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Sen. Ron Johnson Again Says 1/6 Not An "Armed Insurrection"; GOP Gov. Candidate In PA Airing First Ad Since Primary; Lawyer Refused Trump Order To Tell Archives All Docs Returned. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Just today, incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson who was running for reelection, he's on the ballot in Wisconsin, this is him at a Chamber of Commerce event saying not that big of a deal.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Oh, what happened on January 6th an armed insurrection, I just think it's not accurate. You saw pictures inside the Capitol, I saw that later. The armed insurrectionist stayed within the rope line in the rotunda.


KING: The armed insurrectionist stayed within the rope line in the rotunda, simply flat out not true. Police officers were beaten. Staff members in the Capitol, senators themselves, a testimony in this trial were under security. We've seen, you know, flag poles were used. And Senator Johnson at one point almost, I don't know how to say it casually says, well, we did learn how to use the flagpole as a weapon that day. To say it was not an armed insurrection is what?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Wrong. It's hard to believe. And, you know, I hate to directly contradict the senator but that he is, you know, he was there. He's seen this and, you know, they there's been a lot of obfuscation after the event. I mean, it was a violent event, a pretty chilling testimony going on in that court case of how much more violent people wanted it to be.

I think one thing that we are watching for is what's going to happen with the January 6th Commission. And are they going to get a report out before the election. I mean, that was always the intention is to remind people, which is one reason the Republicans hate it is to remind people that what occurred and, you know, obviously, Senator Johnson, is concerned about it himself. But I mean, the tapes that we've all watched, and the experiences on the ground of all the people we work with, sort of belie that.

KING: The filings in these court cases, the witness testimony in these court cases that have gone to trial, including the one at away right now, the January 6th Committee hearings, all the new video release, you found that day, you're not sure what happened, you have no excuse for it well over a year later, which is why you mentioned the January 6th Committee, it's Republican Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney is literally traveling around the country trying to make the case that Republicans have to come to grips, tell the truth about what happened that day.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: We're either going to embrace those ideology, those ideological principles on which we were built. Or we're going to go down a path of embracing insurrection. The embrace of insurrection, the embrace of the lies about the election have gotten worse and more widespread.


KING: I wish I could say she were wrong in that last part, but you can't.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. And, you know, from the Oath Keepers trial that's happening right now to what's happening with the January 6th COMMITTEE to the other Grand Jury investigations that are underway on what happened that day, when it comes to fake elector schemes and whatnot, you get a better sense of the bigger picture and even listening to Sara's report there, where she's talking about how this Oath Keepers attorney is saying he had no violent intent that day, but then the jury in the courtroom is hearing recordings of him saying I wish they had brought the rifles and talking about, you know, where they were stashing certain weapons.

And I think that goes back to the bigger picture of what this looks like. And Republicans really just don't want to talk about it at all. They know that when it keeps getting brought up, it's not really effective for them, they don't really have a good perspective. And what they're counting on is that voters will share that sentiment, that they'll care more about gas prices and about the economy, what that's going to look like, but every day, you know, you see what's happening in the courthouse. You see what's happening on Capitol Hill with the Committee, you know, the details come out, they only make it more stark of what actually happened that day, what we actually saw and what these lawmakers and everyone lived through.

AYESHA ROSCOE, NPR HOST, "WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY" AND "UP FIRST": Well, I mean, it's pretty clear that it was a very violent day. Ron Johnson didn't hang around. You didn't see any lawmakers, oh, let me go out and talk to these very peaceful people. They was -- they were gone because their lives were in danger. And that was very clear. And so to say that this was just a peaceful day and this wasn't some violent insurrection, when all of the lawmakers were running for cover is I mean, it just begs the imagination, but they continue to do this. And the problem is, it's not clear what can be done if people don't believe in the voting systems in this country.

KING: Right. And it's important to tell the truth about that day, because of the climate we continue to live in. We can all show the pictures of that day or call you're part of a team of Times reporters had a piece in the newspaper over the weekend, threats against members of Congress in 2021, 9,625. That's up 10 times since just 2016. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine quoted in your piece saying, I wouldn't be surprised if a senator or a House member were killed. What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence. That's scary, number one. And number two, it just tells you that everybody including Senator Johnson need to call out the horror of that day.

HULSE: Yes. Senator Collins was concerned about saying something like that. But that is genuinely how she felt that this is what's going to happen and that, you know, people need to be aware. But what used to be kind of rare incidents or now every day incidents. And, you know, sometimes there's not a lot of sympathy from members of Congress like oh well this is your job and you have to take some of it. This is not the kind of thing that you're supposed to have to take. And people are worried about it. It's a real concern.


KING: People are worried about it. And I just want to, for the record, bring this in just into CNN. We have a statement to CNN from the Johnson campaign. Johnson campaign spokesperson Alexa Hanning says the senator in that video clip you just saw was comparing the methods used by racial justice protesters in the summer of 2020 with the January 6th rioters if you watch the tape, it's hard to square what the Senator said with that statement, but that's what they say for the record.

Up next, is it too late or better late than never? A look at key races for governor across the country including one whether Republican candidate just today launched his first general election ad.



KING: Today, a month long absence on T.V. is over, the Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, back on the airwaves today, for the first time since May.


DOUG MASTRIANO (R-PA), GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE: The 30 years I wore the uniform United States Army.

REBBIE MASTRIANO, DOUG MASTRIANO'S WIFE: One of the biggest challenges besides deployment was serving an Alpha Company.

LANCE FRAZEE, FORMER ARMY RANGER: There's a lot of pressure on the soldiers, you know, there were suicide terror and that's when Doug came in and he instilled discipline.

D. MASTRIANO: I want every Pennsylvania to know that I will have their back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Mastriano just one example of how many Republicans running for governor are laying unusually low at least in terms of T.V. spending, spending far less than their Democratic opponents in a year where there are 36 governor's races across the country. CNN's Dan Merica joins our conversation. Dan you've spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania. It has a Democratic governor right now who is term limited. Josh Shapiro, the Democratic Attorney General is the Democratic nominee. He has raised a boatload of money, all the polls show him leading pretty modest ad by Mastriano, late in the campaign take us inside the strategy.

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: And it's a drop in the bucket. I don't think there's any other way you can describe it. $1 million ad buy in a state with so many media markets at a time that Josh Shapiro and I have this number written down $7.3 million in the last 30 days on ads alone, that's just in the last 30 days. So it's a drop in the bucket at a time when Mastriano is kind of at a perilous point in his campaign.

There's been very little spending on air for Mastriano. There's been a Republican Super PAC that has spent on behalf of anti-Shapiro ads. And the leader of that PAC has signaled that they're getting squeamish that they might stop some spending. They don't like the fact that Mastriano has not close any gaps in polling, and they might stop airing those ads. So it seems like Mastriano felt like he had to air these ads, had to put something out on T.V. to just get something on the mark on the market to take the race to Shapiro.

I also think it's noteworthy that a lot of that focus on both his military service, and Mastriano was barely in that ad, he opens it a little bit. He closes it. There's photos of him obviously serving, but it's a lot the voice of other people, that is distinctly different than Mastriano', the race Mastriano is running on the ground in Pennsylvania.

KING: Right. And on the ground, the Democrats say he's out of the mainstream on abortion, he has some past ties to white nationalists or questionable characters. You see an ad like that. If there were real money behind it, I would say the strategy is to say, I'm a normal guy who served in the military. There's not real money behind it. So I think it's more of a keep somebody happy.

COLLINS: Yes. And how do you win a race if you're not doing -- he's not even doing local media from what I've seen. He's not going out and doing interviews talking about all the media markets that they have. He's doing one ad no mail, it just raises a lot of questions. And even Republicans are asking these same questions, because how do you win a race like that? It's a lot easier to win a primary with the backing of former President Trump. It's a lot harder to win the general election in this sense. And so it's been a big question for them to have what the actual strategy.

MERICA: And there's a lot of anger at Trump for meddling in this primary and then not spending in the general. Very little spending on Mastriano, obviously, he backed him in the primary late that is a source of anger among Republicans as well. KING: And it is a new Republican strategy. The question is why if you look, Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for Governor of Michigan, Mastriano in Pennsylvania, you have the candidate for governor in Illinois, Democratic candidate for governor in the -- I'm sorry, Republican candidate for governor, the Republican candidate in Maryland, all not spending any money between their primary in October. That is unusual to say the least in a competitive year, where Republicans at least began the year thinking they'd have chances.

HULSE: They were -- they are unconventional candidates. So this is a very unconventional approach. Some of it is just lack of money. I'm sort of sorry, he did start advertising because I wanted to see how this actually worked if you've never ran an ad. But I've been watching, John, how these governor's races are affecting the Senate races. And in Pennsylvania, you see this very determined Democratic campaign for governor. I think that that poll is along the Democrat for the Senate because there's not much other advertising going on there. So and that's going on in a couple of states with both parties.

KING: It's one of the fascinating questions, so five weeks out. Just today The Cook Political Report moved the Pennsylvania Senate race to a tossup. Fetterman, it was a lean, it was a lean Democrat because there is clear evidence of momentum for Dr. Oz, the Republican candidate in the polls, even though I think Fetterman I haven't seen a public poll where Fetterman is not leading, but it's a small lead. So that's a giant question, does the governor's race in Pennsylvania affect the Senate races the governor race in Georgia? We were talking about Herschel Walker's problems earlier. Republican Brian Kemp seems to have a comfortable lead there. We could go state by state but we have tickets flooding, which doesn't happen in presidential years anymore, but will we have a lot of it and midterm year?

ROSCOE: Well, in Georgia we do have some reporting from some member stations where they're talking to people who are saying they will vote for Kemp. But when it comes to Walker they're not going to go there. So I think you could see some ticket splitting especially in places like Georgia, especially with a candidate like Herschel Walker.


HULSE: There is -- it is less than there used to be. And I think people, you know, some of it is a function honestly of how the ballot is constructed. But then you have a case where like John Tester in Montana a few years ago, won by 30 or won when he was getting crushed on the presidential.

MERICA: There's also an argument to be made the Mastriano helps us with conservatives. Conservatives hold so many questions about Oz. Mastriano is a conservative, conservatives across the Commonwealth are devoted to him. If they go into the ballot box to vote for Mastriano, they're going to likely pull the lever for Oz as well. There's a dynamic there where Oz could actually be helped by Mastriano in a kind of a weird way.

KING: The chest, if you will, going state by state through the races who needs what, which -- what's the other guy need. Democrats also increasingly in the final weeks, they thought they could take back Arizona, the Republican governor is not running for reelection there. Democrats thought that's a tossup race at best. Some people lean it Republican. Democrats also nervous about the governor's race in addition to the Senate race out in Nevada. Again, five weeks out but we you had the started as a big Republican year after the Dobbs decision, Democrats had momentum heading into the last five weeks. I think both sides would agree on this, that the Democratic momentum has at least plateaued and Republicans say they think they have some.

COLLINS: And even people inside the White House have said similar when they've talked about this because there is this sense. I mean, look at what's happening with Gretchen Whitmer. Her campaign has said, yes, the polling looks really good, but don't believe that. And the White House does -- has noticed this and said that this is something that they are focused on that they are talking about, because they are worried, you know, in the last five weeks, you could see a difference.

ROSCOE: Well, you and you have inflation that is hitting people hard. That is going to make it very difficult for Democrats, and especially when you have voters who say they trust Republicans more on inflation, and the economy and the other issue is crime. And that's where Republicans have a huge advantage and they have been driving that issue home that fear of crime and saying that they are the ones that can be tough on crime, law and order, law and order.

KING: Five fascinating weeks ahead. Appreciate you joining the conversation. Dan, thanks, everybody else for coming out.

Up next for us, brand new reporting on the Mar-a-Lago documents drama. We are told Donald Trump pushed one of his lawyers to say all the records had been returned even though we now know that was not true.



KING: We're now learning that earlier this year, the former President Donald Trump asked one of his lawyers to tell the National Archives there were no more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. It's a claim we now know to be false. And Trump's then attorney Alex Cannon refused to relay that message. Sources tell CNN, Cannon had been working out of New York and could not confirm Trump's claims. The former federal prosecutor, defense attorney, Shan Wu, joins us now.

The innocent explanation is Mr. Cannon is working in New York, can't personally do the inventory says I can't sign that piece of paper until I with my own eyes can verify. Another interpretation is Donald Trump asked him to do something, he's in another city. He says I don't trust this. I'm not signing this.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I think this is a great example of how lawyers need to remember to distinguish between making a representation versus their advocacy. Cannon is remembering that distinction. He can't vouch for what's in there. So he's not going to make those representations to the government. I think something else we've seen in reporting that's interesting is he didn't want to look in some of those boxes, because he was worried there could be classified documents and told others to be wary of that as well. So that's very curious, because why is he worried about there being classified documents in there?

KING: That's a very important point. We know now, new e-mail released by the National Archive shows Trump's team was contacted 2021 told at least two dozen boxes of documents are missing. Among the missing documents correspondence between former President Trump and Kim Jong- un, and the letter he received from Barack Obama when he took office. This came up in a conversation with Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times" for her new book "Confidence Man."


MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Did you leave the White House with anything in particular? Are there any memento documents you took with you? Anything of note?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing of great urgency. I have great things there, you know, the letters to Kim Jong- un, letters, I had many of them.

HABERMAN: You were able to take those with you?

TRUMP: Look at what's happened. I think that has the -- I think that's in the Archives, but most of it's in the Archives but most of it is in the Archives.



KING: He starts -- he seems to start again. It's interpretation saying Kim Jong-un and then when she challenged -- well, you all you took though then it's like, oh, no.

WU: Right. I mean, his words, elections instinctively careful. He says most of them on the Archives. So he thinks that's covering him. But of course it doesn't, because it's not that most of them should be in the Archives. They should all be in the Archives. So as usual, he thinks he's able to control the conversation, but he's actually revealing a great deal.

KING: Right, that case is on it's in pause, if you will, going through the special master process. But we do know at one point that one of Trump's attorneys in Florida did certify to the government that all of the documents are returned and then obviously the FBI executed a search warrant and found dozens of documents. So what happens to that attorney in that case? Is the attorney say I just didn't I was asked to do, the client said they were all gone?


WU: Well, the first thing is getting to that point where the attorney says that, it means that the privilege is pierced and I don't know what DOJ is doing, but they certainly should be seeking to talk to that attorney. And that attorney, great example of representation versus advocacy, you don't want to make a representation like that to the Justice Department, unless you're absolutely certain that that's rock solid. So that converts them into at the very least witnesses. And from a defense counsel standpoint, it really compromises your ability to be effective in that position.

KING: Shan, thanks for coming in. Appreciate the insights.

And thank you for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.