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Inside Politics

Grisham: Trump Watched Siege, "Hitting Rewind, Watching It Again"; This Hour One Year Ago: Marchers Moved Towards The Capitol; Garland Promises More Actions As Massive 1/6 Probe Continues. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 06, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Today, those determined to learn as much as possible about what happened here a year ago, are claiming significant progress. The Select Committee investigating the insurrection is aggressively gathering testimony and evidence. This morning, the committee's Republican vice chairwoman praised then Vice President Mike Pence for breaking with Mr. Trump last January 6th. And she voiced hope Pence and his team will help the Committee gather more facts.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): You know, former Vice President Pence was a hero on January 6th. He refused the pressure of the former president. He did his duty and the nation should be very grateful for the actions that he took that day. We look forward to continuing the cooperation that we've had with members of former Vice President's team and look forward as well to his cooperation.


KING: CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles joins us live now with new details of just where the investigation stands. Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, there's no doubt the Select Committee views itself as the most comprehensive look into what happened here on January 6th. And there is no doubt that they've done an exhaustive amount of work. The committee says that at this point, they've collected more than 35,000 documents. They've interviewed more than 300 witnesses and they've issued more than 50 subpoenas as they hope to try and piece together exactly what happened here a year ago.

Of course, the big question, though is, is the actual goals of this Committee met with the expectations that many Americans have for the work that they are doing. Remember that this is not a criminal investigation, it's a congressional investigation. And as a result the work that they are doing is aimed toward different goals and maybe what some of the public are hoping for.

[12:35:11] And the Committee has made it clear that this is what they hope to accomplish. First, they want to create the definitive narrative of what happened on that day. They also plan to offer up legislative recommendations to prevent a future occurrence like this from ever happening again. And if along the way they do discover criminal activity, they are prepared to hand that over to the Department of Justice to prosecute and then hold those individuals accountable.

And it is that last point where there is perhaps a little bit of contention, John, because the Committee is not dissuading anyone from the notion that it is very possible that they turn up criminal activity. In fact, in an interview that I had with the chairman Bennie Thompson this week, he said that it is his belief that it was purposeful that it took so long for the National Guard to arrive here on that day to offer aid to Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police.

Now, they're going to have to provide specific evidence to back up that claim. But the big question is, will they find criminal activity for people close to the former President Donald Trump or even Trump himself when this investigation wraps up before the midterm elections, John.

KING: Ryan Nobles, grateful for the live update. Dana Bash, Manu Raju were still back with me. And I think it is surprised many people just how aggressive and how methodical this Committee has been in going right up to Trump chain and right up the inner circle. Listen here. This is the former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who spoke to the Committee last night. She was asked who went in to tell Mr. Trump please call this off. Listen to what she shares.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't know specifically. I know that Mrs. Trump did not. So there's that. You know, all I know about that day was he was in the dining room, gleefully watching on his T.V., as he often did. Look at all of the people fighting for me, hitting rewind, watching it again. That's what I know.


KING: If you think of this, a year ago as like a 9/11. And it was. It was an attack on our government. And you think of this Committee trying to build the narrative, a narrative that includes the then president of the United States gleefully watching on his T.V., hitting rewind, watching it again. Look at all of these people fighting for me. That is reprehensible.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and look, there's a lot of testimony to back up the fact that he was watching T.V. at the time. Now, Grisham was not in the White House. So clearly, he has heard from other people who had knowledge of this, but there are people who have backed up the idea that Donald Trump was watching T.V., people were coming to him, pleading with them to do something, to speak up more forcefully, his allies, his family members, Ivanka Trump went to him multiple times as well as Donald Trump Jr. was texting with Mark Meadows, the chief of staff to get his father to do something.

I talked to Senator Lindsey Graham, who told me that he called Ivanka Trump also to press the president at the time to do something about it, and that he didn't do it. That is going to be a big part of what this investigation looks at here. Exactly what Donald Trump's role is, what he did and did not do. And what's also striking too, John, the amount of voluntary cooperation they have had. Yes, they've had some resistance, and they may end up in court a number of matters, but they're getting voluntary cooperation, just like Stephanie Grisham did last night.

KING: And to that point, and please get the sarcasm here. Do we owe a thank you to Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in the sense that Republicans walked away their own members came up with a plan for a bipartisan investigation, one of Kevin McCarthy's own deputies, then they walked away from it because Trump did not want it. And so you have Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who have no patience for Trump, who have no patience for Kevin McCarthy, those two Republicans on the Committee. Is this Committee going to get a lot more done, because it does not have the typical Republican distractions if you had a Jim Jordan or other Trump allies trying to blow it up all the time?

DANA BASH, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Yeah, maybe, maybe that's in the Select Committee. But if there were a bipartisan independent commission like 9/11, it would be a different ballgame. There was so much credence given to their investigation, because it truly was bipartisan. And all of the recommendations that they made, because we want to not just understand what happened, but also learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again, all the recommendations they made were implemented.

It's hard to even though they are going to make recommendations out of this Select Committee which only has two Republicans on it, it's hard to imagine that they will be implemented, although we can try to be optimistic.

RAJU: And that's why the Republican leadership oppose that outside commission, John.

BASH: Yeah.

KING: Right.

RAJU: Because it would be unassailable. But now it's a Democratic-led Committee. Yes there are two Republicans on it. But they can still try to argue that as a partisan investigation.

BASH: But it has made the likes of Liz Cheney even more ardent in her determination to get to the bottom of what happened, especially in those 187 minutes that the former president was not doing anything.

KING: A key point and those 187 minutes part of that when we come back.


Still ahead for us, exactly one year ago at this time, marchers began moving from the former President's speech toward the Capitol building, new video, brand new video from inside that marks, next.


KING: It was in this hour one year ago today that we saw clear signs of trouble brewing. Large crowds were gathering outside the United States Capitol as lawmakers prepared to certify Joe Biden's victory. They spouted conspiracy theories, spouted falsehoods, voiced hope the then vice president would somehow refuse to accept the results. We know this and we know it well because CNN's Donie O'Sullivan was right there in the middle of it all. Donie, take us back.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Yes, I mean what struck me this morning, this afternoon a year ago was there was a sense of anticipation, a sense of inevitability really, among many Trump supporters that today, January 6th, 2021 would be the day that the election was overturned. And it was just around right now, actually, that we began walking with Trump supporters who started marching from Trump's speech just about a mile here, away from the Capitol at the White House to here to the U.S. Capitol. And we spoke to some of them as they were leaving. And as they were on the way down here, have a listen.


O'SULLIVAN: In two weeks time, Joe Biden is going to be inaugurated here in Washington, D.C.


GREG CRAY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He can't be my president.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you believe the election was --

CRAY: Rigged.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, no doubt about it.

CRAY: Do you believe it wasn't? Can you believe it wasn't?

O'SULLIVAN: Is it true he's just a sore loser?

LUCIA, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Oh, absolutely not. He's a landslide winner. And --

O'SULLIVAN: But he lost the election.

LUCIA: He did not lose this election. This election was stolen, and we will never, ever, ever have a fair and free election again.


O'SULLIVAN: And John, just as we arrived here with those Trump supporters and I checked the time on the video, I took my phone this time last year was just around right now that right here, there were barriers very similar to these. Basically, these barriers were pushed along here. And that is when Trump supporters push through that, and that was kind of the initial breach into the Capitol grounds. And then we saw them come up here, towards up here through the up onto the lawn. And, of course, then the rest is history. But that was really that moment that crashing of those first barriers was the same for all of us that something terrible was really about to happen.

KING: And Donie, we all have the gift, I guess you would call it, of hindsight now. It's hard to use that word given what happened. But as you were walking, some of these people were here to protest. And some of them have this fantasy of the Trump won the election, but to what degree did you have a feeling that some of them were inclined for violence?

O'SULLIVAN: I mean, there was just such a sense that people were not going to leave here without the election being overturned. And you saw in that video we played there. Some of the people, some of the first people to go on to lawn here, they were in tact out gear. They seems prepared and ready for violence. John?

KING: Donie O'Sullivan, grateful for your live reporting today especially grateful for last year. You're on that day. You were so helpful to us, and so brave. I appreciate it very much. This still chilling videos shows the mob you see it right here in January 6th battling officers inside a Capitol tunnel underneath the building. It lasted for three hours as Capitol Police somehow held the line where the Justice Department investigation is after this break.



KING: Those who want you to forget what happened one year ago today, want you to forget this, the most enduring images perhaps from the threat to our democracy year ago. What happened to the police guarding the seat of American democracy?




KING: That is Washington D.C. Police Officer Daniel Hodges being crushed between doors as he tries to hold back the rioters who had breached the outer perimeter of the Capitol. Pouring into the building, mob whipped into a frenzy trying to stop the election from being certified. In that scrum, a police officer being beaten, beaten with a flagpole. And here a Justice Department evidence video showing a rioter stealing the badge of the former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone presumably as a trophy. This morning, Fanone says he's doing better physically and emotionally but he says he's still searching for perspective.


MICHAEL FANONE, FORMER DC METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: A year out, I'm just angry. I mean, I went through the whole Rolodex of emotions. Now I'm just angry. And I would ask anybody who doubts the reality of January 6th to question your own motivations behind that.


KING: Finding the men and women who attacked those officers is now part of the mission of the Attorney General Merrick Garland, known for working methodically and speaking carefully. Yesterday the Attorney General did give an update on the largest criminal investigation in FBI history. This part is being analyzed the most today.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day, or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.


KING: Let's bring in the former Assistant U.S. Attorney and now law professor at the University of Baltimore, Kim Wehle. Kim, grateful for your time today. A prominent Washington attorney well known to political audiences, George Conway, he listened to the Attorney General and he wrote this in an op-ed today. As president, Trump had the duty to intervene. Instead, as the January 6th select congressional committee is learning, he spent hours watching the mayhem on T.V. and that dereliction of duty along with his open and manifest desire to stop the electoral vote count, should suffice to make him guilty of a crime. The evidence is already bad for him and it can only get worse. If the attorney general means what he says, Trump's day in the dark will come, if not soon, then soon enough. Did you listen to Merrick Garland will come away with the same conclusion that he is aiming at Trump?


KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: I think it's certainly within firing range. I'm not so sure it's a given. And there are a couple of things. I think it's important that he said whether they were there or not, because I think one of the big possible objections to any indictment of Donald Trump is that, listen, he didn't affirmatively do anything. It was dereliction of duty, which isn't a crime. It is a problem under the military code. But I think Merrick Garland is needs to be very careful. He's building new law here. There is not a crime that suits on the books that suits what happened on January 6th. So I agree that this is a big message yesterday that he is starting with a lower fish working his way up largest investigation in criminal history, huge deal, over a thousand arrests more -- search warrants are out there, 725 People already charged. But it's absolutely not a given that he's going to get to the very top of the executive branch.

KING: It is American tradition to move on, if you will, to not try to go look back at potential political crimes by former political leaders. What makes this different?

WEHLE: What makes us different, John, is what we heard from the President and Vice President, which is that American democracy itself is hanging in the balance in this moment. We could see a January 6th in the future that is successful with or without violence. When I say successful, that is canceling, tossing, throwing out, putting in the garbage people's votes, not so much fighting about whether you get to the ballot, but if you get to the ballot box, throwing your votes out, and that's what's at stake here. It's about preserving American democracy, which is not our birthright as we saw a year ago today.

KING: Kim Wehle, grateful for your insights on this important day. Appreciate it very much. And to our viewers, don't forget you can join Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper for an unprecedented gathering inside the Capitol with the police, lawmakers, and leaders live from the Capitol tonight, January 6th One Year Later begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Morehead on this special edition of Inside politics, Congressman Joe Neguse who was speaking on the floor as the insurrection so breaching the Capitol reflects on that terrible day, calling it sadly, just the beginning.