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Cassidy Hutchinson, Former Aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Testifies to House January 6th Select Committee on President Trump's Actions During January 6th Insurrection; Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) Interviewed on Continuing Hearings of House January 6th Committee. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2022 - 08:00   ET





JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: "They can march to the Capitol from here." This morning, we are hearing from a an array of attorneys, former federal prosecutors, who do say that that exchange puts the former president in a different legal category.

And there's more. Hutchinson also testified that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned about the criminal liability that Trump and others might face as the mob headed to the Capitol.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


BERMAN: And this morning, a whole new possible avenue of an investigation, possible witness tampering. This after Vice Chair Liz Cheney revealed these messages received by some witnesses before their depositions.

And joining us now is a member of the January 6th select committee, Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar of California. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. Let's start with those messages that Vice Chair Liz Cheney revealed to the country yesterday to witnesses that were to appear before your committee for depositions. Do you believe they constitute witness tampering?

REP. PETE AGUILAR, (D-CA) JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: Yes, I do. I think that that's something that should be looked at by our committee and potentially by the Department of Justice. I don't think it's lost on anyone that the former president has behavior like we heard yesterday. But specific to our witnesses, we take incredibly seriously the safety and security of those individuals who have testified before us, and like the vice chair said, we asked witnesses routinely whether they have had outreach from other members of the former administration.

BERMAN: You say you do believe it constitutes witness tampering. Has it been referred to the Department of Justice?

AGUILAR: I'm not going to talk about the investigative steps that we have taken. But what I will say is I think that those statements speak for themselves. The words that Vice Chair Cheney put up on the screen and that the committee is aware of, I think, is something that is dangerous behavior.

BERMAN: Have there been other examples other than the ones that the vice chair put up on the screen?

AGUILAR: I'm not going to get into that, but I will say that we take it incredibly serious, the safety and security of people who have come before the committee with sensitive information.

BERMAN: Let me ask you about something that Cassidy Hutchinson testified to, which was that she said that the Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had plans to go to the Willard Hotel, the so-called war room, where some loyalists to Trump had camped out and were making plans for January 6th. He didn't ultimately go, I don't believe, but he had plans to go. The significance of that would be contact.

AGUILAR: It is incredibly significant. And in her testimony, she indicated that he ended up just saying he'll call in instead. But this was the hub of team crazy, the folks in the president's ear with conspiracy theories who were intent on whipping up the mob and supporting all of these continued efforts to hold on to power. It's where Roger Stone was, it's where Rudy Giuliani was, it's where documented members of extremist groups were in and around. It's incredibly dangerous behavior.

BERMAN: Does it constitute a direct connection between the White House and the extremist groups?

AGUILAR: I think in a future hearing you'll hear about extremist groups. I'm not going to talk about what would have happened if he would have gone to that meeting, but I think it is clear from her testimony under oath that he wanted to have contact with those individuals, and ended up having contact, but not going physically to the Willard Hotel.

BERMAN: Cassidy Hutchinson also testified that she heard the words "Oath Keepers" and "Proud Boys" in the White House, particularly when Rudy Giuliani was around there. What other evidence do you have to that effect, that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers had been discussed within the halls of the White House?

AGUILAR: I think the public can just look at some of the documentary footage that we have seen. Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy. They have video documentation of them in and around the riot. We'll get to investigative steps and things that we have learned along the way, but it's just a terrible sign that those -- that the names of those groups were potentially mentioned in and around the White House.

BERMAN: Do you have other corroborating evidence besides Cassidy Hutchinson saying the same thing?


AGUILAR: I'm not going to talk about corroborating evidence, but I will say that her testimony comes under oath, and we have no reason at all to doubt her motivations or what she has told the select committee.

BERMAN: The hearing yesterday was held as a bit of a surprise, a total surprise to the nation, because we were told that new evidence had come to light. Can you tell us what it was that we did hear yesterday that constituted the new evidence that had come to light?

AGUILAR: We felt it was important to put that information on the record. We felt it was important for the American public to hear what she had to say. She had sat with the select committee a number of times, and we felt that the information that she had given us rose to the level that it needed to be shared. That's the basis, that's the information. We didn't feel bound by a congressional calendar that said we come back in two weeks. This is something we felt needed to be shared.

BERMAN: Can you tell us which specific information you felt was the most important that needed to be shared?

AGUILAR: Well, look, I think there was a lot of pieces of information that she gave that were important, but the fact that you led with here talking about the magnetometers, the president saying these people aren't here to hurt me, the fact that people in the White House knew that it was potentially going to be a dangerous mob, and the fact that the president directed them to go to the Capitol after knowing that they were carrying weapons, not just any weapons, but that they were carrying guns and knives and flagpoles that were made to be weapons, that's incredibly scary. It's dangerous. It makes me think back about directly that day on January 6th. But fact that these people had information before the sixth is just shocking.

BERMAN: So Cassidy Hutchinson testified that she was told by Tony Ornato of this incident inside the beast, the SUV that the president was driving in. She says she was told by Tony Ornato of the former president trying to grab the steering wheel and then putting his hands or trying to put his hands on a Secret Service officer. Tony Ornato, according to sources at CNN, is saying that he never recounted that story to her. Do you want to hear from Tony Ornato?

AGUILAR: Yes. Well, we want to hear from a number of witnesses. But what I can tell you is Cassidy Hutchinson, the difference in the statements that you mentioned is that one was under oath. So we're going to trust the person who is under oath who is giving us clear and consistent testimony. And -- but, as we have said before, we're happy to continue to move down the investigative path and talk to individuals, and have continued conversations with individuals who might know information.

BERMAN: Do you have anyone under oath saying it didn't happen?

AGUILAR: Again, I'm not going to talk about the investigative pieces that we have heard, but I think under oath her statement stands for itself.

BERMAN: But did you try to corroborate that before having her testify to it publicly before the country?

AGUILAR: I think people will hear in time through future hearings and through ultimately the report we put out additional information, but I'm not going to get into the investigative steps or what we know.

BERMAN: What's left for the committee to release to the American people?

AGUILAR: There's a lot left. There's a lot left. There is information that didn't make its way into the hearings that we have had to date. There is two full potentially hearings moving forward, talking about the specific timeline that we know the president didn't take action, these 1187 minutes. We feel that there is more to talk to with domestic extremism as well and the role that individuals played in December leading to January 6th. We think that there are more stories to tell, and we look forward to sharing that with the American public.

BERMAN: Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you for coming on NEW DAY this morning.

AGUILAR: Thanks, John.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's bring in CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein. Carl is also the author, the co-author, of course, of "All the President's Men," now the 50th anniversary edition out right now.

Pretty interesting interview there, Berman. And I wonder what you thought of that, Jeffrey Toobin, specifically let's talk about Meadows being in touch with the war room at the Willard Hotel.


And just for people who aren't familiar with Washington, D.C., this is a hotel, a stone's throw from the White House. And we know that Steve Bannon and others were there plotting this coup. What does this signify?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This is the biggest unanswered question that has been left by the committee hearing so far, which is what was the connection of the White House, specifically the president and Mark Meadows, to the people who were engaged in the violence? And the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, what was the -- what did the White House know, and was there any sort of encouragement? If Mark Meadows was in touch with the people in the Willard who were associated with or actually the violent people themselves, that is a very important connection.

What, of course, needs to -- what we need to know is what was the nature of the communication, what was said, who heard it, and was there any authorization. But the fact that Meadows was in touch with those folks is the first step to establishing a relationship.

BERMAN: And Jeffrey, one more legal note here, Pete Aguilar, Congressman, told me that yes, he believes that those messages Liz Cheney read out loud constitute witness tampering, which is significant when a congressman says it. But what really matters is if the Justice Department thinks so. He wouldn't tell me if he had referred or they had referred that to the DOJ.

TOOBIN: Right. To be fair, there is a lot more that needs to be uncovered about that. First of all, who sent that message, who received it, what -- the person who sent it, where did they get that idea. But those messages are very much gangster-ish suggestions that you better keep quiet to protect the Mr. Big. But, in fairness, we need to know a lot more about who specifically was involved with sending and receiving those messages.

KEILAR: Carl, we keep going back to that guiding question, what did the president know, and when did he know it? And it really seemed to change after this testimony yesterday.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it is the guiding question, if I can say that. I think rather that what we have is evidence already, full proof evidence of the conspiracy, the breadth of a conspiracy led by the president of the United States. He was pictured by the witness yesterday as being willing and encouraging a mob to descend on the Capitol of the United States for the purpose of stopping the count of the votes to elect the president of the United States.

We now see clearly all the connections fitting together as to the objective of the president, especially when you talk about what he said about Mike Pence, the vice president. Things are becoming clearer. It is like a picture developing. And the developed picture goes to your point about what does the president know and when do he know it. But the overall picture is becoming clear. The absolute audacity and horror of a president of the United States saying, essentially, disarm the magnetometers but don't disarm the mob that is going to descend on the Capitol of the United States to stop the election of Joe Biden and make it possible for me to stage a coup and remain in office.

TOOBIN: Can I just -- I don't want to overdo the Watergate analogies in the presence of the legend, but the issue with Watergate was, was the president involved in a cover-up of a crime, the Watergate break- in? Here, the issue is was the president involved in the crime itself? Not the cover-up. The issue is, did Donald Trump authorize, encourage, facilitate the mob violence, not so much the cover-up, but the actual underlying crime? And yesterday's testimony certainly established the clearest link to the violence that we have seen so far.

BERNSTEIN: Actually, two things here. First of all, what we're seeing in this case is a president of the United States who is really in charge of both the crime and the cover-up. And that was the same thing in the case of Nixon, actually. The difference -- indeed, Nixon was the one who wanted to derail the nomination of Ed Muskie to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. His crime was to interfere in the electoral process and stop a democratic election from happening, the same as Trump.

Trump went even further. This is something we have never seen. Trump is a seditious president of the United States. We have seen it laid out. Never had a seditious president of the United States before. Think of all of the things that we have heard so far.


We have not heard a word about the president saying I care about the United States. I care about the Constitution.

What we're seeing is a criminal. A criminal, someone to stop democracy in the United States.

BERMAN: Let me just leave you with the Toobin barometer here.

Jeffrey, again, you have been reluctant to say that DOJ would issue charges against the president. Less or more likely this morning?

TOOBIN: Oh, it's much more likely, but, again, a criminal investigation is very different, they need to talk to a lot more people, I'm less convinced than Carl is that, you know, the case has been made. But certainly the case has been made for a criminal investigation of the president. Whether he should be indicted and convicted, I'm not yet persuaded.


BERNSTEIN: One thing if I may -- one thing if I may to what Jeffrey just said, that Merrick Garland, the attorney general of the United States, has one of the most momentous decisions in the history of the country to make in terms of whether or not to actually charge, have Donald Trump indicted, because the consequences of that are unknown, in terms of what his supporters will do, in terms of what happens to the country, if we have a former president in the dock on trial.

And yet we see this case being built that is going to put garland on the spot. There is very little question about that. He has got a decision to make, the likes of which only in Watergate was there a similar decision to be made, except the stakes are even higher here because people have already -- mobs have gone into the street and into the capitol on behalf of this man.

But in Watergate, the grand jury made Richard Nixon an unindicted co- conspirator.

KEILAR: Yeah, and this former president still has a considerable amount of power and a political future, which is a very different situation.

Carl, Jeffrey, thank you so both of you.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

KEILAR: We do have new reporting from Capitol Hill, a House Republican telling CNN that this testimony is going to lead to indictments.

Plus, we'll speak to the mother of Officer Brian Sicknick who lost his life shortly after the insurrection.

BERMAN: We're live from Madrid where President Biden made several key announcements regarding U.S. positioning in Europe.

Stand by for news.



KEILAR: Former aide (AUDIO GAP) the former chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump, Cassidy Hutchinson, testifying that on the morning of January 6th, Trump demanded his armed protesters be allowed into the rally at the ellipse near the White House.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, I don't f'ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f'ing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here.


KEILAR: Joining us now is Gladys Sicknick. She is the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was assaulted during the attack on the Capitol before suffering strokes and dying of natural causes the next day.

Gladys, thank you for being us with this morning.

I know you were listening to this testimony yesterday. What did you think of what you heard?

GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF FALLEN CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: It made me feel better that things are coming to a head and maybe we'll get some answers. And that this never should have happened.

KEILAR: What answers do you think that we could get, that we wouldn't have gotten before?

SICKNICK: Who is -- well, I know who to blame mostly, but I want to -- down the line, I think there is a whole bunch of people that need to be taken to task.

KEILAR: So we were speaking earlier in the program with your other two sons, Ken and Craig, and Ken was telling us that he looked over at you at one point, and that there was a moment that it brought you to tears, he couldn't remember exactly what it was. Do you remember what the moment was that brought you to tears?

SICKNICK: I think it was just the whole thing, and knowing that Trump, he just didn't care. He just didn't -- it didn't matter to him. Just thinking about himself and getting re-elected.

And I think that's just, you know, it is awful. And he just set those police officers up. They were like sitting ducks. And he has to be taken to task.

I know he will never go to jail, because the nature of who he is, but I do not ever want to see him run for anything or be in any kind of government job again.

KEILAR: You know, listening to you and to your sons, clearly, you think there should be consequences for Trump. But you're all very resigned to this idea that nothing will happen, even as you want it to.

Why is that?

SICKNICK: Because all his life he's gotten away with everything, whether it is in business dealings, with everybody. I mean, he just doesn't -- he just makes the mighty dollar and that's all he cares about. And, you know, I mean, all the banks in the world don't want to deal with him except for Deutsche Bank, which I don't understand, but it is just -- just gets away with everything and I think he will still get away with stuff.

KEILAR: What has this been like for you, Gladys, watching these hearings while you're grieving your son?

SICKNICK: It has been hard, especially when we sat there and watched the videos. And I think at one point there was -- I think Brian's voice was on one of the videos and that hurt. Because I know he was there. I know for a fact he was texting all his, you know, friends that were fighting and asking them if they were okay. And it hurt.

And then listening to Carolyn Edwards, that was hard, you know, knowing that she tried to help him, but it didn't help. And she was -- that was powerful.

KEILAR: Gladys Sicknick, we thank you so much for being with us this morning.


Thank you.

SICKNICK: You're welcome. KEILAR: Coming up, we're going to speak to an adviser to the January

6th committee, why he believes there is even more damning evidence to be revealed.

BERMAN: And why did Trump's chief of staff try to go to a war room with Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone the night before the insurrection.



CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Meadows had a conversation with me, where he wanted me to work with Secret Service on a movement from the White House to the Willard Hotel so he could attend the meeting or meetings with Mr. Giuliani and his associates in the war room. Throughout the afternoon, he mentioned a few more times going up to the Willard Hotel that evening, and then eventually dropped the subject the night of the 5th and said he would dial in indeed.


BERMAN: New testimony that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows was talking about going to the Willard Hotel on January 5th, where Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and others had been in and out, setting up what was called a makeshift war room.