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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: 1/6 Committee Hold Second Day Of Hearings. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 11:00   ET



REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: He'll tell you how he told Mr. Trump repeatedly that there was no merit to those claims. Mr. Barr will tell us that Mr. Trump's election night claims of fraud were made without regard to the truth and before it was even possible to look for evidence of fraud.

Attorney General Barr wasn't alone. You will see and hear today, other Department of Justice officials and senior advisors to Mr. Trump that they told him, the claims he was making were not supported by evidence.

The election fraud claims were false. Mr. Trump's closest advisors knew it. Mr. Trump knew it. That didn't stop him from pushing the false claims and urging his supporters to, quote, fight like hell to, quote, take back their country.

After he lost the election, various legal challenges were made. You'll hear testimony today from a renowned Republican election litigation lawyer who explained the normal process by which candidates challenge an election.

Rather than accept the results of the election and the decisions of the courts, Mr. Trump pursued a different strategy. He tried to convince the American people, the election had been stolen. Many of his supporters believed him and many still believing today.

The attack on January 6th was a direct and predictable result of Mr. Trump's decision to use false claims of election fraud to overturn the election and declining to power. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.


I now welcome our first witness. We're joined today by former Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt, Bill Stepien, President Trump's former campaign manager was subpoenaed to be here and was in Washington this morning prepared to testify.

Kevin Marino, Mr. Stepien's attorney is here with us today. Thank you Mr. Marino for coming. And he was advised -- he has advised us that Mr. Stepien's wife went

into labor this morning. Mr. Stepien unexpectedly, had to travel to be with his wife. And we wish him the best.

Due to the depth and rigor of our investigation, with several hours of Mr. Stepien's testimony from when we interviewed him in February, and we will be presenting that testimony today. I'll now swear in our witness.

The witness will please stand and raise his right hand. Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Thank you, you may be seated. Let the record reflect the witness answered in the affirmative. I now recognize myself for questions. I want to start by showing a video that tells the story of what was going on in the Trump White House on election night in November of 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember where you were on the night of the election November the 3rd?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know where specifically over the course of that night you spent your time within the White House?

I. TRUMP: There was an event that was organized in the residence, so I moved between the residence, a room sort of off the residence where some family members were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take it the President was upstairs in the residence.

JARED KUSHNER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: He was upstairs. I was -- we were kind of on the first floor so not upstairs with mostly with Ivanka and her brothers and a couple other people who be coming in and out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just describe the atmosphere? What were people expecting that night when he got to the White House?

JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: I think that there was, typically for people who show up there on election night, it's going to be a self-select more positive environment.

I think people were a little bit nervous not knowing what was going to happen with the Red Wave or the Red Mirage as the debate was being carried out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Fox News decision desk is calling Arizona for Joe Biden. That is a big get for the Biden campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arizona is called, do you remember that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you remember happening, where you were when Arizona was called?

STEPIEN: I -- there was a surprise at the call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is surprised?

STEPIEN: Most everyone in the room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you being one of them?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did that shift the atmosphere or the attitude in the White House?

MILLER: Completely?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How so? Can you describe that?

MILLER: Because Fox News was the first one to go out and say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So was it anger kind of directed towards Fox News for making a call more so than a disappointment that maybe the campaign lost Arizona?

MILLER: All the above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So both anger and disappointment.

MILLER: Both disappointment with Fox and concern that maybe our data or our numbers weren't accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you in the White House residents during the sort of past midnight into the early morning hours of November 4th?

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: Yes, oh, sure. I went over beyond midnight. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember Rudy Giuliani being at the White House on election night and into the early hours the next morning?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you remember about when he came?

STEPIEN: He was -- there were -- I had heard that he was upstairs, you know, in that aforementioned reception area. And he was looking to talk to the President. And it was suggested instead that he come talk to several of us down off the Map Room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that mister -- you had heard that Mr. Giuliani wanted to talk to the President and then he was directed your way? Did you end up talking to Mr. Giuliani when he's directed to your way?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that conversation?

STEPIEN: A lot of conversations were directed my way. A few of us, myself, Jason Miller, Justin Clark, and Mark Meadows, gathered in a room off the Map Room to listen to whatever, Rudy, presumably wanted to say to the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was -- is there anyone in that conversation who in your observation had 10 had too much to drink?

MILLER: Mayor Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me more about that. What was your observation about his potential intoxication during that discussion about what the President should say when he addressed the nation on election night?

MILLER: The mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I did not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the President, for example.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you part of any discussions with the people I mentioned Mr. Stepien, Mr. Meadows, or anyone else about whether the president should make any sort of speech on election night?

GIULIANI: I mean, I spoke to the President, they may have been present. President -- spoke to the President several times that night.

MILLER: There were suggestions by I believe it was Mayor Giuliani to go and declare victory and say that we'd won it outright.

STEPIEN: It was far too early to be making any calls like that. Ballots were still being counted. Ballots were still going to be counted for days. And it was far too early to be making any proclamation like that.

MILLER: I remember saying that, I, to the best of my memory I was saying that we should not go and declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Can you be more specific about that conversation, in particular, what Mayor Giuliani said, your response, and then anybody else in the room response?

MILLER: I think effectively, Mayor Giuliani was saying, we won it. They're stealing it from us. Where did all the votes come from? We need to go say that we won. And essentially that anyone who didn't agree with that position was being weak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your view at the time as to what he should or shouldn't say?

I. TRUMP: I don't know that I had a firm view as to what he should say in that circumstance, the results were still being counted. It was becoming clear that the race will not be called on election night. STEPIEN: My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted, it's too early to tell, too early to call the race but, you know, we are proud of the race we run -- we ran.

And we, you know, think we're in good position. And we'll have more to say about this, you know, the next day or the next day whenever we had something to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did anybody who was a part of that conversation disagree with your message?



STEPIEN: The President disagreed with that. I don't recall the particular words. He thought I was wrong. He told me so. And, you know, that they were going to, you know, go into a, you know, he was going to go in a different direction.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.

THOMPSON: Mr. Stirewalt, did President Trump have any basis to declare victory on November 4th, 2020? Thank you. Mr. Stepien, also testified that President Trump had no basis for declaring victory at that point in time.

STEPIEN: My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted. It's too early to tell, too early to call the race. But, you know, we are proud of the race we run -- we ran.

And we, you know, think we're in good position. And we'll have more to say about this, you know, the next day, or the next day, whenever we had something to say.

THOMPSON: Thank you. Mr. Stirewalt, after the votes were counted, who won the presidential election of 2020?

STIREWALT: Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. of the great State of Delaware.

THOMPSON: Thank you. That's the bottom line. We had an election, Mr. Trump lost. But he refused to accept the results of the Democratic process pursuant to Section 5C8 of House Resolution 503. I now recognize the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lofgren, for questions.

LOFGREN: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Stirewalt, I'd like you to explain a term that was thrown around a lot during the election and that's the so called Red Mirage. What does that mean?

STIREWALT: So in the 40 or 50 years, let's say that Americans have increasingly chosen to vote by mail or early or absentee. Democrats prefer that method of voting more than Republicans do.

So basically, in every election, Republicans win Election Day and Democrats win the early vote. And then you wait and start counting, and it depends on which ones you count first, but usually, it's Election Day votes that get counted first, and you see the Republican shoot ahead.

And then the process of bailing and binding and unbinding all those mail-in votes, in some states, like Pennsylvania refused to count the votes first. So you have to wait for all of that to come in.

So in every election, and certainly a national election, you expect to see the Republican with a lead, but it's not really a lead. When you put together a jigsaw puzzle, it doesn't matter which piece you put in first, it ends up with the same image.

So for us, who cares. But that's because no candidate had ever tried to avail themselves of this quirk in the election counting system.

We had gone to paints, and I'm proud of the paints we went to, to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the President had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly.

And we knew it was going to be bigger, because the percentage of early votes was higher, right? We went from about 45 percent of the votes being early and absentee because of the pandemic, that increased by about 50 percent.

So we knew it would be longer, we knew it would be more. So we wanted to keep telling viewers, hey, look, the number that you see here is sort of irrelevant, because it's only a small percentage of these votes.

LOFGREN: So this Red Mirage that's really what you expect it to happen on election night?


STIREWALT: It happens every time.

LOFGREN: Thank you Mr. Stirewalt. Now I'd like to play a clip of Attorney General Bill Barr who also explains what was expected to happen on election night.

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right out of the box on election night, the President claimed that there was major fraud underway. I mean, this happened, as far as I could tell, before there was actually any potential of looking at evidence.

And it seemed to be based on the dynamic that at the end of the evening, a lot of Democratic votes came in, which changed the vote counts in certain states. And that seemed to be the basis for this broad claim that there was major fraud.

And I didn't think much of that, because people had been talking for weeks and everyone understood for weeks that that was going to be what happened on election night.

LOFGREN: Mr. Stepien obviously could not be with us today. And it's proper for him to be with his wife as they welcomed their child. But he also had discussions with the President about the Red Mirage.

That is that it would be a long night, and that early votes would favor him. But lots more votes would be counted over the course of the night and the days after. So let's play clip one from our interview with Mr. Stepien.

STEPIEN: I recounted back to that conversation with him, in which I said, just like I said in 2016, was going to be a long night. I told him in 2020 that, you know, there were, it was going to be a process again, as you know, the early returns are going to be, you know, positive.

And we're going to, you know, be watching the returns of ballots, as you know, they rolled in thereafter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it fair to say you're trying to present a -- what you thought would be a realistic picture of what might happen over the course of that night being election night?

STEPIEN: That night and the days that followed. Yes, I always, you know, I always told the President the truth and, you know, I think he expected that for me, and I told him, it was going to be a process.

It was going to be, you know, we're going to have to wait and see how this turned out. So I just like I did in 2016. I did the same thing in 2020.

LOFGREN: So let's watch a short clip of President Trump speaking after he received that information from his campaign advisors.

D. TRUMP: We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o'clock in the morning and add them to the list.

LOFGREN: So when former President Trump said that, it contradicted what his advisors had warned would happen. We all know that mail-in ballots played an important role in the 2020 election.

However, President Trump continuously discouraged mail-in voting. Mr. Stepien was so concerned about the President's position on mail-in voting.

And in the summer of 2020, he met with President Trump, along with House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy. Let's play a clip for.

STEPIEN: A meeting that was had, in particular, I invited Kevin McCarthy to join the meeting. He being of like mind on the issue with me, in which we made our case for why we believed mail-in balloting, mail-in voting not to be a bad thing for his campaign.

But, you know, the President's mind was made it up and he understands, you know, how many times to, you know, go to the well on a particular topic. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I understand. Tell me a little bit more about the argument that you and Mr. McCarthy made to the President in that meeting as to why it wasn't a bad thing that mail-in voting was available?

STEPIEN: Largely two pillars to that argument, both of which I've previously mentioned. One, you know, leaving a good deal to chance. Pushing or urging your voters to vote only on Election Day, leaves a lot to chance, that's A.

And B, also previously mentioned the fact that the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee, the Republican Party had an advantage of grassroots workers and volunteers on the grounds that would allow, you know, an advantage to enhance return rates of ballots that were mailed. Those were the two pillars of the argument.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see. And what, if anything, do you recall Representative McCarthy saying during that meeting?

STEPIEN: We were echoing the same argument. I mean, his words echoed mine and vice versa on those on those two topics.

LOFGREN: Mr. Stirewalt, you were at the decision desk at Fox News on election night. And you called Arizona early for President Biden, which was controversial. How did you make that call? And where did you think the race stood in the early hours of the next day?

STIREWALT: Well, it was really controversial to our competitors, who we beat so badly by making the correct call first. Our decision desk was the best in the business. And I was very proud to be a part of it.

Because we had a -- we had partnered with the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, thanks to my colleague and friend Arne in Michigan, had built a wonderful device for forecasting the outcomes of elections.

So we had a different set of data than our competitors, then we had more research, and we had a better system, and we had a great team.

So what you're waiting to see is do the actual votes, match up with the expectations in the poll, the real votes are testing the quality of your poll in targeted precincts and in targeted places.

And let me tell you, our poll in Arizona was beautiful. And it was doing just what we wanted it to do. And it was cooking up just right. And at some point, and I forget exactly, who, but at some point, it became clear that Arizona was getting ready to make a call.

So we around, you know, my boss, Bill Salman (ph) said, we're not making any call until everybody says yes, because that was always our policy, unanimity.

And you have to understand, in this room, you have, you know, the best, people from academia, Democrats, Republicans, a broad cross section of people who had worked together for a decade, were really serious about this stuff.

So we knew it would be a consequential call, because it was one of five states that really mattered, right, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, were the ones that we were watching, we knew it would be significant to call any one of those five.

But we already knew Trump's chances were very small and getting smaller based on what we had seen.

So we were able to make the call early, we were able to beat the competition. We looked around the room, everybody says, yay. And on we go. And by the time we found out how much everybody was freaking out and losing their minds over this call, we were already trying to call the next state.

We had already moved on. We were in Georgia. We were in North Carolina. We were looking at these other states. So we thought it was, we were pleased but not surprised.

LOFGREN: I see. You know, after the election as of November 7th, in your judgment, what were the chances of President Trump winning the election?

STIREWALT: After that point?


STIREWALT: None. I mean, I guess, there -- you could -- it's always possible that you could have, you know, a truckload of ballots be found somewhere, I suppose. But once you get into this space, you know, ahead of today, I thought about what are the largest margins that could ever be overturned by a recount.

And the normal kind of the kind of stuff that we heard Mike Pence talking about sounding like a normal Republican that night, when he said, you know, we'll keep every challenge, nothing like that. In a recount, you're talking about hundreds of votes.

When we think about calling a race, one of the things that we would think about is, is it outside the margin of a recount. And when we think about that margin, we think about in modern history, you're talking about 1,000 votes, 1,500 votes at the way, way outside.

Normally, you're talking about hundreds of votes, maybe 300 votes, they're going to change. So the idea that through any normal process in any of these states, remember he had to do it thrice, right. He needed three of these states to change.

And in order to do that, I mean, you're at infant -- you're better off to play the Powerball than to have that come in.

LOFGREN: On November 7th, the other major news outlets called the race for President Biden. Now Mr. Stepien told the Committee that he thought the odds were in this as a quote, very, very, very bleak, and held a meeting with the President that same day. Let's show clip eight, video clip eight. STEPIEN: With each day that we're on, I mean, the trajectory of the race on election night Trump ahead in many states and as that week wore on as the third became the fourth, became the fifth, and so on and so forth.

And the vote by mail ballots were tabulated, you know, Trump's lead, you know, grew more narrow. And in some places, Biden surpassed, you know, Trump in the vote totals.

So as the week wore on, as we paid attention to those numbers, every single multiple times a day, you know, internally, you know, I was feeling less confident for sure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your view on the state election at that point?

STEPIEN: You know, very, very, very bleak. You know, I -- we told him, the group that went over there outlined, you know, my belief and chances for success at this point.

And then we pegged it at, you know, 5, maybe 10 percent, based on recounts that were -- that, you know, either were automatically initiated or could be initiated, based on, you know, realistic legal challenges, not all the legal challenges that eventually were pursued.

But, you know, it was, you know, my belief is that it was a very, very, I mean, 5 to 10 percent. It's not a very good optimistic outlook.

LOFGREN: Now, as President Trump and others continued to claim that the election was stolen, there were lawyers who were a part of the campaign, campaign lawyers who were responsible for investigating the fraud claims.

That includes Alex Cannon, who could not validate the claims that were being made, including those being made by the President. Let's roll video 15.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an e-mail, it's two e-mails, actually. The first is from Alex Cannon to you and Faith McPherson. And then you forward that e-mail on to Mark Meadows, Justin Clark, and Jason Miller, the subject being AZ federal ID voters.

If you look at the original e-mail there it says, Bill, we completed the AZ analysis you requested. I assume that's about Arizona. And because of the substantial uncertainty surrounding the databases, this is a highly unreliable way to identify ineligible voters.

Can you explain the task that you gave to Ms. Cannon for this Arizona analysis?

STEPIEN: Sure. Previously, I described some of my frustration with some of the claims that people would throw up President Trump regarding, you know, need to look at this, you know, this happened in this state, or that happened in that state?

And it would be, you know, those would flow to us to look into. I talked about that before, I think. You know, this is an example of that. I recall in Arizona, someone had thrown out, I believe this to be the claim that there were thousands of illegal citizens.

People not eligible to vote, hadn't cast their ballots in Arizona. Someone had thrown out that claim to President Trump.

And with, you know, the margins being as close as they were, as I previously described, you know, that could potentially matter. So, this wild claim is thrown out, which, you know, on its face didn't seem, you know, realistic or possible to me.

I asked Alex, to look at the, you know, the claim. And I haven't read this full e-mail, but I recall the response to that. And the reality of that was not illegal citizens voting in the election.

And it was like overseas voters voting in the election. I saw obviously, you know, people who were eligible to vote.

LOFGREN: When these findings were passed up the chain to President Trump, he became frustrated, and he replaced the campaign's legal team. Let's play clip 14.


STEPIEN: You know, I think the president, it was during the second week, where things like you displayed were occurring, where he was, you know, growing increasingly unhappy with him, you know, me less so because I was less involved at this point.