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Inside Politics

Tonight: 1/6 Committee Promises New Video, New Evidence; 1/6 Committee Interviewed Dozens Of High-Level Trump Officials; Officers Who Responded To Insurrection: This Can Happen Again; Lead Dem Negotiator: "We've Never Gotten This Far" On Gun Reform; Cornyn: No Gun Deal Expected This Week, Hopeful For End Of Month; GOP Rep Warned Day Before Insurrection: Trump Supporters "Going To Go Nuts". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 09, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this important day with us. Tonight, the January 6 committee raises the curtain. In just eight hours, the committee promises to unveil new evidence, it says draws a direct line between the storming of the Capitol and the former President Donald Trump. Plus, no deal at least not yet on gun reform. But the Senate Democrat running point, tells CNN he is convinced a deal can be made.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): We are making real progress. This time does feel different. I still think there are more paths to failure than there are to success. But we've never gotten this far on complicated comprehensive negotiations before.


KING: And some laughs, but also tough questions. President Biden sat down with Jimmy Kimmel last night. He was met with hard questions on why he won't do more on guns, on abortion access and on climate change. A first for us though, the most-high stakes congressional hearing of a generation. The January 6 committee restarts its public presentation of the facts tonight in primetime.

The panel has spent 11 months gathering evidence. Tonight, we get a first glimpse at its work, including we are told previously unseen video testimony that includes interviews with Trump White House aides, Trump campaign officials and members of the former president's family, and the committee promises a jarring reminder of what happened on insurrection day.

A mob of course, tried to offend American democracy and they tried to help Donald Trump steal the presidency. We begin our coverage up on Capitol Hill with CNN's Ryan Nobles, Ryan, set the stage.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, there's no doubt that the committee understands the challenge they have in front of them. It's been almost a year and a half since the violence and chaos here on January 6, and they need to reintroduce that to the American public. But they're going to take it a step further tonight, beginning to unveil some of this investigation that has been largely behind closed doors for the past 11 months.

And they say that they're prepared to make the case that there was a conspiracy to overturn the presidential election and undermine the attempt at a peaceful transfer of power. And the responsibility is borne by the former President Donald Trump. And they'll do that with as you mentioned, brand new video footage that we have not yet seen, witness testimony from witnesses we have not heard before. And perhaps, even hearing from some of the former president's closest aides in video depositions that have already taken place.

We will hear live testimony tonight, John, including from two people directly connected to the Proud Boys that organization that right wing group that was here causing much of the violence on January 6. Nick Quested, a documentarian was with the Proud Boys embedded with them in the week leading up to January 6, and on the day itself. And Caroline Edwards is a Capitol police officer who went head-to-head with some of these Proud Boys on January 6 and is still dealing with the effects of that day.

Now, their testimony will be important, because, well, part of what the committee hopes to establish tonight is that what happened on January 6 wasn't just a group of peaceful protesters that got out of control, that there was actually pre-meditation. And people came here to the Capitol on that day, with the specific goal of breaking down the doors and causing a riot.

And then, the question will be how does that extend beyond just these right-wing groups, just these agitators that were here on January 6? And how responsible are members of the Trump campaign, members of the Trump administration, and then potentially even the former president himself.

This is of course, just the first of a series of public hearings that will take place in the month of June. And it still comes months ahead of their final report, which isn't expected until the fall. But there's no doubt, John, there is a lot riding on this initial presentation that will take place in primetime as this committee once again reintroduces itself to the American people. John?

KING: Ryan Nobles, live on the Hill on a very busy day. Thank you, Ryan. With me in studio to share their expertise and their insights, former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, and our CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero. There are many who say these hearings are as important as the Watergate hearings.

If you agree with that, how does the committee breakthrough in these very polarized times and in these very stressful times to get the American people, please lift your head. Listen, come in with an open mind, hear the evidence.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The key is establishing whether or not there was actually a political strategy that was connected with the violence that transpired. That's what seditious conspiracy is about. That's what some individuals of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have been charged with by the Justice Department and making that connection and how there may have been a political strategy to actually by force prevent the certification of the election. There is no more fundamental challenge to a democracy then making sure that they have a peaceful election, and we didn't have one on January 6.


KING: And to Ryan's point, they're trying to prove there was a conspiracy, actually starting on election night, running through January 6, and many would argue continuing today. Proving the case and opening eyes is the key. We know among those interviewed by the January 6 committee, Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, obviously at the time, who was there at the building that day. And we know many people appeal to her to try to get your father to call them, tell them to stop.

Keith Kellogg, General Kellogg was Mike Pence's security advisor. He was among those who asked. He told in his testimony, asked Ivanka Trump to help, try to get the president to call them off, a top aide to Mike Pence, the White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Many are saying they believe that challenge for the committee because many Republicans are saying don't listen, is to convince people. These people work for Donald Trump. Listen to them.

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: That's absolutely right. So, let's remember. This is not a trial. It is not an impeachment. The purpose is not to convince jurors to convict or anything like that. The entire purpose of this is to bring the information of what happened on January 6. What led to it? What happened that day? And what have we suffered through the aftermath?

To understand that they have got to tell a compelling story. People are wired to receive and understand information that's presented to them in the form of a narrative. This committee needs to put on through the testimony of live witnesses, a story that will matter to the American public.

KING: And so, you made the point, can you connect the violence of that day, to the political conversations that started on election night. And part of that is, we knew Donald Trump was complaining, we knew Donald Trump was lying, kept saying he won the election. And we heard him changed sort of what he was asking for, over the course from election day through January 6, things like this.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: This is a fraud on the American public. Frankly, we did win this election. People are here, but certain very important people. If they have (Inaudible) and if they have any parents, we're going to win this election.

TRUMP (voiceover): All I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won to state. TRUMP: We're going to walk down to the Capitol. And we're going to cheer on our braised senators and congressmen and women. And we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.


KING: What do you need? He made his intent very clear. He disputed the election on election night, then he tried to pressure Georgia and other state officials to overturn the results for him, having failed at that they pressured Mike Pence and members of Congress to try to somehow disrupt the certification of the process. There were other steps as well. But how do you take the political rhetoric and take the - find the documents the other testimony to prove conspiracy?

CORDERO: Right. And we know that they also - he was also pressuring the Justice Department as well to find unfounded election fraud. So, there is a lot of evidence that's come out already regarding his strategy to try to politically undermine the outcome of the election. And then we have the Justice Department that has charged these far right-wing groups.

The key, if the committee is going to try to pin the violence that occurred, the actual insurrection on the former president, then as Andy's described, what they need is they need to live witness testimony of people who were in the inner circle.

And they need documentary evidence of people who were involved in those conversations, connecting the two pieces, connecting the political leadership, the former president or his inner circle, to the far right-wing violent groups that implemented the force to try to prevent the certification.

KING: If you look, Andy, what the committee has done, $3.5 million spent in the investigation, but thousand witness interviews, 100,000 documents and more. This is just what we know. And we're told we're going to learn new things tonight. If you talk to some of the people involved, very early in my career, I got some organized crime trials back in and around, it sounds like that. You know somethings but you have uncooperative witnesses. So, you have to find the paper, you have to find the email and what else?

MCCABE: It should look exactly like that. It should require that much effort, those many interviews. It is not easy to prove the existence of an enterprise the way that you have to in an organized crime trial. You have to have the right witnesses that takes leverage.

It takes convincing people to come in and present the truth and you have to vet that testimony that they give you to understand, that they are in fact telling you the truth. Those are the sorts of witnesses. As Carrie has said that the committee is got to rely on to present this in a compelling way.

KING: And part of capturing the attention American people tonight's a curtain raiser there, two weeks of hearings. We know exactly how many, but we know they're gone for two weeks. It could be six, it could be eight. Two of the police officers there that day. One a D.C. police officer, one a Capitol police officer, not only say they want the American people to understand every second of this history, but they believe the plot continues.


MICHAEL FANONE, FORMER METRO DC POLICE OFFICER: They're going to adapt, and they are going to potentially be more extreme in their activities and actions to accomplish what it is that they want to accomplish.


SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: What is there to stop them next time, would they do this with impunity if they will get back in office most likely. So that's something to be worried about.


KING: This is important for history. But how is it as prosecutors or courtroom as attorney, someone trying to win a case to find compelling witnesses to shake the people who may have a preconceived opinion or may just be exhausted not want to listen?

CORDERO: Well, from the perspective of just making sure that our democracy continues to exist in the way that we all enjoy it today, they have to present compelling information that demonstrates not just what happened on January 6, but exactly as they were describing how to prevent this from happening again. This is as much. These hearings in my view are as much about the future as they are about the past.

MCCABE: Absolutely. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, you want our elections and our political processes to represent your true, the will of the voters your attempts. The only chance we have of preserving that for the future is to understand completely all of the facts behind how this went so far off the rails on January 6.

KING: It's a high bar for the committee but one would hope given the stakes. You both have so smartly outlined. People just have an open mind, have an open mind. And here you can join us right here. The rest of our CNN team. I'll be here tonight as well. Special coverage, the new details on what happened inside the White House on January 6, our coverage begins tonight 7pm eastern. Up next, gun safety in Congress. At least 10 Senate Republicans are needed to get a deal and the top Democrat in those talks today because he thinks he can get even more.




KING: The senators say, this time really is different that they are negotiating in good faith, and they say getting closer to a bipartisan deal on some new gun safety measures. The lead democratic negotiator in the Senate, telling CNN just this morning, these talks are different than failed negotiations after past mass shootings. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURPHY: I still think there are more paths to failure than there are to success, but we've never gotten this far. I think that we can put together a package that will get more than 10 Republican votes.


KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Kasie Hunt, Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post, and Asma Khalid of NPR. Marianna, Chris Murphy says we've never gotten this far, but there are still more paths to failure than there are to success. That's a pretty damning indictment of past, talks about gun safety. Why is this different?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, the optimism is different. It's very weird to actually see sustained positivity in negotiations. We have been here before. And I think that's what he's been cautioning this entire time. Like we can go to literally the last minute and see things fail, right.

But you do have good faith negotiators here. You do have Republicans buying and you have right now still Mitch McConnell buying in on this and blessing his Republicans in these negotiations. So, at this point in time, they are finding middle ground. It looks like on a number of different issues. But how far, how much it will appease, potentially House Democrats on the other side. That's still a question too.

KING: The Murphy is the top Democrat in the Senate negotiations. There is a separate House plan that's going to pass the House, has passed the House, but it has no chance, most of it has no chance in the Senate. So, John Cornyn, is the top Republican involved in negotiations. This is him earlier today with Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you realistically think that this group will have a deal in hand by the end of this week, by today or tomorrow?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): No. But having said that, we're making good progress. In the next couple of weeks, I'm optimistic.


KING: Again, you see optimism. So, the top Democrat and the lead Republican both say optimism. We know that on the table in these talks, incentives for states to enact enhanced red flag laws, including juvenile records on background checks, if someone here, you can look back at their juvenile records, if someone tries to buy a gun, mental health care funds, school safety off the table, and maybe why the talks continue.

There's no federal red flag law. There's not going to be an assault weapons ban. And the Republicans say so far, there's no way they would raise the age to buy an assault weapon. So, they're relatively modest proposals. And yet the devil in the details, as always.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: They are relatively modest proposals. I think that's part of why this negotiation is going farther than past negotiations. I mean, if you'll remember back to Sandy Hook, they came out and proposed an assault- weapons ban, and ban on high-capacity magazines and comprehensive background checks. And then the vote that ultimately failed was just on comprehensive background checks.

Now, in this context, they can't even do what that bill would have done. But I think that the important thing to remember here is that the big picture political context of this matters, the willingness of Republican senators to actually get on board with something, and you know, Murphy said on New Day this morning, that the idea is to get more than just 60 votes to get a lot of Republicans on board here, that that would send an important message.

And be an important turning point in this debate overall, that would reflect how the politics of this is changing inside of our country. And it's an acknowledgment that Republicans are at the table that things are really changing on this. Sometimes it takes members of Congress a minute to reflect those changes in the electorate, but they're getting there.

KING: Right. The idea being if you have a package here that a lot of people at home, it's compromised, a lot of people at home would not be satisfied, but you build goodwill. If you can get to 60 votes or 70 votes or God forbid 80 votes. Then if you have to come back in a year or two, at least you've had some goodwill in the room, and it's easier to have - easier to have a great way to put it, everyone's skin in the game.

Next conversation. Many of the activists still are not happy. They don't think they're going to get enough out of Congress. They think the president should use his pen and just try to do things with executive power. He was asked about that on Jimmy Kimmel last night.



JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: I don't want to emulate Trump's abuse of the constitution and constitutional authority. And I often get asked, look the Republicans don't play it square, why do you play it square? Well, guess what? If we do the same thing, they do our democracy would literally be in jeopardy.


KING: There are a lot of conservatives this morning say, hey, wait a minute. He's actually used executive action quite a bit. He's used executive action on a whole range of issues. Why not here?

ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes. I mean, I think that's an excellent question. I do think that right now, his reluctance to do, it does reflect the optimism. Maybe it's cautious optimism that he sees on Capitol Hill. And his preference would be for Congress to enact something, even if it's not as expansive maybe as what activist one, at least before he moves to the executive actions.

KING: And so, what do we look for now? If they want to do it this week, they move on to next week. This is where just having been in this town maybe too long. Is that the longer it goes on, you know, that's usually when all of a sudden attend to something happens, attention moves somewhere else, and the people who really don't want to be there back off? Is it really different this time?

SOTOMAYOR: It does feel that way. But as you mentioned, I mean, they only have maybe till the end of the month, because then you have July 4 recess, then you have August recess when they're barely here and in town. But they were already able to overcome that one week they were away, when everyone was saying, oh my gosh, they're going to lose the momentum. They're going to come back and focus on something else, whatever other disasters happening. So, the fact that they've sustained that and are still going and still meeting is indicative, like Kasie said.

KING: Republicans believe it's in their political interest to do something, which is what keeps us going. And we'll hope that mood continues. Ahead for us, a defining moment for history and for midterm politics. Tonight's primetime January 6 hearings come with risks for some committee members.




KING: Tonight, the January 6 committee goes public with evidence from a nearly year-long investigation. It does so of course, in the middle of an election year, amid sky high partisan tensions. The panel presenting facts that are not really in dispute, not in dispute, but Donald Trump's allies are attacking the investigation as a political stunt. And there are political risks for several key players.

Our reporters back with us. Let's start with one of them. That would be the man who would be speaker. Kevin McCarthy believes Republicans will win the majority in November. Kevin McCarthy believes then that he should be able to be elected speaker if he keeps Donald Trump on his side. So, it's very interesting to go back in time. This is Kevin McCarthy. This is Kevin McCarthy right after the insurrection. Listen to how important it is to get to the bottom of all this.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) (voiceover): We cannot just sweep this under the rug. We need to know why it happened, who did it and people need to be held accountable for it. And I'm committed to make sure that happens.


KING: Now Kevin McCarthy says this.


MCCARTHY: Was this a really legitimate committee? Or is this a political committee going after their opponents and trying to raise money? Why would they have it on primetime? Watch who they've gone after and why they've gone after? Where is the legislative purpose of this committee? You have Nancy Pelosi, putting political people on here that you've just talked about earlier that created a whole hoax before to go after President Trump only for their own political purposes. And that's what they continue to play.


KING: Is there any other way to describe this as he thought as many Republicans did, they were finally rid of Trump. And so, they had the courage to do this. He supported the negotiations for the bipartisan commission. And then he started to realize Trump's not going anywhere. And he pulled the rug out from everything.

HUNT: He decided that being speaker of the House was the most important thing for Kevin McCarthy. And you know, if the process didn't actually really take that long in the wake of January 6, really only a few weeks for the major tone shift. And then, a little while longer while they tried to form the commission, and he sent a negotiator, John Katko, and then basically rip the rug out from under him after that.

But I think your point is absolutely the right one. There have been so many Republicans in Washington. I think, with the exception of the few who are very much, would identify themselves proudly as ultra-MAGA, right, who would be exempt from this.

But I mean, how many private conversations have you had with people who were like, I don't want to be - I don't want to be in this man's party. I don't want this - I don't think this man should be president. I mean, the things that we heard for years from Republicans were exactly that and McCarthy tried to capitalize on it and then did a quick about face.

KING: And I know, you say ultra-MEGA, Debbie Lesko was a conservative Republican from Arizona. She would be in the MEGA crowd. Listen here. This is an interview one day, one day, January 5, right before the insurrection.


REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ) (voiceover): I'm actually very concerned about this because we have, who knows how many hundreds of thousands of people coming here. We have Antifa. We also have, quite honestly, Trump supporters who actually believe that we are going to overturn the election. And when that doesn't happen, most likely will not happen, they are going to go nuts.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Turned out she was correct. Turns out she was correct. And then she also - we have - we did not have Antifa. We did not. But again, Republicans who then understood the gravity here, now trying to say this committee has nothing, American people don't pay attention. History doesn't matter. Facts doesn't matter, apparently, accountability doesn't matter.

KHALID: Yes. I mean, that's what they've been saying now for months. I think really, though, John, like the key question is that so much of this has been happening behind closed doors. Now, obviously, Democrats are trying to make this a primetime special, concurrently during the timeframe that the NBA finals have been going on, right. Like they're trying to get people's attention, and say that, you know, here's new evidence.

I also think they're trying to temper expectations, right. From some Democrats you hear, there is this sense that people think there is going to be some sort of bombshells revealed. And if there is not, then what happens.