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Now: 1/6 Committee Holds Second Day Of Hearings; Barr: I Told Trump His Election Fraud Claims Were "Bogus"; Barr: I Though Trump Was "Detached From Reality" With Vote Fraud Theory. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired June 13, 2022 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL (voiceover): Again, he said, OK. Then he said, no, I didn't mention that one. What about the others? And I said, OK, well with regard to Georgia, we looked at the tape, we interview the witnesses. There is no suitcase. The president kept fixating on the suitcase that supposedly had fraudulent ballots and that the suitcase was rolled out from under the table.
And I said, no sir, there is no suitcase. You can watch that video over and over. There is no suitcase. There is a wheeled bin where they carry the ballots. And that's just how they move ballots around that facility. There's nothing suspicious about that at all. I told him that there was no multiple scanning of the ballots.
One part of that allegation was that they were taking one ballot and scanning it through three or four or five times to rack up votes, presumably for Vice President Biden. I told him that the video did not support that. Then he went off on double voting, at the top of the next page.
He said, dead people are voting. Indians are getting paid to vote. He met people on Native American reservations. He said, there's lots of fraud going on here. Told him flat out that much of the information he's getting is false, and or just not supported by the evidence. We look at the allegations, but they don't pan out.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Mr. Barr and his advisers were not the only ones who determined that the president's allegations regarding Dominion voting machines are false. So, Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to include in the record of this hearing, reports issued by the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, otherwise known as CISA, that addressed and rejected the claims of manipulation of voting machines in the 2020 election.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Without objection, so ordered.
LOFGREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also ask unanimous consent to include in the record, a report prepared by the Michigan Senate oversight committee that disproved claims of election fraud in Michigan, as well as a statement by 59 of the country's leading election security scientists, noting the absence of any credible evidence that the 2020 election had been altered through technical compromise, and five other reports from organizations and individuals confirming, there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, or describing the spread of the former president's lies.
THOMPSON: Without objection, so ordered.
LOFGREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I yield back.
THOMPSON: So, into the order of the committee for the day, the chair declares the committee in recess for a period of approximately 10 minutes.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): 10 minutes of recess now, as the committee takes a quick break. We heard some devastating testimony from a number of Trump insiders, perhaps the star witness, former Attorney General Bill Barr, who at one point said he was beginning to believe that Donald Trump after the election was becoming detached from reality.
We also heard from other justice department officials and other individuals on the Trump campaign, all of them testifying to the committee that they had tried to tell Donald Trump that he had lost the election. And he kept believing unhinged conspiracy theory after unhinged conspiracy theory. Dana Bash?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (Voiceover): Absolute vivid descriptions, painting a picture of just what you described of a president of the United States, one after another rejecting the sound advice, data-based advice that he was getting from his campaign manager, from the attorney general of the United States, from the legal team that he ended up firing. All of that advice, he rejected, and he instead chose, this is the way that they described it.
A drunk Rudy Giuliani and the people in his orbit and wanting to listen to the people who were telling him what he wanted to hear. What they didn't yet talk about, Jake, was whether or not the president knew whether he had intent that he knew what he was saying was false.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And at some point, it's a question of, does that matter. When everybody around you is telling you that it's not true, does it really matter? Perhaps that's a question for the lawyers. But there's another element to several of the pieces of testimony, Bill Barr, and other people around him, Bill Stepien, saying it got much more difficult to convince the president of anything rational.
They're raising the question that we heard from Adam Kinzinger. One of the Republicans on this committee over the weekend, who basically said if Trump in fact does believe all of these lies and conspiracy theories, now we also have questions about his capacity, his mental incapacity in that role. And I think that that's actually the elephant in the room of a lot of this testimony. Bill Barr basically saying, you can't rationalize with this guy.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There's something else going on here though. And this was a huge win for the committee. And Donald Trump's head is exploding right now because all of those people are inner circle, from his children to his lawyers, to his campaign director, Bill Barr was the star witness. I agree with you.
Each and every one said there was no fraud. And here are some of the terms; "idiotic", "bullshit", "nuts", "crazy", "nonsense", "laughable." We heard about team normal. This, whatever Donald Trump's intent was, today was bad for him.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Incredibly important, as you look back at what happened to Jamie's point, young attorneys, old guard people like Bill Barr, the campaign team, the political team, the legal team, everybody, everybody was telling him the same thing on team normal. So, he goes out and gets Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. That's looking back that historical record is critical. But you also have to post this question.
He's still the most dominant force in the Republican Party. Donald Trump continues to be the most dominant force in the Republican Party. The man who wants to be speaker, he continues to raise money off him. The vast majority of Republicans will not say, we need a clean break from this. What you're hearing today is corrupt. I'll leave it to the lawyers. I go to next to me. Is it illegal? I don't know. I'm not lawyer. It's corrupt. And it's repeatedly corrupt. After being told, sir, you lost. Do the right thing
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Look, when Donald Trump could not find a yes man among his cabinet, he created an army of yes men by planting seeds time and time again, over the course of more than three months to try to secure those yes men and a crowd headed to the Capitol. Every time you heard about the irony of him, claiming fraud or searching for fraud against all rational thought, he was essentially committing overt acts in furtherance of fraud, defrauding the United States by deceptive action.
There is every inference that he was aware, that he was no longer the president of the United States that there had been saved that it certified it, that they had legislatively - he lost his all remedies, and he still sought to have that yes, man. He really in this way, they have laid out the basic tenants of establishing defrauding the government United States, trying to stop an electoral college certification by deceit and corrupt means. It's astounding that it's taken us this long to get right here, and they're not even done.
TAPPER: The hearing continues ahead with testimony from former Republican officials in Georgia and Pennsylvania. There were targets of Trump's ire after they rejected his false claims of election fraud. Stay right there. We'll carry it all live. We're going to squeeze in a quick break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: The January 6 hearing will resume in a minute with more live witness testimony. We're standing by to hear from two Republican former officials from Georgia and Pennsylvania who investigated and ultimately rejected Trump's bogus claims of election fraud in Georgia and Pennsylvania, also testify in a highly respected Republican election lawyer who has been very outspoken and declaring that he has found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Let's dig deeper right now into all the powerful testimony that we just heard from former Attorney General Bill Barr. He testified behind closed doors, that he feared the president of the United States was becoming detached from reality, as Trump continued on embracing wild and bogus and rather outlandish claims of fraud.
Let's bring in Evan Perez. Evan, you're learning more about Barr's role in trying to influence Trump officials as they faced the president's, you know, full court press on these election lies.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Jake, look, Bill Barr is - he's certainly emerged as a key witness here who essentially sets the tone for what became known as team normal. The people who were trying to tell the president, the former president, that there was nothing behind, nothing to support his claims of fraud. And you can hear from Barr the fact that not only, you know, was he looked, he waited a few days, tried to see whether or not any of these claims could stand up. And he decided that there wasn't any.
And so, what you're going to hear from the next witnesses, including BJay Pak and from the other officials on Wednesday, is more of the same. Is that they looked, they tried, did hundreds of witnesses, interviews and they looked at dozens of investigations and could find nothing, Jake?
TAPPER: Alright. Thanks so much, Evan. And let's talk about what we just heard because one of the things we heard Dana Bash, is the degree to which Trump just started sounding like a crazy Facebook post that you would find that like (Inaudible) is doing. Or what about the dump in the middle of the night in Detroit? And what about the Pennsylvania tractor trailer driver? And what about the Cleveland ice cream vendor? I mean, just nonsense after nonsense. And you heard the election officials, they all had answers for all of them.
BASH: Yes. Bill Barr called it whack-a-mole. And that's exactly the feeling that you got listening. What we're about to see is an extension of the Bill Barr testimony, which is BJay Pak who works for the justice department specifically in Georgia. And what Barr described was a president who believed that the federal government the DOJ was supposed to do his work for him politically, and that's clearly going to be something that we're going to hear, talked about explained in first person accounts.
TAPPER: and Abby, we have not heard from former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, the others Ginsburg and Schmidt, they've done interviews, but this will be the first time that the former Trump, U.S. Attorney from northern Georgia testifies publicly and shares his story.
PHILLIP: Yes. And that'll be so fascinating because when he resigned, basically, it was under mysterious circumstances. And it seemed clear, it was connected to all of this. But it was in the context of Trump personally. Remember personally making phone calls to Georgia officials to ask them, to basically find votes.
And I'm curious about what the committee has on that front. Because when you ask to find votes, it seems to imply that you know that there are no legitimate means to uncover fraud that would show that you won, it seems to imply that Trump knew that he needed to just come up with a number that would show him winning over Joe Biden.
TAPPER: And the committee is walking in. There as the chairman Bennie Thompson, Democratic Mississippi, Vice Chair Liz Cheney Republican of Wyoming. We're going to hear from three elections officials, all three of them Republican, all three of them underlining the fact that Trump's claims of widespread fraud were not true. And these are three proud Republicans.
We should point out former Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt, BJay Pak, before he was a U.S. attorney was a Georgia State Representative, and of course, Ben Ginsberg, who has been a prominent elections attorney for the Republican National Committee. I believe Bennie Thompson is going to gavel in. Let's listen.
THOMPSON: Committee will be in order. I now welcome our second panel of witnesses. We're joined today by BJay Pak, Al Schmidt and Ben Ginsberg. Mr. Pak is the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Mr. Schmidt is a former city commissioner for the city of Philadelphia, where he served for more than 10 years. Mr. Ginsberg is one of the leading election law attorneys in the country and has represented Republican presidential candidates in election litigation dating back to 2000. Where he represented George W. Bush in the Bush v. Gore litigation.
I will now sway in our witnesses. Please stand and raise your 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. Please be seated.
Let the record reflect the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Pursuant to Section 5(c)8 of House resolution 503. I now recognize the gentlewoman from California, Miss. Lofgren for questions.
LOFGREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before the break, I think you all heard Mr. Barr and Mr. Donoghue, talk about the false claims that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about suitcases of fake ballots in Georgia. We have a witness here today who thoroughly investigated that issue.
Mr. Pak, I want to thank you for appearing before us today. You were appointed by President Trump to serve as a U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and you served from 2017 until January of 2021. You were the lead federal prosecutor there and work for the Department of Justice under then Attorney General Bill Barr. Were you ever asked by Attorney General Barr to investigate claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election? And if so, what were those claims?
BJAY PAK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Thank you Congressman Lofgren. Thank you for the question. Approximately December 4, I believe, of 2020, Attorney General Barr and I had a conversation about an unrelated case, case at issue.
At the end of the conversation, Mr. Barr had asked me if I had seen a certain videotape. That was being reported in the news, where Mr. Giuliani in a Senate subcommittee hearing that was held the day before May 3, showed a videotape of a purportedly a security tape at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which is also in Fulton County in the city of Atlanta. I'm sorry, city of Yes.
At the time, Mr. Barr asked me that, he had made a public statement that he had not seen any widespread election fraud that would question the outcome of the election, and because the videotape and the serious allegation that Mr. Giuliani was making respect to the suitcase full ballots reported in the video.
He asked me to find out what I could about it, because he had envisioned that in some days after our call that he was going to - go to the White House for a meeting and then that issue might come up. He asked me to make it a priority to get to the bottom of - try to substantiate the allegation made by Mr. Giuliani.
LOFGREN: Thank you. I understand the Georgia Secretary of State's office investigated those State Farm Arena allegations and didn't find any evidence of fraud. What did you find when your office conducted its own investigation?
PAK: We found that the suitcase full of ballots, the alleged black suitcase that was being seen pulled from under the table was actually an official lockbox where ballots were kept safe. We found out that there was a mistake in terms of - misunderstanding that they were done counting ballots or telling ballots for the night. And the partisan watchers that was assigned by each of the respective parties were announced to send home.
Well, once they realized mistake, someone from the Secretary of State's office had indicated that no, no, we're not done for the night, you need to go ahead and continue counting. So, once they packed up the lockbox full of ballots, they brought back the official ballot box again and continue to tally the ballots from that, from the lockbox.
Unfortunately, during the Senate hearing, Mr. Giuliani only played a clip that showed them pulling out the official ballot box from under the table and referring to that as a smoking gun of fraud in Fulton County. But in actuality, in review of the entire video, it showed that that was actually an official ballot box that would kept underneath the tables.
And then that we saw them pack up because the announcement that they thought they were done for the night. And then once the announcement was made that you should continue counting, they brought the ballot box out and they continued to count.
We interviewed - the FBI interviewed the individuals that are depicted in the videos, properly were double - triple counting of the ballots and determined that nothing irregular happened in the county and the allegations made by Mr. Giuliani were false.
LOFGREN: Thank you very much. I'd like to play again, a testimony from Mr. Donoghue who appeared before the committee before today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voiceover): Mr. Donoghue, you, we talked at some length about whether or not the White House or the president was informed about the antrum report. On the results of the investigations, the interviews that have gone on, on Fulton County, how would those results have been communicated to the White House, to the president?
DONOGHUE (voiceover): I don't know how they were initially communicated. I do know that they came up in subsequent conversations with the president and Dag Rosen and I essentially told him, we looked into that and it's just not true.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voiceover): OK. So, he wasn't informed.
DONOGHUE (voiceover): I told the president myself that several times in several conversations that these allegations about ballots being smuggled in, in a suitcase and run through the machine several times. It was not true that we looked at. We looked at the video. We interview the witnesses. It was not true.
LOFGREN: Mr. Pak, after you left the U.S. attorney's office on January 4, 2021. Did the next U.S. attorney there, I think Mr. Trump's personal pick, Bobby Christine, did he investigate any remaining claims of fraud? And if so, did he find any evidence that supported the president's claims of voter fraud?
PAK: It is my understanding that Mr. Christine continued any investigations that were pending at the time of my departure, but he was unable to find any evidence of fraud that affected the outcome of the election.
LOFGREN: So, after investigating the president's and Mr. Giuliani's claims about voter fraud in Georgia, is it your view today that there was no evidence of widespread fraud sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of the election in Georgia?
PAK: That is correct.
LOFGREN: Thank you, Mr. Pak. And I want to thank you also for the service that you've given to our country. We appreciate them. Next, I'd like to turn to President Trump's false allegations about election integrity in Philadelphia. The attorney general discussed these allegations at some length. [12:25:00]
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You know, the idea the president has repeatedly suggested that there was some kind of outpouring of unexpected votes in inner city areas like Philadelphia as recently as January 13, when he walked off the NPR set. He was asked by the interviewer, you know, what's your evidence of fraud. And he said, more people voted in Philadelphia than there were voters. And that was absolutely rubbish.
The turnout in Philadelphia was in line with the state's turnout. And in fact, it was not as, as impressive as many suburban counties. And there was nothing strange about the Philadelphia turnout. It wasn't like there was all these unexpected votes that came out in Philadelphia.
So, you know, I think once you actually look at the votes, and then there's an obvious explanation, he, you know, for example, in Pennsylvania, Trump ran weaker than the Republican ticket general. He ran weaker than two of the state candidates, he ran weaker than the congressional delegation that running for Federal Congress, and he ran weaker than the Republican I think, I haven't looked at this recently, but he generally was a weak element on the Republican ticket. So that does not suggest that the election was stolen by fraud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about Pennsylvania and Bill McSwain. We were talking to the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia about it alleged discrepancy between the number of absentee ballots issued and the number of ballots carried.
BARR: Right. So, that was a one of the big ones for a period of time. I think that was raised in Gettysburg by Giuliani or something like that. But it kept on being repeated. And I found it annoying because I didn't seem that it was right. So, I called (Inaudible). And he got back to me. He said, no, the problem is that Mastriano throughout this number, and what he did was he mixed apples and oranges.
He took the number of applications for the Republican primary, and he compared it to the number of absentee votes, cast in the general election. But once you actually go and look and compare apples to apples, there's no discrepancy. And, you know, that's one of the - I think at some point, I covered that with the president.
LOFGREN: We have another witness here today, who has detailed knowledge about the election process in Philadelphia. Mr. Schmidt at the time of the 2020 presidential election, you were serving as the only Republican member of Philadelphia's three members city commission, which is responsible for overseeing elections throughout the city, is that correct?
AL SCHMIDT, PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSION: That's correct, congressperson. LOFGREN: So, President Trump made numerous claims regarding fraudulent voting practices in Philadelphia, including the claim that dead people were voting. In fact, Mr. Giuliani told Pennsylvania state legislators that 8,000 dead people voted in Pennsylvania. You investigated those claims of voter fraud. Can you tell us what you found?
SCHMIDT: Not only was there not evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania, there wasn't evidence of eight. We took seriously every case that was referred to us, no matter how fantastical no matter how absurd and took every one of those seriously, including these.
LOFGREN: As it turns out, even Mr. Trump's campaign lawyers knew that the dead voter claims weren't valid.
SCHMIDT: I guess the crooks in Philadelphia are disappointed on this. They only submitted 8021 ballots from dead people, mail in ballots for dead people, probably easier for dead people to submit mail in ballots than it is to vote in person.
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Rudy was at this stage of his life and the same ability to manage things at this level or not. And obviously, the anything Bernie Kerik publicly said it, they never proved the allegations that they were making, and they were trying to develop.
SCHMIDT: Mr. Schmidt on November 11, 2020, President Trump tweeted about you, saying and here's a quote, "a guy named Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia commissioner and so-called Republican or rhino is being used big time by the fake news media to explain how honest things were with respect to the election in Philadelphia. He refuses to look at a mountain of corruption, dishonesty, we win as a result of that tweet, and the CNN interview. You gave where you stated the dead voter claims in Pennsylvania were false. You and your staff were subjected to disturbing threats.