Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

New Book Reveals Trump's Team Struggled To Tell Him He Lost And Enabled His Dangerous Election Lies; New Book: Joint Chiefs Chairman Feared Trump Would Attempt A Coup; Major Victory For Britney Spears In Court Battle; Misinformation In COVID Vaccine; GOP Distorts Critical Race Theory, Sparks Panic In Schools; Tennessee Halts All Vaccine Outreach, Including For COVID-19; Feds Arrest Five Members Of A Texas Family In Connection With January 6 Riot. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 14, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): So here's the breaking news the chairman of the joint chief of staff General Mark Miley was so afraid that the then president would attempt a coup during his last weeks in office. That's according to a new book that he and other top officials made plans on how they would stop anything like that from happening.

Also tonight another explosive new book details the dysfunction and delusion inside the White House after the former president lost the election. No one would tell him the truth. But enablers like Rudy Giuliani told him that he won.

And a major court victory for Britney Spears. The judge permits her to hire her own lawyer as she battles to end the court-ordered conservatorship.

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and Ron Brownstein, I should say analysts, plural. Gentlemen, good evening to you. Thank you so much for joining. John, so let's talk about this. This is frightening.

The country's top military officer reportedly preparing to stop the then president from attempting a coup Carol Leonnig, Philip Rucker, they write about this at the chairman of the joint chiefs Mark Milley and I quote, they may try but they're not going to f-ing succeed, he told them. You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We are the guys with the guns.

Now we knew it was chaotic. But according to this, Trump would stop at nothing, nothing to stay in power. Should we be surprised? I don't know. But this is seems like it was beyond.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (on camera): I think we should be act be surprised because this is objectively shocking. There is nothing like this in all of American history, to see top generals actively concerned that the president of the United States, their commander in chief would try to execute a military coup by stoking unrest and then invoking the insurrection act.

That shows you how close we came as a democracy to the dismantling of our democracy. And it shows while the guard rails held, all those enablers in addition to Trump supporters weeks ahead of January 6th, this was going on. And so it is a stark reminder of just not how crazy things were but how dangerous things remain for our democracy and we cannot begin to normalize it. We need to strengthen those guard rails yesterday because they almost didn't hold.

LEMON: Ron, Leonnig and Rucker, write that General Milley viewed Trump as the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose. Apparently he saw parallels between Hitler's rhetoric as a victim and savior and Trump's false claims of election fraud. I mean, this is a sort of a -- this is the quote here.


It said this is a right stag moment, Milley told aids according to this book. The gospel of the Fuhrer. I mean, look, that is his comparison, it is not mine, it seems like a very harsh comparison, but it is a stunning parallel. What do you think?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC (on camera): Well, look. You see why virtually the entire Republican infrastructure and apparatus is so dead set against a more fuller understanding of what Trump did with the power of the presidency, why they are fighting a January 6th commission, why you have so many conservative columnists who have spent years trying to argue that Trump is not really an authoritarian threat as a way of excusing the choice by so many Republican elected officials to enable and excuse all of his authoritarian actions.

To me Don, this is just really underscores something we talked about before. You know, Trump may seek the power of the presidency again in 2024. And, yet, we know very little. We may have just scratched the surface about what he did with that power when he had it the first time. Our colleague John Dean said to me a few weeks ago for a story I was writing, we knew so much more about what Nixon had done when he left office than we do about Trump when he has left office.

And to me, it just underscores the need for a more comprehensive investigation and understanding, not just journalists in books or random investigations here or there of what he did with the power before he potentially asks for it again.

LEMON: OK. Listen, this is really sort of just a follow-up of what you are saying here because what's being described here is terrifying, but he is still the leader of the GOP. And as you said, he may seek the presidency again. Why isn't reporting like this giving Republicans pause?

AVLON: I think that is the key question, Don. What is it going to take? If you consider yourself a super patriot, then you have to believe in our democracy and the constitution. And as you see more and more concrete examples, not from Democrats or journalists but marine generals saying that this man was an unhinged threat to our democracy who they were concerned was contemplating a coup before the attack on our Capitol.

What's it going to take? What's it going to take to break that fever spell to have more folks grow a spine and say if that's not wrong, nothing is wrong? And we need to do better as Republicans. But we don't know, we don't hear that.

The party is still enthralled and that's why we desperately need a democracy reform movement in this country now to strengthen those guard rails, because one political party is still enthralled with somebody who the marine generals thought was going to try execute a coup d'etat against our government.

LEMON: hey, Ron, can you give me a quick answer, because I want to get a move on to the coronavirus. What do you make of this? Why aren't Republicans like pushing back?

BROWNSTEIN: In fact, we're not only not hearing that, we are hearing, you know, we are witnessing the opposite. Republicans are not only pushing -- failing to push back against Trump's authoritarian kind of evidence to trump's authoritarianism, but they are acting upon it to create more strains on democracy to undermine the rights of people to vote in right states, to create more capacity for Republican-elected officials to subvert an election in 2024.

LEMON: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: All of this is coming to a head, I think, very soon in Congress. Democrats have to decide after the Supreme Court made clear they're not going to stop what's going on. The Texas Democrats flying to Washington, it makes clear they don't have the votes in states to stop what is going on. the one lever Democrats have to do what John talk about, to reinforce the guard rails of democracy is their ability to pass national legislation.

And we will see whether Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will continue to prioritize defending minority input in the Senate or the minority rights in the country.

LEMON: John, I just want to get to the coronavirus now. More than 99 percent of all these COVID deaths in the country are among unvaccinated people. With so many Republicans are still pushing these dangerous lies about the vaccine. The White House is trying to push back on this disinformation. The president talking about that today. But how?

AVLON: Well, I mean, simply I hope by appealing to a sense of patriotic urgency in the face of a pandemic and making these folks realize --


LEMON: Wait. Have you met our Republican Party? Have you been asleep for the last two years as we had the coronavirus?

(CROSSTALK) AVLON: But the real deal is that we have a red state/blue state

vaccine divide. And it is going to get increasingly deadly in the days and weeks ahead. So those folks who are spreading this disinformation, are that conservative conspiracy theories stuff is going to kill their own supporters. Solely for the goal of owning the (inaudible). That's how sick it is right now.

LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. I'll see you soon. Thanks so much.

Now I want to bring in Wall Street Journal's White House reporter Michael Bender. Michael is the author of the explosive new book, Frankly, we did win this election. The inside story of how Trump lost. Michael, good evening to you.


LEMON: How I have waited for this moment.


BENDER: I have been looking forward to it.

LEMON: I really have -- I had been watching all your interviews and said, when do I get my chance with Michael. So here it is.


Thank you for appearing on this program. Your book lays out the incredible dysfunction inside the Trump White House after the election that no one wanted to tell him that he had lost the election.

And you write that in part and I quote, Pence, Stepien, and Ronna told themselves that they were being respectful of the president and giving him the kind of space that he required to blow off steam after an undoubtedly crushing defeat on the biggest stage in politics.

But they were also unwittingly creating an opening for Giuliani and the most dangerous elements inside Trump world, a horrifying nexus of sycophants and sociopaths who were willing to say anything and cross every line to keep Trump in power, and their own feet in the door.

BENDER: Right.

LEMON: So his advisers had confronted Trump, right, with the truth, do you think the insurrection could have been prevented? Do you think the big lie could have been prevented?

BENDER: I mean, it is a fair question here, and it is a real failure of imagination from the people closest to Trump in the White House at the campaign to believe what Trump had been telling all of us for five years, that he was never going to lose. It would always be fraud. Other politicians were not to be trusted. Courts were not to be listened to. He would never -- he would always be acquitted. He would never fade away. I mean, this is what he had been telling us since 2016. And I think

what this book does and lays out in -- in a way that we knew about the chaos at the White House, this shows the -- how many officials thought Trump was dangerous for the country.

Back in June, he told his team that he wanted to shoot peaceful protesters. By the end of the 2020, his Secretary of State was worried Trump might try to start a war to stay hold -- to stay in office.

LEMON: Hid the (inaudible) for Michael as he is talking about the (inaudible). Let me just put the (inaudible). You said the crazies have taken over. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned a colleague, he conveyed concern to others that Mr. Trump might be more willing to engage in an international conflict to strengthen his political argument for remaining in office. That is horrifying. I mean, why didn't anybody speak up? Go on, sorry.

BENDER: Well, no. I mean, it is a fair question. I mean, Pompeo did speak up. He told us all that Trump was going to have a peaceful transition to a second term after the election. So there is a real dichotomy here. I think the -- how worried some of these staffers were and advisers were back in June and during COVID where he was a risk to his own health and as well as to the country, you know, and then we got to the point, Don, where Republicans, senior Republicans in the Party, senior staffers at the Republican Party didn't vote for Trump.

But somehow after the election, everyone kind of took a step back and just assumed that -- that because Trump wasn't screaming and fording at the mouth as some of them have described this president in the days after the election that he was going to find his own way to concede. I mean, Ivanka Trump had left some staffers in the White House with the impression that her father was going to invite Joe Biden into the White House for transition meetings just like Obama had done for him.

LEMON: Yeah, right. That was never going to happen. You said senior officials in the administration didn't vote for him, right?

BENDER: At the Republican Party.

LEMON: The Republican Party, OK. Got it. Got it. Michael, listen, this is important because you wrote about Trump's reaction to that horrific video of George Floyd's killing.


LEMON: And I quote here again, I know these f-ing cops, Trump said, recalling stories he heard growing up in Queens about savage police tactics. They can get out of control sometimes.

They can be rough. Trump's assessment struck some in the room as surprisingly critical, a police and the president showed a level of empathy for Floyd behind closed doors that he would never fully reveal in public. So of course we never saw that side of Trump. In fact we saw the opposite. Why is that?

BENDER: From my reporting and talking to people around him, the -- he very quickly takes this personally. You know, even watching the video, Don, it takes him a couple of days to see the video. And he never watches it fully through. And, you know, we have seen moments of him throughout the administration where he's very moved by images, right?

We have seen him make decisions internationally after seeing war zones where children are maimed. He's a very visceral person. So he sees this, and he reacts, he has an emotional reaction but very quickly takes it personally and sees the protest which are obviously an outpouring of years of, you know, the black Americans having to walk with racial indignities, face, you know, racism on a daily basis in the country and finally, you know, just cracking open in the streets of America.


Somehow that Trump internalizes that as a protest against him and he views that as making him look weak somehow, and that's really what guides the decisions in the response to those protests.

LEMON: Just a quick answer.


LEMON: Does he still have yes men and women all around him now? It's that what's happening?

BENDER: Well, I mean that's how Trump operates, right? I mean, the -- as long as you -- if you push back, you are only going to last so long around him.

LEMON: OK. Another quick answer because you spent a lot of time with the people who are out there, his supporters. Some of them had quit their jobs. They believe anything that he says. Others sort of -- I don't know, I would think like a lot of (inaudible) or some sort of attraction. I don't mean that in a sexual way, but there is something, some sort of pull that he has on them that is quite odd even when he lies to them, they love it. What did you learn about these folks?

BENDER: Well, I do think there is a real sense of community for a lot of these folks.

LEMON: Is it because he'll say whatever they want to hear that reinforces their beliefs or I don't know? Go on, sorry.

BENDER: No, these are fair questions. It's a little nuance for everybody, but these are folks who, you know, recently -- trying to fill time in their days, right. I mean, I spent time with people who went to 30, 40, 50 rallies and they formed their own community, not unlike, you know, a grateful dead following where they stay at each other's house along the way.

And in a lot of ways, the president enriched their lives, made them, emboldened them to speak up for themselves at work in ways they hadn't before. But what we see, by the end of the year, is they're just misled and their words are shrunk again. After November 7th when the election is called by Fox News, the network that had been the kind of background music for a lot of them, they turn it off, right?

I mean, their news inputs shrink and you know, they go to the rallies. Why? Because to hear what the news is from Trump as one of these rally goers told me, how else would we know what's going on?

LEMON: Boy. Well, hard to feel sorry for that, especially with adults. But oh well. Thank you sir. Michael, I'm so glad that you're here. Please come back. And good luck to your book. Congratulations.

BENDER: Thank you very much.

LEMON: OK, thank you. We have got new developments tonight on a story that we have been following. The manufactured outrage over Critical Race Theory. Parents all across the country are up in arms even though the theory isn't taught to children and it is not about hating white people. Next we are going to talk to a school board official who is getting death threats over something that is not even happening.



LEMON: So we have been covering this for a while now. And we are going to continue our coverage with the manufactured outrage over Critical Race Theory. Last night we brought you an in-depth investigation from CNN's Sara Sidner. This is just a clip of it, but here it is.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's become a political rallying cry.

(CROWD CHANTING): Shame on you! Shame on you!

UNKNOWN: Critical Race Theory is bigoted. It is a lie. And it is every bit as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.

SIDNER: But Critical Race Theory or CRT is not a new idea. The theory's origins actually date back to the 1970s.

UNKNOWN: Real evil was racism, the determination of white America to remain dominant over black Americans. And that could take all kinds of forms.

SIDNER: Harvard's first tenured black law professor, the late Derek Bell (ph) is considered one of the originators of the academic study.

UNKNOWN: Both history, my experience, current events as we read them all point to one conclusion about racism in this society. And that is that it is permanent. That it is an essential. It is not an aberration.

SIDNER: At least the encyclopedia Britannica defines Critical Race Theory as race is a socially constructed category used to oppress people of color. And the law in legal institutions are inherently racist because they have functioned to create and then maintain social, economic and political inequalities between whites and non- whites.


LEMON: So and a Virginia school board meeting one of the contentious moments in Sara's story was covered by our team, this was back in June. Here is some of that. It was from Boris Sanchez. Watch this.


UNKNOWN: Don't leave. We came here to say that is our house. Everyone can stay.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tempers flaring in Loudoun County, Virginia last night. As competing groups squared off when the public was allowed to comment. Though CRT was not on the agenda, the board had plans to discuss a policy impacting rights of transgender and gender expensive (ph) students. The crowd growing agitated about both, boiling out of control with intimidation and interruptions.

UNKNOWN: People were screaming. They were cursing. They were throwing things at the school board.

UNKNOWN: So please respect each other and let everyone have their turn at the mic.

UNKNOWN: This is your last and final warning.


LEMON: Well, since then, the situation is getting even more volatile. The school board official you saw there, she is getting death threats. She's hear to talk about. Brenda Sheridan, Loudoun County, Virginia School Board chair. Welcome back to the show. Thank you so much, Brenda.


BRENDA SHERIDAN, LOUDOUN COUNTY, VIRGINIA SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR (on camera): Thank you, Don. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: I'm so sorry this is happening to you. Yes, I'm so sorry this is happening to you. It's been almost a month since we had you on, since the drama at a school board meeting. How have things been for you since then?

SHERIDAN: I would -- troubling, concerning and at the same time just making it more important that we continue our practice of diversity of inclusion at Loudoun County public schools and that it is something we absolutely we need to do.

The e-mails that we received as board members and a lot of -- I have a stack of letters sitting next to me at my desk that highlight the racism and bigotry that is live and well, not just in Loudoun County but across the country. I received letters from people across the country pretty hateful towards me but also just highlighting their bigotry and racism.

LEMON: So you tell parents, OK, I'm going to be very clear. You tell parents that Critical Race Theory is not being taught in classrooms but you say nobody believes you. I mean, why is that? You are the chair of the school board?

SHERIDAN: Don, CRT is the big lie of education. It is being used to divide our county and divide our country. This is happening in school board meeting rooms across the country. I have been reached out to by so many different people. I'm so really grateful for that that are in this with us. And we're just the ones being highlighted because of probably our locality being so close to D.C.

But our County is divided. Just as our country was divided under the previous administration. We have professional agitators using students as pawns to win the Virginia Governor's race. People keep asking me if I think it will die down over the summer and you know, we get back to school five days a week.

And what I really believe is that it will continue and people will continue to use nonissues to raise and garner support from uninformed voters through our mid-term elections and all the way through the next presidential election. This isn't going away.

LEMON: People who are outraged over what they call Critical Race Theory say things like white students are being told that they are evil. Can you set the record straight? What kind of conversations are teachers and students really having about race? And at what ages?

SHERIDAN: So you can have a conversation about being inclusive with any grade level. You can have a conversation about how you can listen to the student sitting next to you and professional development for our teachers in all grade levels that when they call on a student and a student perhaps is misbehaving to find out why.

So if you are going to look at my file who is white and treat them differently than a student of color or a special education student, we need to know that -- we need to teach our teachers and our school staff that they have biases and not to be ashamed of your biases but to recognize them and reflect on them.

So that when you do look at those three students who may be exhibiting the same behaviors or may not be turning in their homework, if you are going to ask one student, oh, is something wrong, but you are going to discipline the other students, you have a bias. And to just look at that before you make those decisions in the classroom or if you send a student to the principal's office.

Our discipline disproportionality is there. We know it exists. We have addressed it over the years that I have been on the board. In the 10 years we have made huge leaps and bounds in that area, but we still have work to do. There is so much work to do.

And like I said, the letters and the threats and the outrage and the use of the n word in some of the e-mails I'm getting, it's astounding to me because I really think previously it wasn't acceptable to send e-mails like that and to be a keyboard warrior. And it is all of a sudden acceptable to bring that back to the light and to highlight your own bigotry.

And if I could just read the last two sentences of a letter I received today that says BLM and CRT is not what the American people want. So the school board in Loudoun County had better be careful. One last thing, if blacks aren't careful, a race war could start in the United States and blacks will come out on the short end of this stick. Somebody wrote that to me and I'm astounded by it that in 2021 we're still addressing this.

LEMON: Listen, I'm sorry that happened to you. I wish I could say that I'm astounded, I mean, but as you can probably imagine being someone in the public eye, it is actually not surprising, especially over the past five years.


LEMON: There has been legitimacy lent to the bigots in this country, and they have come out of the woodwork, because of the lies that you have told. And it's sad that the folks who you have come in contact in all over the country, they are limiting their children -- their children's growth with this sort of attitude.

Thank you very much. Good luck to you. Be safe. Be safe.

SHERIDAN: Thank you.

LEMON: All right.


LEMON: So Britney Spears getting a key win in court today and celebrating after. So, the major step to freedom she is taking, we'll talk about that, next. Look at her doing cartwheels.




LEMON: Tonight, a major court victory for Britney Spears in her ongoing battle to end the conservatorship that has run her life and finances for nearly 13 years. A judge is allowing her to hire her own lawyer, who is immediately calling for Spear's father, Jamie, to be removed as her conservator. Spears is also telling the judge during today's emotional hearing that she wants her father to be charged with conservatorship abuse.

Let's discuss with Lisa MacCarley, a California estate and probate attorney. Lisa, thank you very much.


LEMON: Do you want to get that? (LAUGHTER)


LEMON: Tell them to call you back. I'm talking to Don Lemon on CNN. I'll call you back.

MACCARLEY: I had been sitting here in blank silence for two hours.


LEMON: Murphy's law. That's how it happens. Thank you. I appreciate you joining us. So listen. Britney Spears is one step closer to freedom. She now has her own lawyer, former prosecutor Matthew Rosengart. It is a huge development. So can you explain how significant this is in her fight to end this conservatorship?

MACCARLEY: It is extremely significant, and I'm so happy that the court recognized that Britney Spears has now and always was supposed to be represented by an attorney of her own choice.

The manner in which the conservatorship was initially established has always been quite troubling to me because, as we now know, Britney attempted to hire an attorney to represent her and resist at the very least the appointment of her father as her conservator.

Thirteen years later, she clearly expressed how unhappy she has been. She feels like she has been traumatized and abused. So, I'm very pleased with this development. It is consistent with her right to a fair process and a fair hearing. So, it was a good day for Britney Spears.

LEMON: It was -- as you said, it was an emotional day in court. She wants to press charges against her father, saying, and I quote here, "I would like to charge my father with conservatorship abuse. I want to press charges against my father today. I want an investigation into my dad."

How do you see that playing out? I mean, you know, how your clients handle situation like this? Have they ever been in this situation like this?

MACCARLEY: You know, the greatest irony is that we in the probate court reform advocate side often say that it is more -- it is easier to abuse a conservatee than any other person and that is because the process really doesn't have checks and balances.

The real question is, why hasn't the court listened to her all of these years and why didn't her court appointed lawyer take any action? At the end, after Mr. Spears is removed as her conservator, she certainly has the right to file claims for breach of fiduciary duty and for intentional or negligent infliction of harm.

I generally do not recommend to people that they go to law enforcement because the standards of evidence are so much more difficult. And to be honest, law enforcement mostly does not understand and they don't have the tools for dealing with abuse of conservatees. They consider it to be a civil matter.

So, I don't see it becoming a criminal matter, but I do think that she has excellent claims for breach of fiduciary duty, infliction of emotional harm, and so forth, not just against Jaime Spears but to the extent that anyone was -- knew about this abuse. People on the side might be held liable as well.

LEMON: Hmmm. Lisa, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us. And you can call those folks back now. Tell them I said hi.



LEMON: Thank you. So, politics over public health. Tennessee stopping all vaccine outreach for kids. Not just coronavirus vaccines, all vaccines, ones that have saved lives for decades. Stay with us.




LEMON: Coronavirus is up across 47 states right now. The country averaging nearly 24,000 new cases a day. That's a 75 percent jump from just last week, largely fueled by young, unvaccinated people.

But Tennessee is taking the anti-vaccine insanity to a new level, okay, now ditching all vaccine outreach for children. Not just for the coronavirus vaccine, all vaccine outreach. Vaccines that have been integral to preventing some pretty horrific diseases that have again, thanks to vaccines, been largely eradicated in this country. Know your history.

Joining me now to lay down some historical facts is Dr. William Schaffner. He is the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Doctor, thank you. I appreciate you joining us.

So, let's talk about this. Dr. Michelle Fiscus was Tennessee's top vaccine official and was fired this week for apparently doing her job and encouraging people to get vaccinated.


LEMON: You are there in Nashville. What do the state's actions going do to public health in your estimation?

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, that has been a big shock, Don. Of course, I'm a member of Michelle Fiscus's fan club. She was one of the best immunization program directors of any state in the country. She was straight down the middle of the road, non-political, did things right, enormously diligent and very popular. She had the respect of all the providers out there.

So, this is a blow to the program. Furthermore, as you suggest, all of the sudden the state health department, under pressure from state legislatures, has pulled in its effort to try to get children and adolescents vaccinated in preparation for school.

You know there has been a great deficit in vaccinations of infants, children, and adolescents because of the COVID time when we weren't seeing doctors. We have to make that up now. We want to raise the rates once again. And of course, we have COVID vaccine also. These efforts will be very substantially impaired in our state. I am not sure what is going to happen, but I am not happy about it.

LEMON: Yeah. I apologize to the doctor for mispronouncing her name on the prompter. I don't know why I said Ficus. It just looked like Ficus in the prompter.

But anyways, modern vaccines have been with us since the 1940s, doctor. But the concept behind vaccines has been in use since at least the 1700s, when doctors would inoculate people against smallpox. I mean, that's hundreds of years of vaccines. History would read a lot differently if we did not have vaccines. Am I correct?

SCHAFFNER: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, German measles, you name it. I mean, I could give you an even longer list. It is really quite clear that we have made growing up and being an adult so much safer. You know, there is -- my simple formula: disease bad, vaccines good.

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

SCHAFFNER: There's absolutely no doubt that vaccines have had -- they were one of the great achievements of medicine and public health in the last century and they are poised to have an even larger role in this, the 21st century.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. Well, it looks like you're holding up well. I hope that is indeed true. Dr. Schaffner, it's always a pleasure. Thank you.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.

LEMON: We will be right back.




LEMON (on camera): So, get a load of this. Five members of one Texas family are the latest to be arrested in connection with the January 6th insurrection. Prosecutors say they drove up to Washington and posted extensively on social media about their involvement in the Capitol attack.

More tonight from CNN's Jessica Schneider. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

UNKNOWN (on camera): There is a tense situation going on.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Video captured inside the Capitol looking out at the massive crowd below was one of the clues federal investigators zeroed in on, before they arrested this family of five from Texas for illegally entering the Capitol building.

The complaint identifies the group as a nuclear family.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hey, where is the Senate floor?

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): With the man who appears to be the patriarch, Tom Munn, spotted roaming the Capitol halls in this video that was streamed online, according to investigators.

Their family posed for a Facebook post with a woman who appears to be Tom's partner, Dawn Munn, second from the left, and their three children, Kayleigh, Kristi, Josh, plus an unidentified minor. The caption saying, Washington, D.C., here we come, hashtag, stop the steal.

Investigators say Tom Munn posted about January 6th the week before with this image of then-President Trump and a caption promoting the march to the Capitol. Munn also wrote, our president has only asked two things from us. So far, number one, vote, number two, January 6th, 2021.

Tom Munn then allegedly boasted about his involvement on Facebook, January 6th, writing, wow, made it back to the hotel, have lots of pics and videos to follow. Daughter, Kristi, is identified in the criminal complaint as this woman with a blue-Trump 2020 flag draped across her back.

The feds say all five climbed through a Capitol window around 2:25 p.m. that day. Surveillance footage near the Capitol Visitor Center shows all five moving through the building. And it turns out, it was a person connected to their family who turned them in.

The criminal complaint details how a relative of Kristi Munn's fiance contacted the FBI three days after the insurrection, providing pictures from her Facebook and Snapchat accounts. Three of the Munn children's former high school and college teachers also helped to identify them to the FBI.

JACKSON REFFITT, FATHER ARRESTED AFTER CAPITOL HILL RIOT: It just felt like the right thing, regardless of my emotions and how I felt and how much I loved my family and my dad.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It isn't the first time a family member has turned on participants in the January 6th insurrection. The son of Guy Reffitt talked to FBI agents about his father's involvement.

Prosecutors say Reffitt is a member of the Texas Three Percenters group, an extremist paramilitary group, who allegedly drove to D.C. and entered the Capitol in body armor and carrying plastic-cuff restraints. Reffott has pleaded not guilty. His son says Reffitt threatened him and his sister if they went to police.


REFFITT: I didn't think he would actually do anything bad, but him saying anything, even remotely threatening to me and my sister and my family and government officials, it was just too much.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): We reached out to an attorney for the Munn family, but they are among a handful of Capitol defendants who have been charged alongside immediate family members.

In this case, though, there was at least one Munn family member who did not travel to Washington, D.C. Investigators say Kelsey Munn (ph) was not at the Capitol January 6th. But the FBI did review her social media accounts for information since she posted about the insurrection. Don.


LEMON (on camera): Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

And I want to make sure that you know about our exclusive CNN town hall with President Joe Biden. I am moderating and it is live. It is next Wednesday night at 8:00. So make sure you tune in.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.