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The January 6 Committee Refers Trump To DOJ On Four Criminal Charges; The January 6 Committee Refers Four GOP Members Of Congress To House Ethics Committee; Newly-Elected GOP Congressman Is Under Fire; Elon Musk Posts Poll Asking If He Should Step Down From Twitter; CNN Remembers Drew Griffin. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired December 19, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There has never been a referral, a criminal referral to the Justice Department for a former president of the United States. So, instead of asking for the political context or historical context, what about the historical significance of this?
AVLON: Well, I think two things are connected, right? I mean, first of all, it's not a reminder that we are in uncharted territory. That even the founders didn't imagine that a president of the United States would be someone who would foment an insurrection. Even the Civil War degeneration did not anticipate that.
But here's where historical context -- I'm going to (INAUDIBLE) this one, as you know, we had for a long time together, since January 6th. I mean, what hangs over this isn't just the unprecedented nature but the charge of insurrection, which itself is in the wake of the Civil War.
The fact that it dovetails with the Constitution's 14th Amendment, Section Three, which would bar people who participate in an insurrection or give an aid or comfort from holding office, which is also this criminal statute says. Those are the stakes.
And keeping in mind that the Congress that passed the 14th Amendment intended for that law to be prospective (ph), looking forward, not just punishing the ex-confederates, indicates how much history is entwined in this even though we are beyond history.
BERMAN: Yeah, they wrote it --
BERMAN: -- 100 years later. It's the first time it's ever been used in a former president.
Professor, so, they have this summary. They're going to get the full report -- we are -- I guess on Wednesday. And then these transcripts, the transcripts of all these interviews delivered by truck, I imagine, to Department of Justice. What does DOJ do with it all? GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, HOST OF "YOUR DEMOCRACY" WITH WHYY: Well, let's do two things. One, this is not beyond history. We have to realize, we had an insurrection in this country, a coup d'etat, and that was in 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina in which hundreds of people were killed because they did not like the fact that Black men had won office there. So, there was no accountability in that case. So, history is not completely repeating itself but is treading on some thin ice here.
But I do want to stay, yes, a truckload of evidence, and just because these referrals are given to the Department of Justice doesn't mean they're restricted to what's been given to them. They can go beyond these referrals and they can look at that evidence and decide there are other charges they may want to bring.
BERMAN: Or to be clear, they can also just not look at it at all.
BROWNE-MARSHALL: They could not look at it at all. Plus, we're just looking at the DOJ and possible criminal charges. We have a super majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. We know it's not going to stop with whatever the verdict is. If the verdict against Donald Trump, he is known to be this litigator of litigators on every issue.
So, what are we thinking about the U.S. Supreme court? Are we going to get justice there when three of those people were there as nominees for appointees almost for Donald Trump? So, this is ongoing when you look at the legal ramifications.
BERMAN: So, the DOJ can or cannot, does or does not, have to look at this referral at all. So, as a legal matter, it's TBD, it is dead.
ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.
BERMAN: As a political matter, what did the committee accomplish?
HERNDON: I feel like the committee accomplished something definitely in the midterms in terms of painting Republicans as a kind of extremist figure. It landed across several democratic efforts that tried to paint Republicans as out of step with the medium voter. But the look is further ahead.
The question is whether Democrats have really made a case about going forward. I don't think that is really clear yet. I think that when we look specifically to 2023, the question will be whether the GOP primary has excised Donald Trump from the core of the party, and that has not happened yet.
And so, the core question going forward is about whether the GOP is looking at January 6th, and that is what the committee laid out as kind of outsized to where the party is, and that is -- that's not where the party has become yet. And so, I feel like we still have an open question about whether -- about whether they're going to excise the party from where it is.
BERMAN: Let's bring in Andrew McCabe in this discussion. Andrew, as I said, these transcripts, all of them, from the interviews that the committee did with all of these witnesses, finally at last, I suppose we will ask if it should happen before, but at last now, the Department of Justice will get its hands on them. If you are one of the investigators going through these transcripts, what would you look for?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FBI: Well, John, they have an enormous amount of work in front of them. So, as a general matter, you never -- if you're a federal prosecutor, you never want anyone else to get the first cut at your witness because you don't want that witness saying things under oath or on the record that you then have to deal with later. That ship has sailed.
It's not one witness, it is hundreds of witnesses, many of whom the department might believe are essential to the cases they try to make, and they now have to reconcile their own interviews with those witnesses with the statements that these witnesses have made to the committee and maybe other places on the record prior to the Justice Department, even sitting down with them.
All of that material will be discoverable to the defendants, quite possibly the former president himself, in any indictments for this activity that come forward.
So, the DOJ has to know everything that's in those transcripts. They have to factor that into their own interactions with those witnesses in doing their interviews and trying to clean up things that might be contradictory or not clear. So, they have a lot of work in front of them, and some of that might create real legal problems for them in any future prosecution.
BERMAN: Let me just ask, should they have already known what is in those transcripts, though? This happened two years ago. So, what does it say about where the Department of Justice is if there is anything to learn in those transcripts?
MCCABE: There's a very good argument to be made, John, that the DOJ is late to the party here, right? However, to be perfectly fair, they have another big job on their hands. They've got 500 people convicted over 900 indictments from all the -- let's call them lower level participants in the mayhem on the Capitol on January 6th. So, there was a lot going on.
But needless to say, they waited a long time before they started training their focus on the upper levels of this conspiracy on those who planned it, on those who hatched it and, of course, on the president himself who would have benefited from it had it all succeeded.
So, now, they're having to pay for that time that they allowed the committee to get out in front of them, do this investigation, talk to these witnesses, put people on the record, show them to the nation. They've got to really square up that delay at this point.
BERMAN: John, what surprised you the most today?
AVLON: There wasn't as much new information as I was expecting, but I think the Hope Hicks's testimony did a lot of work for them. What I think really struck me was how much it was a retying of the bow. And that the most compelling testimony, really the sheer weight of the argument they're making comes from Republicans.
Former Trump loyalists condemning Donald Trump for what is in essence his dereliction of duty and a refusal to defend our democracy, rather an intent to overturn the election. That it's Republicans making the case against that Republican president. That's so powerful.
BERMAN: Today, we heard from Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway.
BERMAN: These are two people who could not humanely be politically closer or personally closer --
AVLON: That's right.
BERMAN: -- to Donald Trump and are deeply loyal to him. And the committee found ways to use their words to make the case. So, one of the questions will be, to what extent was Donald Trump specifically responsible for what happened on January 6th? Can you prove that he was responsible for what happened?
And part of what the committee is suggesting is, you know what, we're going to listen to actual insurrectionists themselves. You can tell by what the insurrectionists said, the power that Donald Trump had. Let's listen to a bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) by the president of the United States!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): He personally asked for us to come to D.C. that day. And I thought, for everything he has done for us, if this is the only thing he's going to ask of me, I'll do it.
STEPHEN AYERS, SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS PROBATION: Basically, you know, the president got everybody round up, told everybody to head on down. Basically, we just followed what he said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, professor, to make the case the it was Trump that this, he's responsible, what does the Department of Justice, not the committee, because the committee referred it, done their job, but what does DOJ need to prove in court?
BROWNE-MARSHALL: They need to prove that there's a direct connection between what Donald Trump was saying and his intent for them to go to Congress and stop the proceedings. And what we just heard was someone saying, yes, he got us all riled up, yes, he told us to go, but did he tell them to stop the proceeding?
It's almost like Donald Trump is known for saying things in such a general way that people for whom he is speaking know what he wants, but they are not being told, very specifically, go do A, B, and C. So, that's my only concern.
I would preferred if every charge, included conspiracy, because then it doesn't have to prove the intent to do it, that he conspired to do it. He didn't have to be successful, but that's what he wanted. And so, because this conspiracy is not in the referral, that's fine because that's not going to limit what the DOJ was going to do.
But I think the witnesses are telling us that, yes, they believe that's what he was saying. I just wanted more. I wanted to hear that there was some evidence that he actually said, we're going to stop this proceeding and that evidence is connected to the mob.
BERMAN: Astead, the referrals, in this larger soup, this larger Trump soup, that existed really in the last four weeks since the midterm election where, you know, people are blaming Donald Trump for the midterms not going as well as they should for Republicans, Trump having dinner with white nationals and anti-Semites, Trump talking about terminating the Constitution.
So, add these referrals into the soup of Donald Trump, how much more are Republicans willing to tolerate?
HERNDON: I think this is the difference between a political standard and a legal standard, right? There is not the evidence that the committee has brought forth, and we know that this is the kind of work of the committee to not have necessarily the legal standard for Donald Trump to be proven for things like conspiracy.
But there is no question that the public blamed him for kind of larger extremism and for a larger kind of drawing up the Republican Party to a place that was not where median voters were. That was punished in the Republican Party in the midterms, very clearly across the state -- secretary of state races, across governor's races, across races in which Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) the kind of key Republican nominees. That was broadly rejected in the midterms.
And so, in the political angle, we have a very clear rejection of the ways Donald Trump has involved himself in the most extreme versions of kind of republican insurrection. But at the same time, when we look forward to the republican primary, there is not a clear answer that Republicans, kind of plurality of Republicans, blame him for that.
And so, that is going to be the key difference. We do have evidence that the general election, that the swing voter, that the folks who voted in the midterms have that kind of rejection of the former president, but the real question would be whether Republicans are going to be there as he runs for the next campaign in 2024.
BERMAN: All right, friends, thank you all very much. So, we are just days away from a new republican majority in the House of Representatives, and some of them were named today in the hearing. What role did they play? So, stay with us.
BERMAN: So, the January 6 Committee made waves with criminal referrals against former President Donald Trump. Something like that has never happened before. But they also did something else pretty interesting. They referred four Republican members of Congress to the House Ethics Committee.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who stands to be speaker, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, and Scott Perry, they all refused to cooperate with subpoenas from the House Committee. But with an evenly split Ethics Committee, there is little expectation the four would face any consequences.
With me now, CNN political commentators Scott Jennings and Ashley Allison. I may have overstated the case there, little chance that the Ethics Committee will do anything, Ashley. With an even split at this committee, there's essentially zero chance, right, that they will do anything. Is there?
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not sure what the Ethics Committee will do. I mean, the committee did not make criminal referrals for them, but I think introducing their name, the Justice Department could still call them and question them about the role they played on January 6th.
And so, while I think the January 6 Committee did a really important thing in highlighting members of the Republican Party that were still essential players and did potentially unethical things that day, and that they should -- someone should take note. If nothing is happening on the committee, at least it is in the record that they stated their claim that these folks were a part of this attempt to overthrow our government.
BERMAN: They got in the records, Scott. Was there anything more than that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think probably not for the congressional side, but as I actually said, I mean, I guess they could be called as witnesses as part of the DOJ investigation. That's what the action is anyway here. I mean, these referrals today are, you know, interesting, but the real action is that the Department of Justice, if they want to talk to somebody, I reckon they're going to do that.
And so, these folks probably aren't off the hook for that if the DOJ investigators feel the material for making the case.
BERMAN: Scott, while I have you, since you worked for Mitch McConnell, you know him really well, he said something interesting today when he was asked about this. I don't have it right in front of me. But his exact response when asked about the committee hearings and the referrals was basically, the entire world knows who is responsible for January 6th. So, how do you rate? Why did he say it that way?
JENNINGS: I mean, he was pretty clear. And look, he is right. I mean, you don't have to go looking too hard to figure out what happened on January the 6tyh. If you watch it that day, if you followed any of, if you see the evidence that has been brought forward, I mean, one person was responsible for it.
And by the way, McConnell made pretty clear how he felt about Donald Trump and January the 6th, during his floor speech after it all happened.
And so, I think he has been pretty clear about his feelings on this. He doesn't typically use the former president's name in public. In fact, I can't think of a time when he has.
But I know that he was outraged about the treatment of the members of Congress, about the treatment of the Capitol and the treatment of the Constitution that day. I know he was outraged by the behavior of the former president. I that he has been angry about it since that it happened. He has followed these proceedings very closely.
BERMAN: Ashley, the democratic majority in the House of Representatives lasts -- lasts basically like 16 more days, 15 more days. It's almost over. So, what do you, as a Democrat, fear that Republicans, when they take control of the various committees, will do now in regards specifically to the January 6th investigation?
ALLISON: Well, my biggest fear is that they do nothing and that they pretend like it didn't happen and that they -- if you have four people who were just referred to the Ethics Committee, and now they're in the majority, my fear is that they're going to govern in an unethical way.
Now, prove me wrong, I am happy to be wrong, but my greatest fear is that rather than Republicans did not have this red wave as everyone predicted, people were very clear that they didn't want this divisive anti-democratic governing style.
And my fear is that instead of joining people's agenda and compromising and working with Democrats to improve the quality of life for Americans, they will play political gains and try and do tit-for- tat and do oversight hearings on things that the American people really don't care about.
There are some things that should be investigated. But, Hunter Biden's laptop is not one of them. I fear that they will just continue to do that so that there would be red meat to their base.
BERMAN: So, Scott, it was last time -- I can't remember. Time has run out on me here. But after Georgia, after the runoff in Georgia, you declared that Georgia may be remembered basically as the moment that defeated Donald Trump, that broke Donald Trump once and for all. So, I guess what I'm wondering is the criminal referrals today. Is he more broken because of what happened today?
JENNINGS: I think he gets more broken every day since the midterm when it became clear that anybody affiliated with him got punished by the voters. He had a terrible month after that. Then we lost the Georgia runoff when I tweeted that because it was obvious that Georgia, you know, still rejecting Donald Trump.
We also look at the investigation going on in Georgia. I mean, they are not done with him down there in Atlanta. I mean, that's the one place where you actually have Donald Trump's voice on tape, you know, asking the secretary of state to find the 11,000 votes.
And then you throw what happened today on, you throw the fact that he called for the Constitution to be suspended, you throw the dinner with the white nationalists. I mean, it has been a horrific set of weeks for Donald Trump. It got worse today, and it will get even worse, I suspect, when the Department of Justice decides to indict him if that's what they decide to do. It certainly feels like it is the direction they are headed.
So, you know, I ask everybody this: When is the last good day Donald Trump had in American politics? I mean, can anyone remember the last good day? It might have been the day he got over COVID. Maybe it was the third debate against Biden, which he won. But every day since that moment, his political life has gotten worse and worse and worse. It got terrible today. It doesn't look like there's much some light on the horizon for him.
BERMAN: All right, friends, stick around, much more to discuss with you, including what happens when a congressman seemingly fixed his resume. We're about to find out. Wait until we hear what one congressman-elect claims he has done versus what CNN actually verified.
BERMAN: Major questions tonight about a newly-elected Republican congressman and reporting that suggests he perhaps really just made up parts of his resume. George Santos helped the Republicans gain control of the House by flipping a democratic seat on Long Island.
His bio on the National Republican Congressional Committee website says he attended Brooke College and NYU where he got degrees in finance and economics. Now, CNN reached out to both schools, and neither has a record of anyone with his name or birthday ever attending. It also says Santos has worked for companies such as City Group and Goldman Sachs, but both companies told CNN, they have no record of his employment. And there is more. An archived version of his campaign website from April says -- quote -- "George founded and ran a nonprofit called "Friends of Pets United" from 2013 to 2018, which is able to effectively rescue 2,400 dogs and 280 cats." But that organization doesn't seem to exist in the IRS searchable database or in registered charities in New York State and Florida.
Now, "The New York Times" was first to report these inconsistencies, and just a remarkable story. CNN has reached out to Santos for comment, but his attorney tells CNN in a statement that the "Times" was attempting to smear the congressman-elect with defamatory allegations. It is worth noting, in the response from the attorney, there is no direct reputation of any of the actual allegations in so far as I read it.
So, back with us, John Avlon, Scott Jennings, and Ashley Allison. John, I just have to quote, I guess, Keith Jackson here, whoa, Nellie! I mean, my goodness!
AVLON: Well, we want full blown Nellie. No, this isn't one or two items on the campaign resume that are out of whack. This seems to be everything. I mean, the "Times" even went to where he supposedly registered to vote. No one at the House seemed to know who he was.
I will say this hasn't been picked up by some local reporters on a much lower level, but the race, I don't think it was taken seriously, and these allegations never really surfaced with the questions about the inflation of his income and things like that in a short period of time.
But this seems to be a wholesale (INAUDIBLE) candidate who is now a congressman-elect. That it is all, in about the whole of law (ph). Now, it's incumbent upon the congressman to come forward -- congressman-elect and say, where the truth is, but it appears to be the truth is nowhere.
BERMAN: I mean, it's pretty jaw-dropping. And Ashley, I have to say, the reaction from a lot of political operatives out there in the world was, how was this missed in the campaign?
ALLISON: How is it missed from the Republican Party and also the opponent?
Where was the upper research to say, none of this actually holds up, especially in such an election that we knew was potentially going to be so close?
Look, I don't know this guy, and it seems like someone I don't want to ever know because he doesn't tell the truth. But if all of this actually does pan out and everything he says that he potentially had on his resume was false, I think he should step down. I don't think that he should be serving the people of that district or in our Congress.
Now, I know folks will say, oh, it's because he is a Democrat and he's a Republican. I'm going to tell you, if there's a Democrat out there lying like that, I don't want you representing my party either. This is just totally unacceptable and should've been caught earlier. And the voters, Republican and Democrat, deserve better than this.
BERMAN: Scott Jennings, when can we expect Kevin McCarthy and the leaders in the House Republican Party to come forward with the statement declaring what they're going to do with this freshly-elected Republican congressman?
JENNINGS: Yes, they're probably looking into it right now and trying to figure out what to do. I'm surprised to hear Ashley say that people should not fabricate things about their lives. I mean, goodness gracious, the president of the United States fabricates a lot of whole (INAUDIBLE), dozens of episodes that literally never happened in his life. Now, that doesn't make it okay and it certainly doesn't make it okay for this congressman to have clearly, you know, invented an entire bio for himself.
BERMAN: So, I don't know what they can do. I'm not sure if this is an Ethics Committee matter that they should look into or not. It strikes me that there could be some issues there that they want to refer to the Ethics Committee. But, obviously, this is not the kind of person that you would want representing your party. But, you know, Kevin McCarthy (INAUDIBLE) deal with over there. So, I don't know how that may play into their decision.
BERMAN: Just to be clear, the scale of what's been reported here, this is a different animal completely that other types of things that we've seen before. And John, in terms of possible repercussions here, the reason I asked about Kevin McCarthy is actually, sort of the only recourse here is in Congress at this point and with, therefore, the majority, right?
AVLON: Yes, and here's where the margins do come in. I mean, this could be -- you know, falsifying your financial disclosure form is violation of the Ethics and Government Act. It would come to the committee if he chooses to pursue it. But here's where those narrow margins matter. Is he going to risk it? But this is somebody who seems to have been elected on fundamentally false pretenses. And whether it's illegal, TBD. Unethical? That seems pretty clear.
BERMAN: I mean, I can't even game out actually like how a guy goes to Congress, and every time he faces -- he may not ever face reporters, I guess, but how can he answer questions if he didn't go to the college but he said he did? How do you handle that?
ALLISON: Well, if all of this is false, he will probably just make up false answers when he's asked questions. But this is, I think, a bigger conversation about what is actually happening in our politics, and the type of folks that we want actually running, not just so we have majorities but so that we have credible, real Americans who have a diversity of experience. There are people who graduated from the college who would be more than qualified to serve as a Congress person, or people who never even graduated from Congress. But I think it's a bigger conversation about the lies that are tolerated in politics right now and how it needs to come to an end.
BERMAN: You know, it's a fair point. I almost feel bad. Part of the reason I keep smiling and shaking my head is that I just can't believe the level that that has been reported here. As someone who has covered politics for a long time, I have never seen anything quite like this. And Scott, it's a hard two years. It's almost impossible two years to imagine for this guy at this point.
JENNINGS: Yes, we'll see what -- I suspect there's more to come here. I mean, this was a big report from "The New York Times." I think that if you dug a hole this deep, there is more to learn. And certainly, the Republicans do have a responsibility to learn more about who was in their conference and what the impact of having someone like that in the conference is.
And they do have a responsibility to make referrals to the Ethics Committee if they feel like -- as John said, this financial disclosure issue could be a real thing that has to be looked into. So, I think if you're the majority party and one of your own has clearly created some issues for himself, it is your responsibility to police your own Congress.
BERMAN: All right. Thank you all so much. Great to see you tonight.
So, the plane carrying Argentina's victorious World Cup soccer team should be landing in Buenos Aires soon. We are tracking it as it makes its way and it is getting close. They can expect thousands of Argentinians to greet them with heroes' welcome. I mean, tens of thousands to greet them. The team, of course, pulled out a win after overtime. They won in a shootout over France in the World Cup.
This was a nail-biter. This was the best World Cup final in the history of history. It's a game the team and France's team, by the way, should both be proud of. One of the questions, after it all over is, would Lionel Messi, would it be his last game? We now know the answer to that question, and it is no.
He posted a photo of himself showing him on the plane holding the World Cup trophy. I'm sure he's like (INAUDIBLE). He says he wants to be -- keep on playing as a World Cup champion. Who can blame him? He's basically faced questions for years and years and years and years and years about why he has never won a World Cup. Now, he can say, I did, I am a World Cup champion, and I am going to keep playing.
The team has been celebrating the win. They went on to the street of Qatar showing off their trophy for the world to see, the world's most famous trophy.
Back home, Argentinians, they partied into the wee hours of the morning. I do not think they have stopped partying since the end of that shootout. We will bring you the arrival live tonight on CNN when it happens. So, stay tuned for that.
But next, should Elon Musk step down from Twitter? It's a question that he asked on Twitter. He asked twitter users to decide in a poll. Is he looking for an out? That's next.
BERMAN: Elon Musk is facing mounting criticism over his chaotic leadership at Twitter. But he apparently shrugged it all off yesterday, spending the day watching the World Cup final in Qatar. You can see him there standing next to Jared Kushner, former President Trump's son-in-law and former top Trump White House aide. Now, I hope I don't get in trouble for saying where Elon Musk was yesterday. He was at the World Cup. I will see if my Twitter account got suspended now.
Back at Twitter, Musk put out a poll asking if he should step down as head of the company. The majority of those who responded said, yes, he should.
Scott Jennings and Ashley Allison are back with me. And now, I am joined also by CNN media analyst Sara Fischer. First, on the news of this. He did a poll. Elon Musk has claimed in the past that he would abide by the results of the poll. The poll said he would step down. So, what is he going to do about it?
SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Oh, I think he is waiting to figure out who is going to be his successor. Rumors have been flying all day who is going to take over for this company after Elon Musk. And John, it is a good question because there are not many people right now that are close to Elon Musk.
When he first took over for this company back at the end of October, there is a whole group of people who came in, some ex-Twitter folks, some formers from Silicon Valley who he had worked with at SpaceX, et cetera. Now, sources are telling us that some of those folks have been pushed out. There is a new slate of people who are in there. It is unclear who is going to succeed. But I do not think you are going to get word from him about him stepping down officially until he knows who that person is.
BERMAN: But is he stepping down because of the poll, or did he basically gas or know already what the poll was going to say, he just did this for publicity, and he was going to step down or he wants to step down, anyway?
FISCHER: He was definitely going to step down. He's under enormous pressure from Tesla investors who pivot he focus back to that company whose stock has just tanked over the past few months in response to Elon Musk becoming the head and owner of Twitter. He has told people about a month ago, actually in court, about what his long-term plan was. So, I think the poll is just a way for him to start this transition and start the search. It was something that he was going to do anyway. But until he announces who the person is, we are all stuck in this limbo game, John, waiting to figure out what he's going to say and do while the poll answer says clearly that users want him out.
BERMAN: So, both -- let the record show. Scott and Ashley kind of gave me the Elon Musk smile right there.
BERMAN: Or it was like a political insider smile into why he did the poll? Why such mirth from you, Ashley, on this?
ALLISON: Oh, Elon. I mean, I don't actually think he ever really wanted the company. And then because of his antics, he then, you know, has now inherited it. And he doesn't know what he is doing with it. I probably will now be suspended, too, as well.
But he -- you know, we know that racial targeting has increased on Twitter. He let Trump back on Twitter. He is kind of spiraling in real life on a business deal, which is actually investors and advertisers have pulled out on twitter. Elon Musk does not want it. And so, he put this poll as though he wants democracy to thrive and that is not really what his M.O., what we know him for.
And so, it is a way to just back out. I also just think that Twitter is now a place -- Twitter looks always bad, but Twitter has gotten so much worse under his leadership. And, you know, the funny thing, when you think about tech policy and people, corporate, tech forms being held accountable, the most excited person right now because of Elon Musk's existence is Mark Zuckerberg, because a lot of people have turned their eyes off of what Facebook and Instagram is doing. They are both problematic platforms. But Elon, sorry, if you can't see me --
ALLISON: -- you know, find me on TikTok, I guess, or Instagram at this point.
JENNINGS: Yeah. I think if I were Elon Musk, I would go back probably to being the guy known for building amazing cars and cool rockets that you can watch take off and land on video. I mean, he was known for something amazing. Now, he is dealing with constant drama every single day.
I suspect that successor issue is going to be about who can run a business this size and who advertisers have confidence in. I mean, that is the main issue here. You got to attract advertisers and keep revenue flowing. So, I hope it works out. I do think it is better when you have a platform like this that democratize information. It does have enormous power for the good when you can get the information on things. It also has enormous capability of suppressing information to as we've learned. So, whoever the next person is has a big challenge, but I think they need to do it in a less dramatic way.
BERMAN: It got enormous power. I think we can all agree on that. We can all agree on it especially today. I mean, there is a connection to the January 6th hearings and what happened that day. Today is literally the two-year anniversary for when Donald Trump wrote, big protests in D.C. on January 6th, be there, will be wild. That was two years ago today.
Also, you know, from January 6th, you know, he wrote, see you in Washington, D.C., don't miss it, information to follow. January 6th, see you in D.C., the big protest rally in D.C. will take place at 11 a.m. I mean, we see, Sara, just the immense role this has played in the political discourse. Will it continue?
FISCHER: It is absolutely going to continue. I don't think Twitter is going to go away. But John, you highlighted something so important, which is that when it comes to these big algorithmically-driven platforms, the biggest voices are the ones that can have the biggest impact.
Donald Trump at that time hit over 80 million followers. Elon Musk right now has over 120 million followers. That is why, when they tweet something that is salacious or damaging, it can do so much damage because they're such a big reach.
I think in the future, I am worried about what Twitter is. If we can't get these content moderation policies right ahead of the 2024 election, ahead of other electors around the globe, then we are in for a serious misinformation crisis.
I don't know if Donald Trump is actually going to come up to the platform. Elon Musk has said that he would bring him back following that Twitter poll that he did a few weeks ago. But if he does come back to Twitter and there is really loose content moderation, it would not shock me if we had some of the same problems leading up to 2024 that we had after 2020.
BERMAN: Guys, thank you all so much for being with me tonight. No, go tweet the segment so everyone has a chance to see it.
ALLISON: If we can.
BERMAN: If you can. Next, we are going to remember a beloved coworker gone much too soon.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: This weekend, we lost a beloved member of the CNN family. Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin passed away after a battle with cancer. Drew was a journalist with the capital J and (INAUDIBLE) with a capital M. He had a tireless pursuit of the truth, a fearlessness in telling, and he made change. Our colleague, Anderson Cooper, takes a look at Drew's remarkable career.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It was so hot --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): During his nearly two decades at CNN, Drew Griffin was known for his tenacious reporting.
GRIFFIN: Are you worried you will be indicted before the election, sir?
COOPER (voice-over): His interviews were unwavering.
GRIFFIN: I don't think you really understand how votes are cast, collected, and tabulated in this country.
COOPER (voice-over): And he gave a voice to those who didn't have one.
UNKNOWN: We don't expect it to be easy. We don't expect the truth to be easy.
COOPER (voice-over): Drew was a gifted storyteller, dedicated to seeking the truth and holding the powerful accountable.
GRIFFIN: Why do you continue to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen?
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It's not a lie.
GRIFFIN: It's a lie. You have no proofs. We've looked at all the facts.
BANNON: I tell you --
GRIFFIN: You don't have the facts.
COOPER (voice-over): Ang Drew's stories had real world impact.
GRIFFIN: Well, Uber doesn't release the number of drivers who are accused of sexual assault, so CNN decided to count up ourselves.
COOPER (voice-over): After CNN questioned Uber about a string of sexual assaults by drivers, the company made major safety changes to its app and revised its policies.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Excellent reporting. Thanks to you and your team.
COOPER: Drew exposed serious issues at VA hospitals across the country, revealing a broken system, veterans dying while waiting for care.
UNKNOWN: This particular veteran was screaming, please do whatever you can, do not let the VA do this to another patient or another veteran, we do not deserve this type of treatment.
COOPER (voice-over): That led to the resignation of the VA secretary and the overhaul of the VA scheduling system.
GRIFFIN: Gas here --
COOPER (voice-over): He covered business and terrorism, the environment and politics.
GRIFFIN: Mr. Birch (ph)? Mr. Birch (ph)?
COOPER (voice-over): And there were many people over the years who didn't want to answer his questions.
GRIFFIN: Please talk to us, director. Director Helman (ph)?
Did the background checks to those companies not reveal the fact that you are accused of torture and murder?
Do you know Alex Bergman (ph), a convicted felon, who apparently runs one of these clinics and has been billing the state of California for several years, despite the fact that there have been complaints?
COOPER (voice-over): Drew won most of journalism's big awards, but that is not what motivated him. He cared about people and how they were impacted.
GRIFFIN: Get out, dude.
COOPER (voice-over): While he was covering the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, he ended up rescuing a man from floodwaters.
GRIFFIN: Move backwards. All right. So, are you alright?
GRIFFIN: All right. Hold on. Hold on.
COOPER (voice-over): His job as a correspondent took him all across the country.
GRIFFIN: It wasn't that long ago that these wild Pontiac (ph) grasslands were just that. Wild. Now, almost everywhere you look is a gas rig.
COOPER (voice-over): And to different parts of the world. But his favorite place was home. He was deeply devoted to his family: His wife, Margot, and his three children, Ele, Louis and Miles, as well as two grandchildren. Drew Griffin will be missed by all of us.
BERMAN: Drew was such a prince. It was on the show that I was doing that he was supposed to appear when he was saving someone during Hurricane Harvey. They told me, Drew may not make his live shot. I asked why, and they say because he's pulling someone out of the river. Of course, he is, because that was Drew Griffin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: We just literally rescued this guy. You can see his car, John. I don't know. Brian (ph) working on that video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was Drew Griffin. Again, what a wonderful person. We are all better for knowing him. May his memory be a blessing.
Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.