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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: Third 1/6 Hearing Focusing On Trump's Attempt To Pressure Pence; Now: 1/6 Hearing Resumes, Focusing On The Insurrection. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 16, 2022 - 14:30   ET



JOHN WOOD, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL TO JAN. 6 COMMITTEE: And you even described it as a potentially could be decided in the streets.

And you described several concessions that Dr. Eastman made throughout that discussion or even debate that you had with him.

At some point during that meeting on January 5th, did Dr. Eastman seem to admit that both of the theories that he had presented to the United States the day before?

So, the theory that the vice president could reject electors outright and declare Donald Trump the winner, and his less aggressive theory that the vice president could simply send it back to the states.

At some point in this conversation on the 5th, did Dr. Eastman seem to admit that both of these theories suffered from similar legal flaws?

GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: So, I had at least one, possibly two other conversations with Dr. Eastman later that day.

In the earlier meeting, we really were focused because his request that he made had been reject the electors outright, on why that theory was wrong and why we certainly would not be doing that.

Later that day, he pivoted back to, well, we hear you loud and clear. You're not going to reject. But remember, last night, I said that there was this more prudent course where you could just send it back to the states. Would you be willing to do that?

And during the course of our discussion about his renewed request that we consider that option, he acknowledged to me -- he put it, both Mr. Eastman and myself are graduates of the University of Chicago Law School.

And he said, look, as graduates of that august institution, you and I will mutually understand that the underlying legal theory of plenary vice-presidential authority is what you have to have to get there.

Because this new theory, as I was pointing out to him, or the procedural theory, still violates several provisions of the Electoral Count Act, as he acknowledged. And the only way that you could ever be able to ignore several

provisions of statutory law is if it was pretty clear that they were unconstitutional.

And the only way they could be unconstitutional is if the vice president had the plenary authorities that were formed in the basis for the reject of the votes as well.

So, he acknowledged in those conversations that the underlying legal theory was the same. He just thought that the "send it back to the states" option would be more politically palatable, and he hoped more palatable to the vice president for that reason.

WOOD: And in fact, when Dr. Eastman made this concession during that meeting, according to your earlier deposition, Dr. Eastman said, just between us University of Chicago chickens, is that right?

JACOB: I don't think that the University of Chicago's going to start a Chicago chickens fundraising club.


JACOB: But, yes, that is the terminology that he used.

He said, you know, just between us Chicago chickens, we will understand, as lawyers who have studied the Constitution, that the underlying basis really is the same.

WOOD: I reserve the remainder of my time.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Wood.

Mr. Jacob, the president and the vice president meet again on that same topic, the next day, January 5th, correct?

JACOB: So, after my extended meeting with Mr. Eastman that morning, during that time, the vice president had been back at his residence, working on his statement to the nation that we released the next day.

He got down to the White House at some point between 1:00 and 2:00 as my meeting with Mr. Eastman was wrapping up.

And when we -- Marc Short and I went over to meet with the vice president and actually we thought maybe we had good news. We felt like we had sort of defeated Mr. Eastman, that he was sort of acknowledging that there was no "there" there.

But the vice president was then asked down to the Oval Office, and he went down to the Oval Office while Marc and I stayed back in the vice president's office.

AGUILAR: You weren't in that meeting?

JACOB: I was not.

AGUILAR: In the book "Peril," journalists, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, write that the president said, quote, "If these people say you have the power, wouldn't you want to?"

The vice president says, "I wouldn't want any one person to have that authority." The president responds, "But wouldn't it almost be cool to have that power?"


The vice president is reported to have said, "No, look, I've read this, and I don't see a way to do it. We've exhausted every option. I've done everything I could, and then some, to find a way around this. It's simply not possible. My interpretation is no."

To which the president says, "No, no, no, you don't understand, Mike. You can do this. I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this."

We asked Marc Short about this during his deposition.


MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Not understanding that I would have, in other conversations with the vice president, he articulated to me that, no, he wouldn't want that power bestowed upon any one person.


AGUILAR: Mr. Jacob, did you, Mr. Short, and the vice president have a call later that day again with the president and Dr. Eastman?

JACOB: So, yes, we did.

AGUILAR: And what did Dr. Eastman request on that call?

JACOB: On that phone call, which I believe was around 5:00 that afternoon, Mr. Eastman stated that he had heard us loud and clear that morning, we were not going to be rejecting electors.

But would we be open to considering the other course that we had discussed on the 4th, which would be to suspend the joint session and request that state legislatures re-examine certification of the electoral votes.

AGUILAR: That same day, January 5th, "The New York Times" ran a story about the disagreement between the president and the vice president about whether the vice president could determine the outcome of the election.

Even though "The New York Times" story was indisputably correct, Donald Trump denied it.

Trump issued a statement claiming that the vice president had agreed that he could determine the outcome of the election, despite the fact that the vice president had consistently rejected that position.

Let's look at what the president said in his statement. Quote, "'The New York Times" report regarding comments Vice President

Pence supposedly made to me today is fake news. He never said that. The vice president and I are in total agreement that the vice president has the power to act."

Mr. Jacob, how did the vice president's team react to this statement from the president, that the vice president could take an active role in determining the winner of the presidential election?

JACOB: So, we were shocked and disappointed, because whoever had written and put that statement out, it was categorically untrue.

AGUILAR: The vice president's chief of staff, Marc Short, had an angry phone call with Trump campaign senior advisor, Jason Miller, about this statement.

Here's what Mr. Short and Mr. Miller told the committee about that call.


UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Tell me about the conversation you had with Jason.

SHORT: It was brief. I was irritated and expressed displeasure that statement could have gone out, that misrepresented the vice president's viewpoint without consultation.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The statement says the vice president and I are in total agreement. That the vice president has the power to act. Is that incorrect?

SHORT: I think the record shows that that's incorrect.


SHORT: I mean, we've been through many documents that clarify that this is not where the vice president was.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Right. So, essentially, the president's sending out a baldly false statement about being in alignment, purported alignment with the vice president, despite all of the predicate that you indicated had gone before about their respective positions.

Is that effectively what happened?

SHORT: I interpret the statement as false. I'll let you figure out who sent it out.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: When Marc Short contacted you, he was upset? Is that what you said?



MILLER: What's the process for putting out a statement for a meeting where only two people were in the room?

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Did he ask you to retract the statement?

MILLER: No. He just -- I think it went right to, what's the process for putting out a statement for a meeting when only two people were in the room?

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: And he clearly disagreed with the substance, though, right, because he said that the vice president doesn't agree with this?

MILLER: Trying to think what exactly he said. I mean, the tone was very clearly that he -- he used some language to strongly infer that the vice president disagreed with that take, but I don't remember what that language was.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Did he dictate this statement?


MILLER: We -- he dictated most of it. I mean, typically, on these -- typically on these, I might have a couple of wording suggestions or maybe I'd, you know, have a sentence or a rough framework or something of that.

But I know with specificity on this one that it was me and him on the phone talking through it. And ultimately, the way this came out was the way that he wanted to.


AGUILAR: The dispute between the president and the vice president had grown to the point where the vice president's chief of staff, Marc Short, was concerned that the president could, in Mr. Short's words, quote, "lash out" at the vice president on January 6th.

In fact, Mr. Short was so concerned about it that he talked with the head of the vice president's Secret Service detail on January 5th.

Here's Mr. Short.


SHORT: Concern was for the vice president's security. And so I wanted to make sure the head of the vice president's Secret Service was aware that likely, as these disagreements became more public, that the president would lash out in some way.


AGUILAR: After the recess, we will hear that Marc Short's concerns were justified. The vice president was in danger.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve.

SEN. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Pursuant to the order of the committee of today, the chair declares the committee in recess for a period of approximately 10 minutes.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, while the January 6th House Select Committee takes a ten-minute recess, let us review what we have learned in these few hours of testimony from top aides of Vice President Pence as well as noted conservative lawyer, Michael Luttig, as well as others from the Trump-world circle.

Jamie Gangel, it seems like they've painted a very clear picture that the vice president and his team were unanimously of the belief that he did not have the ability to just reject electors from states.

And one note that I thought was really fascinating was when Eric Herschmann, one of our favorite testifiers from the Trump White House counsel's office, relays a conversation that he had with John Eastman, the attorney, who was pushing this unconstitutional theory.

And says to him, you're going to cause riots in the streets by pushing this. To which Eastman said something to the effect of, there's been violence in the history of our country before.

In other words, a foreshadowing of what exactly happened and from the guy who was at least partly responsible, a complete and utter expression of disregard about that violence.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Today's hearing may have been a little in the weeds for a lot of people. But what it did was it laid out, from firsthand fact witnesses, exactly what was going on in these meetings with John Eastman and Trump.

You have Greg Jacob, the vice president's counsel, explaining he was in the room about the pressure that they were under. And it makes the point, as you said, about Herschmann saying, you're going to cause riots in the street, that Trump was warned over and over that this could lead to violence.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And even warned by Eastman himself --

GANGEL: Right.

BORGER: -- who said in a meeting, in front of the then-president, that the plan would require the vice president to violate federal law. Period.

So, not only did you have all these people you're talking about, Jamie, you know, you had Marc Short, Herschmann, Rudy Giuliani.


GANGEL: Jason Miller.

BORGER: Jason Miller, who sounded different publicly from the way he did privately. And Eastman himself kept sort of going back and forth and back and forth.

What we haven't heard yet is -- and we may never know, because he's been pleading the Fifth. But Eastman has a meeting with Pence's people, sort of hears them out, and then the next morning, he says, nah, you know, you really have to get rid of the -- these electors.

GANGEL: Yes, and --

BORGER: So what -- what transpired that night before that meeting the next day?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the part of this that I think there's a little bit of subtext that was happening here. They almost made a bit of a joke about it, but I think it's important.

The, just between you and me, you know, chickens or whatever, University of Chicago law chickens, Eastman was trying to kind of have a little bit of an inside pact here between himself and the vice president.


Saying, are you willing to do this? We all know that it's not constitutional, but are you willing to try it?

Because I just don't think that the Supreme Court is going to weigh in? They're going to kick it back as a political question. And then if there's violence in the streets, let there be violence in the streets.

I think the subtext of a lot of this was, A, Eastman knew that this was not constitutional. But that he was trying to get everybody else to buy into the scheme, knowing that it was about deception.

And knowing that it was unconstitutional because he believed that, at the end of the day, that there would be no legal recourse.

Now, I don't think that that's true. I don't think that he would have been right, that there would be no consequence to this. But that's what he was trying to do.


LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What strikes me, he mentions law school, and what struck me is his particular approach, he kept trying to say, in law school, we say, all right, let's change one fact and then see how it might change the actual outcome of the actual legal opinion.

Well, the one fact he wanted to change was the fact that a vice president might have plenary power, a phrase to suggest that he would have the ability as one person to decide the fate and who would be the next president of the United States.

And because this was not there available constitutionally, he wanted to change that fact. How do you do that? Back to the social media campaign. That's

President Trump making statements to make that so, to try to change that one fact narrative.

And what should strike people is the idea of how thorough this all was. It wasn't just one knee-jerk reaction in saying, here's what you do. Everyone went back and forth and had the receipts to say, this is all ridiculous.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And once you're -- once you lie and tell the Big Lie, you're caught in lies. The campaign statement saying the vice president and I are in total agreement, disputing "The New York Times" story. That's a lie.

They knew it was a lie when they put it out because Pence had consistently, as we've heard from the testimony, gone through it. There's the law.

I want to come back to the math, too. This was just impossible. Michigan, 154,000 votes. Nevada, 33,000 votes. Arizona, 10,000. Georgia, nearly 12,000. Wisconsin, 20,000. Pennsylvania, 81,000.

Joe Biden won. And he won by a margin that Donald Trump called a slender lead, 303-235, when he beat Hillary Clinton by the same margin. There was no math behind this, no law behind this, so they lied.

TAPPER: I will say, I don't think Al Gore has ever looked better than today when it was pointed out over and over by Pence attorneys that if Al Gore had done what Trump tried to do and wanted Pence to do, he could have declared himself the president.

And Al Gore was quoted saying that there are things more important than one's own personal professional disappointments. There's the fate of the republic.

When the hearing resumes, in just a few minutes, we're told House investigators will focus to the day of the insurrection.

They're promising new information about Vice President Pence's actions that day as the mob stormed the capitol, shouting, "Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence." Where was he when they were shouting that?

Our coverage continues after a break.



TAPPER: We are waiting for the January 6th Select Committee to resume its proceedings.

We have been told by sources on the committee to expect chilling new details on how close Vice President Mike Pence and his family were to actual danger on the day of the insurrection.

Aides say the panel will shed light on what Pence was doing and where he was hiding as the capitol was under attack.

He was a specific target of pro-Trump rioters, having been made a target, at least according to Pence's own chief of staff by then- President Donald Trump.

The committee members are finally back onto the dais. You see Bennie Thompson, the chairman, Democrat of Mississippi, Liz Cheney, the vice chair, Republican of Wyoming, and the other members of the committee.

We're going to listen in as this third presentation of evidence to the American people is being made. This one led by California Democrat Pete Aguilar as well a former Republican U.S. attorney making the presentation, taking the testimony.

Let's listen in as Bennie Thompson prepares to gavel in this third presentation of evidence as to what went wrong on January 6th.

THOMPSON: The committee will be in order.

Gentleman from California, Mr. Aguilar, is recognized.

AGUILAR: I'd now like to turn to the events of January 6th, 2021, which turned out to be a fateful day in our nation's history.

Despite the fact the vice president consistently told the president that he did not have and would not want the power to decide the outcome of the presidential election, Donald Trump continued to pressure the vice president both publicly and privately.


As you will hear, things reached a boiling point on January 6th and the consequences were disastrous.

In the middle of the night on January 5th into the morning of the 6th around 1:00 a.m., President Trump tweeted "at" the vice president, meaning the comments and response to the president's tweet would also show up on the vice president's Twitter feed.

The tweet stated the vice president could, quote, "come through for us and send it back to the states."

Then around 8:00 a.m. on January 6th, President Trump again tweeted. This time to say that the vice president could send it back to the states and, quote, "We win." And that, "This is the time for extreme courage."

Mr. Short told us during his deposition that the vice president started a meeting on January 6th in prayer.

Here is what Mr. Short said.


SHORT: We arrived at the vice president's residence. As would often be the case, I would call knowing it would be an important day, we gathered in prayer.

And often that would be something the staff member would be. So it would have been just at that time, I believe the vice president and myself, Greg and Chris, and we were just asked for guidance and wisdom knowing that the day was going to be a challenging one.


AGUILAR: Mr. Jacob, did you go to vice president's residences on the morning of January 6th?


AGUILAR: Who also was with you?

JACOB: Marc Short, Devon O'Malley our communications director, and Chris Hodgson, our legislative affairs director.

AGUILAR: Did the vice president have a call with the president that morning?

JACOB: He did.

AGUILAR: Were you with the vice president during the call?

JACOB: So we had been putting the -- vice president had finalized his statement overnight. We were in the process of proofing it so that we could get that out.

And we were told that a call had come in from the president. The vice president stepped out of the room to take that call and no staff went with him.

AGUILAR: The president had several family members with him in the oval that morning for that call.

I'd like to show you what they and others is about that call along with the never-before-seen photographs with the president on that call from the National Archives.


ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: When I got in, somebody called me and said, that the family and others were in the Oval and do I want to come up. So I went upstairs.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Who do you recall being in the Oval Office?

HERSCHMANN: Don Jr., Eric, Laura, Kimberly. Meadows was there. At some point, Ivanka came in.

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER & DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: It wasn't a specific formal discussion. It was very sort of loose and casual.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: So then you said, at some point, there's a telephone conversation between the president and the vice president?


IVANKA TRUMP: When I entered the office a second time, he was on the telephone with, who I later found out to be the vice president.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Could you hear the vice president or only here the president's end?

HERSCHMANN: You could only here the president's end. At some point it started off as a calmer tone and became heated.

IVANKA TRUMP: The conversation was pretty heated.

HERSCHMAN: I think until it became somewhat louder tone?, nobody was paying attention to it initially.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Did you hear any part of the phone call? Just the end the president was speaking from?



LUNA: So as I was dropping off the note, my memory, I remember hearing the word "wimp." He called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said, you are a wimp, will be a wimp. "Wimp" is the word I remember.


UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Is has also reported the president said to the vice president that something to the effect of you don't have the courage to make a hard decision?

GEN. KEITH KELLOG, FORMER PENCE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I don't remember exactly. It was something like that, yes.