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Today's January 6th Hearing to Focus on Trump's Pressure on DOJ; January 6th Members Targeted in Violent Rhetoric; Voters Very Engaged in Primary Races, to GOP's Benefit. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, June 23. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off this morning. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with me.
And we do have brand-new developments in the January 6th investigation. Newly-obtained footage from a documentary film crew that was embedded within Trump world for nearly six months before and after January 6th. This is footage that Maggie Haberman reports is causing anxiety for the Trump family.
The British documentary filmmaker has handed over his interviews with former President Trump, his adult children, and former Vice President Mike Pence to the House Select Committee and will be meeting with them behind closed doors today. What we have now for the first time is this film's trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP/FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: My father, he's very honest. And he is who he is.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He believes everything that he's doing is right.
D. TRUMP: I think I treat people well, unless they don't treat me well, in which case you go to war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we talk for a minute about January 6th?
D. TRUMP: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: CNN has also just learned this morning that the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, will testify today that, while he was there, the Justice Department was, quote, "presented with no evidence of widespread voter fraud in a scale sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election." He'll also say that, quote, "Some argued to the former president and
public that the election was corrupt and stolen. That view was wrong then, and it is wrong today."
That comes as the Justice Department is now ramping up its criminal investigation into the fake elector scheme that was concocted by Trump and his allies, with federal agents delivering grand jury subpoenas to at least four people on Wednesday.
BERMAN: Yes. The scale of that investigation seems to be greater and on a much wider scale than we had understood. We're going to have much more on that in a moment.
First, though, new information about what we will hear at today's January 6th hearing.
CNN's Sara Murray here with that. Good morning to you, Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
This is going to be a hearing that is really focused on the pressure campaign that came down around the Justice Department. So we are going to hear today from the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen. We're going to hear from his former acting deputy, Richard Donohue. We're also going to hear from Steve Engel, who is the former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
And these were folks who were all impacted when, after the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump decided he wanted to try to push aside Jeffrey Rosen and put someone in his place who would be willing to go along with Donald Trump's claims of election fraud and willing to pressure the states to try to revisit their election results and ultimately overturn the election.
Obviously, that caused great consternation within the Justice Department. There were threats that people were going to resign en masse if Trump did that.
Now, here's a portion of what we expect to hear from Jeffrey Rosen today: "Some argued to the former president and public that the election was corrupt and stolen. That view was wrong then, and it is wrong today."
So in addition to running through this pressure campaign that they may have faced from the former president, they're also going to reiterate what we have heard from these hearings. There was no basis for Donald Trump's concerns, for his efforts to try to overturn the election. There was no evidence of widespread fraud, John.
BERMAN: It is worth noting that, in each one of the hearings so far, the committee has delivered new information that we had not seen before. It will be interesting to see what they bring today.
BERMAN: Sara Murray, thank you very much. MURRAY: Thank you.
COLLINS: For more on this, let's bring in Joseph Moreno, a former federal prosecutor; and CNN's Katelyn Polantz. Thank you both for joining us this morning on these really serious developments that are happening in this Justice Department investigation.
And Katelyn, you've been covering this for so long, I wonder what you make about what this tells us about what is happening when it comes to the trajectory of this investigation.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So there's the House investigation, and then there's this Justice Department investigation that is a separate thing. It has existed almost in parallel fashion.
And what we are learning as of yesterday is that there has been a new round of subpoenas by the Justice Department to collect more information about these fake electors that were being used by the Trump campaign in states after the election, battleground states that Trump lost, states he didn't need electors, and that those electors were not supposed to be sent to the federal government. Yet, they were.
So the different -- the different types of subpoenas we've seen now, as opposed to before, was before, there were lower level Republicans that were being caught up in this probe.
POLANTZ: Right. People who were going to be electors for Trump and then dropped out.
Now electors in multiple states are getting them, including people that are at the top of the list of the people that were in touch with the Trump campaign. People like David Shafer, the Georgia Republican Party chair. We knew that he was a crucial link between the Republicans' efforts in Georgia to become electors and the Trump campaign itself. He got a subpoena.
We also learned that there were electors in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia that all got subpoenas.
And one of the things that's important about this, as the Justice Department progresses it's important that this probe, it's not just about battleground states and the people that are in them.
I know that that's who we're talking about. That's who's getting the subpoenas. But they're being asked about communications with the Trump campaign.
Not just anyone in the Trump campaign, people that you would recognize, right? Names like Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Justin Clark, the top lawyers, top staffers in the Trump campaign. And we just saw this week in the House, when they focused on the Trump
electors, that was the last public hearing we had, they were describing that they believed that the Trump campaign had been directing much of this fake elector effort in the battleground states.
So this investigation is in the background even when these House public hearings are moving on to something new now, the Justice Department pressure.
COLLINS: Yes, it certainly seems like it's stepping things up.
And Joseph, I wonder what you make of the developments we've seen in just the last 14 hours alone.
JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. Well, I make that the Justice Department is taking this very seriously. To Katelyn's point, this is not an organic idea that a number of electors in various states just came up with on their own. I mean, it seems very clear that this was a coordinated effort.
Look, and I've felt for a long time, when people think about January 6, they think primarily of the violence that happened on Capitol Hill that day and whether or not that violence could be linked to the president's tweets or the president's speeches. That's important. That's really important.
But from my view, if there's accountability here to be -- to be held by the former president and his inner circle, it's not what happened on just that day; it's what happened in the weeks and months leading up to it.
And if this was, in fact, a sophisticated scheme to have alternate fake electors that were eventually going to be presented to Congress or pressured on the vice president to elect them as -- you know, consider them the real electors, that's a major problem right there.
COLLINS: Yes, and that's still something that we've seen, really, at the heart of both of these investigations and (AUDIO GAP) happening on Capitol Hill.
You did differentiate between what's happening with the Justice Department.
I wonder what you make of Mo Brooks, who of course, lost the Alabama Senate Republican primary on Tuesday night, now coming out and saying he is willing to testify to the House January 6th Committee, but only if he did so publicly.
POLANTZ: Right. So this is a really interesting turn of events we have for Mo Brooks, because he was someone that spoke at that Trump rally on January 6th. And he was someone that early on, not in the Justice Department investigation, but actually in a lawsuit, there was another member of Congress, Eric Swalwell, that wanted to sue him and get information out of him about what he knew, why he said what he said, what he witnessed with Donald Trump on January 6. That lawsuit got tossed against him. So that avenue was shut down. And now he is losing his Senate race. He lost that Trump endorsement.
And he's had this change of heart where he's saying he will testify.
And so it's just really interesting, because you have these different avenues where lots of different people are trying to pursue information. Civil lawsuits, the Justice Department, the House. In some aspects the Georgia county grand jury. And different people are being willing to share information.
And at some point, all of that information will have to be replicated, right? What Mo Brooks says publicly to the House, the Justice Department will also see, if that is an avenue they want to look at.
COLLINS: The Justice Department has said they're watching these hearings very closely, and so are the January 6 prosecutors.
Of course, Mo Brooks had Trump's endorsement. He lost it, which Trump said was because he talked about moving on from the 2020 election. Joseph, I wonder what you make of what Mo Brooks could potentially provide if he does testify publicly.
MORENO: I mean, theories are great, narratives are great, but nothing beats hearing from people that were on the ground and knew what happened. And so the value of these hearings isn't so much kind of laying out what could have happened. It's hearing from people who knew what happened. Right?
Members of Congress, people who were there on January 6th, members of the president's inner circle. That's the value that these hearings bring.
And I think that's what people want to hear. They want to hear facts. They want to know what happened from the people that know what happened that were on the ground that day and the weeks leading up to it.
COLLINS: Yes, and you couldn't really frame Mo Brooks as someone who is not loyal to the former president. It will be very fascinating to see.
Joseph, Katelyn, thank you so much for getting up early with us this morning.
There are also new calls that we're looking at for violence against Congresswoman Liz Cheney and other members of the January 6 Select Committee on right-wing social media platforms. We have the latest CNN reporting ahead.
Plus, the Arizona Republican lawmaker who became tearful while describing how he and his family were harassed over Trump's lies about the election now says that he would vote for him again.
BERMAN: And Ukraine endures its worst 24 hours since the fall of Mariupol.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:14:08]
BERMAN: This morning brand-new CNN reporting on the calls for violence against members of the House January 6th Select Committee that are circulating on right-wing social media platforms. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan here with the latest on this.
And Donie, this includes some of the platforms where some of the planning for January 6 was taking place.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. What we're seeing is, you know, we talk a lot about Facebook and Twitter, but there is this whole universe of other alternative social media platforms, many of which are used by people who were involved in the insurrection; and many of the platforms became popular after January 6, when Facebook and Twitter kicked people off.
The kinds of messages we're seeing there I want to show you. We have a screenshot from -- from Truth Social, which is Trump's platform. It's a picture of a noose, and it references the -- text of it references January 6 committee members: "Hang them all."
On another pro-Trump forum: "If we ever decide to storm the Capitol again, I promise we won't make the mistake of being unarmed a second time."
And look, it's always difficult. My colleague Whitney Wild spoke to a former DHS official. It's always very difficult to figure out what is just rhetoric, what is just talk and what is serious.
I think two years ago we wouldn't have been sitting here having this discussion, talking about what really is on these platforms. But now we've known since January 6 -- I mean, I remember being in Georgia two days before the insurrection, speaking to Trump supporters and some of them referencing violence, some of them speaking about the potential for civil war and violence to overturn the election.
We know many of the people -- some of the people who have since been charged in the insurrection were posting online prior to it. So it's -- it's a very fine line of trying to figure out what is just talk and what might result in action.
BERMAN: What are these platforms saying about how they are treating these really unambiguous statements?
O'SULLIVAN: Yes. So these platforms, I mean, they market themselves as bastions of free speech. They say they are the alternative to Twitter and Facebook.
So some of the platforms are taking no action whatsoever that we can see. I mean, they are taking on some stuff, but on this type of speech, staying up there. Interestingly, Trump's new platform, which launched in February, Truth Social, we asked them about some of these posts, including that picture of the noose there. Truth Social did not respond to us, but they did -- it does appear that they took down the post that we asked them about. So no comment, but they did take action.
BERMAN: That is interesting. Donie O'Sullivan, terrific reporting. Thank you very much.
COLLINS: And joining me now to discuss is CNN law enforcement analyst and former D.C. Metropolitan police officer who protected the Capitol on January 6th Michael Fanone. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
And you heard what Donie was just talking about there. I know you're no stranger to receiving these kinds of threats, so I wonder what you make of it as someone who's gone through it personally. What's it like for these lawmakers who are now dealing with this?
MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I mean, it can be a very eye-opening experience. For me, you know, personal security has always been a part of my thought process, going back 20 years in the police department. But this takes it to a whole new level.
I've received a considerable amount of threats, My family members have received a considerable amount of threats. And, you know, from a law enforcement perspective, I understand that the vast majority of those are just empty words.
But, you know, as somebody who's on the receiving end, it doesn't exactly make you feel any better.
You know, I -- I would assume that those lawmakers are taking all the steps necessary, reporting them to U.S. Capitol Police, DOJ, and that they are, hopefully, receiving security details.
COLLINS: Well, that's such a good point, because it is this moment where you're right, that if you're the one who's getting those threats and they say, well, we don't think this person is actually going to act on it, you know, how do you really differentiate when someone is going to act on it, and when they're just making an empty threat online or in a phone call or in a text message?
FANONE: I mean, you can't. You know, law enforcement, unfortunately, today has to take all of these threats seriously. That being said, like in some instances, with threats that were made with me, I mean, even specifically, the threat that was made with me while I was testifying before Congress, you know, the individual was interviewed.
And, you know, they can pretty much hide behind hyperbole or free speech, and the conduct goes unpunished. There has to be some overt action, really, before law enforcement can intervene. So for me, I just, you know, expect the worst and prepare for it.
COLLINS: And I think a big question is whether or not these threats actually get worse as these hearings are only going on. But Mike Fanone, thank you for joining us this morning and telling us what it's like to personally go through something like this.
FANONE: Thanks for having me.
COLLINS: Also this morning, new polling shows that voter enthusiasm is high this primary season, and Republicans appear to be reaping the benefits.
BERMAN: Significant advances by Russian troops as Ukraine suffers one of its most difficult weeks since the invasion began.
BERMAN: Fresh numbers out this morning which show just how engaged voters are headed into this year's midterms. Joining me now, CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten.
Harry, you know, 2018 in terms of midterm turnout and enthusiasm, very high, like 100-year high. How do things look right now?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So we can look at the primary to give you an idea. And you know, there's all this talk: oh, once Trump leaves the White House, voters will be less engaged. Well, actually, they're more engaged so far in the primaries.
So this is 2022 primary turnout, compared to 2018. Overall, look at this. We're up 12 percent. We're up 12 percent. Among Democrats, I will point out that we're down, but just 3 percent.
But this is primarily being driven by Republican primary turnout. Look at this number, up 29 percent. Whenever you see a rise like that, you know something is cooking. And here is what is cooking is Republicans are really engaged, and overall, that has made the electorate also more engaged.
BERMAN: These are actual people showing up at actual polls to vote in actual primaries.
BERMAN: And Harry, you're also seeing it in some of the polling in terms of the enthusiasm question.
ENTEN: We are. So you know, one of the questions that sort of gave me a hint early on in the 2018 cycle that people were really enthused about voting was this question that we've asked in CNN polling, you know, how enthusiastic are you to vote?
Extremely enthusiastic to vote in the midterm. Extremely enthusiastic. I'm extremely enthusiastic about being up at 6:20 in the morning. I'm extremely enthusiastic about doing this presentation. Voters are extremely enthusiastic about voting in the midterm. Look at this. At this point in the cycle, 23 percent say they're
extremely enthusiastic to vote in 2022. That is the same percentage that said that in 2018, which as you mentioned, John, featured record turnout.
And what's key about this is this does seem to be foretelling about how many people will actually turn out in the midterm elections. Because if you look here, that 23 and 23, much larger than that 15 in 2014 and that 17 percent in 2010.
And the amazing thing was that 15 in 2014 was actually taken later on in the cycle, when usually, more voters are engaged.
So a lot of voters are engaged early on in this cycle.
BERMAN: Who is more engaged?
ENTEN: You know, this goes back to what we saw in slide No. 1, which is, although turnout may be up from 2018, what is going on, it's Republicans who are driving this enthusiasm.
So look at 2022. Extremely enthusiastic to vote in the midterms. Right now, 30 percent of Republicans versus just 20 percent of Democrats.
You go back to 2018, right? The numbers were flipped. More Democrats were extremely enthusiastic to vote than Republicans. Now it's more Republicans are extremely enthusiastic to vote than Democrats.
That's good news for Republicans, because midterms aren't just about preference. They're about the ability to drive turnout, as well.
BERMAN: And they're often also about a president's approval rating. And President Biden's approval rating is not high, which has led to some rumblings and whispers, Oh, he shouldn't run again. Oh, someone should challenge him in a primary.
The numbers tell an interesting story here, though, Harry.
ENTEN: They do. So look at presidents who cruise to renomination by their intra-party approval. So that would be among Democrats with Biden. And this is just before the New Hampshire primary. Right?
What we generally see is the approval rating of the presidents who cruised to renomination are either in the 80s or in the 90s in the case of Trump and Eisenhower.
Look where Biden's approval rating is right now among Democrats. It's currently at 82 percent. That looks a lot like the other presidents who cruised to renomination.
Now, obviously, that can change. We've still got a while to go until the primaries. But at this particular point, Biden's approval rating is where it needs to be among Democrats to not face a primary challenge.
And here's the fun thing. Look at the presidents who did, in fact, face a competitive primary. Look at where their approval ratings were in -- among their own party. It was either in the 70s in the case of George H.W. Bush, who still won every single primary, right? Pat Buchanan, though, gave him a scare in New Hampshire.
But the presidents who either lost the primary or, in fact, dropped out, look at their approval ratings in their own party. All either at 44 percent for Truman in '52, or in the 60s for Ford and Carter, who faced really tough renomination.
Right now, with Joe Biden at 82 percent among Democrats, that is not anywhere near the level that historically we've seen.
BERMAN: These are meaningfully lower.
ENTEN: Meaningfully lower.
BERMAN: Now how about in terms of when you actually measure in polling where he stands in primaries?
ENTEN: He's up. He's up. He's up 20 points over his nearest competitor. That's about where Barack Obama was against Hillary Clinton at this point in 2012. It's not where Clinton was in 1992, who was blown out -- or 1996, I should say, was blown out of the field.
But that's nowhere near where Jimmy Carter was. Jimmy Carter was trailing Ted Kennedy at this point. Trailing Ted Kennedy at this point. Joe Biden is leading his nearest opponent. He looks a lot more like Barack Obama, who cruised to renomination.
BERMAN: All right. As always, Harry, very interesting. Thank you for your enthusiasm.
ENTEN: I try my best.
BERMAN: All right. A devastating week for the Ukrainian military, the last city in a critical region could be about to fall.
COLLINS: And the desperate search-and-rescue operation in Eastern Afghanistan is under way, following an earthquake that killed over 1,000 people. We'll have the latest for you from the ground, next.