Return to Transcripts main page
Evidence Shows Trump Enlisted Officials in Plot to Overturn Election; Trump's Lies Drew Violence, Threats to Election Officials in U.S.; Trump Turns Ire Towards Allies in Frustration Over Hearings. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired June 22, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Now, some of these folks allegedly asked for preemptive presidential pardons, while others have faced Trump's wrath for not focusing enough on his election lies.
So, for all the hundreds of witnesses and thousands of hours of testimony, it's important to remember who has been trying to hide from the truth and what other information they may have about the ex- president's attempted coup. Don't let obstruction blur into the background because accountability is the only way to ensure that this never happens to our country again.
And that's your Reality Check.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world, it is Wednesday, June 22nd. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.
Broken laws and broken lives, the case being made by the January 6th committee in its latest round of hearings with new revelations about individuals threatened and harassed because of lies, lies the committee suggests that broke the law, including submitting slates of fake electors that simply did not win the vote, lies the committee says about election fraud in which Trump allies did not produce evidence, in fact, admitingly, according to the testimony, without evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): At some point, did one of them make a comment that they didn't have evidence but they had a lot of theories?
STATE REP. RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ): That was Mr. Giuliani.
SCHIFF: And what exactly did he say and how did that come up?
BOWERS: My recollection, he said, we've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Witnesses revealed how the pressure campaign from Trump world became dangerous. Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers says people often show up to his House, some calling him a corrupt politician and a pedophile. Bowers says one man carrying a pistol threatened his neighbor. All this happening while his daughter, Kacey, was dying inside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOWERS: We had a daughter who is gravely ill, who was upset by what was happening outside. And my wife, that is a valiant person, very, very strong, quiet, very strong woman. So, it was disturbing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Bowers' daughter, Kacey, passed away in January of 2021. We will have more on the threats ahead.
We also learned that Republican-elected officials pushed the fake electors' scheme. The committee unveiled never before seen text messages that the chief of staff to Republican Senator Ron Johnson sent to an aide to former Vice President Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the joint session. This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wished to hand deliver to the vice president the fake electors' votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. The vice president's aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the vice president.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I had no knowledge of this.
REPORTER: Who is the person that delivered --
JOHNSON: I had no involvement in a slate of electors. I had no idea this was going to be delivered to us, it got delivered staff to staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, color this former congressional correspondent skeptical that a chief of staff to a senator would do this without his boss telling him to.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think nobody is buying that because we know what Ron Johnson -- you know, he is a big supporter of the former president and he certainly believed that he deserved to try to find a way to remain in office.
And so one of the things that's happening right now, certainly from watching yesterday's hearing, Brianna, you saw what the committee was doing, which was going from the top down. They were emphasizing the role that the former president played and other officials at the top of this scheme played in trying to push this down to the states. Over the Justice Department, which we know -- I mean, we know prosecutors are watching these hearings very closely, but this is one of the few areas where we've seen a lot of activity that I think, you know, goes to the criticism that members of the committee have been making where they were going above the rioters who went into the building on January 6.
You see subpoenas that are going to some of the people who were involved in these alternate electors scheme and these are people who had communications with people in the Trump circle. And so these subpoenas have asked for communications with Rudy Giuliani, Justin Clark, who was a campaign lawyer, John Eastman, among other people who were involved -- deeply involved in trying to carry out this scheme on the state level.
And so this is classic Justice Department strategy, right? You go from the bottom up and it works very, very well in the way they do their work.
KEILAR: You have some new reporting on President Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. What can you tell us there?
PEREZ: Well, he is not expected to testify in the hearing that is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. We know the Justice Department officials, including Jeffrey Rosen, Rich Donoghue, Steve Engel are all going to be part of this big hearing that emphasizes how Trump was trying to use the Justice Department to support these lies about vote fraud.
Liz Cheney called out Pat Cipollone because he is not expected to be there and you can hear what she's trying to say here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here. Indeed our evidence shows that Mr. Cipollone and his office tried to do what was right. We think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally. He should appear before this committee and we are working to secure his testimony.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Brianna, the White House is not blocking Pat Cipollone from testifying. As a matter of fact, he did testify behind closed doors to the committee and he's played a big role in this hearing, whether he's there or not. I mean, we've heard from Jared Kushner, who has called him a whiner for threatening to quit over some of this stuff, we've heard from another witness who apparently was in the room when Cipollone told some of these characters that what they were trying to do was not legal.
So, Pat Cipollone and his words have certainly played a big role in the January 6 committee's hearings. We just aren't going to hear from him. And what I'm told is that simply he believes that he's given enough cooperation and, look, I think for people like him, you know, they think having a White House counsel, one of the closest aides to a president testify in a hearing like this, you know, brings back memories of John Dean and the Nixon years. Of course, you know, that's kind of the point, right? This kind of thing doesn't happen, January 6 doesn't happen very often in this country.
And so the unusual nature of what happened that day is what certainly people like Liz Cheney believe and people at the White House believe calls for him to show up and provide that testimony.
KEILAR: Great reporting, Evan. Thank you for sharing it with us.
BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN Senior Legal Analyst, former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig, Early Start Anchor-and- Attorney at Law Laura Jarrett and Daniel Goldman, former federal prosecutor, he helped lead the first House impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump and is now running for Congress in New York.
Dan, since you were involved in investigating the former president and had some dealings with White House counsel here, Pat Cipollone doesn't want to testify or talk more than he already has. It's an interesting question about whether a White House counsel can be compelled to testify. But the fact of the matter if he doesn't want to, he's not sitting down in that chair before the end of this year, is he?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think that the public hearings are probably going to wrap up in the next couple weeks. So, this is his opportunity. He has provided testimony.
But I think we need to draw a distinction between someone who is cooperating with the committee and someone who is affirmatively helping the committee. You can cooperate in theory by showing up, but by not giving your full understanding, and maybe in Pat Cipollone's situation, drawing on attorney/client privilege or even executive privilege. So, we don't know what actually happened behind the scenes.
It does seem from what Liz Cheney is saying that he has some very important information to offer, but he just doesn't want to get in the crosshairs with Donald Trump is my guess. He does not want to get the wrath of Trump and tarnish his standing with the former president.
BERMAN: That information in theory has to do with how much President Trump knew about whether his efforts and what he was pushing for was against the law. Had he been told it was against the law? Was he involved in pushing things directly that were against the law? Which is why testimony we heard yesterday about the RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, in President Trump's direct involvement with calling her on the fake elector scheme might be interesting. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did the president say when he called you?
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Essentially, he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing change the result of any of the states.
I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them. But my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that -- in that role.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Laura, why does it matter that Trump placed the call?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: That does not look good but I think it's actually far from a smoking gun. For the question to be what did Trump say and the answer to be he passed the phone, I think that's quite attenuated, actually. And so this is part of the problem with having this be a congressional investigation instead of a DOJ investigation, is you want to drill down into exactly what the exchange was and maybe DOJ is doing that.
We know that they are interested in the fake elector scheme. The fact that he was on the call I think matters, the fact that he pressured Bowers about the fake elector scheme mattered. So, it wasn't just the RNC that he is directly involving here, there are other people involved, and, undoubtedly, there are more than one or two conversations. This is part of a larger scheme. And I think you have to see it in that mosaic of context. But all of this just -- it doesn't feel like they've made the direct link quite yet.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. What I think is really interesting and important about the fake electors scheme is it is the perfect symbol of the entire strategic approach here we saw from Donald Trump and his people, which is almost this magical thinking, if we say it enough times, if we write it, if it looks official, if someone vouches for it, we can turn a myth into a fact, right?
And now we have seen not just the lie, the creation of the lie, we've seen the making of the lie, we've seen behind the curtain, we've heard testimony from Republican, lifelong Republicans, who have said Donald Trump's main lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman said just say it, right? There is the clip yesterday where one of the witnesses says, John Eastman said just put it in court papers --
HONIG: Bowers, right. That will create uncertainty. That's all we need. It's just like the curtain has been ripped away, it's a man with a microphone and he's saying, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
BERMAN: And we played the bite a little earlier, Elie, where Bowers was saying Rudy Giuliani said they have theory, but no evidence.
HONIG: That's the slogan for this whole effort. And they tried to sort of, through alchemy, take this theory and turn it into evidence but it doesn't work and Congress is free to reject it and the American public are free to reject it. JARRETT: But isn't it striking just how all of this was hanging on all of these individual actors who had to stand up and say, this is wrong, no, let me do the right thing here. It just shows you all these different moments in time where we actually might be sitting here in a different situation were it not for all of these players who had to decide to take a stand. Go ahead, sorry.
GOLDMAN: But John's point is right which is, yes, maybe we now know John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani did not believe this was true, but the question is what did they say to Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump needs to understand that the legal theories that Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman are putting forward are bogus.
And this is also why Cipollone's testimony is important because if another lawyer, the White House counsel, is telling Donald Trump that what Eastman and Giuliani are saying is false, that goes a long way towards showing that Donald Trump understood that there was no legitimate theory here, because Donald Trump is not a lawyer and he can say, oh, my lawyers told me this, even though we all know it's garbage. He has a punitive defense, a possible defense that he can say that. But that's why I think, A, if Eastman cooperation, which is, I think, not unrealistic to think about or, B, Cipollone says to Trump and testifies that I told Donald Trump this is all garbage, that goes a long way.
BERMAN: Again, reporting from Evan is Cipollone is not raising his hand, saying pick me to testify right now. It doesn't seem likely that that's happening.
GOLDMAN: Well, but DOJ will get him.
BERMAN: That's a possibility, although a fight, right? If he doesn't want to testify, he will say, I don't want to do this and he will fight it in court for a long time and it will play out like Don McGahn did, who ultimately did talk a in some level.
Look, this has a real world impact that I think we saw yesterday in dramatic fashion. I want to play a little bit of the testimony from Wandrea Shaye Moss about -- she's the Georgia election worker who was called out by name by President Trump, by Rudy Giuliani, and she talks about the impact it had on her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANDREA SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I've gained about 60 pounds, I just don't do nothing anymore, I don't want to go anywhere, I second-guess everything that I do. It's affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HONIG: There's been a tendency up to now, a natural tendency when we think about the damage done by this whole effort to focus on January 6, the physical damage done to the Capitol, the injuries inflicted on the brave police officers who defended it.
But let's also remember there is a real cost to this. There is a cost to our democracy and there is a cost to human beings.
And the thing that really got me, upset me about that clip is Ms. Moss is not an elected official, she is not in the media, she hasn't put herself out there and yet Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump and others singled her out. She is a civilian, a public servant and they made her life miserable. And let's take a moment to excoriate the enablers, Rudy, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, we will hear about Jeffrey Clark tomorrow, they all knew better and chewed up anyone in their path.
JARRET: And that's why it's so striking that she can get up there and talk about how she can't even go to the grocery store anymore, how her mom has been harassed, how she started in this world because she knew that black people didn't have the right to vote and she was told that by her grandmother and she was inspired, right? The whole racist element of this can't be missed by Rudy and they were explicit about it and it's just striking that she can get up there and testify but Pat Cipollone can't.
GOLDMAN: I would add one thing, which is, by this point, Donald Trump knows that his words -- how his words are interpreted by his supporters. And he knows when he calls out someone and accuses her of doing something wrong that his supporters will use violence, threats, whatever it is. And this happened with the whistleblower in our investigation, it happened with Alexander Vinman in our investigation, with Marie Yovanovich. By this point, four years in, he knows the impact of his words and yet he still did it anyway so that his supporters would threaten these poor witnesses who were just doing their job.
BERMAN: Daniel Goldman, Laura Jarrett, Elie Honig, thank you all so much for being here.
We are going to speak to the lawyer for Shaye Moss on what that family now wants from Rudy Giuliani.
Plus, new CNN reporting on how former President Trump is reacting to these hearings.
KEILAR: And new this morning, President Biden calling for a federal gas tax holiday, which Barack Obama once called a gimmick. How will this affect you? The White House will join us live.
BERMAN: New CNN reporting this morning on former President Donald Trump growing more and more irritated as the January 6th panel presents their findings in public hearings. One of the former president's irritations, the lack of Republicans on the panel.
Joining us now, Gabby Orr, our CNN Correspondent, and Melanie Zanona, CNN Capitol Hill Reporter, they are both co-authors on this really interesting piece.
So, he is irritated, Mel, which means he's watching, right?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, right. As of right now, he's watching anyway. And one of his biggest gripes right now is that Kevin McCarthy, the GOP leader, decided to withdraw all of his picks from the panel after Pelosi vetoed two of the five that he initially selected. And the reason is because there are no Republicans or at least Trump supporters in the room pushing back in real-time on these hearings.
And if they had been in the room, they could have cross-examined witnesses, they could have had some insight into what the investigation dug up, they could have disrupted the flow of hearings with procedural motions.
And so as these hearings have played out, Trump has grown sensitive to how they're playing with voters and viewers and he's lashing out at Kevin McCarthy for that, which is problematic, of course, if McCarthy wants to be speaker one a day.
KEILAR: Yes. I mean, his beef is really with Kevin McCarthy, right?
GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: It is. He is also very frustrated though with the fact that Republicans in general can't preemptively to respond to what is in these hearings because they don't have any insight into what's going to be revealed each time they hold a public hearing.
And I think part of the problem that's adding to that is now the revelation that there's 11 hours of raw footage that Alex Holden, this British documentary filmmaker, is expected to turn over to the committee. We don't know what is in that. We don't know what kind of conversations that filmmaker was privy to as he had access to not just the former president but also members of the first family and, you know, top campaign officials.
And so this is just another example of an instance where Donald Trump doesn't know how to respond, he is lashing out, not just at McCarthy but, you know, at some of the aides who have appeared in these sworn depositions, these video depositions. He's been complaining about Vice President Mike Pence, of course. He's been complaining about Mark Meadows and all the text messages that have been turned over to the committee. So, it is -- most of this blame is being placed at the foot of McCarthy but there are others who are caught in the fire as well.
KEILAR: So, that's who he is complaining about, Gabby? Who is he complaining to?
ORR: Well, he is currently at Bedminster, so he's surrounded by aides every day taking meetings and he has been talking to folks around him. But as we know, Donald Trump likes to call up the kitchen cabinet. So, he's been talking to friends, asking them what they think of the hearings, if they've been watching, if they think it's going to have an impact on the midterms. He's sort of surveying the field, figuring out how truly impactful these are and what the damage is to him. KEILAR: To everyone. It sounds like he will call up everyone that he can, right?
Separately he must also be watching these races that he has a vested interest in. What do you think about what we're seeing? In Georgia, his picks were rejected but he did have a win with Katie Britt in the Alabama Senate primary.
ZANONA: He did. I don't know how much credit we should be giving him for endorsing Katie Britt because, initially, he endorsed Mo Brooks, someone who has been a staunch Trump supporter. He was frustrated with Mo Brooks. He was struggling to fundraise, struggling to gain ground initially. He also said, we shouldn't talk about 2020, which also angered Trump. And then he came in at the last minute. He unendorsed Mo Brooks, came in in the last minute and endorsed Katie Britt.
And at that point, she already looked like she was poised to win.
Now, certainly a Trump endorsement matters, I'm sure it helped, but it is not a silver bullet, as we've seen with Mo Brooks, for example, when he had that Trump endorsement, he was still struggling.
KEILAR: You guys, thank you for all of your reporting. Gabby Orr, Melanie Zanona, we appreciate it.
And next, we are going to be joined by a White House official on President Biden's push for a three-month federal gas tax holiday.
BERMAN: And the Senate advances the bipartisan gun safety bill. Senator Chris Coons has been working in these negotiations, he will join us live.
Plus, huge devastation, death in Afghanistan. An earthquake claims nearly 1,000 lives. We are watching this very closely. New developments ahead.
BERMAN: New this morning, moments ago, the White House calling on Congress to suspend the federal tax on gas through September.