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Don Lemon Tonight
Filmmaker Interviewed By January 6th Committee; Alex Holder Believes Donald Trump Is Partly To Blame; Donald Trump Tried To Use DOJ To His Benefit; Members Of Congress Asked For Pardon; Ivanka Trump's Statements Not Consistent. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
A firsthand account from the witness who gave dramatic closed-door testimony to the January 6th committee today.
ALEX HOLDER, FILMMAKER: This is the sitting President of the United States saying this in the White House, and that was actually very scary.
LEMON: You've used the words frightening and scary. you were frightened? But those are strong words.
HOLDER: Yes, of course I was, absolutely.
LEMON: In the capitol, revelations on the plot to overturn the election. What the president told the DOJ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: What I'm just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A nutty conspiracy theory about Italian satellites that reached the highest levels of the government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): The completely baseless conspiracy theory that an Italian defense contractor uploaded software to a satellite that switched votes from Trump to Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Members of Congress angling for pardons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KINZINGER: The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you've committed a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And brand-new tonight, my interview with Alex Holder, the documentary filmmaker who testified to the committee behind closed doors this morning and turned over hours of his footage. You're going to hear him tell me that the committee was especially interested in inconsistencies between what Ivanka Trump told them and what she told him.
But minutes before air time, we received this raw footage, an outtake from the documentary now seen for the first time on CNN. I want you to listen closely because this is the footage and the content that Alex Holder tells me the committee questioned him about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I think that as the president has said, every single vote needs to be counted and needs to be heard, and he campaigned for the voiceless. And I think a lot of Americans feel very, very disenfranchised right now and really questions the sanctity of our elections. And that's not right. It's not acceptable. And he has to take on this fight.
Look, you fight for what you love the most, and he loves this country, and he loves this country's people. And he wants to make sure that their voice is -- is heard and not muted and will continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted, and that's what he should do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The documentary is airing on Discovery+, CNN's sister company. Discovery provided the clips to CNN. Now, here's my interview with Alex Holder.
HOLDER: How are you, sir?
LEMON: How are you?
HOLDER: I'm doing excellent.
LEMON: Good to see you. Don Lemon. Alex, thank you for doing this.
HOLDER: Pleasure. LEMON: I really appreciate it.
LEMON: So, you spent your whole day being interviewed, or most of the day earlier being interviewed by the January 6th committee. How do you feel?
HOLDER: It's been a pretty interesting day. It's sort of not a standard day in the office.
LEMON: You spent the whole day with them. I want to know what their questions were focused on. What was the focus of their questions?
HOLDER: So, I think -- I don't really want to go into too much detail about the committee because I think it might sort of interfere with what they're doing, and I wouldn't want to be seen as sort of compromising their investigation.
LEMON: So, without going into specifics -- I know you don't want to go into specifics about questions. I mean, we do this all the time. What was the focus of their questions?
HOLDER: I think the focus was on the material that we had captured on January 6th and also on some of the interviews as well, some of the interviews that I had with the Trump family.
LEMON: What were they most interested in today because you spent hours and hours with the Trump family, with Trump associates, with the former president, with the former vice president. So, what were they most interested in about the time that you spent with them?
HOLDER: I think they were interested in them talking about the election and about whether the election had any irregularities and also their comments, if any, on January 6th.
LEMON: Did you -- was there anything -- because there's a lot of -- I'm sure there's a lot that was left on the editing room floor, right? Because you only have a certain amount of time to put a documentary together. You don't have forever.
LEMON: Was there anything that they were interested in that does not appear in the documentary?
HOLDER: Yes. So, I mean, the main one being there's sort of a -- the first part of the Ivanka Trump's sort of reaction to her father's position on the election is in the documentary, but there's another part of it that didn't make it into the documentary, and they were interested in her entire sort of piece on that particular point.
LEMON: Inconsistencies perhaps because she says one thing to her father. She says another thing to the committee and perhaps something different in your documentary. Were they focused on possible inconsistencies from Ivanka Trump?
HOLDER: I think so, yes.
LEMON: How so?
HOLDER: I think they would just -- they wanted to understand exactly when that particular interview took place and how it came about, and I think they -- well, I think quite a few people think there's some sort of inconsistency between -- between what she said to the committee and what she said to me.
LEMON: Are there other inconsistencies with either Ivanka Trump or other people that they were interested in?
HOLDER: Not -- no, not during that meeting today, no.
LEMON: Not today. Just Ivanka Trump?
HOLDER: Specifically on that point, yes.
LEMON: Let's talk about Ivanka Trump. One of the clips in the documentary, at one point you're interviewing the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and the president himself after they lost the November election, but they were contesting the results. Here it is. Watch this.
ANNE APPLEBAUM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: They thought because people showed up to their rallies, that meant they were popular. The idea that other people might be sitting at home feeling differently about it seems not to have occurred to them. They genuinely thought that must be true.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We won Georgia. We won Michigan. We won Pennsylvania. We won them all.
I. TRUMP: As the president has said, every single vote needs to be counted and needs to be heard, and he campaigned for the voiceless.
UNKNOWN: It's interesting to see Ivanka Trump say that her father wanted every vote to be counted because Trump's mission in the days after the election was to stop the counting of votes.
ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: The reality is people in this country were getting multiple ballots in the mail. There are thousands and thousands of people who are voting in multiple states.
UNKNOWN: There's no evidence whatsoever of the voter fraud they're claiming.
UNKNOWN: But after weeks of trying to overturn the results of the election, his legal team has come up with nothing.
UNKNOWN: So far, they've lost 30 cases.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I would love to release all the information that I have. I would love to give it to you all except most of you wouldn't cover it.
TRUMP: All of the legal documents and everything else, it's not even a contest, but you still need a judge that has courage, and so far, we haven't found that judge.
LEMON: I want to make sure that I get what Ivanka Trump said correctly because she's changed her story a couple times. The interview took place in December.
LEMON: CNN is reporting that Ivanka Trump also told her father that he should, quote, "fight until every legal remedy is exhausted," but she told the committee -- and this was under oath -- that she believed the former Attorney General Bill Barr, what he said on December 1st when he said that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
So, did she say one thing to the committee in the testimony, one thing to her father when she knew her father was going to see this, and one thing to the documentary when she knew her father was going to see it.
HOLDER: Well, I don't know what she said to her father. All I know is what she said to me, and clearly there's a difference between the position that she said to me and the position she gave to the -- to the committee.
LEMON: What did they ask you about that today?
HOLDER: I don't -- I don't want to go into too much detail about that.
LEMON: What -- can you give us context or at loft go into, without specifically --
HOLDER: They just asked sort of similar questions to what you just asked, which is when it took place to give sort of some background as to how it took place, where it took place, and when it took place, and whether I felt there was a difference in position. And I just made it clear that obviously I can see a difference as to what that really means outside of that is for other people to determine.
LEMON: I'll ask you again. I know you just answered, but what was your answer to them?
HOLDER: My answer is there's clearly a difference between the position she gave to me and the position that she gave to the committee.
LEMON: Do you think it was duplicitous?
HOLDER: I think other people would judge that for themselves.
LEMON: In your clip, Donald Trump is looking for a lawyer to agree with him on this. What was happening in your estimation, because you knew, behind the scenes in that moment because he's looking for a judge, I should say --
LEMON: -- he's looking for a judge in that clip to agree with him. What was happening in the moment?
HOLDER: For me, that was a moment of -- I was actually quite frightened when I heard him say that because the idea that we need to find a judge that's brave, that would agree with my position, does not sound like a sort of a Democratic sort of system, right?
I mean, judges are meant to be independent, and at that point, there had been plenty of judges that had looked at Donald Trump's and the Trump campaign's claims with respect to the election. And both judges that are on the Democrat side and judges on the Republican side, and even judges that were appointed by Trump had all concluded that none of these cases had any merit.
So, he was now trying to find one judge that agreed with his position. And this is the sitting President of the United States saying this in the White House. And that was actually very scary.
LEMON: You've used the words frightening and scary. You were frightened? But those are strong words.
HOLDER: Yes, of course, I was. Absolutely.
LEMON: Why do you say that?
HOLDER: Because this is, America is a Democratic country. I mean, you know, the idea that the President of the United States is trying to -- to break part of your Democratic system is not something that you should sort of brush off. I mean, this is -- this is a very serious thing to say.
LEMON: And this one is where Trump is talking about the people who went to the capitol, the insurrectionists.
HOLDER: Can we talk for a minute about January 6th?
TRUMP: Yes. Well, it was a sad day, but it was a day where there was great anger in our country. People went to Washington primarily because they were angry with an election that they think was rigged. A very small portion, as you know, went down to the capitol, and then a very small portion of them went in.
But I will tell you they were angry from the standpoint of what happened in the election because they're smart, and they see, and they saw what happened. And I believe that that was a big part of what happened on January 6th.
LEMON: That interview took place in March right after the -- the March after the insurrection, and he's talking about people who broke into the capitol, right? Who tried to overthrow the government, who threatened lawmakers, and he's saying that they are very smart people? Did the president say anything else in his interview about January 6th and about the insurrectionists?
HOLDER: No. That's all he said.
LEMON: He didn't talk about it at all?
HOLDER: That was his piece on January 6th.
LEMON: What -- did he not want to answer any more questions, or did you not ask him more questions about it?
HOLDER: My position was that it was sort of a staggering answer to that question, and so the idea of trying to see whether or not he may even potentially dilute his position or change it wasn't for me to do. I asked him a question. He gave me an answer. I'm not there to persuade him. Do I think he's wrong? Of course.
I think it was a tragic event, and the fact that he called them smart, and also, I thought it was very interesting was the fact that he used the word that he thought -- these people think the election was stolen and that was also quite interesting as well because why do they think that? For me, I feel that he has essentially admitted that the reason why they were there was because of the fact they believed in his position on the election.
LEMON: Did he at any point acknowledge that he lost?
HOLDER: No. And I'll tell you something, when I interviewed him for the first time in the White House about a month after the election, I had this debate with our director of photography, Michael, about whether or not the president actually believed that the election was rigged.
And I was of the opinion that of course he doesn't really believe the election was rigged. This is just sort of Donald Trump rhetoric. But after that interview when he left and I was now thinking about what had just happened, my entire position changed. He absolutely genuinely believes that he won and that the election was stolen from him.
LEMON: And in that moment you changed your mind?
HOLDER: Absolutely. I changed my mind on the point that he didn't really believe it, i.e., my conclusion was that Donald Trump genuinely believes that he won the 2020 presidential election, and that is terrifying.
LEMON: Lots more to come from that interview. When we come back, what the folks in Trump world are saying about Alex Holder's documentary and why he says they are wrong.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We're back now with more from my interview with Alex Holder, the documentary filmmaker who got behind the scenes access to team Trump and is now a key witness for the January 6th committee.
LEMON: So, in the -- in those interviews, they did not have -- we also have been told by folks in the Trump world that they had been told this was a puff, puff, puff piece and that they had nothing to worry about and that they had complete editorial control over what went out. You have denied that, right? Do you -- did they have complete editorial control or any editorial control over what was to be aired?
HOLDER: No. They have not even seen a single frame of the footage.
LEMON: Where do you think that is coming from?
HOLDER: I have no idea.
LEMON: Did you sell this to them as a puff, puff, puff piece?
HOLDER: Absolutely not.
LEMON: Do you wish you had pushed them more about January 6th?
HOLDER: No, because I think their silence speaks volumes.
LEMON: Were you surprised they agreed to do this considering what was going on at the time?
HOLDER: I mean, I think, look, at the end of the day, when we started this process, here's a guy from Britain who had been introduced to them, who doesn't have any sort of political skin in the game, and they were absolutely convinced they were going to win the election. This is sort of around about September of 2020.
So, sort of why not have someone follow them around on the campaign trail, documenting them winning the election? And so, they essentially sort of made that choice to allow us in. And what is interesting, I think, as well as why that sort of continued after the election as well, why they maintained -- why we still sort of maintained that relationship with them.
I think it was sort of partly my attitude, which is that in long form documentary, you don't need to be combative. You don't need to sort of argue and try to change the other person's position. And also, I don't need to be in the film. It's not my film. This is everyone's -- you know, everyone must see this.
I'm here to document history, to document what happened, and hopefully, you know, teach people something and show people something. And so, the idea that I'm going to try and sort of pin them down on something myself would obviously have stopped that relationship going. [22:20:01]
So, I wanted to sort of keep that relationship going, allow them to continue to give me the answers that I needed them to give me. What I don't think they fully understood was that all documentaries, at least the ones I want to make, require context.
And therefore, that context doesn't necessarily have to be provided by me arguing with them, by me debating with them and trying to change their minds about things, but that can be provided by archive. It can be provided by text. It can be provided by interviewing other journalists, which is what we did. And so, we were able to create a, I believe, a very fair portrayal of the events that took place in 2020.
LEMON: I want to play another clip. This is the one I think out of all of the clips that have been released that may be the most disturbing.
MICHAEL PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Welcome. Welcome.
HOLDER: Can you tell me the first time when the president first called you up and asked you to be on his ticket?
PENCE: Well, I got a call from a mutual friend. I was busy running for re-election as governor of Indiana. I had met Donald Trump just on two passing occasions before but didn't know him, didn't know his family.
I said I wanted to know the job description, and shortly after that, that same mutual friend called back and said, the candidate really liked your answer, and they'd like to invite you to come to Bedminster. Bring your whole family. Their family will be there. They'd like to spend the whole weekend getting acquainted. And I did play golf, not the way he does.
TRUMP: And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Look at these. These protesters are inside statuary hall.
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
UNKNOWN: This is treason.
UNKNOWN: Pence had been taken down to a bunker.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump could stop this, but instead he's on Twitter attacking Vice President Pence.
TRUMP: I think I treat people well unless they don't treat me well, in which case you go to war.
LEMON: First of all, what did you think of his comment that we go to war?
HOLDER: I mean, it was obviously -- in some ways at this point now, having met Trump a couple of times, it wasn't sort of so surprising. But it's an unusual thing to say, right? I mean, if somebody is bad to me, I want to go to war? I mean, that's not obviously that you sort of want to hear.
And I think it shows sort of a side to him or -- this particular side, I think, is something that isn't that surprising to other people. But in the context of what has happened, i.e., since he's left office, the idea that he would still maintain these positions is surprising.
LEMON: So, then what did you see that day? What did you witness, because you were there.
HOLDER: On January 6th?
HOLDER: So, the night before January 6th, I said to Michael, our D.P. I half joked and said you know he's going to get them to go march on the capitol tomorrow. And I felt that that was -- the reason I felt that was because the events that took place were the inevitable conclusion to what had happened prior.
January 6th did not happen in isolation of everything that happened prior. It needed all the things that happened prior for January 6th to take place. The idea the election was rigged. The idea that Mike Pence can change the outcome. All of this was needed to get us, to get America essentially, to this place where you have people essentially being killed and dying and trying to essentially overthrow the government. I mean that -- that is remarkable.
So that's why I thought the night before, but I wasn't 100 percent sure. But Michael and I basically made a plan to work out what we should do in the event that people started marching to the capitol. So, the idea was, is that Michael would take just his camera and I would move all the equipment because we were filming the actual rally itself on the day.
And I would move all the equipment into my car and then try and move my car as close as I could to the capitol and then sort of extricate Michael if I needed to. The plan didn't really work so well because by the time I got the car where I needed to, Michael was already sort of, right in the midst of all the events that took place.
And the footage that he captured is extraordinary. It is footage that no one has seen before. It is footage of people saying the most horrendous things about the then president-elect, now President Biden, the most horrendous things about Mike Pence, conspiracy theories and essentially absolutely believing that the reason they were there was because their election was stolen.
LEMON: Were you afraid?
HOLDER: So, I was afraid for Michael because Michael was in the midst of it. And I was afraid for the people there as well. I mean, though there was a moment where I was where there was a lot of people surrounding where I was sort of around the corner from the capitol, but I was very afraid for Michael and for those that were there at the time for sure.
LEMON: It sounds like you're saying from the planning that you did and from what you witnessed, that you believe that Donald Trump is responsible or at least in part responsible for what happened on that day.
HOLDER: He told 75 million people their vote didn't count over the course of many weeks. I mean, that was the inevitable result.
LEMON: Did the committee ask you that?
HOLDER: The committee did ask me various questions about January 6th, yes.
LEMON: So, I'll ask you again. What has this been like for you? What has today been like for you? Were you nervous today at all?
HOLDER: Look, on Monday, no one knew who I was. And you know, today, I think every single news channel in America is basically saying my name and playing the film that I've just made, and the series I just made, and I mean it's a whirlwind, and it is incredible. I am quite sort of apprehensive about what's going to happen next, but we'll see.
LEMON: What do you mean apprehensive?
HOLDER: Well, I mean, I think there are people there that don't think that I've made a fair portrayal of Donald Trump, and they're going to not be particularly happy with me, and I think that I'll have to be wary of that. At the end of the day, I think what I've done is a very fair and true approach.
My approach has been very fair and true throughout the entire -- through the entire project, and I haven't been disingenuous. I've been straightforward, and they get given the time to answer the questions as they wish, and we put them in.
LEMON: Are you concerned about your safety? Is that what you're saying?
HOLDER: Look, like I said, two days ago, no one knew who I was, and now I've got two-armed security guards outside. So, there you go.
LEMON: Do you think that you will be asked to testify publicly or anytime in the future again?
HOLDER: I'm not sure. LEMON: You don't know?
HOLDER: I don't know.
LEMON: Did they tell you to leave your options open or your calendar to possibly have to come back and speak to the committee?
HOLDER: My options are open, and I'm more than happy to comply with whatever they ask me to.
LEMON: So, if they ask you publicly, you will do it?
HOLDER: Of course.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you.
HOLDER: Thank you very much.
LEMON: I really appreciate?
LEMON: Thank you.
LEMON: Again, my thanks to Alex Holder.
Up next, the never-before-seen outtake of Ivanka Trump from Alex Holder's documentary. What it means to the committee. I've got the experts here to talk about that and today's stunning testimony about what may be the most frightening part of the plot to overturn our election.
LEMON: Filmmaker Alex Holder testifying to the January 6th committee and turning over hours of interviews and footage of then-President Trump and his family. You just heard my interview with Holder.
Joining me now, New York Times national political reporter, Astead Herndon, along with CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, and CNN political commentators S.E. Cupp and Alice Stewart. Welcome, everyone. Good to have you.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great job.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much. I thought it was fascinating. I thought he was very honest about everything, and there's more to share. So let's talk about it.
Elie, I'm going to talk with you, because there are these inconsistencies with Ivanka Trump's testimony and what she told Holder. We now have the cutting room clip of her saying that Trump should continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
I. TRUMP: I think that as the president has said, every single vote needs to be counted and needs to be heard, and he campaigned for the voiceless. And I think a lot of Americans feel very, very disenfranchised right now, and really question the sanctity of our elections. And that's not right. It's not acceptable, and he has to take on this fight.
Look, you fight for what you love the most, and he loves this country, and he loves this country's people. And he wants to make sure that their voice is -- is heard and not muted and will continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted, and that's what he should do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Elie, what happens if the committee finds more inconsistencies with Trump's children and others who testified to them?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, with any witness. There is, I think, a misperception that perjury and false statements, crimes only happen in a trial when you've put your hand on the bible and done this.
Any false statement made to any federal government or agency, whether you swear an oath on a bible or not, whether you're in front of cameras, whether you're in a courtroom, whether you're at a deposition, can be chargeable as perjury, as false statements, what lawyers call, thousand one.
That said, they're difficult charges. You need specific inconsistencies, and Ivanka Trump chose her words very carefully there. Right? She said and I jotted this down as we were watching this for the first time. Every single vote counts. Americans feel disenfranchised. We -- you know, they're questioning, Americans are questioning the sanctity of elections. You have to fight for what you love.
I don't know any of that -- what she seems to be getting at, which is I think there was fraud, but she doesn't quite say that.
LEMON: But under oath, she said, right, she said that I believed what --
HONIG: Bill Barr.
LEMON: -- Bill Barr told me.
HONIG: Right. So that's a good starting point. That part is clear. I believed there was no voter fraud. I believe Bill Barr when he said that. The other part that we just saw is very carefully hedged.
[22:34:59] It's really a bunch of generalities and cliches. We see where she's driving, but I'll tell you this. A prosecutor cannot point to a specific line Ivanka Trump just said and say, aha, right there, inconsistent, perjury.
CUPP: But if you're the committee or DOJ, aren't you pleased with the answers she gave under oath instead of this one where she was no obligation to tell the truth where they are concerned, right?
HONIG: I think where they're going to land is they probably like the answer about believing Bill Barr better, --
HONIG: -- but her credibility is zero. They're not going to bank on her for anything at this point.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You'd like to think the DOJ would be most satisfied with the honest answer and the truthful answer.
STEWART: And right now, there are so many, we don't know what it is. Another one that jumped out at me that she said in this document was, we will continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted.
Rudy Giuliani and that crew had more than 60 opportunities to produce the kraken in a court of law, and all of them came up short. Every legal remedy has been exhausted. They have done everything they possibly can to try and overturn the election or find widespread voter fraud. It has not happened because it is not there. Yet they continue to push this narrative that the election was --
LEMON: You're so compelling to speak about it, but I'd like to move on with the other testimony today.
ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Go ahead. Go ahead.
LEMON: You're good at that --
HERNDON: It's your show.
LEMON: I just want to know, because you may be like, no, no, wait, wait. I just want to make sure I give you the opportunity.
HERNDON: No, no, go ahead.
LEMON: Let's talk about the other testimony today because that was compelling as well. The former acting deputy attorney -- I mean, woo.
CUPP: Woo, boy.
LEMON: Acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue brought written notes that clearly showed Trump's attempted weaponization of the DOJ. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KINZINGER: Let's take a look at another one of your notes. You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump, quote, "DOJ can't and won't snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election." How did the president respond to that, sir?
DONOGHUE: He responded very quickly and said, essentially, that's not what I'm asking you to do. What I'm just asking to you do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I mean it is astounding that he is saying this to a top DOJ official. Elie, to you before we get to Astead. Is this criminal behavior?
HONIG: I mean, to me, that line, just say there was fraud, that is the crux of what you would be looking at if you were thinking of charging obstruction of justice or conspiracy to draw the United States. And by the way, there's no real question in my mind that he said it. You have Richard Donoghue a very credible witness who took contemporaneous notes while he's on that phone call. We have -- you've seen his handwritten notes.
So, I don't have any question that Donald Trump said that. And that's the whole point. Just say it. Just say it.
CUPP: And then we'll fix it.
HONIG: Yes. And then we'll do the rest.
LEMON: Astead, you know, there was witness after witness who testified about Trump's hand fist approach attempting to change the results of the 2020 election. This is the former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen discussing a January 3rd meeting where Trump pushes for the DOJ lawyer and Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark to take over the department. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: He looked at me and underscored, well, the one thing we know is you're not going to do anything. You don't even agree that the concerns that are being presented are valid, and here's someone who has a different view. So, why shouldn't I do that, you know? That's how the discussion then proceeded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: DOJ officials repeatedly debunked every bogus claim he gave them. This was all about putting someone in place to carry out his bidding. Astead?
HERNDON: Exactly. And that's the president's own words. I mean, he does not care about the impact obviously ethic-wise, democracy-wise. He is simply just telling everyone around him to go act on his own wishes. And these are wishes that were informed we should say, specifically by vast amounts of misinformation.
This was a president who had access to hard info and at every single turn was looking to gateway pundit and looking to -- looking to -- the claims we heard today were preposterous. I think we have a scope of evidence today that really lays out from a factual basis just how far this president was from reality.
And I think the inconsistencies you're pointing out with Ivanka Trump speak to something that was true about the people around him. We have, in case after case, it has become clear that in instances in which they thought Trump would see, they were telling him what he wants to hear. But in instances that had legal ramifications or in instances they were forced to produce fact, that couldn't happen.
And so, it seems as if Ivanka Trump is saying, I believe Attorney General Barr, what he's saying. But when she's talking to her father or when she's thinking there's an instance in which her father might see, all of that fact goes out the window because as we know from the entirety of that administration, everyone around him was playing to an audience of one.
LEMON: I thought you said you didn't want to respond to the Ivanka Trump but you had plenty to say.
STEWART: And I think -- I think the line that we're talking about where Trump looks at what I call the team normal of attorneys, where we're talking about Rosen and Donoghue and Cipollone as well, lawyers that were giving him good, credible advice, he goes to them and says, just say it's corrupt, and I'll take care of the rest with the other Republicans, which then he would have the lawyers with credibility and stature going out there and saying there's corruption.
And then he would use what I call his team whiskey tango foxtrot of Rudy Giuliani and Eastman --
LEMON: That we see --
STEWART: -- and now Jeffrey Clark to go out there and do the dirty work and try and uncover something. That's where the first incident I feel like we've seen of him actually acknowledging that there's no there-there.
LEMON: I'm interested to hear what woo has to say about it. Because she was -- you're so anxious to weigh in. You thought the testimony today was really compelling. I thought it was meaningful. Let me play a sound bite for you and then we'll get you respond.
LEMON: Donoghue testified to what he told Trump about Clark at that January 3rd meeting. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONOGHUE: I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the attorney general. He's never been a criminal attorney. He's never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He's never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury. And he kind of retorted by saying, well, I've done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation, and things like that. And I said, that's right. You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we'll call you when there's an oil spill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: S.E., you know, Alice refers to this team wasp --
STEWART: Whisky tango foxtrot.
LEMON: -- whisky tango foxtrot. He was willing. Trump was willing to scrape the bottom of the barrel to overturn the democracy.
CUPP: No, he had to.
LEMON: And these DOJ officials threatened to resign en masse if he did so. We were that close to a catastrophe.
CUPP: Yes. He was willing to scrape. He had to. No one of credibility would do the dirty work he wanted to do. So, Scott Perry picks this guy up out of obscurity, relative obscurity, and hands him over to the White House and essentially, he's asked, will you do this thing if we put you in a position of power to do it? He says, sure.
And I just want to know who is going to play Jeffrey Clark in the movie because this guy -- I mean, what the committee set out to do today was to make Jeffrey Clark a household name. I don't think they quite accomplished that. However, they did paint a pretty villainous picture of Jeffrey Clark and what an absolute betrayal of his oath to uphold the law, of his country, when he allegedly goes in and says, yes, I'll do this. I'll do this for you. I just think it's -- it's incredible that they can convince this guy to do it.
LEMON: Let me get a legal response and then -- what?
HONIG: So today was lawyer day.
HONIG: Lots of lawyers, DOJ memos and policies and that kind of thing. But it's hard for me to even articulate just how shocking it was to see this happening inside the United States Department of Justice where I once had the privilege of working.
What we heard about today is not sort of like what happened in the past but a little worse. It is different in kind. It is foreign. It is contrary to everything that the United States Justice Department stands for. And what they were trying to do was take the biggest, most powerful, most credible agency out there, and if they could have gotten DOJ to say, yes, there's fraud, like Jeffrey Clark wrote in that bogus letter, that could have changed everything.
HERNDON: It seems clear that the only thinking stopping this attempt to overturn democracy from being successful was not only the bravery of the folks that we saw earlier this week who really stood up to it, but just the incompetence of the folks involved from actually executing on it. I think that we have -- we have kind of a scope of evidence here.
I was going to say, in addition to be lawyer day, it was journalist day too. You had -- you had hard documents of folks with the subject line of pardons in the e-mail. I mean, you have GOP folks coming forward in a level of explicit nature that I think, to your point, we have not seen.
LEMON: Even Trump allies today are saying, today -- just speaking of what you were talking about, the inconsistencies and the kind of people who were around him. I want you to respond to this because Trump and his allies had top officials chasing all of these bogus lies, including a conspiracy theory that an Italian satellite switched votes from Trump to Biden. The Defense Department actually looked into it. It is insane, and Trump's enablers share a huge part of the blame.
STEWART: It's insane without a doubt. Look, the fact that this information got anywhere near someone that could actually pass this on to the president is astounding. But I look at it also lawyer day, journalist day, also people who have served in public office, in a constitutional office.
LEMON: In public service.
STEWART: In public service. I look at this from a standpoint of thank God we have people that set up the guardrails and put their foot down and say, absolutely not. And the reason this did not happen is because we had lawyers who knew what the constitutional obligation was and what they could do. And the only reason it stopped is because they went to the former president and said, look, if you put this guy in charge, we are all going to walk out en masse. People will leave en masse, and he will be executing your plan in a graveyard.
There will be no lawyers. There will be no members of the DOJ. And they said to the former president, this will make you look bad. And when he took it to the former president in the context of this would reflect poorly on the former president, that's when they stopped this and didn't go forward with this plan.
But that's the only way that it got stopped. But this is, more than anything, it sounded so crazy today, and I just couldn't -- you couldn't believe this was happening. But in the end, I was thankful that we do have checks and balances.
LEMON: Just real quickly, what -- do you think -- was this the most impactful day?
LEMON: Yesterday was sort of real people, public service, people who have, you know, are getting threatened by this, right? Was today the most impactful, you think? The most meaningful?
CUPP: Today was the how. And we saw somehow as we looked at the ways Trump tried to pressure, you know, brad Raffensperger, for example, and other folks in Arizona. But this was also the how. The emotional toll this is all taking on people is important too. That's what happened after. But the how he tried to do it, I think, was most explicitly laid out today.
LEMON: Yes. And people saying they're going to resign en masse, and yet and still, he still believes and he still is trying to convince people of a lie. Everyone, stick around. A lot more on today's hearing, and Trump ally Jeffrey Clark's role in trying to weaponize the DOJ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: When he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, good (muted). Excuse me, sorry. Effing a-hole. Congratulations, you just admitted your first step you actually take as attorney general will be committing a felony in violating rule 6C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So today we learned about what may be the most frightening part of the plot to overturn our election, the relentless campaign by the then President of the United States to weaponize the Justice Department, the very people who are supposed to uphold our laws.
Back with me now, Astead, Elie, S.E., and Alice.
Let's talk about all these pardons that they were throwing out like overthrows our cars, right. They were asking for all the blanket pardons. The committee also saying that a number of Republican congressmen reached out to the White House for pardons. You don't ask for a pardon unless you think you may have been part of some sort of illegal activity, right?
HONIG: Of course, of course. It's not a crime to ask for a pardon but it sure as heck is an indicator of culpability that you think you've done something wrong. And what was interesting to me heading in today was there was a factual dispute. The committee was alleging that certain people had asked, certain members of Congress had asked for pardons and some of them Scott Perry most notably, furiously denied that. Well, the question I ask is, how is this going to play out? That
testimony came from Cassidy Hutchinson, a mid-to-low-level White House staffer who has proven to be very credible. And the other thing that makes me believe Cassidy Hutchinson is she was careful. She did not paint with a broad brush. When they asked her about Jim Jordan asking for a pardon, she said no, not explicitly. He ask more about pardons for congress in general, but Scott Perry asked specifically. And when a witness is able to make that kind of distinction, it shows me she's careful and credible.
LEMON: Is Jim Jordan member of Congress?
HONIG: I believe he is.
LEMON: So, he's like, what about just, you know, everybody in Congress?
HONIG: Yes. Just all of us or group that I'm (Inaudible). But she's careful, right? She didn't -- she was very specific about what each person said.
LEMON: This is, S.E., six GOP members of Congress that the committee says request of pardons and their -- the involvement of these Trump allies looks to be a lot deeper than we initially thought.
CUPP: Well, it's the expected folks, right? It's Marge, it's Matt Gaetz. You know, very close allies of Trump who had proven the lies, they'll spread conspiracy theories, they don't challenge the president. So, I imagine they're worried about the things they might have said or done around January 6th, leading up to January 6th and if that was going to be found criminal in any part, are they, you know, are they culpable, are they going to be wrangled into it and maybe they will be. We'll have to see. We didn't get those pardons.
LEMON: We seem -- yes. We seem to talk about this nightly, Alice, that we've seen members of the GOP, Congress, completely just sort of bury their head in the sand about January 6th and what happened. Do you think any of this is going to change as we see the -- how big the role of some of these Republicans had, their roles were in influencing the DOJ?
STEWART: I don't see any Republicans that have been on record as to their standing by the president and standing by --
LEMON: But the reason I ask you is because there are Trump allies who are out there today admitting that this was pretty damning. I'm sorry, go on.
STEWART: Yes. Some it's eroding a little bit, but the hard-core people that are Trump supporters in the House and in the Senate, what I'm hearing what I'm talking to them, they hear things that are incriminating but they also go -- fall back to the bigger narrative that they have is they are frustrated with the fact that there is not a Trump ally on this House select committee.
There is not someone that is supportive of the president that would put, as they say, put this information into context. I happen to think, you know, it speaks for itself what they have put out there but they would feel more comfortable with this process if there was a Trump ally. They don't clearly see Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger as a Trump ally, although they're Republican.
So, that's why some claim they're not watching this. We know that several said they're not even keeping an eye on it. They may read the headlines but they're not watching it, because they just don't approve of the process.
But those that are actually paying attention and watching and hearing and I think the Shaye Moss day and what he did to the officials in Georgia was probably some of the most damning because that was just out and out unconstitutional but it was also damaging to innocent people. Those are the kind of things that are chipping away at people.
LEMON: Astead, we heard a lot about Congressman Scott Perry today, he is one of the ones pushing for Clark to take over the DOJ.
The committee presented text between him and then chief of staff Mark Meadows urging for Clark to be elevated within the department. I mean, this is just one of multiple members of Congress who attempted to help the then president overturn the 2020 election. He still has his seat, which means the threat to democracy is still alive and well, unfortunately.
HERNDON: I mean, he still has a seat and a number of those also contested the election results even after the January 6th attacks happened, a lot of those folks are still in Congress. You see the committee trying to make this point that they are not only presenting evidence about threats that happened previously but they are trying to alarm a country about democracy threats for the future.
I mean, if we are again, if we again are going to judge this committee on the merits of how this seep into the public, I think we can try to find places in which maybe Democratic candidates will be talking about these January 6 hearings. I've been trying to look to see if congressional candidates are incorporating this into their type of messaging.
Different from folks in Washington but people who are actually running in races and we're not really seeing that yet. We're still seeing them try to focus on those kinds of what we would call kitchen table-y campaign issues. And we'll -- we know it's not a judgment of how that -- of how what the committee is laying out.
But I think that is a tell-tale sign that at least to this point it is not as if Democratic candidates yet think that this is a motivating piece for their races. Now that could change, particularly as more and more evidence comes out. But right now, we're not -- we're seeing this still be a legal question, a D.C. question, a factual question but we're not really seeing it play into that kind of political motivation, at least from the candidates' perspectives from what they are putting out there.
LEMON: When I got this news today, I just kept re-reading it and go, wait a minute, am I actually reading what is going on? Because we have news tonight about the Georgia state investigation into Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Governor Brian Kemp will deliver a sworn recorded statement to the special grand jury next month. What could that mean for this case. Is this big news?
HONIG: Well, the reporting has been that Donald Trump, consistent with what we heard today, tried to lean on Governor Kemp to call a special session of the Georgia legislature so they could what? Overturn the election. So, not good day for Trump and his people down in Georgia.
But also, let's not forget, Jeffrey Clark got crushed today in Congress. But I'll tell you what's worse than that. Having FBI agents show up at your house at 6 a.m. Wow.
LEMON: This is the news. Jeffrey Clark --
LEMON: The federal investigators --this was yesterday, raided the home of Jeffrey Clark. The raid was part of the DOJ's investigation into the efforts to overturn the election. What does that tell you about where the DOJ is headed, their play on this?
HONIG: It's a big step, there's no question. There's no question. There's a lot we don't know. But there are some things we do know for sure. Number one, in order to get a search warrant as a prosecutor, you have to swear out write an affidavit establishing that you have probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. You have to then take that to a judge. And judges scrutinize these things. I've sat in judges waiting rooms while they go through it and decide whether they agree.
So, we know DOJ believes that Clark, there's probable cause not beyond reasonable doubt that Clark committed a crime. We know a judge agreed with it. They went in, we don't know exactly what they took. Knowing this case I would assume phones, computers, laptops and they're going to dump all that info and it's a bad omen for Jeffrey Clark. Not everybody who gets searched gets charged. Rudy Giuliani hasn't been charged yet but it's a big step for DOJ.
LEMON: But we're hearing like this is happening here and you have this piece over there and you have this piece there.
LEMON: I mean, --
CUPP: So much. LEMON: Yes.
CUPP: But this is like -- this is what -- Jeffrey Clark is so fascinating. I'm already writing the movie because he's such a character. It's not like he came up as this Trumpy figure inside D.C. legal circles. He was really kind of obscure.
And I came across this awesome quote that I'll just share from a friend of his, a colleague who said the story kind of shocked me because this is not the Jeff I knew. I knew Jeff as a guy who really cared about the rule of law. And you know, just a rumpled, thoughtful lawyer who is an intellectual, not a Machiavellian back stabber. I mean, this was a surprise for his colleagues to learn that he had gotten corrupted into this scheme. I just find that so fascinating.
LEMON: It sounds like a screenplay, does it?
CUPP: It really does.
LEMON: It really does.
STEWART: There is a lot of people that have fallen into the category.
STEWART: People who have good character and reputation that have fallen to that way. I want to address the Brian Kemp questioning. Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, the great state of Georgia, a Republican like many that we've heard from wanted Donald Trump to win, supported Donald Trump.
And now he is providing what could, for all intent and purposes, be incriminating information against the president, same with Brad Raffensperger, same with Rusty Bowers out in Arizona. The more we have Republicans that supported Donald Trump coming forth with information that's incriminating, that's not good.
The same with Ivanka Trump, she has provided testimony that has been harmful, Bill Stepien, Jason Miller, and other people.
CUPP: Bill Barr.
STEWART: Bill Barr. Republicans are providing actually more damaging information than Democrats.
LEMON: But this is -- you know, this isn't a partisan witch hunt? Is that what you're saying?
STEWART: No, it's hard to believe.
LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it. Thank you.
STEWART: Thanks, Don.