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House January 6th Committee to Continue Public Hearings on Events Leading Up to and Including January 6th Insurrection; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Interviewed on Emails Released between Pro Trump Lawyers Speculating Supreme Court Might have Ruled on 2020 Presidential Election If They Feared Violence. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- among Supreme Court justices over whether to take up a case on the 2020 election. But even more than that, "The Times" reports a response from another pro Trump lawyer, quote, "Odds of action by the Supreme Court before January 6th will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be wild chaos on January 6th unless they rule by then either way." This was about two weeks before the insurrection. "The Times" says this raises questions about a link to the idea of the violence that ultimately took place. We're going to talk about this a lot more ahead.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: But first, CNN is learning exclusively what an adviser to former vice president Mike Pence will be saying at today's hearing, which is going to focus on the pressure that Donald Trump put on Pence to overturn the election results. This new photo obtained by ABC News shows Pence along with his family in hiding after rioters broke into the capitol on January 6th, and they left the Senate chamber.
Retired Republican federal Judge J. Michael Luttig is expected to condemn Trump for instigating, as he is expected to put it, a war on democracy so that he could cling to power. Judge Luttig is expected to say had the vice president of the United States obeyed the president of the United States, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis.
BERMAN: Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He is a member of the select committee investigating January 6th. Congressman Raskin, thanks so much for being with us. I want to focus on some of these new revelations from "The New York Times" starting with this email they report on between a pro Trump lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, and John Eastman, who, of course, was working for Donald Trump and you have focused on quite a bit.
Chesebro writes, again, "Odds of action by the Supreme Court before January 6th will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be wild chaos on January 6th." What are the implications of this in your mind, that he's talking about, you could argue, the strategic value of violence weeks before it happens? REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D-MD) JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, I've
always believed that the street violence by hooligans and fascists and domestic violence extremist groups was a form of coercive leverage over the vice president. I had not, in all of my work on this going back to the impeachment trial, understood that some people were actually thinking of it as a tactical maneuver to force the Supreme Court into action. And, of course, that email doesn't prove that this is the case, but it does suggest that there were at least some people maneuvering in rightwing legal circles to try to push the Supreme Court into action.
BERMAN: And talking about the violence, the possibility of violence weeks before it happens, again, have you seen any other evidence of that?
RASKIN: Well, new evidence is every single day now. Suddenly a lot of people want to tell the truth and try it distance themselves from this outrageous plan to subvert and overthrow the 2020 presidential election. And I do think that there are more particles of evidence that are emerging about just that.
But today what we're going to see is Judge Michael Luttig, who of course is a major hero to the Federalist Society and the rightwing. He's kind of like at the level of Justice Scalia or Robert Bork to them. But we're hoping he helps us put the lie to the idea that there was any kind of ambiguity about the role of the vice president. Just like there was the big lie and the big rip-off, here there is kind of the big joke, which is the idea that for two centuries the vice president somehow had the unilateral power just to vaporize Electoral College votes from the states but had never done it, and suddenly they discovered it.
And, of course, that's ridiculous. That's not what the role of the vice president is. And Judge Luttig played a role in squashing that idea from the Eastman memo that was the basis for his so-called green base sweep of basically overwhelming and wiping out the card table at the end.
BERMAN: I want to talk about Judge Luttig in just a second. You mentioned a second ago that new witnesses are coming forward. Who?
RASKIN: New evidence is coming forward. There are things that are being revealed on almost a daily basis now. So we're having to integrate everything into our presentation of the evidence.
BERMAN: Can you give me an example of that?
RASKIN: Well, no, but I think you'll be able to see both today and in the hearings to come that we have fresh evidence of what was taking place, which was a plan to overthrow and put down the 2020 presidential election, seize the presidency for Donald Trump.
The thing that we want people to focus on today is this central role of Mike Pence, the vice president. How do you get thousands of people who are there as pro-Trump protesters chanting "Hang Mike Pence"? That's got to come from one person, really, which is Donald Trump. How do you turn an entire pro-Trump/Pence mob against Mike Pence? And we're going to see exactly how that happened and why it happened, and what was the role that they wanted Mike Pence to play versus what his proper constitutional role really was.
BERMAN: And again, we do understand that John Eastman, this lawyer, and some of the things he has written, will be part of this discussion today. Again, focusing on some of the new reporting overnight, "The Times" reports that Eastman was saying what he believed to be happening within the Supreme Court. He was telling people he knew what was happening in the Supreme Court with regards to one possible case. What are the implications of that?
RASKIN: Well, I mean, the first thing to understand, of course, is that we are only putting things out there that we understand to be evidence. And so if there is evidence that he said that, we will report that he said that. That doesn't necessarily mean it's true. He could have been lying about what he knew on the inside.
On the other hand, perhaps he had some backchannel connection to the Supreme Court, and we want to ferret that out if that's true, to determine whether the same people who were establishing a backchannel to the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, and the domestic violent extremist movement, also had a backchannel somehow to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
BERMAN: I'm sorry who was in Trump world establishing a backchannel to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers?
RASKIN: Well, all of that is to come soon. This is actually the hearing that I'm working on is about the relationship between this whole effort and the domestic violent extremist groups, and how the mob was actually mobilized and put into action.
BERMAN: And it will be by people who either worked for the campaign or tangentially with the campaign, or with the White House?
RASKIN: All in due course, the information will be -- will come clear. We believe the truth here is the birthright of the American people. In a democracy, the people have the right to the truth and all the facts, and the truth is what will keep us free.
BERMAN: The -- Ginni Thomas, "The Times" and "The Post" reporting emails, again, between Ginni Thomas, some with John Eastman, we have known previous reporting -- Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. At this point, can you explain to the American people why you haven't issued a subpoena to talk to her?
RASKIN: No, unfortunately I can't talk about specific witnesses like that, but I will tell you that we are determined to reveal all of the facts of the plot to overthrow the election. And we're not showing any favor or any prejudice towards any particular witness. If people were involved, we are approaching them, and we are hopeful they will cooperate the way the vast majority of witnesses have. We've had now over 1,000 people who have come to interact with us, and we're hoping that everybody who has information will come and share it.
BERMAN: You talked about Judge Luttig's testimony later today. You say he -- we've reported before that he told Vice President Mike Pence that what was being asked of him was unconstitutional. Do you know whether Luttig's information got to the president of the United States?
RASKIN: That's something I hope we'll find out today. But Judge Luttig has in the past been very emphatic about the idea that there was no basis whatsoever for the claim that the vice president has the unilateral power in our constitutional order essentially to declare who will be president and who will not. If you think about it, that would be most ridiculous person for the founders of our Constitution to place in charge of appointing a president. But, of course, the founders were not interested in any single individual appointing the president of the United States, and we have a system that ultimately relies on the will of the people in the states as expressed through the Electoral College.
But what they were purporting to do was to come up with the scheme where they could nullify the Electoral College votes that have been sent in by the governors and their certificates of ascertainment of who had actually won in the states, and then just allow Donald Trump to win by vanquishing dozens and dozens of Electoral College votes sent in by tens of millions of people.
BERMAN: Congressman Raskin, the committee released video of this tour that Congressman Loudermilk gave inside the Capitol grounds the day before January 6th. And in this video, you can see people taking pictures of different things along there. I guess -- and, of course, the Capitol police, this came after the Capitol police said they investigated this and they found no wrongdoing, or no suggestion that anything was amiss here.
I'm curious, what conclusions have you drawn from this video, and what questions do you still have about this?
RASKIN: Well, we haven't drawn any conclusions yet. We, of course, are still in the investigative process, and this is one of thousands of particles of evidence we're examining to try to get a complete picture of what had happened. There was a video that we released yesterday of one of the individuals who was on that tour on January 5 with Congressman Loudermilk, participating on January 6th in the MAGA march, bantering back and forth with another marcher who showed off his American flag that had been sharpened into a weapon, which he promised to use on someone special. And then apparently one of the people who was on this tour was also talking about targeting Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, AOC, Jerry Nadler.
So these are things that are of interest to us, and it's obviously just one little piece of evidence in a broad picture where tens of thousands of people were involved in these events. But it's certainly something that has caught the interest of some of the members.
BERMAN: And do you think the Capitol police released their statement before they should, perhaps?
RASKIN: Well, I think the committee simply has a lot more information than the Capitol police would have. We're investigating the entire thing. And so that that might be a matter of interest to people.
But the critical thing right now is we're trying to get the truth out, all of the evidence out to Congress and to the American people so we can make some sober and solemn judgments about what we need to do to fortify America against coups and insurrections and political violence and instability. We have gone for more than two centuries without a violent interruption of the peaceful transfer of power in America. This can never happen to us again. We are resolved about that. The counting of the Electoral College votes is something that must be maintained as secure and safe and sound and not subject to all kinds of manipulation, coercion, and violent attack.
BERMAN: Congressman Jamie Raskin, a preview of coming events today, and I think in the hearings beyond today. Thank you so much for this discussion.
RASKIN: Thanks for having me.
KEILAR: And joining us now to discuss, CNN anchor and a favorite, I think I can say that, he's a favorite of our show, Chris Wallace with us now.
KEILAR: Fascinating interview there with Jamie Raskin, Chris. And specifically, let's just go back to the beginning of what he was talking about, this email where Kenneth Chesebro is talking about how the potential wild chaos, so the violence of January 6th might actually pressure the Supreme Court to ask. It was so interesting to hear Raskin say that it doesn't prove violence was a strategic instrument, but it does suggest that there was that kind of maneuvering within Trump's circles. What did you think of that?
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think the emails are fascinating. First of all, the email from John Eastman to Chesebro saying he -- and John, quite rightly, was pressing Congressman Raskin about it, that there seemed to be some back channel, because he's talking about a big fight inside the Supreme Court, and then Chesebro writes back and says, well, maybe they would rule on this would be a challenge to the Wisconsin results if they were worried, and this is all prospective -- it's before January 6th, if they were worried about violence on January 6th.
So it does seem, the congressman as a member of the committee was understandably coy about it, that the idea that they're even talking about violence on January 6th sounds like they're saying the quiet part out loud. And as he was also coy on this, but it comes out today, not only this email exchange between Eastman and Chesebro, but also the fact that Eastman was in touch with Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Now, there is no evidence of this, but it certainly, you do raise the question, where would the inside channel, backchannel be between Eastman and what was going on in the Supreme Court?
BERMAN: I thought it was interesting, Congressman Raskin suggests he's not even sure Eastman was telling the truth in that email. But the Ginni Thomas question in a way is almost a separate question than some of the evidence we have seen from the January 6th committee, which is she's all over this story in terms of emailing different characters and it does raise the questions about whether Justice Thomas should have recused himself from any January 6th decisions and will going forward, Chris.
WALLACE: Remember, John, there was a decision at one point where the committee wanted all of Trump's emails released to the committee to investigate, and eight of the justices voted yes, and the president has to release those documents, and it was one justice who said no, he doesn't have to, and that was the husband of Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas.
KEILAR: Yeah, I mean, what do you think about where the committee is on this, because it does seem there are divisions about whether they need to speak with her. We talked to Alberto Gonzales and he seemed to indicate the Department of Justice would have some interest certainly talking to her. She's talked to Arizona legislators. She's talked to Eastman. She's talked to meadows.
Do you think the committee should talk to her, Chris?
WALLACE: Well, I mean, it is not for me to judge, there is apparently a division inside the committee as to whether or not to pursue this. And I think there seemed to be two points, one is, look, this is supposedly about Donald Trump and the people around him, you start getting into Clarence Thomas and the Supreme Court, are you kind of widening the aperture so wide, so openly that you're reducing some of the focus?
And then also some political pushback here. Interestingly enough, Liz Cheney is one of the people who is against this. And, remember, Liz Cheney is one of the -- almost inspectors pursuing Donald Trump.
But she's also a loyal Republican. And maybe when it comes to Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas, she's not so interested in that.
BERMAN: I'm curious to think, to know who you think Jean Valjean is in this. And I would love for you to sing the entire score of "Les Mis".
Chris, Jamie Raskin was laying out the types of things he wants to focus on going forward too. I'm curious how you think the committee has matched its answers to the questions that they have been posing.
In other words, does the evidence they presented to the American people, does it match up with the questions they have been raising?
WALLACE: Well, I think that they have done a very effective job so far. And they have only had two hearings, but the opening sequence in which they basically went through the whole thing and then specifically when they focused on what, you know, what has been called the big lie, the argument that in fact Donald Trump knew that he had lost the election, and continued to pursue this argument that it was a stolen election, a rigged election.
I think they have done a good job of that, but, you know, I was skeptical from the start, and said so before the first hearing about what impact that would have. And all you have to do is look at the results of the primaries on Tuesday where you have Tom Rice, one of the very few, I think ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump over the January 6th riot, he's a five-time -- five-term congressman from South Carolina and not only was he beaten, in the Republican primary, but the election denying challenger, Russell Fry, got 50 plus percent of the vote and this five-term congressman Tom Rice got 25 percent for an incumbent, that's pretty bad.
You also had election deniers winning, including for secretary of state, in the Republican nominee in Nevada, a swing state. So, you know, are they doing an effective job in making their case, yes. Is it going to change people's minds -- I think that's very much to be determined and the early indications are not so much.
KEILAR: All right, Chris, stick around for us if you will. We have a lot more to talk to you about.
We do have new CNN reporting this morning on former President Trump's plans for 2024. Also, his concerns about the governor of Florida.
BERMAN: Plus, a look at stock futures this morning. Not good. Down. S&P down nearly two points. This is after the Federal Reserve moved on interest rates.
We're going to speak to former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew coming up.
And CNN in Montana as this 500-year flooding event washes out communities.
KEILAR: And we have new CNN reporting this morning, Donald Trump weighing whether to announce a 2024 presidential run before or shortly after the midterm elections in November. A former Trump campaign official telling CNN, quote, announcing before the midterms allows him to clear the field, shore up the donor base and take a victory lap.
After the midterms, Trump, though, is keeping an eye on the rise of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
We're back now with CNN anchor Chris Wallace on this.
What do you think about this? I mean, is Trump afraid of DeSantis? How do you see the dynamics here?
WALLACE: Well, let's talk, first of all, about timing. There is a big debate inside the Trump camp whether or not, I think the president, former president, is one of the people pushing the idea of going sooner rather than later. I think because he just wants to be part of the action.
I will tell you the argument against it is just make the focus of this election Joe Biden and his record, you know, whether it is gasoline or inflation or the supply chain or immigration or crime, all the other things that are supposedly his debits, and if you get Donald Trump in there, and he's campaigning, then suddenly it becomes more of a choice election even without Donald Trump on the ballot.
As far as Ron DeSantis is concerned, you can say a lot of things about Donald Trump, but he's not stupid. And, you know, anybody looking at the polls would say that the greatest threat to him and a potential primary run in 2024 is the very popular, among the Republican base, very popular Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, even discussion, I don't know how serious it is, but there has even been discussion in the Trump camp about holding his announcement before the midterms, in Tallahassee, as close as possible to the governor's mansion, sort of an in your face by Donald Trump to say, I'm not scared of Ron DeSantis, and, you know, if he wants to take me on, let him try.
BERMAN: That's very subtle. That would be characterized as very subtle if he announced it in Ron DeSantis' yard that he's running for reelection.
Chris, you mentioned President Biden here. President Biden has been giving speeches on inflation, talking about the economy, he was talking to union officials yesterday, and he made the claim that Republicans are doing everything they can to stop his plans to bring down the costs for ordinary families, to trying to shift the blame on Republicans. Fair play?
WALLACE: Well, anything is fair in politics. I just don't think it is a particularly effective play.
Remember, before this and maybe still as part of this, Joe Biden is talking about blaming the gas prices and inflation on Putin. You know, the record is the record. And first of all you had this tremendous amount of spending in 2021 and one could argue it was the Republicans along with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who blocked another $2 trillion in social spending as part of the Build Back Better plan, all of that spending was fueling greater demand, which was one of the reasons for inflationary pressure.
And, again, you also have the record in 2021 where Larry Summers is saying inflation, the former treasury secretary, under Bill Clinton, was saying, you know, there is a real concern here about inflation and how many people in the Biden administration said, no, no, it is transitory.
So after the fact, a year later, to be blaming this on the Republicans and the fact that they're trying to block the Democratic agenda, which included a lot of spending, I don't know how effective that's going to be. KEILAR: Yeah, I agree with you on that, Chris. I'm not sure. But
maybe it says something about what he has available to him and the way of arguments.
Chris, it is great to have you. A fond, a friend of NEW DAY.
BERMAN: A friend of NEW DAY.
WALLACE: Let me say, I was humming "Les Mis" during the commercial, the three minute break, but you can't get me to do it on the air.
KEILAR: Take it away.
BERMAN: Well, you give us something to shoot for next time.
Chris Wallace, thank you very much.
WALLACE: Bye, guys.
All right. So, China's president voicing his support for Vladimir Putin in a significant move. We'll have the details of their call, ahead.
BERMAN: We have live drone video over the Yellowstone river as communities swamped by this historic flooding. We're going to have a look at the conditions there, coming up.