's so valuable to hear people talk about these things.
You know, we have all heard the term fake electors. But, I mean, the whole thing was so bizarre, when you think about it. Fake electors are a government assigned position. And people just declaring themselves electors for the president of the United States -- I mean, what gall. You're going to declare yourself a United States senator?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's crazy. It's a crazy plan.
TOOBIN: Let me finish about Ron Johnson.
So it comes to January 6th. And Pence is presiding, and there is email traffic that was shown in the hearing where Senator Johnson's aide says he wants to give the fake electors to pence. Now, subsequently, Johnson has thrown his aide under the bus and said, no, no, I knew nothing about this. I expect there's probably more to know about this than that, but just the idea that Trump's forces had the moxie, the gall, the outrageous --
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: It was ridiculous.
TOOBIN: -- the idea of declaring yourself an elector, it's nuts.
CONWAY: What about the woman who said they wanted me to hide out in the statehouse all night? And she said, it was Michigan, I don't remember. But she said --
TOOBIN: Yeah, Michigan.
BORGER: And what about the people who showed up at the door of the statehouse and said, no, you should let us in. We're really the electors. It's like presenting a false diploma or whatever.
COOPER: Brad Raffensperger, I want to play something that he said. He basically went through the litany of lies that were told about what happened in Georgia. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGE SECRETARY OF STATE: The numbers don't lie. We had many allegations, and we investigated every single one of them. I challenged my team, did we miss anything?
They said there was over 66,000 underage voters. We found that there's actually zero.
You can register to vote in Georgia when you're 17-1/2. You have to be 18 by election day. We checked that out every single voter.
They said there's 2,423 nonregistered voters. There were zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What do you think, Chris, the power of today was?
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I thought the personal testimony of Rusty Bowers and Brad Raffensperger and both Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss. I mean, these were people who were caught in this crazy mix master of a plot to overthrow the election and paid a tremendous price.
And there's one thing I want to say. You mentioned when we were last talking, Jeffrey, about the violence. And we did hear about violence. We did hear Rusty Bowers talk about people coming to his house on weekends and a gravely ill daughter, and accusing them of being a pedophile and all kinds of things. And Brad Raffensperger talking about hiss daughter-in-law, his son had died, so she's there without a husband, and breaking into her house.
And you know, there are some people, and I think rightly so, who were losing their mind at the idea of those protests and the threat of violence for Supreme Court justices.
I would hope that some of the people who were so upset about that would be just as upset about people who are enforcing the law as the speaker of the Arizona House and the secretary of state in Georgia or Shaye Moss, and say anybody that goes to their houses or threatens them, that it's just as contemptible.
COOPER: Yeah, Ruby Freeman had to leave her house for two months. These are not people who have huge resources, so it's not a big deal for private security.
WALLACE: And Shaye Moss, who said that her grandmother, that they were coming to the house and attacking her.
BORGER: And she felt responsibility for all of that, and you can understand that. But I think this was also all of these personal stories about how when the guardrails come off, was also aimed at the Justice Department. The Justice Department, a lot of people on this committee believe, have been slow walking a lot of things. They have also prosecuted over 800 people, because of January 6th.
And if you look at these stories, and you say, look at the harm, look at the harm that was done by the lies that Trump and his allies were peddling to decent, honest people, trying to do their jobs. Look at the -- look at the result, and you can see it as leading up to what happened to January 6th on the Capitol, which you have prosecuted a lot, so take a look at this, Justice Department, and understand how this went. And how could you not prosecute.
COOPER: And also, George, it wasn't just Ron Johnson. It was this Representative Andy Biggs who does not come out as a profile in courage.
COOPER: I mean, he is trying to pressure Rusty Bowers to go along with all this.
CONWAY: No, it's incredible. It just didn't stop. They were just doing everything they could in every direction, throwing things up to see if they would stick. Even though Donald Trump, they repeatedly told him, you know, you're all -- this is thought true.
WALLACE: Andy Biggs is on January 6th, on the day of the certification, and he's calling up Rusty Bowers and saying hey, how about we decertify the Biden electors? You know, it reminds me of the last hearing where John Eastman after they had the riot, he says, well, look, since, you know, we've gone off the rails here a little bit, how about we just throw open the electors?
BORGER: That was the attitude. That was the attitude.
TOOBIN: The power of repetition is also something that is so meaningful here. I mean, one story that has been told over and over again by the president is the suitcase of votes under the desk in Atlanta. That there was some corrupt element of this suitcase. And if there's one thing people know, I'd say, about the Georgia vote count, they would remember that there was this mysterious suitcase of votes.
Raffensperger explains it, that it was a sealed conventional box of votes that was just put there on the normal course of business, but because the president, former president, and his allies continued to repeat that it was corrupt, it was wrong, that they were all Biden votes somehow, that is the story that remains out there.
CONWAY: The power of repetition goes the other way as well. The power of repetition in these hearings to me is the repetition of the fact that all of these people kept telling Donald Trump and others around him, this is false. That is false. That is -- if you stack all of that together, it's a long, long list of a lot of different people from Bill Barr to Raffensperger, to Donoghue, a lot of -- and we're not even going to see the whole thing. There's probably piles of depositions.
And you think about if Donald Trump were ever tried, and if he ever decided to testify in his own defense, which I don't think he would be insane for him to subject himself to cross-examination. The cross- examination would be this repetition.
And this one told you this, correct? Yes or no. And this one told you this, yes or no? And if he says no, it looks like the liar that he is. If he says yes, he's admitting that he was willfully blind to these hundreds and hundreds of facts.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break.
Still ahead, a stunning new number from the January 6th committee: 30 witnesses invoking their Fifth Amendment rights while under oath. Our legal panel reacts, next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
A day of disturbing testimony including hearing from members of Donald Trump's own political party testifying how they refused to do his bidding, believing it to be illegal. They refused to overturn Biden's victory, legitimate and legal in their states, and how their lives were threatened at times because of that courage.
Arizona's state house speaker saying he flatly told Trump he would not break the law for him.
Let's go to John King at the magic wall here.
John, let's go through some of the highlights when it comes to the pressure campaign that Trump and his allies and his supporters put these people through.
KING: Detailed, shocking, disturbing testimony about corruptness, about efforts to create laws that don't exist, and to fantasize about illegal votes that didn't exist. The power of the story, as you noted, coming from the conservative Republican Arizona house speaker, a conservative Republican, Georgia secretary of state. His deputy, a Republican.
Rusty Bowers saying they told him thousands of illegal undocumented citizens voted. He said show me the evidence. Thousands of dead people voted, he said show me the evidence.
They never did.
Brad Raffensperger going through the same thing, again, repeated calls, pressure from the White House chief of staff, do something, find it, fix it.
Gabe Sterling, the one who said a month before January 6th, Mr. President, please stop.
TAPPER: Someone is going to get killed.
KING: Someone is going to get killed. The threats are escalating. There's no evidence, we keep looking.
And so, again, and then you look at the results. In Georgia, just shy of 12,000 votes. There's a count on Election Day. There was a recount. There was an audit. Then they investigated the fraud. The president had his day in court. Joe Biden won Georgia. It's simple
fact. It is honest math.
The same in Arizona. Joe Biden won, a slightly smaller margin, but again, they counted, they recounted, there were court challenges. They investigated these different claims.
You heard the Republican House speaker saying they wanted me to call a special session. I don't have that authority.
What did you get at the end? Powerful testimony from Republicans that Donald Trump wanted us to cheat. We just couldn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSTY BOWERS (R), SPEAKER OF THE ARIZONA STATE HOUSE: Not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.
GABE STERLING, CHIEF OPERATIONG OFFICER FOR GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Our job from our point of view is to get the facts out, do our job, tell the truth, follow the Constitution, follow the law, and defend the institutions. And the institutions held.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, just followed the law, followed the Constitution. And at the end of the day, President Trump came up short. But I had to be faithful to the Constitution. And that's what I swore an oath to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And, Jake, that's what you heard repeatedly from the state officials saying look, we were sympathetic to Donald Trump. We are Republicans. We kept looking. It was not there.
We would not break our oaths. We would not break the law, and the committee says that's what they're trying to piece together, the Trump next hearing will be about the Justice Department. We heard about the fake electors today, the pressure on Mike Pence, so on and so forth.
The committee's point is Donald Trump kept being told no, kept being told the facts don't support your case, and he kept looking for people to help him cheat.
TAPPER: Yeah. John King, thanks so much.
So, what we heard was corrupt, what we heard was immoral, what we heard was unethical, but was it illegal? That's what where want to know. Was any of this illegal?
Let's talk to our panel right now.
Carrie Cordero, let me start with you because we heard testimony from the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that seemed to put Trump directly in the area of the conspirators when it came to this scheme of fraudulent electors.
Take a listen to the Republican National Committee Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states. I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them, but my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that role.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So just to translate, she's saying there that Donald Trump as president turned the call over with Republican National Committee operatives to Mr. Eastman and Eastman gave this scheme that had no basis in the Constitution, and may even have been illegal. Is that evidence of criminality?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that it is. I think the committee has really brought out new pieces of evidence, and what they're doing is tying it together to present what could potentially be a case for conspiracy to defraud the United States, which is a broad conspiracy.
And I went back and I looked, Jake, at the U.S. manual, the DOJ manual that governs this. There was one part that stuck out to me today because it says it is illegal for individuals to interfere with the lawful government functions by deceit, craft, or trickery. Trickery, and when I was listening to the testimony today, and the evidence that was drawn out, it was that piece of it, that it was trickery, that it was means that were dishonest.
When you think about Rusty Bowers testimony, everything about his testimony was honesty. It was that he was there to uphold Arizona law, that he was there to uphold the constitution. He came across as just such an incredibly credible and honest person, doing his job.
And everything that the committee has presented that the Trump campaign was doing and that the lawyers who were working on behalf of the former president were doing was dishonest. And that's where I think they really bring the case around to the conspiracy part.
TAPPER: What do you think?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, what these witnesses do is they eliminate Trump's ability to say, well, I didn't know what Rudy was doing. I didn't know what Eastman was doing. They were not acting at my direction.
It's a bit like the mob boss's dilemma, right? You never want -- the mob boss never wants to get personally involved because he wants to maintain that arm's length from the bad things happening. But the dilemma is if he doesn't get personally involved, things don't always happen the way he wants them to. In this case, it appears that Trump gave in. He couldn't help but get
on the phone call to hand it over to Eastman. He couldn't help but get on the phone call to try to pressure Brad Raffensperger because he knew it's his personal involvement would put the most pressure on those people, would convey his imprimatur of this is what I, the president, want you to do, and it's that sort of involvement that could get him in a lot of trouble down the road.
TAPPER: And that's what Adam Schiff, the congressman on the committee who led some of the proceedings today, that's what he referred to when I asked him about this. He said it's the imprimatur. It's the idea that Trump gets on the call with Raffensperger, Trump gets on the call with Ronna McDaniel. Trump gets on the call with Rusty Bowers who to put his imprimatur, his stamp of approval, this is what I want.
And you say you think it actually is potentially criminal?
CORDERO: I think that the committee is really, really moving the case with each hearing towards that. I do.
And I think we have to really thank the Georgia officials. The country needs to thank the Georgia officials who presumably recorded that call. And the committee's effectiveness in going through today and going through the call piece by piece, line by line, so people can hear the call and the pressure that was just constantly placed in the context of everything else that was going on with respect to the plan to put the fake electors in, in different states, the pressure that was being placed on other officials as well.
TAPPER: Right, and there was actually a prosecution investigation right now, I think a grand jury investigation going on in Fulton County, in Georgia, about that specific phone call.
I want to play this call with the auditor in Georgia. Here's Trump talking to her. That was also played today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You know, it's you have the most important job in the country right now, because if we win Georgia, first of all, if we win, you're going to have two wins. They're not going to win right now, you know. They're down, because the people of Georgia are so angry at what happened to me. They know I won. Won by hundreds of thousands of votes, it wasn't close.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: There's no world in which it's appropriate for a president to have that phone call with the auditor of Georgia, but is that illegal? Have you heard any of the things that Trump has said to Raffensperger or to the auditor or to others that sound enough like a threat? It's one -- if you talked about mobsters, and Rusty Bowers referred to the book, the gang that couldn't shoot straight, which is a Jimmy Breslin novel about incompetent mobsters, but there really is the same kind of like, it's a nice business you have here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it tone to a lot of these conversations. MCCABE: Plain and simple, it's coercion, right? He gets on that call,
and he says to this woman, this auditor who spent her life working for the state of Georgia, never, ever, ever imagined she would be talking to a president of the United States, and he starts out by saying to her, you have the most important job in the country right now. It's like the setup for the pressure, right?
So now, she gets off that call feeling the full weight of the presidency of the United States on everything that she's doing. And it's absolutely clear from the call what the result that he wants her to reach.
Is it specifically criminal? I'm not sure. DOJ would have to do a little more work on that one. But is it coercion? There's no question it's coercion, and it's absolutely inappropriate.
Coming up next, John Dean and Carl Bernstein are going to share their takes on today's hearing through the prism of Watergate.
Back in a moment.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
A cancer, that is how January 6th Committee member, Congressman Adam Schiff described Donald Trump's election lies. It also echoes perhaps the most famous line from the Watergate hearings about a cancer growing on the presidency.
We have with us right now the man who said those words, former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean.
Also with us, veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, whose reporting with Bob Woodward, of course, uncovered the Watergate scandal.
I want to play something that Arizona house speaker Rusty Bowers said during his very moving testimony today. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOWERS: And I said, look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it, and I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona, and this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me. And I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys. You're asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Carl Bernstein, let me ask you something. Was that a John Dean moment, do you think?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think we're there yet. It was a moment of great integrity. It was a moment at which we see in fact what Liz Cheney said in her closing statement. There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.
TAPPER: She said that to all her --
BERNSTEIN: To the Republicans who have not gone along with this investigation and tried to shut it down and tried to ignore it.
What we're watching in this hearing is not just -- we didn't just have an attack on democracy. What this hearing is about is the future of democracy. There's a lot riding on it, and it's not at all evident that this is going to turn out well.
That Republicans are going to do the right thing, as happened in the Watergate hearings and after, which John Dean testified. Because, in Watergate, there was overwhelming evidence, overwhelming evidence of the president's criminality and how massive a conspiracy it was.
This conspiracy, we know from these hearings, is every bit as massive as Watergate was. Whether or not the president of the United States, whether you can prove intent, whether Merrick Garland has enough to go on to indict a president, former president, we don't know that yet, but the nature of the conspiracy, constitutional criminality, criminality in the laws of the country, a conspiracy to defraud the American people. It is there.
And if Republicans can't do what happened in Watergate, the Republicans are the people who pushed Richard Nixon from office. We have no evidence whatsoever that Republicans in Congress are going to respond to this, and they're going to be indeed where Liz Cheney said they are.
TAPPER: So, John Dean, you were the White House counsel during Nixon, and right now, Trump's White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, is as far as we know, not willing to testify. We heard vice chair of the committee, Liz Cheney, make basically a public plea for Pat Cipollone, your successor, a few generations removed as White House counsel.
What do you make of all that?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we need a Pat Cipollone moment. I truly do.
Here's somebody who has, to my knowledge, sworn oath and allegiance to the Constitution, at least three times. He certainly did when he took the job of White House counsel. He did when he was admitted to the bar twice under Illinois and District of Columbia. He has sworn to support the Constitution.
We know from case law now that a California judge looked at all of the evidence surrounding this and has found one lawyer has no attorney/client privilege protected by the norms of the practice because they're criminal activity.
TAPPER: In other words, a lawyer, just because he has attorney/client privilege, if the client was breaking the law, there's no attorney/client privilege anymore.
DEAN: That is correct. That is correct.
DEAN: And in this situation, Pat Cipollone does not represent Donald Trump either. He represents the office of the president. And I think he really has a duty to come forward, to protect democracy. He has sworn an oath to the Constitution.
Exercise it, Pat.
TAPPER: Yeah. And, let me ask you, if you're Pat Cipollone, what do you do now that Liz Cheney has called you out so publicly?
DEAN: I think there's no question, Pat, come forward. Don't hide. We need you. We need -- democracy needs you, so please come forward.
TAPPER: And one of the arguments Liz Cheney is making is that the American people have a right to hear, and from testimony we have heard Cipollone was trying to get Trump to not do this unconstitutional, potentially illegal scheme.
BERNSTEIN: In fact, there's a whole history of Cipollone and the White House trying to stop Trump from any number of schemes that border on the illegal or were illegal through the whole presidency. He's done that.
And the committee has testimony from people around Cipollone. They know largely what Cipollone has said and done. What the committee wants to do is get him out there where the people of the country and Republicans in Congress can hear it and put those Republicans in Congress on the spot, as well as show the people of this country has happened in the, quote, John Dean moment.
What it sounds like, what it looked like on the inside. You can't get that from the assistant to Pat Cipollone. You need Cipollone in there. I don't like the word theater, but you need him in there for the drama of what occurred here.
And what occurred here is dramatic in a way that the country needs to know about it and can't withstand if the country doesn't know.
TAPPER: So, in Watergate, you came forward. And then a number of other Republican senators, including Barry Goldwater, you told that great story on my show last week, and others, went to Nixon and basically said, the jig is up. It's over.
Does that exist today in today's Republican Party?
DEAN: Not likely. What's happened, Jake, in my reading of the party, is Trump has made it okay for the authoritarian personalities of the Republican Party to be authoritarian personalities. And they're not going to come forward. There are people who are not -- it just is not their instinct, it is not their inclination. So it's not going to happen.
TAPPER: John Dean and --
BERNSTEIN: Can we say for a minute they're craven?
TAPPER: They're craven?
BERNSTEIN: Indeed, indeed, that's the problem.
They know what's going on. They don't even like Trump, most of them.
TAPPER: Carl Bernstein and John Dean, an honor to have you both here. Thank you so much.
Still ahead, more in our politics lead. A man sentenced for January 6th connected crimes refuses to certify election results in New Mexico. That's right, he's also an election official. I'll talk to the state's top election official. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.