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CNN Live Event/Special

Soon: 4th Jan 6 Hearing To Focus On Trump's Intimidation Of State Officials. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We are expecting another round of powerful testimony on Capitol Hill any minute. The January 6th Select Committee says today's hearing will demonstrate that Donald Trump and his allies drove a pressure campaign that literally endangered lives not to mention democracy and contributed to the January 6th insurrection. Let's go over to John King to lay out what we can expect today from the witnesses. Most of these individuals we're going to hear from today are dined in the wall of conservative Republicans who supported Trump's election.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right. And that's why it's so important. It's not just what you're hearing about Donald Trump and his consistent methodical effort to change the election results to cheat. It's not just what you're hearing. It's who you're hearing it from. And so when it comes to Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State who said he voted for Trump said he wanted Trump to win. But the math was the math. Here's essentially his chief of staff Gabe Sterling who works with Brad Raffensperger, again, a Republican, brought in in a Republican administration.

Remember Gabe Sterling after the election, Donald Trump was saying, I was cheated. I was cheated. There was fraud in Georgia. Gabe Sterling was one of the ones you go back to, this is December 1st, 2020, about a month after the election, right? He knew, he knew this was getting dangerous. And he asked the President, please.


GABE STERLING, GEORGIA ELECTION OFFICIAL: I have the ability to do and you just step up and say this is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone's going to get hurt, someone's going to get shot, someone's going to get killed.


KING: And yet a month, remember that's December 1st, one month later, the infamous phone call. This is the President on the phone with the Georgia Secretary of State Gabe Sterling is on that call saying, come on, find me those votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break. You know, we have that in spades already.


KING: We have that in spades already. If you come back, even during that call, the Deputy Secretary of State, the White House Chief of Staff, she texts, we need to end this call because she sees what's happening. I don't think this will be productive much longer. Mark Meadows, the Chief of Staff says, OK, let's save the relationship. Thank you. Wow. Thank you. Wow. She just can't believe what she's hearing.

TAPPER: The President is shaking down the Secretary of State asking him to flip it based on nothing, based on lies.

KING: Right. She -- based on lies. And that's the important point. As you look right here, sure, it was a narrow win. Sure, Georgia had traditionally been a Republican state but Joe Biden won. Jake, they recounted then they did an audit. There were lawsuits. Joe Biden won, that is a fact. It's a close election, but it's a fact. And that's a margin, 11,779, you say, oh, that's a small margin. But never gets reversed. It's just not enough votes to return it and recount.


TAPPER: And remember the testimony from the U.S. Attorney for northern Georgia who said he also looked into it. There was nothing there.

KING: The Justice Department looked into it, the state looked into it. They did a recount. They did an audit, Joe Biden won. Joe Biden won Georgia, plain and simple. Then we moved to the other big witness. The first witness, Rusty Bowers, again, a very conservative Republican, the Speaker of the House in Arizona, looked at all of this. And here's what he said on a phone call.

The President of the United States, Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, again, this is the near the end of November, so three weeks after the election, essentially, you are giving me nothing but conjecture, asking me to break my oath and commit to do something I cannot do, because I swore I wouldn't. I will follow the Constitution. That is the Republican Speaker of the House who voted for Donald Trump, supported Donald Trump saying, I can't do this.

And of course, in Arizona as well, yes, it's close. Similar in Georgia, right, 10,000 votes here, 10,500, just shy of that. But again, it was recounted. There were lawsuits here as well, Jake. And as you go through this, you're going to have Republican officials who said they did their job. They counted the votes. They wanted Trump to win. He simply didn't. But he would not stop trying, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, John King, thanks so much.

Joining us now the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Republican Geoff Duncan. Lieutenant Governor Duncan, thanks for joining us. You work with two of these witness, the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the election official, Gabe Sterling. They're both conservative Republicans. Tell us what you know about them in terms of their work, their values, their character, their politics, before our viewers hear their testimony today.

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): I served with Brad Raffensperger in the State House. We had two of the most conservative voting records. You got to watch Gabe Sterling on display through the whole post-election period of time. I just heard the statement or the press conference he had which was just outside the door of my office. It was gut wrenching. It was foreshadowing. We could certainly feel the tension building here.

But they are two hard working folks. I think what you'll see today in their testimony is two folks who just showed up to work for nine hard weeks and did the right thing every single moment.

TAPPER: There is an attempt by Trump and his supporters to paint people like you and Secretary of State Raffensperger and Gabe Sterling and indeed, Governor Kemp as rhinos Republicans in name only, liberals in, you know, secret disguise. What do you say to that?

DUNCAN: Yes, I think Donald Trump is a short term sugar high that's on the backside of his career. And I hope he figures out how to play golf down in Mar-a-Lago more often. And we can get back to focusing on the real problems in our country and our President that quite honestly, if you gave Republicans truth serum, they'd say that Donald Trump should go away. And if he gave truth serum to Democrats, they say Joe Biden should go away. And we wouldn't elect either one of these guys to be the CEO of any business in our country. And I think this is actually helps Republicans this process. It's painful. It's hard to listen to folks talk and spread lies and innuendoes. But this is going to help us heal as a Republican Party.

TAPPER: What new information do you think we could learn from today's testimony? Do you still have questions about what happened in Georgia in the run up to January 6th?

DUNCAN: Yes, I don't know if you're going to hear a whole lot of new information, right? I mean, we've been under the microscope for a pretty long period of time. What I think you -- a big takeaway here for followers to pay attention to, is going to be the anxiety around the moment in time where, you know, just one 10 second sound bite by Brad Raffensperger could have led us in a completely different direction, or Gabe Sterling or Brian Kemp, or if I would have breathed some sort of, you know, tailwind to the rumor that we would call it a special session.

I think the anxiety filled of how close the line and how thin the line was between democracy and chaos in Georgia, which would have spilled over in the streets all over the country.

TAPPER: We did a documentary about the attempted coup, as you know, because you were part of it. I want you to take a listen to what Secretary Raffensperger told me for that documentary about standing up to Trump.


TAPPER: At one point, President Trump called you the enemy of the people. That struck you because you were aware of the history of that faith, that -- of that term?

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R-GA), SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's an offensive statement. Here I am. I'm a solid Ronald Reagan conservative. But my dad was a patriot. And that's how we were raised. But that's how so many Americans were raised. Enemy of the state, no, it's offensive to me, because I'm standing on the law. I'm supporting the Constitution of the State of Georgia, the Constitution of the United States of America.


TAPPER: What do you think wouldn't have happened if people like you or Secretary Raffensperger or Governor Kemp or Gabe Sterling had not stood up to Donald Trump? And how worried does that make you about the midterms and 2024?

DUNCAN: Yes, I played this out a little bit, in my new book I talked about, you know, what would have happened, right? I mean, if you take 2.5 million Georgians votes, and you just because you want to do it, just because you think you have the power to do it, you disenfranchise them. I can only imagine the ripple effects in the streets, what that would have done to democracy.

It would have put us, you know, in a very, very dangerous situation as a state and quite honestly as a country. But, you know, we've got to get democracy right as Republicans if we want to take out Joe Biden or take out the Democrats in the White House in 2024. I think we're getting closer to being at that point. I think we're finally started gravitating back to being a party of problem solvers and solutions.


Unfortunately, this is part of that process. Interesting to me to watch this play out, this is obviously a January 6th hearing process, one that's very politically centered. But there's been as many parallels on the whole run up on the -- between the election and the January 6th moment. I mean, I think there's been more and more people on the inner circle that were in Donald Trump's ear, telling him how crazy he was, how out of touch he was with reality.

I wish those folks would have been a little more public at that period of time. I think history is not going to be kind of those folks that either are in power or want to be in power that didn't get this right out of the gates.

TAPPER: The Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won his primary last month with 52 percent of the vote even though Donald Trump seemed to make it his mission to defeat him, recruited Congressman Jody Hice to run against him. Brian Kemp also won against a Trump-backed challenger, David Perdue. Do you think that there is a national takeaway for Republicans in those victories?

DUNCAN: Absolutely, I think the rest of the country is really watching what we're doing here in Georgia. And certainly we didn't ask to be in the spotlight. But we're here. And so I see this as a great opportunity for us to lead the Republican Party back to normalcy, back to leadership, back to a position of authority on the big issues, right?

I mean, good gracious, we've got a fallen economy. We've got international chaos. We've got all kinds of real problems. And we've got to get past this Donald Trump sugar high so that we can get back to being in charge of making these big decisions.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, good to see you again as always. As we await the start of the hearing, we're going to get some rare insight into what it's like to testify in a high stakes investigation like this, the former Nixon White House Counsel and star witness at the Watergate hearings, John Dean will join us next. Stay with us.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: People are taking their places in the House hearing room as you see where the January 6th Select Committee is about to reveal more of its findings. This morning, we'll be obviously providing complete coverage here on CNN. The hearing will explore Trump's efforts to convince state officials to overturn election results in Georgia and Arizona. I want to bring in CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, as these hearings play out, the Justice Department also is investigating January 6th, what are you learning about that investigation?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, this is a very, very active part of the Justice Department investigation. As you know, there's been a lot of frustration from members of this Committee about the pace of the Justice Department's work looking into the January 6th, the events of January 6th. But this is one part that we know, you know, based on subpoenas, or some witnesses have received in the last few weeks.

We know the Justice Department has been focusing on people who are involved in the Trump campaign, people who are advisors, people who are very close to the President. And one specific thing that prosecutors have been asking for, FBI has been asking for is communications with a number of former attorneys including Rudy Giuliani, Justin Clark, who's a campaign lawyer, and John Eastman. So we know this is something that the prosecutors and the FBI are very much actively looking at, at this point in the investigation. Anderson?

COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate it.

We're joined by two guests with a unique perspective on the hearings. The former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, who was the star witness at the Watergate hearings, and veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, his reporting with Bob Woodward uncovered the Watergate scandal. Carl, the Committee will argue that Trump knew that there was election fraud. He knew his pressure campaign would lead to violence. He did it anyway. How does that compare with Nixon and Watergate?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, two things. First of all, what this Committee is in the process of doing is to demonstrate a massive conspiracy from the President down before, during, and after January 6th. And we now begin to see the players, Trump at the top, then the Chief of Staff Meadows, then over in the Justice Department, Clark, Giuliani, it's all fitting together, this Committee compared to the Watergate Committee, and you'll have to ask John Dean about it.

But compared to the Watergate Committee, this one has also assembled block by block, and maybe even more precisely, what happened over this period of time, starting before the election, during the election, after the election, after the inauguration of Joseph Biden as president. So this is something we've never seen before, a coup in the middle by the President of the United States to attempt a coup to overthrow the very government of the United States that he had been head of. There's nothing like this, and it's sedition.

COOPER: And, John, obviously, you were star witness before the Senate Watergate Committee. Your testimony really sparked a bipartisan reckoning. I want to play some of what you said.


JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the presidency. And if the cancer was not removed, the President himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately.


COOPER: How do you think these hearings compared to the Watergate hearings? There hasn't been a moment like that obviously.

DEAN: There hasn't been an occasion like that. What I see is a very different set of hearings, Anderson. We're having like seven or eight hearings right now. There were seven or eight months of hearings during Watergate. It went on. It was kind of tiresome for a lot of people. There were some moments that were very high and --


COOPER: I remember you saying the network's were even considering dropping coverage.

DEAN: Early it was so dull that they went to a, they use the pool camera. They all carried the pool camera. Then they started rotating through the hearings, when I happened to come in because they were excited about my testimony, all of the networks again covered for my particular or starring role as you described it.

COOPER: Carl, the, you know, Nixon ultimately resigned because Republicans, and you make this point a lot, made clear that they would abandon him. What does it say about Trump's hold on the party? I mean, there's no sign of that.

BERNSTEIN: It's not just his hold on the party in the Congress. It's his hold on a huge section of the electorate, 40, 45, we don't know the exact percentage. But what is so astounding, is a president of the United States who so obviously has done these unprecedented things to foment a coup to undermine the electoral process even more in some ways than Nixon, undermine the electoral process.

But the real difference is, people in this country turned on Nixon, as did Republicans in the House and in the Senate. You know, Bob Woodward, and I have told this story many times about going to see Barry Goldwater, after Nixon had resigned. And Goldwater poured a couple of tumblers of whiskey for us, and for himself and pulled out his diary and started reading from it, how he and a delegation of leaders of the House and Senate went to Nixon in the Oval Office.

And Nixon asked him, how many votes do I have for acquittal in the Senate, in a Senate trial, and expecting that he may well have enough votes to be acquitted. Goldwater looked at him and said, Mr. President, you may have four to six votes. And the next day, Nixon chose to announce his resignation. That's the difference. You don't see that now.

But also, you know, gradually the people of the country after the so called Saturday Night Massacre, the firing of officials by Nixon at the Justice Department, public opinion started to change. We have not seen that change yet, in people who call themselves Republicans, despite this massive evidence. But there also is a notable quietude by some people on the Hill who have in the past defended Republicans, Trump and you got to wonder about the silence we're starting to notice.

COOPER: John Dean, you've said the -- a key differences between President Nixon and Trump is that Nixon could, in your words, experience shame, that's not something the President, former President Trump is I mean, shameless in that regard. Why is that important in terms of these hearings, and what happened?

DEAN: I think it plays on conscience. I think, if somebody can experiment shame, they have a conscience. Those without shame, don't seem to have any conscience whatsoever. So they're hell bent on what they do. It doesn't matter to them. They're not embarrassed by it. So I think those are the things. I think Trump is annoyed right now at the hearings, not that he's feeling shame over his behavior, it's that the behaviors getting out there and weakening his positions. So I think that's the complaint. Nobody's up there, battling it away. So you don't if that didn't happen.


COOPER: Right. John Dean, Carl Bernstein, thank you so much. We are closing in on the start of the hearing and testimony by Republican state officials who defied Trump's pressure to overturn election results. Our live coverage continues in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are just a few minutes away from the opening of today's hearing from the January 6th Select House Committee. The panel says that its members will share new information about significant parts of Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including the pressure he put on state officials as well as a scheme to present a slate of fraudulent pro Trump electors. Let's go to Sara Murray. And Sara, you have some new reporting about the Georgia Republican officials testifying today as well as the election official.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, that's right, Jake. Look, the Committee has relied on a number of Republicans in order to drive home the point that even these folks who wanted Donald Trump to win the election were not willing to go as far as the former president was in trying to overturn the results. So Gabe Sterling here seeing there, and Brad Raffensperger, both officials and Secretary of State's office are both appearing today under a subpoena. And that sort of signifies the tight rope that they are trying to walk.

You know, they've obviously been very public and very vocal about the rebuke of Trump's efforts to try to overturn the 2020 election results. That said, these guys are Republicans, like so many Republicans in Georgia, they want to move on beyond 2020. And frankly, it's not super helpful to them to be seen as kind of cozying up with congressional Democrats. So that is some of the importance of this subpoena today.

You know, the other thing to remember about Raffensperger is he is still facing a reelection fight coming up in November. He needs to coalesce Republicans behind him.

COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks so much.

Let's go back to Pamela Brown, who's on Capitol Hill. Pamela, what are you hearing about the goals of the Select House Committee today? What do they want to do?


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're only going to focus on former President Trump and his pressure campaign to overturn election results by pressuring these state officials but also focusing on a larger effort involving Republican lawmakers, their own colleagues here on Capitol Hill.