Return to Transcripts main page
Tomorrow's Jan. 6 Hearing To Focus On Department Of Justice; Jan. 6 Hearing Schedule In Flux As New Evidence Emerges; Trump-Backed Candidates Get Mixed Results In Several Key Primaries; Moderate House Republican Says He Won't Support Trump In Primary; Officials Describe How Trump's Election Lies Spurred Threats; Fury Builds Over Uvalde Police Response To Mass Shooting. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 22, 2022 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: And "important" is the word that the committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, was using to describe it today. So we do know that is going to be incorporated.
The committee has already sketched out some of what it wants to cover in its future hearings.
And we do know already, too, that tomorrow will be about Donald Trump's attempts to use the Justice Department to give cover for his voting fraud disinformation.
The witnesses are Richard Donoghue, Jeffrey Rosen, Steve Engle, all leading the Justice Department and pushing back when Donald Trump told them on January 3rd, 2021, he wanted a new attorney general. So we are going to be hearing that story again from them.
Then after that, the committee has said they want to present more about what they've found related to extremist groups involved in January 6th, and also about what happened inside the White House as the capitol fell under attack.
So we know that the focus is going to remain on Donald Trump. But it's still a question whether others will come forward. At this time, we don't expect someone like Pat Cipollone to want to testify. He's resisted.
But there could be more coming in July.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, Kaitlin Collins (sic), really interesting.
Thank you very much.
Let's bring in former Trump White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, and Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor.
Stephanie, it's interesting that they now are looking at this documentary footage that they say is new and important information coming to light. We have a little glimpse into one of the things that this documentary
filmmaker caught, and that is Ivanka Trump and what she was saying in the final days of the Trump White House.
So you'll remember that they already had a clip of Ivanka talking about how she believed Attorney General Bill Barr.
Let me play that to remind everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER & DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. So that was under oath to the committee.
And then to the documentary filmmaker, what we now know -- and this is a quote according to "The New York Times" -- she says that her father will "continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted, and that's what he should do."
So it's different than what she said under oath. Is that any surprise?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, it doesn't surprise me at all that she would be talking out of both sides of her mouth.
I mentioned previously in an interview that she was still going with her father to various events after it was very clear that President Biden was who was elected.
So she was supporting him. I think that it didn't surprise me to see that Jared and Ivanka were talking a different tune because it's what would be best for them and rehabilitating their image.
So that didn't surprise me at all.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Renato, let's talk about what we learned from this hearing. Because not only do we know now, according to the witnesses, that the former president was aware of the fake elector slate scheme.
He put people on the phone. He was part of these calls to push for it. Ronna McDaniels said the president put Giuliani or Eastman on the phone with her.
This is the Arizona House speaker, Rusty Bowers, talking about a conversation he says former President Trump is on the call, and Rudy Giuliani is making the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ) & HOUSE SPEAKER: Said, well, we have heard by an official high up in the Republican legislature that there's a legal theory or a legal ability in Arizona that you can remove the electors of President Biden and replace them.
And we would like to have the legitimate opportunity through the committee to come to that end and remove that. And I said, that's -- that's totally new to me. I've never heard of any such thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Bowers says he refused to do it.
If that story is true, did the president commit a crime there, and what are the challenges of actually prosecuting that case?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. It certainly -- it certainly looks like there was an attempt to potentially have a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
I think the challenge, of course, is that Trump was enabled by dishonest attorneys like Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis. And I think they're the weak link here and where I think the Justice Department would be wise to focus their efforts.
They were lying to state officials, they were lying to other officials in the federal government. And they really, I think, have, at times, let their guard down and made it clear that they knew the truth.
Now Trump also -- I think there's evidence that he knew the truth, as well. But it's a little bit more complicated because he's -- I think knew he could rely on attorneys to tell him what he wanted to hear.
I think going after the attorneys is where the Justice Department goes.
CAMEROTA: And, Renato, why isn't that happening? Isn't it cut and dry? You can't create a fake set of electors. Why is there -- does there seem to be a legal debate about this?
MARIOTTI: Well, I think it's because the question is whether or not this there are falsehoods in the documents and whether or not the people who created the documents created the falsehoods.
Alisyn, I think the piece you're pointing to now is the clearest, most straightforward criminal case you can build.
But the question is, who knew about the falsehoods in the documents, and how can the DOJ prove it? And we don't know yet what that evidence is.
BLACKWELL: Stephanie, reportedly the former president is seething at Bedminster, frustrated by this -- the case that's being put on. He's wondering why Kevin McCarthy didn't add maybe like-minded Republicans to the committee. What do you make of the strategy, this deflect and distract that the
Republicans are attempting? Because the facts really are the facts here. How much can they do?
GRISHAM: Well, I mean -- and I think we all can agree that they haven't done much. I have not seen anyone really out there with anything good because the fact of the matter is there's no evidence of the claims they're making about the election.
I would not be surprised if he was seething. I tweeted something to that yesterday. I'm sure he's saying, nobody is out there defending him, that's why he's putting out his own statements.
I will say -- I wanted to say two quick things. I worked with Rusty Bowers when I was a spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives. And he is a man of integrity and great honesty.
And you can count on exactly what he said as being true, which is why the former president tried to undermine him.
And second, while I agree that Giuliani and Jenna Ellis and that whole cabal of lawyers were doing the deeds, President Trump would have known.
Nobody did anything without his knowledge because you were too afraid to try and move without his knowledge and his go ahead. I think that's something to consider, as well.
BLACKWELL: All right. Certainly will. Next hearing is tomorrow.
Stephanie Grisham, Renato Mariotti, thank you.
GRISHAM: Thank you.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So a mixed bag when it comes to the latest primaries. While Alabama embraced former President Trump's s, Georgia opted out and backed his candidate's opponents instead. So the fallout of all that, what it means next.
CAMEROTA: There's another night of mixed results for Trump-backed candidates in key primaries and runoff races.
In Alabama, Trump-backed Katie Britt, easily defeated six-term Congressman Mo Brooks. Remember, President Trump had initially endorsed Brooks until Brooks urged voters to move past the 2020 election.
BLACKWELL: In Georgia, Vernon Jones, the self-described black Donald Trump, suffered a nearly 50-point defeat in a runoff against Mike Collins in the Georgia tenth House district. Collins scored a rare endorsement last week from Trump rival, Brian Kemp, the governor of Georgia.
Joining us now is conservative CNN political commentator Scott Jennings.
Scott, good to see you.
Let's start with the potency of the Trump endorsement. We see it's not worth much in Georgia after the loss and now this loss. What's your assessment?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's still a pretty good endorsement to have. I think it works best when it's coupled with other endorsements.
So if you're like a single-issue candidate, which is to say I am Trump and Trump only and I want nothing else, that doesn't seem to be as effective as when you have Trump, plus other people endorsing you.
In the case of Katie Britt in Alabama, that was the case. Trump was a bandwagon endorsement. He got on late. I'm glad he was part of the team and glad she won.
But I don't think he was the defining reason that he defeated Mo Brooks.
CAMEROTA: Scott, as you know, there's a lot of debate about whether or not the January 6th hearings are changing anyone's perspective if only people who are so inclined are tuning in.
It was interesting to hear from a moderate Republican, Don Bacon, in Nebraska, who said that he had been watching and that he couldn't support President Trump as a result. He, I don't think, was a fan of President Trump's before that.
But here's what he said to Manu Raju.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I'll be looking for better candidates. I think we have the policy -- they had and had the respectful side of that. The temperament, that's -- that's what I'm going to look for. Someone that fits that mold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What do you think of that? Scott, what do you -- do you think anybody's perspective is being shifted even a little bit?
JENNINGS: Well, of course. I mean, there's a big poll out of New Hampshire that just came out this afternoon actually, a respected survey showing Ron DeSantis, I think, leading Donald Trump by a couple of points.
People are obviously trying to ask themselves like in 2024, do we want to risk losing the White House to the Democrats just because we want to renominate Donald Trump? I mean, my view is that he's the least likely Republican that could
win the White House. I guess there's a chance he could win. I think it's unlikely, though.
There's a whole bunch of other people who offer you the same conservative policies and the same ideas without all the baggage of Donald Trump and January 6th and all that's going to come with that.
So I think Representative Bacon is on to something there. And I think that, you know, maybe half the party wants to do something else.
The strategic question, the analyst question is, because of the way the primary rules work, the winner-take-all nature of the primaries, if you have a bunch of candidates running against Trump, the fragmentation is good for him.
It's what happened in 2016. He got less than half the vote but won the nomination because of fragmentation in the field.
BLACKWELL: We also heard from Shaye Moss, Ruby Friedman, mother and daughter, Fulton County election workers, yesterday, talking about just how the campaign to vilify them changed the lives.
Rudy Giuliani said that a USB port that was passed one to another, which was actually a myth, was said to be like a vial of heroin or cocaine.
They also talked about the harassment. Here's what we heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I gained about 60 pounds. I just don't do nothing anymore. I don't want to go anywhere. I second guess everything that I do.
BOWERS: There was a -- one gentleman that had the three bars on his chest and he had a pistol and was threatening my neighbor not with the pistol but just vocally. When I saw the gun, I knew I had to get close.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: People broke into my daughter-in-law's home, and my son has passed, and she's a widow and has two kids. And so we're very concerned about her safety also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: All based on lies that they knew were lies. Should there be some consequence for the terror that they caused?
JENNINGS: Yes. I assume that these ladies have some kind of legal recourse because they were slandered, defamed, libeled, whatever. I'm not a lawyer. Whatever the term is. I hope they get all the legal recourse that's due them in the civil system.
At the same time, I hope people are looking at whether they were terrorized in a criminal fashion.
These people showed up to do their job as part of the machinery of American democracy. The defused nature of our election system depends on people just like this.
And thank god for the defused nature of the system because it prevents someone from hijacking it by throwing a switch, you know, somewhere in Washington, D.C.
So these are necessary people. They are patriots. They are part of the essential machinery of our democracy. They deserve to be defended.
What happened to them is reprehensible. And I hope they get everything that's coming to them that the legal system can give them.
BLACKWELL: Scott Jennings, thank you so much.
Let's turn to Texas now and that botched police response to the Uvalde shooting. It has led to a lot of blaming between officials and renewed calls for the school police chief to resign.
BLACKWELL: Infuriated and heartbroken, Uvalde parents are demanding school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, resign from the city council.
There are explosive new details about the botched police response to last month's school massacre, a response that Texas' public safety chief calls an abject failure
CAMEROTA: He said armed officers just outside the classrooms could've stopped the shooting three minutes after it started.
The father of one shooting victim tells CNN the police failed the community
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGEL GARZA, DAUGHTER AMERIE JO GARZA DIED IN UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTING: I just don't get how you can hear these kids, you know, crying, and asking for help, but you are scared to enter because you -- your commander doesn't want you to go in.
But the ones who told me to trust them, didn't save my daughter or any of the other kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, joins us now. He's representing several of the families affected by the mass shooting in Buffalo last month.
Ben, good to have you here in studio. Listen, when you see what is happening in Uvalde -- you worked with
police departments that are less than cooperative -- when you see what we are finding out, what do you think?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: This is heartbreaking, especially when you think about they swear this oath to protect life. And this is the life of babies. I mean, if you are not motivated to say, I am going to try to prevent the loss of our babies, what motivates you?
CAMEROTA: Have you seen stonewalling to this degree? Because the level of protection, that seems to be afforded to Chief Pete Arredondo, I don't know that we have seen it when we covered other mass shootings?
CRUMP: Alisyn, you know, I have taken on many police departments and I am used to seeing stonewalling when it's the police, when really it should be about transparency.
Because if we are transparent, we can learn and, hopefully, we can prevent these mistakes or missed opportunities. These children's blood on their hands
BLACKWELL: You represent several of the families, six families related to the Buffalo massacre. You were there in the hearing room as many of the survivors, the victims' families testified.
As this bill is coming out of potentially the Senate, do they have a reaction, a response to what could be passed?
CRUMP: They do. It was chilling being in the hearings in the Senate and the House, when his daughter, Pamela, talked about the funeral home, telling her, can you go buy a hat?
Because the bullet, it just exploded your mother's hair so badly, that there's no way she could be presentable. We need to put a hat. And she told that to the Senate,
Garnell Whitfield, whose mother was killed coming home from taking care of her father, and talked about how every day, for 68 years, she had been with him, and that young white supremacist man, not boy, went and killed them.
So, they were somewhat relieved that this first step by the United States Senate finally put over a partisan politics to say let's try to do something to address these mass shootings.
They are still asking for the Senate to pass the anti-black crime hate bill. They think that is very important in the face of this rise of white supremacy.
CAMEROTA: About George Floyd's family, how are they feeling about the fact that there was so much momentum it seemed for police reform and for a big -- in his name -- a big bill and then it didn't come to fruition? CRUMP: You know, one of the things they understand, that the legacy of
George Floyd will be defined by all of us, and we cannot give up on trying to make meaningful reform.
So, they keep pushing, even though it looks like it is going to be much more challenging than we once thought.
I mean, we were also hopeful. You know, we thought this was the moment when finally we would say we are better than this America.
We have to have humanity for all people, whether black or white. The police have to give equal justice to all citizens. But yet, we still have work to do.
CAMEROTA: I want to ask you very quickly about the Netflix documentary, because cameras followed you around for 18 months. What was that like?
CRUMP: You know, it was intrusive.
CRUMP: But Netflix gave me a global bullhorn to be able to speak truth to power.
And also to be able to say, in this moment in time, Alisyn and Victor, we have to choose humanity, over this lynch mob race replacement violent mentality. We have to try to be civil versus violent.
CAMEROTA: I can't wait to watch the curtain being peeled back to see how you do it, where you get your energy, what it looks like behind the scenes --
BLACKWELL: Case after case after case.
CAMEROTA: -- in Ben Crump's house.
We can't wait to watch it. It's on Netflix.
Ben, great to have you in studio. Always good to see you.
CRUMP: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Thank you.
CRUMP: -- so good. And thank you all for what you all do for America.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, Ben.
Brand-new evidence has prompted the January 6th committee to delay its next round of hearings into July. We will tell you what we are learning, next.