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Inside Politics

Jan 6th Committee Issues a New Round of Subpoenas; Trump- McConnell Feud Ongoing. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 12:30   ET




CAROLINE STYNE, CO-FOUNDER, INDEPENDENT RESTAURANT COALITION: We knew that it just was one more wave, one big variant, one bad winter away from disaster for a lot of restaurants. The financial hit to the country is huge when you lose restaurants, to the neighborhood, to the community, and to the job market in general.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN ANCHOR: Now, there are two Senators that are working on legislation right now, trying to bring something to the floor of Congress that would help these restaurants get funding. But the question is, can they get this bill to the floor in time and then how fast does the money go out? We have lost, John, over the last two years because of this pandemic, nearly 100,000 restaurants and potentially more to come.


KING: (Inaudible) more to come, the pain of the pandemic continues. Vanessa Yurkevich, important reporting, thank you very much.

Up next for us, the January 6 Committee issues a new round of subpoenas and it confronts a riddle - how to get two reluctant members of Congress to cooperate?



A new and complicated crossroads for the January 6 Investigation, two of Donald Trump's closest allies in Congress are of keen interest to the panel, Representative Scott Perry and Jim Jordan. Both though call the Committee illegitimate and they say they won't cooperate. So the Committee now must decide how or if it can compel Perry and Jordan to turn over information, and to give testimony.

We learned Tuesday another close Trump ally and big lie supporter, also being added to the Committee witness list. The sometimes Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Let's get up to Capitol Hill and CNN's Ryan Nobles for the latest.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it seems, John, that there's a lot of open questions as to how the Committee's going to move forward on a lot of fronts. The first, let's address Rudy Giuliani.

It's actually been kind of surprising that up until this point the Committee hasn't asked him to appear before them because of his close association, not only with the big lie but also with January 6 as well. Remember, he was one of the people that gave a speech on the ellipse (ph) during the Stop the Steal rally. He suggested the crowd should engage in trial by combat. And he was, of course, the former president's personal lawyer.

Now, the Committee Chairman Benny Thompson said that he's on a long list of people they want to talk to, but they haven't figured out yet if they're going to subpoena him, or just ask him to come in voluntarily. His attorney already expressing doubt that Giuliani will cooperate, reminding Benny Thompson of what he called attorney-client privilege, given the fact that Giuliani did serve as the former president's lawyer.

Now to those members of Congress, Scott Perry and Jim Jordan, there could be other members of Congress that the Committee is interested in talking to. The problem is these close associates with Donald Trump just do not want to cooperate with the Committee. So what can the Committee force them to do?

Well, they certainly have subpoena power, but subpoena power could be difficult when it comes to other members of Congress. It's something that would be unprecedented, it's something that's never really happened before. And if they were to subpoena them, how would they enforce that subpoena? It might be difficult to just refer them for criminal contempt to the Department of Justice as they've done with others.

So John, that's what the Committee's trying to figure out, how did they get this information? That, at the end of the day, is what they're looking for.

KING: It's an important crossroads, we'll see how the Committee tries to unpack that one.

Ryan Nobles, grateful for the live reporting.

With me now to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Eva McKend, NPR's Asma Khalid, and Politico's Nicholas Wu.

Asma, let me start with you in this idea, we'll go through sort of the sequencing here. Rudy Giuliani, he would be a star witness, if you will. Somebody every American knows, somebody who was at the president's side, somebody who was a daily - if not hourly proponent to the big lie, including - including words to the January 6 rally. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI: If we're wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail.


So, let's have trial by combat.


KING: He was from Election night right up to that speech right there, central to the big lie and all the actions around it. The question is though A, does he have attorney-client privilege? And B, would he tell the truth anyway?

ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yeah, I mean, these are really interesting questions. And I mean, I think ultimately what the Committee is trying to do is to try to get a accurate read of exactly what happened, and who is responsible. But there are no doubt, political calculations in all of this. There is a deadline, you know?

Albeit, a sort of political deadline in the sense that many Democrats not on this Committee certainly want everything to be wrapped up ahead of the midterms because they don't want this overhanging essentially how voters think about which way to go. They sort of what a resolution before the midterms, and I think that some of these decisions about how to carry things out depends on what is time sensitive and what can be achieved in a timely way.

KING: And what can be achieved, I think is critical, Nicholas, in the sense that Congress usually has a code. They treat their own a little differently than they treat everybody else. But the Committee does know - Congressman Perry of Pennsylvania was helping the president push the big lie, trying to challenge the results. Jim Jordan has been a Trump ally from the very beginning.

Listen to Pete Aguilar, a member of the Committee saying yes it's hard but they have important information.


REP. PETE AGUILAR, (D) JANUARY 6 SELECT CMTE.: These are people who had conversations with the president - the former president about the conspiracy theories that he continued, and those two specifically helped fan those flames.


But they have key information on what the president was thinking, and is - in the case of my colleague Mr. Jordan, he admitted that he talked to the president on January 6, which is important.

KING: The Committee, Nicholas, has surprised a lot of people with its thoroughness and with its aggressiveness. Will that rise to the level of demanding even if you have to go to court or have votes on the floor - demanding cooperation from its own?

NICHOLAS WU, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, John, the Committee is supposed to meet this week to figure out exactly what their path forward might be here. You know, there's no doubt that they have precedent to actually subpoena other members of Congress, even though (ph) that's something that the House Ethics Committee has done before.

But as Asma had mentioned, the enforcement is really an issue here. This could lead to lengthy court fights that they just don't necessarily have the time for. So another recourse for the Committee, and for the House as a whole, is to go through some sort of internal process to discipline people who don't comply with this requests. That could be docking pay, or referring them to the Ethics Committee. So we'll have to see what they do this week.

KING: A good investigation, Eva, is like good reporting. Yes, you go after the big names so they want to talk to the Vice President Mike Pence at the time - the former vice president, they want to talk to Mark Meadows the former president's Chief of Staff, they want Rudy Giuliani. But some new subpoenas also get at the idea talk to the worker bees, because the worker bees know a lot.

Andrew Surabian most Americans don't know his name, he's a Donald Trump Jr. advisor, Arthur Schwartz also a Donald Trump Jr. advisor, Ross Worthington a former Trump speech writer. If you cover Congress or you cover the White House, again you want the big names. But sometimes the schedulers and the speechwriters, and the staff members who are in the room and see all the paper - they can give you a lot of information too.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, John. Just because they're not household names doesn't mean they don't have key information. But what we have seen is that a lot of folks do not want to comply, or feel as though that this investigation is asking financial information - information that just goes too far and is too evasive.

Ultimately the Committee has to weigh the value of this. Do they fight these protracted legal battles? Do they subpoena fellow members of Congress? Is it worth it, or is it time to transition to another part of this - of this phase and move forward with public hearings to show the American people what they have been able to learn? Which, after hundreds of interviews, I would imagine by now is pretty substantial.

KING: Aye (ph), we're told that should - that phase should come pretty soon, at least the first public hearing. It'd be fascinating to look forward to that. Panel is going to standby, more to discuss coming up. Including this, Mitch McConnell tells the truth about 2020 and of course, Donald Trump gets angry.



We are reminded today that Donald Trump's grievances are both petty and everlasting.


DONALD TRUMP: Because Mitch McConnell is a loser, and frankly Mitch McConnell if he were on the other side and if Schumer were put in his position he would have been fighting this like you've never seen before.


KING: That's an NPR interview. The former president is mad because in recent days several Senate Republicans, beginning with Mike Rounds of South Dakota have said - and said publicly Joe Biden won fair and square in 2020, and that the GOP must move on from Trump's big lie. McConnell himself echoed that message just last night telling CNN Senator Rounds was simply telling the truth. McConnell saying quote, "I agree with him."

The panel is back to discuss. Nicholas, let's start with you, Congress is your beat. This was - you know, this was not organic, if you will. Senator Rounds was first asked on a Sunday show and he said, look, Joe Biden won it's time for Republicans to move on. Joe Biden won fair and square.

But since that we have seen more - a half-dozen, McConnell, Rounds, Thune, Cramer, Romney, Murkowski come out and say the same thing. In part because Senator Rounds is so well liked among his Republican colleagues, but in part because that group there has just decided it is time to move on.

So much so, even McConnell saying yesterday he's going to run for leader again. This feud with Trump - Trump-McConnell has gone on for years now. Isn't it fair to say McConnell's winning, at least at the moment?

WU: It definitely seems like he is. I mean, just look at the track record so far of Trump trying to back challenges (ph) to McConnell saying that he doesn't want him to be leader anymore, and you know McConnell is still the leader of Senate Republicans.

You know, Trump called McConnell old crow and McConnell took it in stride and say Old Crow was one of his favorite bourbons. So like, you know, Trump still casts a long shadow over the Republican party, but at the very least McConnell and Senate Republicans are taking it in stride.

KING: They have been so far. I like the bourbon reference - I like any bourbon reference, it's good.

Asma, your colleague Steve Inskeep has waited for this interview for a long time. Let's listen to a little bit more, including what he did not know was going to be the end.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) TRUMP: The only way it's not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020. So Steve, thank you very much -

STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: Mr. President, if I might (ph) - whoa, whoa, whoa I had one more question -

TRUMP: - I appreciate it.

INSKEEP: - I want to ask about a court hearing yesterday on January 6.


KING: Alas, but he was gone because Steve was getting to the stuff he didn't want to talk about. And you hear right there, again, the president again lying. That's the former president of the United States, still lying about 2020 - which is central to everything he does.

KHALID: Exactly. And I mean, a good chunk (ph) of this interview, and really I would say kudos to my colleague Steve, was trying to both ask the former president questions, but also provide context, right, to some of the very untrue things that the former president was saying.


You know, I think that one of the things I was really struck by in this interview is how much the former president remains stuck on this idea of him being a loser, and the idea that the 2020 election - and being stuck on these false allegations will in his view, actually be helpful for the 2022 midterms.

And that seems to be the very question that many Republicans are grappling with. Do you, by overemphasizing 2020, actually possibly depress turnout? If you tell your voters that the system is rigged, will they believe in the system enough to actually show up and vote?

KING: Right. And the flipside of that is, is he - meaning Trump, so visible that somehow Democrats can use that to their advantage? Which is a question we don't know in January of the midterm year, Eva, but the president does have a rally in Arizona, one of the states he says Joe Biden won Arizona fair and square. Even the cyber ninjas came in and couldn't find evidence of the fraud Republicans tried (inaudible).

But he will be there - Trump will be there for a rally Saturday with Mike Lindell, the lying pillow guy, Paul Gosar one of the members of Congress that Congressman who famously posted that anime about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Kari Lake who's running for governor who also daily if not hourly talks about the big lie. So we will get the test.

MCKEND: Yes, we sure will. Listen, the former president believes that this is the path to victory, to continue to re-litigate the 2020 election. The adults in the room - Mitch McConnell, his deputy John Thune they don't think it's a winning strategy, re-litigating, it's essentially sour grapes. But the reason why we see so many Republicans echo this is because they are trying to curry favor with the former president.

I mean, I traveled to Ohio several months ago, covered that Senate Republican primary - they are all vying for his endorsement and it's hard to see how any of them get it without continuing to echo this lie that the 2020 election was somehow rigged or stolen.

KING: And Nicholas, if you talk to those around Leader McConnell who raises a lot of money to funnel into these Senate races - who, because of some disappointments in past campaigns pays very close attention to the primaries and the like. They think they're on a path, as do House Republicans, of winning back the majority (inaudible) if they say what could blow it, they think Trump.

WU: That seems to be a - certainly a concern for them. I mean, just look what happened with the special elections last year in Georgia, right? Republicans said that if not for Trump coming in and saying that votes might not count and depressing turnout, they might have won those races.

And so yes, that is a concern for them heading into this fall where they think that they can capture the majority. But as long as these election conspiracy theories continue to remain a live (ph) issue, this will cause controversy for them.

KING: And Asma, to the point about Steve getting to the hard stuff and that's where Trump gets off the line right there. That's the question, right? Will he stay in - it was interesting to see him come into an NPR interview where we usually see him - and we'll see him in a few minutes on OAN and the like. When he comes out, he gets pressed - he gets challenged.

KHALID: It was an unfamiliar format to him, and really I mean this interview was supposed to be 15 minutes and ended as you heard rather abruptly at right around nine minutes because the president is really unaccustomed to being challenged in any way on some of this. And one of the big questions from me John is right now the president's platforms are somewhat limited because he's banned from social media outlets.

I am curious, once perhaps eventually some of these bans are lifted will his influence on both (ph) the Republican party, but also just on the American culture at large be amplified in ways that we saw back say in 2015, 2016 all those years when he was not banned?

KING: When he was not banned. At the moment though, when your foundation is a lie, one would hope it doesn't gain traction. But like I say, he rewrites the rules all the time. Appreciate everybody coming in.

When we come back, more from former President Trump. Some interesting comments on Republicans and vaccines, not exactly what you might think you're going to hear.


Topping our political radar today, fresh evidence the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is under Donald Trump's skin. In an interview with OAN, the former president says yes, he got a COVID vaccine booster shot, and he takes aims at politicians he claims also got booster shots but are afraid to admit it.


TRUMP: I've taken it, I've had the booster. Many politicians - I've watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was did you get the booster? Because they had the vaccine, and they all - they're answering it like, in other words, the answer is yes but they don't want to say it. Because they're gutless. You've got to say it, whether you had it or not, say it.


KING: Trump doesn't name Governor DeSantis there, but trust me, that's who he's talking about.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he's sorry - says he's sorry for attending a gathering in the back garden of 10 Downing Street in May 2020 when the U.K. was in the depths of its COVID lockdown. The prime minister also came under fire for speaking at a Christmas party later in 2020.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the rage they feel with me, and with the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed.


KING: The prime minister's approval rating already at an all-time low. Get this from polling, two-thirds of adults in the U.K. think he should resign after this latest allegation.

Right now, a moving Capitol Hill sendoff for the son of Searchlight, Nevada, the former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lying in the Rotunda.