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CNN Live Event/Special
January 6 Committee Hearings Continue. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 21, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not 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.
As one source said, they're going to provide evidence and elements in this to show that this was a swarming effort by Trump's allies here on the Hill, Republican lawmakers who were focusing on the states, particularly on Georgia and Arizona. And that's where we have the witnesses testifying from today in this first panel, focusing on overturning the results there in those states.
And we know that the committee has issued subpoenas to five Republican lawmakers, including in House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Now, we don't know if these are the ones that were involved in this effort. But, certainly, it is interesting to note that Republican lawmakers will be part of this hearing today.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Pamela, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Let's talk about this all with my panel while we wait for the committee to walk into the room and gavel the hearing to its start.
Dana, one of the things that the committee has been doing assiduously is having almost entirely, not entirely, but almost entirely witnesses who are conservative Republicans...
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
TAPPER: ... probably all of whom voted for Trump.
BASH: Yes, and supported him until he started to pressure them to break the law in order to keep him in office.
That's such an important point, because we are seeing unanimity in purpose on the panel, because, as Kaitlan was reporting, the former president, now frustrated, pressured Kevin McCarthy not to allow -- well, here's the panel.
TAPPER: Here's the committee walking in right now, the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, followed by Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chair, and behind her is Congressman Adam Schiff, who will be taking a leadership role in the hearing today.
He is the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, but he will be leading the charge today in the hearing.
It's unusual, Dana. As you and I know from covering so many of these hearings, usually, every single member of the committee gets to ask questions, but they're not doing it that way for this.
BASH: No, they're not doing it that way for this because they want to keep it focused. They have a very clear narrative for each of these hearings that they want to tell. And that's why they're having limited questions and questioners during each hearing.
TAPPER: Let's listen in.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol will be in order.
Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess at any point. Pursuant to House Deposition Authority Regulation 10, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during today's hearing.
At our last hearing, we told the story of a scheme driven by Donald Trump to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to illegally overturn the election results. We showed that, when the pressure campaign failed and Mike Pence fulfilled his constitutional obligation, Donald Trump turned a violent mob loose on him.
We showed that the mob came within roughly 40 feet of the vice president. Today, we will show that what happened to Mike Pence wasn't an isolated part of Donald Trump's scheme to overturn the election. In fact, pressuring public servants into betraying their oath was a fundamental part of the playbook.
And a handful of election officials in several key states stood between Donald Trump and the upending of American democracy.
As we began today, it's important to remember, when we count the votes for president, we count the votes state by state. For the most part, the candidates who win the popular vote in a state wins all the state's Electoral College votes. And whoever wins the majority of the Electoral College votes wins the presidency.
So, when Donald Trump tried to overturn the election results, he focused on just a few states. He wanted officials at the local and state level to say the vote was tainted by widespread fraud and throw out the results, even though, as we showed last week, there wasn't any voter fraud that could have overturned the election results.
And, like Mike Pence, these public servants wouldn't go along with Donald Trump's scheme. And when they wouldn't embrace the big lie and substitute the will of the voters with Donald Trump's will to remain in power, Donald Trump worked to ensure they'd face the consequences, threats to people's livelihood and lives, threats of violence that Donald Trump knew about and amplified.
And in our other hearings, we can't just look backward at what happened in late 2020 and in early 2021, because the danger hasn't gone away. Our democracy endured a mighty test on January 6 and in the days before. We say our institutions held, but what does that really mean?
Democratic institutions aren't abstractions or ideas. They are local officials who oversee elections, secretaries of state, people in whom we have placed our trust that they will carry out their duties. But what if they don't?
Two weeks ago, New Mexico held its primary elections. One county commission refused to certify the results, citing vague unsupported claims dealing with Dominion voting machines. The courts stepped in, saying New Mexico law required the commission to certify the results. Two of the three members of the commission finally relented.
One still refused, saying his vote -- quote -- "isn't based on any evidence. It's not based on any facts. It's only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition, and that's all I need."
By the way, a few months ago, this county commissioner was found guilty of illegally entering the Capitol grounds on January 6.
This story reminds us of a few things. First, as we have shown in our previous hearings, claims that widespread voter fraud tainted the 2020 presidential election have always been a lie. Donald Trump knew they were a lie, and he kept amplifying them anyway.
Everything we describe today, the relentless, destructive pressure campaign on state and local officials, was all based on a lie. Donald Trump knew it. He did it anyway.
Second, the lie hasn't gone away. It's corrupting our democratic institutions. People who believe that lie are now seeking positions of public trust. And, as seen in New Mexico, their oath to be -- to the people they serve will take a backseat to their commitment to the big lie.
If that happens, who will make sure our institutions don't break under the pressure? We won't have close calls. We will have a catastrophe.
My distinguished colleague from California Mr. Schiff will present much of the select committee's finding on this matter.
First, I'm pleased to recognize our vice chair, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, for any opening statement she'd care to offer.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Today, we will begin examining President Trump's effort to overturn
the election by exerting pressure on state officials and state legislatures. Donald Trump had a direct and personal role in this effort, as did Rudy Giuliani, as did John Eastman.
In other words, the same people who were attempting to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes illegally were also simultaneously working to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election at the state level.
Each of these efforts to overturn the election is independently serious. Each deserves attention both by Congress and by our Department of Justice. But, as a federal court has already indicated, these efforts were also part of a broader plan, and all of this was done in preparation for January 6.
I would note two points for particular focus today. First, today, you will hear about calls made by President Trump to officials of Georgia and other states. As you listen to these tapes, keep in mind what Donald Trump already knew at the time he was making those calls.
He had been told over and over again that his stolen election allegations were nonsense.
For example, this is what former Attorney General Bill Barr said to President Trump about allegations in Georgia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We took a look, hard look, at this ourselves.
And, based on our review of it, including the interviews of the key witnesses, the Fulton County allegations were -- had no merit. The ballots under the table were legitimate ballots. They weren't in a suitcase. They had been pre-opened for eventually feeding into the machine.
All the stuff about the water leak and that there was some subterfuge involved, we felt there was some confusion, but there was no evidence of a subterfuge to create an opportunity to feed things into the count. And so we didn't see any evidence of fraud in the Fulton County episode.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: And acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue told Donald Trump this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY GENERAL ATTORNEY: And I said something to the effect of: "Sir, we have done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: Mr. Trump was told by his own advisers that he had no basis for his stolen election claims, yet he continued to pressure state officials to change the election results.
Second, you will hear about a number of threats, and efforts to pressure state officials to reverse the election outcome. One of our witnesses today, Gabriel Sterling, explicitly warned President Trump about potential violence on December 1, 2020, more than a month before January 6.
You will see excerpts from that video repeatedly today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: It'S all gone too far, all of it.
Joe diGenova today asked for Chris Krebs, a patriot who ran CISA to be shot. A 20-something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches from an EMS to a county computer, so he could read it. It has to stop.
Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language.
Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up. And if you're going to take a position of leadership, show some.
My boss, Secretary Raffensperger, his address is out there. They have people doing caravans in front of their house. They have had people come on to their property.
It has to stop. This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: The point is this.
Donald Trump did not care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them. He made no effort to stop them. He went forward with his fake allegations anyway.
One more point. I would urge all of those watching today to focus on the evidence the committee will present. Don't be distracted by politics. This is serious. We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.
Finally, I want to thank our witnesses today for all of your service to our country. Today, all of America will hear about the selfless actions of these men and women who acted honorably to uphold the law, protect our freedom, and preserve our Constitution. Today, Mr. Chairman, we will all see an example of what truly makes
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
THOMPSON: Without objection, the chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff, for an opening statement.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Madame vice Chair.
On November 3, 2020, Donald Trump ran for reelection to the office of the presidency, and he lost. His opponent, Joe Biden, finished ahead in the key battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, and for the first time in history, the losing presidential candidate fought to hold onto power. As we have seen in previous hearings, he did so through a variety of means. On Election Day, he sought to stop the counting of the vote, knowing that the millions of absentee ballots elections officials would be counting on Election Day and thereafter would run strongly against him and deliver a victory to Joe Biden.
Next, and when he could not stop the counting, he tried to stop state legislatures and governors from certifying the results of the election. He went to court and filed dozens of frivolous lawsuits, making unsubstantiated claims of fraud.
When that too failed, he mounted a pressure campaign directed at individual state legislators to try to get them to go back into session and either declare him the winner, decertify Joe Biden as the winner, or send two slates of electors to Congress, one for Biden, and one for him, and pressure Vice President Pence to choose him as the winner.
But the state legislatures wouldn't go along with this scheme, and neither would the vice president. None of the legislatures agreed to go back into special session and declare him the winner. No legitimate state authority in the states Donald Trump lost would agree to appoint fake Trump electors and send them to Congress.
But this didn't stop the Trump campaign either. They assembled groups of individuals in key battleground states and got them to call themselves electors, created phony certificates associated with these fake electors, and then transmitted the certificates to Washington and to the Congress to be counted during the joint session of Congress on January 6.
None of this worked. But, according to federal district Judge David Carter, former President Trump and others likely violated multiple federal laws by engaging in this scheme, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. You will hear evidence of the former president and his top advisers'
direct involvement in key elements of the plot, or what Judge Carter called a coup in search of a legal theory, for, as the judge explained, President Trump's pressure campaign to stop the electoral count did not end with Vice President Pence. It targeted every tier of federal and state elected officials.
Convincing state legislatures, he said, to certify competing electors was essential to stop the count and ensure President Trump's reelection. As we have seen in our prior hearings, running through this scheme was a big lie that the election was plagued with massive fraud and somehow stolen.
You will remember what the president's own attorney general, Bill Barr, said he told the president about these claims of massive fraud affecting the outcome of the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: And I told him that the stuff that people were shoveling out to the public were bull -- was bullshit, I mean, that the claims of fraud were bullshit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: The president's lie was and is a dangerous cancer on the body politic.
If you can convince Americans that they cannot trust their own elections, that, any time they lose, it is somehow illegitimate, then what is left but violence to determine who should govern?
This brings us to the focus of today's hearing. When state elections officials refused to stop the count, Donald Trump and his campaign tried to put pressure on them. When state executive officials refused to certify him the winner of states he lost, he applied more pressure. When state legislators refused to go back into session and appoint Trump electors, he amped up the pressure yet again.
Anyone who got in the way of Donald Trump's continued hold on power after he lost the election was the subject of a dangerous and escalating campaign of pressure.
This pressure campaign brought angry phone calls and texts, armed protests, intimidation, and, all too often, threats of violence and death. State legislators were singled out. So too were statewide elections officials. Even local elections workers diligently doing their jobs were accused of being criminals and had their lives turned upside down.
As we will show, the president's supporters heard the former president's claims of fraud and the false allegations he made against state and local officials as a call to action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Stop the steal! Stop the steal! Stop the steal!
PROTESTER: You are a threat to us!
PROTESTERS: You're a threat to democracy! You're a threat to free and honest elections!
PROTESTER: We love America! We love our rights and our freedoms!
PROTESTER: You are a tyrant! You are a felon! And you must turn yourself in to the authorities immediately!
JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: And then, about 45 minutes later, we started to hear the noises outside my home.
And that's -- my stomach sank. And I thought, it's me. And then it's just -- we don't know what's going to be -- the uncertainty of that was what was the fear. Like, are they coming with guns? Are they going to attack my house? I'm in here with my kid.
And so it was -- yes, that was the scariest moment, just not knowing what was going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: This pressure campaign against state and local officials spanned numerous contested states, as you will see in this video produced by the Select Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH ROSELMAN, INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: My name is Josh Roselman.
I am an investigative counsel for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
Beginning in late November of 2020, the president and his lawyers started appearing before state legislators, urging them to give their electoral votes to Trump, even though he lost the popular vote.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I represent President Trump, along with Jenna Ellis. And this is our fourth or fifth hearing.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election has to be turned around, because we won Pennsylvania by a lot, and we won all of these swing states by a lot.
ROSELMAN: This was a strategy with both practical and legal elements.
The Select Committee has obtained an e-mail from two days after the election in which a Trump campaign lawyer named Cleta Mitchell asked another Trump lawyer, John Eastman, to write a memo justifying the idea.
QUESTION: When do you remember this coming up as an option in the post-election period for the first time?
CLETA MITCHELL, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Right after the election. It might have been before the election.
ROSELMAN: Eastman prepared a memo attempting to justify this strategy, which was circulated to the Trump White House, Rudy Giuliani's legal team and state legislators around the country. And he appeared before the Georgia state legislature to advocate for it publicly.
JOHN EASTMAN, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: You could also do what the Florida legislator was prepared to do, which is to adopt a slate of electors yourselves.
And when you add in the mix of the significant statistical anomalies and sworn affidavits and video evidence of outright election fraud, I don't think it's just your authority to do that, but, quite frankly, I think you have a duty to do that to protect the integrity of the election here in Georgia.
ROSELMAN: But Republican officials in several states released public statements recognizing that President Trump's proposal was unlawful.
For instance, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp called the proposal unconstitutional, while Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers wrote that the idea would undermine the rule of law.
The pressure campaign to get state legislators to go along the scheme intensified when President Trump invited delegations from Michigan and Pennsylvania to the White House.
QUESTION: Either you or Speaker Chatfield, did you make the point to the president that you were not going to do anything that violated Michigan law?
STATE SEN. MIKE SHIRKEY (R-MI): I believe we did. Whether or not it was those exact words or not, we're -- I think the words that I would have more likely used is, we are going to follow the law.
ROSELMAN: Nevertheless, the pressure continued. The next day, President Trump tweeted -- quote -- "Hopefully, the courts and/or legislatures will have the courage to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our elections and the United States of America itself. The world is watching."
He posted multiple messages on Facebook listing the contact information for state officials, and urging his supporters to contact them to -- quote -- "demand a vote on decertification."
In one of those posts, President Trump disclosed Mike Shirkey's personal phone number to his millions of followers.
SHIRKEY: All I remember is receiving over just shy of 4,000 text messages over a short period of time, calling to take action.
It was a loud noise, loud, consistent cadence of: We hear that the folks are calling and asking for changes in the electors, and you guys can do this.
Well, they were believing things that were untrue.
ROSELMAN: These efforts also involved targeted outreach to state legislators.
ANGELA MCCALLUM, FORMER NATIONAL EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT: Hi, Representative. My name is Angela McCallum. I'm calling from Trump campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C.
You do have the power to reclaim your authority and send a slate of electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence.
ROSELMAN: From President Trump's lawyer and from Trump himself.
TRUMP: And I have become friendly with legislators that I didn't know four weeks ago.
ROSELMAN: Another legislator, Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler, received daily voice-mails from Trump's lawyers in the last week of November.
GIULIANI: Mr. Speaker, this is Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis.
We're calling you together because we'd like to discuss, obviously, the election.
JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR LEGAL ADVISER: Hello, Mr. Speaker. This is Jenna Ellis. And I'm here with Mayor Giuliani.
GIULIANI: Hey, Bryan, it's Rudy.
I really something important to call to your attention that I think really changes things.
ROSELMAN: Cutler felt that the outreach was inappropriate and asked his lawyers to tell Rudy Giuliani to stop calling.
But Giuliani continued to reach out.
GIULIANI: I understand that you don't want to talk to me now. I just want to bring some facts to your attention and talk to you as a fellow Republican.
ROSELMAN: On December 30, Trump ally Steve Bannon announced a protest at Cutler's home.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We're getting on the road and we're going down to Cutler. We're going to start going to offices. And, if we have to, we're going to go to homes, and we're going to let them know what we think about them.
STATE. REP. BRYAN CUTLER (R-PA): There were multiple protests. I actually don't remember the exact number. There was at least three, I think, outside either my district office or my home.
And you're correct. My son, my then 15-year-old son, was home by himself for the first one. All of my personal information was doxxed online. It was my personal e-mail, my personal cell phone, my home phone number.
In fact, we had to disconnect our home phone for about three days because it would ring all hours of the night and would fill up with messages.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bryan Cutler, we're outside.
NARRATOR: Clerks facing felony charges in Michigan, poll watchers denied access.
ROSELMAN: These ads were another element in the effort. The Trump campaign spent millions of dollars running ads online and on television.
NARRATOR: The evidence is overwhelming. Call your governor and legislators. Demand they inspect the machines and hear the evidence.
ROSELMAN: Public pressure on state officials often grew dangerous in the lead-up to January 6.
PROTESTERS: Let us in! Let us in! Let us in! Let us in!
PROTESTER: Special session!
PROTESTERS: Special session! Special session!
PROTESTER: We will light the whole shit on fire.
NICK FUENTES, WHITE NATIONALIST ACTIVIST: What are we going to do to them? What can you and I do to a state legislator, besides kill him, Although we should not do that. I'm not advising that, but, I mean, what else can you do, right?
PROTESTER: The punishment for treason is death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: The state pressure campaign and the danger it posed to state officials and to the state capitols around the nation was a dangerous precursor to the violence we saw on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
Today, you will hear from Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. He will tell us about his conversations with the president, with Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, and what the president's team asked of him, and how his oath of office would not permit it.
You will then hear from Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, who Trump directed to -- quote -- "find" 11,780 votes that did not exist, but just the exact number of votes needed to overtake Joe Biden. You will also hear from Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer,
his chief operating officer, about the spurious claims of fraud in the elections in Georgia and who, responding to a cascading set of threats to his elections team, warned the president to stop, that someone was going to get killed.
And you will hear from Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former local elections worker in Fulton County, Georgia, about how all of the lies about the election impacted the lives of real people who administer our elections and still do. You will hear what they experienced when the most powerful man in the world, the president of the United States, sought to cling to power after being voted out of office by the American people.
The system held, but barely. And the system held because people of courage, Republicans and Democrats, like the witnesses you will hear today, put their oath to the country and Constitution above any other consideration.
They did their jobs, as we must do ours.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
THOMPSON: I now welcome our first panel of witnesses.
We're joined today by a distinguished legislator from Arizona, Rusty Bowers, who's a Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. Mr. Bowers was first elected to the state legislature in 1993 and has served as speaker since 2019.
Welcome, Speaker Bowers.
Brad Raffensperger is the 29th secretary of state of Georgia, serving in this role since 2019. As an elected official and a Republican, Secretary Raffensperger is responsible for supervising elections in Georgia and maintaining the state's public records.
Welcome, Mr. Secretary.
Gabriel Sterling is the chief operating officer in the Georgia secretary of state's office. Mr. Sterling was the statewide voting systems implementation manager for the 2020 election in Georgia, responsible for leading the secretary of state's response to the COVID pandemic and rolling out modernized voting equipment.