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CNN Live Event/Special
Lawyer for Ex-Trump Campaign Chief Talks to Reporters; Now, 1/6 Committee Holds Second Day of Hearings. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 13, 2022 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He was doing at the time, but what he knew and when he knew it.
Because if he really believes he either, A, relying on his attorney, John Eastman's memo, to say that he had the right to do this, or he was unclear about whether what he was promoting was, in fact, fraudulent, he might have a leg to stand on.
But there is the idea of defrauding the United States to try to stop an official proceeding. So, if he knew that he was fraudulent, if he knew it was part of the big lie and was the big lie, then you have got a criminal intention notion here. That's important because we are the audience in the court of the electorate but you have got the Department of Justice as well, Jake, who is looking to figure out what do you know, what can you prove to suggest that there was criminal intent and then it wasn't somebody who was just hoping and just believing and relying on a lawyer but really knew, I am engaging in behavior that is intended to defraud the American electorate to try to have me remain in office. That's violation of law.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, Adam Kinzinger, the Republican congressman from Illinois, who is also on this committee, he said over the weekend that if Trump -- that he thinks Trump knew that it was all false. But that if Trump does think that he actually won the election, that's disqualifying because it shows that he's not mentally, intellectually in the right place to be president. What do you think? Do you think Trump knows it's a lie?
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Yes, I think deep down he knows it's a lie but I think at some level, truth does not matter to him. I mean, his mind is this scrambled eggs soft truth, lies, desires and just saying things that he just wants to be true or wants people to believe. And I don't think in his mind he makes a moral distinction between lies and truth. It's just whatever comes out of his mouth is whatever is to his advantage at time.
But the fact of the matter is his knowledge, the fact he was told by credible people who work for him and who were loyal to him that he lost is going to be critical evidence in criminal investigation not only from the Justice Department but also in Georgia. Because all of this, even if it relates to other states, in addition to Georgia, it goes to his state of mind and his criminal intent of him to commit fraud.
TAPPER: And one of the things, one of the arguments in the hearings on Thursday had to do with these extremist groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, his right-wing militias, members of which stormed the Capitol, members of which have now been charged with seditious conspiracy for an attempt to stop the counting of electoral votes.
And the question I asked Chairman Thompson in that very seat on Thursday night was, do you have evidence? We understand that the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys were inspired by the lies that Trump was telling, but do you have evidence that there was more, that there were conversations between those militia members and people in Trump's orbit, and Chairman Thompson said, yes, we do.
COATES: And he needs to have that evidence. Because, remember, it's not too long ago we heard from somebody named Michael Cohen, who intimated that, well, when Trump would give an order, you just kind of knew what he meant. And there was always this nexus that people --
TAPPER: People (INAUDIBLE).
COATES: Right, there you go. People would think to themselves, well, is it that people believed it or he actually said something about it? And the reason that's important is because you've got to have that causal connection.
You had people -- we already heard from the first hearing, you heard little snippets of people saying, he asked me to be here, he invited us here. I came and he asked to do two things. One was to vote for him. The other one was to come on January 6th. That's all well and good. But if you're trying to suggest that he, in fact, defrauded the government or engaged in other conspiracy-related crimes, there had to have been a meeting of the minds.
Now, what you just described in terms of the Proud Boys, the first question, I thought why are they focusing so much on them given there're already indictments, unless they are trying to envelope in some way into the fold Donald Trump suggest it was an actual conspiracy. You were not just invited. You were supposed to be here and carry out, not just stand by and stand back but actually proceed to the Capitol.
They are going to have to then suggest that. It's not just about having a bald assertion even with the snippets. They have the show a causal connection. Because, remember, this is a legislative committee whose job it is they've already said to try to convince the American people that this is an ongoing threat. If it's all about the notion of, well, a wink and a nod, that's not going to maybe convince people enough to have a codified legislative response.
TAPPER: Right. And that's the big fear is that this big lie continues. It's still out there. You have people running for office, trying to get into positions of power where they can influence the next election. They can say, we're not going to count those ballots. And that's the fear because the big lie is still around and a majority of Republican voters believe it. CONWAY: Right, it's a problem. I mean, even if Donald Trump were to basically say, I'm going to retire tomorrow and go just play golf or travel around the world or do whatever retired rich president would do, we have got these -- I call them termites that he set loose in the foundations of our democracy and they're chews away.
And the only way we're going to get to be able to exterminate them, to stop these bugs from eating out democracy, is to basically shine the truth on this whole thing. And that's what these hearings are about.
TAPPER: Yes. And in the meantime, a lot of people who are pushing these lies are the nominee for governor -- Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania and all over the country. Thanks so much.
COATES: Those who will run elections.
TAPPER: Yes, who will run elections, exactly. THAT'S the big fear.
We expect the January 6th hearing to begin in just a couple of minutes. Our reporters are digging for information and what to expect. Let's squeeze in another quick break. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: The January 6 committee is about to get a second opportunity to reveal its findings to a national television audience. Today's hearing was thrown a bit of a curve ball with former Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien now expected to be seen in recorded testimony instead of appearing live. His wife went into labor, we're told. Stepien's lawyer just spoke with reporters and Ryan Nobles has more for us on that from Capitol Hill.
Ryan, what did Stepien's lawyer have to say?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that right, Jake. His lawyer is a man by the name of Kevin Marino, and he did confirm to reporters the reason for Stepien's absence today, saying that his wife has gone into labor and he also confirmed that Stepien was scheduled to appear under subpoena today.
Marino did go onto say that Stepien was basically just going to confirm what he already knew. He said he's one of the finest political consultants in the country and that we're going to hear that he followed the numbers, followed the data and advised the president as to what he saw.
An interesting side note to all of this, Jake, is that Marino has been seen inside the hearing room in a pretty lengthy conservation with Tim Heaphy, who is the chief investigative counsel for the January 6th select committee.
And this has obviously required some adjustments by the committee. That's part of the reason that we're dealing with a 45-minute delay right now. This hearing was supposed to start at 10:00 Eastern. They are now hoping to start here in the next three or four minutes. So, the committee obviously adjusting their plans.
We do expect to hear from Marino on behalf of Stepien. He's expected to read a statement on behalf of his client. And then, of course, as we've already reported, the committee does plan to use some of the closed door video deposition that Stepien already provided the committee as to outline part of their findings and what they want to reveal here today.
So, this is just -- obviously, this was not something everyone expected this morning, Jake. We're seeing a lot of moving parts as the committee gets prepared to kick this hearing off here in the next few minutes. Jake?
TAPPER: All right. Ryan, thanks so much.
Let's bring in Evan Perez now. Evan, the committee is expected to continue to push testimony and evidence suggesting that there was no widespread voter fraud and Donald Trump had been told that over and over and over by experts.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. And I think you're going to hear the theme that you're going to hear emerging from the former Justice Department witnesses, including, B. J. Pak, who we're going to will hear from in perhaps a little while later today, as well as from the former top DOJ officials who are expected to testify on Wednesday. We're going to hear from them that, even now there has been nothing that has emerged, no evidence to support the former president's claims of fraud.
This was true in December and November, December, January, following the election in 2020, and it is true now. And it's important because, obviously, the former president and some of his supporters are continuing to come up with various, wild theory of what happened in 2020, including this movie that has been making the rounds that conservatives say proves otherwise. So, that's the theme you're going to hear from these people who looked into those claims and decided there wasn't any fraud.
TAPPER (voice over): All right. Evan, thanks so much.
And right there you see on the screen, Chris Stirewalt. Chris was the politics editor for Fox Digital during the 2020 election, is widely respected throughout journalism, was one of the guys behind the call of Arizona for Joe Biden that night, and was subsequently fired, John King.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): And he writes this long, Jake, essay in the dispatch explaining why he's here today. In the dispatch, he's harshly critical of Trump and the big lie. He says, Trump should have known better. He's harshly critical of Republican leadership for not standing to Donald Trump, essentially stopping him in his tracks, but he's also somewhat critical to the Democrats for how this committee process has played out. But he says this, as a journalist, I feel very uncomfortable even playing this small role in these events. The first rule for my vocation (ph) is to tell the truth as best you can. The second is to stay the hell out of the story. I will fail in the latter today but aim for the former. So, he understands this is an uncomfortable position. He says that he said in this article, it's not like he's defending a source. It's not like he has a confidential source information that he would protect from the Congress. He says he would refuse to testify if that's what they're asking him to do. But he says, they're going to ask him how Fox News went through the process of calling Arizona and then what happened after that, that feels he has to go up there and take the questions and tell the truth.
TAPPER (voice over): And what an incredible position to find himself in, Dana Bash, because all he did was his job. He called Arizona.
Yes, he was out there earlier than other networks and news organizations in calling Arizona for Biden, but he was proven correct. And instead of standing by him, Fox fired him.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Yes, that's exactly right.
And the part that you ready, John, about him as a journalist being in an incredibly uncomfortable position, I think all of us as journalists can understand that. I mean, to be in that position would be very, very awkward. But he did in the interview with you, Jake, and he's certainly spoken out. The fact that he wrote op-ed today --
TAPPER (voice over): There's the chairman, Bennie Thompson, of the committee.
BASH (voice over): Yes, Bennie Thompson coming in. And he feels he has a duty to democracy in order to get the facts out about being on the receiving end early on of the twisting of the reality.
TAPPER (voice over): Absolutely. And there's the vice chair of the committee in turquoise, Liz Cheney, the chair of the committee, Bennie Thompson, in the gray suit, and the other members of the committee sitting down. We expect him to gavel the proceeding any second.
We're going to hear from Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox politics editor who called the state of Arizona correctly for Biden early and subsequently lost his job. The subject of today's hearing is about how Trump knew that what he was claiming about the election, the widespread fraud allegations were false and that he was aided and abetted in that by some figures and also that there were those in his orbit pushing back. So, we expect the chairman, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, to gavel in any second.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (R-MS): The select committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol will be in order. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess in any point. Pursuant to House deposition authority regulation 10, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during today's hearing.
Good morning. Last week, the select committee laid out a preview of our initial findings about the conspiracy overseen and directed by Donald Trump, to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power, a scheme unprecedented in American history.
My colleagues and I don't want to spend time talking about ourselves during these hearings, but as someone who has run for office a few times, I can tell you at the end of a campaign, it all comes down to the numbers. The numbers tell you the winner and the loser.
For the most part, the numbers don't lie. But if something doesn't add up with the numbers, you go to court to get resolution. And that's the end of the line. We accept those results. That's what it means to respect the rule of law. That's what it means to seek elective office in our democracy because those numbers aren't just numbers, they are votes, they are your votes. They are the will and the voice of the people, and the very least we should expect from any person seeking a position of public trust is the acceptance of the will of the people, win or lose.
Donald Trump didn't. He didn't have the numbers. He went to court. He still didn't have the numbers. He lost. But he betrayed the trust of the American people. He ignored the will of the voters. He lied to his supporters and the country. And he tried to remain in office after the people had voted him out. And the courts upheld the will of the people.
This morning, we'll tell the story of how Donald Trump lost an election and knew he lost an election, and as a result of his loss, decided to wage an attack on our democracy, an attack on American people by trying to rob you of your voice in our democracy, and in doing so, lit the fuse that led to the horrific violence of January 6th, when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, sent by Donald Trump to stop the transfer of power.
Today, my colleague from California, Ms. Lofgren, and our witnesses will detail the select committee's findings on these matters. But, first, I will recognize or distinguished vice chair, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, for any opening statement she cares to offer.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Last week, as the chairman noted, our committee began outlining a seven-part plan overseen by President Trump to overturn the 2020 election.
Today, we will begin looking at the initial part of that plan, President Trump's effort to convince millions of Americans that the election was stolen from him by overwhelming fraud. A federal court has already reviewed elements of the committee's evidence on this point, and said this, quote, in the months following the election, numerous credible sources from the president's inner circle to agency leadership and statisticians informed Trump and Dr. Eastman that there was no evidence of election fraud, close quote, sufficient to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The court's opinion methodically documents each of the principled reasons for that conclusion and I would urge all those watching to read it.
Today, we will begin to show the American people some of our evidence. Today, you will hear much more from a former attorney general, Bill Barr's, recorded testimony. And you will hear in greater detail what others in the department told President Trump that his claims of election fraud were nonsense.
You will also hear much more from President Trump's own campaign experts who had also concluded that his fraud claims could not be supported.
Let me focus briefly on just three points now. First, you will hear firsthand testimony that the president's campaign advisers urged him to wait the counting of votes and not to declare victory on election night. The president understood even before the election that many more Biden voters had voted by mail because President Trump ignored the advice of his campaign experts and told his supporters only to vote in person.
Donald Trump knew before the election that the counting of those mail- in ballots in several states would not begin until late in the day and would not be complete for multiple days. This was expected, reported and widely known.
You will also hear testimony that President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani to just claim he won and insist that the vote counting stop, to falsely claim everything was fraudulent. He falsely told the American people that the election was not legitimate, in his words, quote, a major fraud. Millions of Americans believed him.
Second, pay attention to what Donald Trump and his legal team said repeatedly about Dominion voting machining, far flung conspiracies with the deceased Venezuelan communist allegedly pulling the strings. This was, quote, complete nonsense, as Bill Barr said.
President Trump's own campaign advisers, his Department of Justice and his cybersecurity experts all told him the same thing. Here, for example, is White House Lawyer Eric Herschman. His view was shared by many of the Trump team whom we interviewed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HERSCHMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I thought the Dominion stuff was -- I never saw any evidence, whatsoever, to sustain scene those allegations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: And third, as Mike Pence's staff started to get a sense for what Donald Trump had planned for January 6th, they called the campaign experts to give them briefing on election fraud and all the other election claims. On January 2nd, the general counsel of the Trump campaign, Matthew Morgan, this is the campaign's chief lawyer, summarized what the campaign had concluded weeks earlier, that none of the arguments about fraud or anything else could actually change the outcome of the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW MORGAN, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Generally discussed on that topic was whether the fraud, maladministration, abuse or irregularities, if aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign, would that be outcome determinative. And I think every one's assessments in the room, at least amongst the staff, Marc Short, myself and Greg Jacob, was that it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: As is obvious, this was before the attack on the Capitol. The Trump campaign legal team knew there was no legitimate argument, fraud, irregularities or anything to overturn the election, and yet President Trump went ahead with his plans for January 6th any way.
Mr. Chairman, hundreds of our countrymen have faced criminal charges. Many are serving criminal sentences because they believed what Donald Trump said about the election and they acted on it. They came to Washington, D.C. at his request. They marched on the Capitol at his request, and hundreds of them besieged and invaded the building at the heart of our constitutional republic.
As one conservative editorial board put it recently, quote, Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by conning them on January 6th and he is still doing it. Another conservative editorial board that has long supported President Trump said last week, Donald Trump, quote, won't stop insisting that 2020 was stolen even though he has offered no proof that that is true. And this, Donald Trump now, quote, clings to more fantastical theories, such as Dinesh D'Souza's debunked 2,000 mules, even as recounts in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin confirmed Trump lost.
Those are the correct conclusions to draw from the evidence gathered by this committee. We have much more evidence to show the American people on this point than we can reasonably show in one hearing. But today, we will begin
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
THOMPSON: Without objection, the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lofgren, for an opening statement.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In our opening hearing, we gave an over view of our investigation into the January 6th attack. The plot to overthrow the election was complex and had many parts which we'll explore in remaining hearings. But today, we examine the false narrative that the 2020 election was, quote, stolen.
Former President Trump's plan to overturn the election relied on a sustained effort to deceive millions of Americans with knowingly false claims of election fraud. All elements of the plot relied on convincing his supporters about these false claims.
Today, we'll demonstrate the 2020 election was not stolen. The American people elected President Joe Biden. We'll present evidence that Mr. Trump's claims of election fraud were false, that he and his closest advisers knew the claims were false but they continued to pedal them anyway right up until the moments before a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol.
We'll also show that the Trump campaign used these false claims of election fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were told their donations were for the legal fight in the courts, but the Trump campaign didn't use the money for that. The big lie was also a big rip off.
The former president laid the ground work for these false claims well in advance of the election. As early as April 2020, Mr. Trump claimed that the only way he could lose an election would be as a result of fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You know things we're bundling and all of the things that are happening with votes by mail where thousands of votes are gathered and I'm not going to say which party does it, but thousands of votes are gathered and they're coming and they are dumped in a location and then all of a sudden you lose elections that you think you're going to win.
The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember that. It's the only way we are going to lose this election.
This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen. Did you see what's going on? Take a look at West Virginia, mailmen selling the ballots. They are being sold. They are being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There is no evidence of that.
TRUMP: This is not going to end well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOFGREN: Mr. Trump decided even before the election that regardless of the facts and the truth, if he lost the election, he would claim it was rigged.
Mr. Trump was right about one thing, it did not end well. On election night, Mr. Trump claimed even before the votes were counted that his loss was a result of fraud. On Thursday, we had testimony from Attorney General Barr about the Department of Justice's investigation of Mr. Trump's fraud claims. Barr told Trump directly that his claims were B.S. Yet after hearing the truth and that warning from the A.G., Mr. Trump continued to pedal the false claims of fraud.
You'll hear detailed testimony from Attorney General Barr describing the various election fraud claims the Department of Justice investigated.
He'll tell you how he told Mr. Trump repeatedly that there was no merit to those claims. Mr. Barr will tell us.