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CNN Live Event/Special
January 6 Committee Hearings Continue; Jan. 6 CMTE: GOP Sen. Johnson Aide Tried to Hand Slate of Fake Electors to Pence. Aired 2- 2:30p ET
Aired June 21, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MATT MORGAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: Josh Findlay e-mailed Mr. Chesebro politely to say: "This is your task. You are responsible for the Electoral College issues moving forward."
And this was my way of taking that responsibility to zero.
CASEY LUCIER, INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: The committee learned the White House Counsel's Office also felt the plan was potentially illegal.
QUESTION: And so, to be clear, did you hear the White House Counsel's Office say that this plan to have alternate electors meet and cast votes for Donald Trump in states that he had lost was not legally sound?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO MARK MEADOWS: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: And who was present for that meeting that you remember?
HUTCHINSON: Mr. -- it was in our offices.
Mr. Meadows, Mr. Giuliani and a few of Mr. Giuliani's associates.
LUCIER: The Select Committee interviewed several of the individual fake electors, as well as Trump campaign staff who helped organize the effort.
ROBERT SINNERS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STAFFER: We were just kind -- of kind of useful idiots or rubes at that point.
A strong part of me really feels that it's just kind of as the road continued and as it was failure, failure, failure, that that got formulated as, what do we have on the table? Let's just do it.
QUESTION: And now, after what we have told you today about the Select Committee's investigation about the conclusion of the professional lawyers on the campaign staff, Justin Clark, Matt Morgan and Josh Findlay, about their unwillingness to participate in the convening of these electors, how does that contribute to your understanding of these issues?
SINNERS: I'm angry, I'm angry, because I think -- I think, in a sense, no one really cared if -- if people were potentially putting themselves in jeopardy.
QUESTION: Would you have not wanted to participate in this any further as well?
SINNERS: I absolutely would not have, had I known that the three main lawyers for the campaign that I have spoken to in the past and -- or leading up were not on board. Yes.
ANDREW HITT, FORMER WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: I was told that these would only count if a court ruled in our favor. So, that would have been using our electors -- well, it would have been using our electors in ways that we weren't told about and we wouldn't have supported.
LUCIER: Documents obtained by the Select Committee indicate that instructions were given to the electors in several states that they needed to cast their ballots in complete secrecy.
Because the scheme involved fake electors, those participating in certain states had no way to comply with state election laws, like where the electors were supposed to meet. One group of fake electors even considered hiding overnight to ensure that they could access the state capitol, as required in Michigan.
QUESTION: Did Mr. Norton say who he was working with at all on this effort to have electors meet?
LAURA COX, FORMER MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: He said he was working with the president's campaign. He told me that the Michigan Republican electors were planning to meet in the capitol and hide overnight, so that they could fulfill the role of casting their vote in -- per law, in the Michigan chambers.
And I told him in no uncertain terms that that was insane and inappropriate.
LUCIER: In one state, the fake electors even asked for a promise that the campaign would pay their legal fees if they got sued or charged with a crime.
Ultimately, fake electors did meet on December 14, 2020, in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin. At the request of the Trump campaign, the electors from these battleground states signed documents falsely asserting that they were the -- quote -- "duly elected" electors from their state and submitted them to the National Archives and to Vice President Pence in his capacity as president of the Senate.
Here's what some of the fake electoral certificates look like, as compared to the real ones.
But these ballots had no legal effect. In an e-mail produced to the Select Committee, Dr. Eastman told the Trump campaign representative that it did not matter that the electors had not been approved by a state authority -- quote -- "The fact that we have multiple slates of electors demonstrates the uncertainty of either. That should be enough."
He urged that Pence act boldly and be challenged. Documents produced to the Select Committee show that the Trump campaign took steps to ensure that the physical copies of the fake electors' electoral votes from two states were delivered to Washington for January 6.
Text messages exchanged between Republican Party officials in Wisconsin show that, on January 4, the Trump campaign asked for someone to fly their fake electors' documents to Washington.
A staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the joint session. This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wish to hand-deliver to the vice president the fake electors' votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. The vice president's aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the vice president.
Even though the fake electoral slates were transmitted to Congress and the executive branch, the vice president held firm in his position that his role was to count lawfully submitted electoral votes.
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joseph R. Biden Jr. of the state of Delaware has received 306 votes. Donald J. Trump of the state of Florida has received 232 votes.
LUCIER: Which is what he did when the joint session resumed on January 6 after the attack on the Capitol.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): What we just heard in that video was an aide to the White House chief of staff telling this committee that the White House Counsel's Office felt that this fake electors plan was not legally sound.
Nevertheless, the Trump campaign went forward with the scheme anyway.
Speaker Bowers, were you aware that fake electors had met in Phoenix on December 14 and purported to cast electoral votes for President Trump?
STATE. REP. RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ): I was not.
SCHIFF: When you learned that these electors had met and sent their electoral votes to Washington, what did you think?
BOWERS: Well, I thought of the book "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight."
And I just thought, this is a -- this is a tragic parody.
SCHIFF: Mr. Bowers, I understand that, as you flew from Phoenix to Washington yesterday, you reflected upon some passages from a personal journal that you were keeping in December 2020, while all of this was taking place.
With your permission, I'm wondering if you would be willing to share one passage in particular with us.
BOWERS: Thank you very much.
"It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor. I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner. I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to with any contrived desire towards deflection of my deep foundational desire to follow God's will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace.
"How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life, knowing that I ask of this guidance, only to show myself a coward in defending the course he let me take -- he led me to take?"
SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Those are powerful words.
I understand that taking the courageous positions that you did following the 2020 election, in defense of the rule of law and protecting the voters of Arizona, resulted in you and your family being subjected to protests and terrible threats.
Can you tell us how this impacted you and your family?
BOWERS: Well, as others in the videos have mentioned, we received, my secretaries would say, in excess of 20,000 e-mails and tens of thousands of voice-mails and texts, which saturated our offices, and we were unable to work, at least communicate.
But, at home, up until even recently, it is the new pattern or a pattern in our lives to worry what will happen on Saturdays, because we have various groups come by. And they have had video -- panel trucks with videos of me proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt and -- politician, and blaring loudspeakers in my neighborhood, and leaving literature both on my property, but arguing and threatening with neighbors and with myself.
And I don't know if I should name groups, but there was a -- one gentleman that had the three bars on his chest, and he had a pistol, and was threatening my neighbor, not with the pistol, but just vocally. When I saw the gun, I knew I had to get close.
And, at the same time, on some of these, we had a daughter who was gravely ill who was upset by what was happening outside. And my wife, that is a valiant person, very, very strong, quiet, very strong woman.
So, it was disturbing. It was disturbing.
SCHIFF: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for your service to the state of Arizona and to the country. Mr. Chairman, at this point, I think it'd be appropriate to take a
short recess. Accordingly, I reserve the balance of my time.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): The chair requests that those in the hearing room remain seated until the Capitol Police have escorted members and witnesses from the room.
We will have five minutes? A five-minute recess.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And the hearing is gaveling for a short break.
We just heard powerful testimony from the conservative Republican Arizona Speaker the House Rusty Bowers, who talked about the pressure campaign to which he was subjected by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and protesters outside his house trying to get him to overturn the will of the voters of Arizona and submit a slate of fraudulent electors.
Dana Bash, he talked about how, when he asked -- he would repeatedly ask the Trump team for evidence of the charges they were making of voter fraud. But, one time, he said Giuliani said: "We have lots of theories. We just don't have the evidence," which is really the quote of the day, although obviously the most moving part was when he was talking about the hideous allegations being made about him and how they have upset his family.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
And you just saw, as you were talking, some of the panel members came over. The first was Liz Cheney, who gave him a hug. The two of them just got Profiles in Courage Awards. And you can you can see why, because of the way he described the pushback that he had to do over and over again, under intense pressure from the president's top team, saying, do this, overturn the slate of electors, trying to convince him that there was some law on the Arizona books that did not exist.
The way that he summed it up, two words, tragic parody, is so apropos, so incredibly apropos, that he said he took an oath to the Constitution of Arizona, and, obviously, he felt, as an American, not just in Arizona, he couldn't do this.
The thing you said before is worth underscoring and highlighting in every font we can. This is a conservative Republican, the top -- the top elected conservative in the statehouse -- in the House in Arizona.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Who voted for Donald Trump...
GANGEL: ... and said he would do whatever he could to support him, but he wouldn't do anything illegal.
He really is, I think, one of the star witnesses we have seen, because he is a firsthand fact witness to exactly what the committee has said, that Donald Trump -- he had a phone call with Donald Trump, that Trump, Rudy, these lawyers were pressuring them to do something that was illegal.
There was no proof ever given. And I just want to say, he quoted at the end -- he was asked what he thought about the fake collector scheme. He was so understated, and maybe that made him even more powerful. And he said: "I thought of 'The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. This is a tragic parody."
And then, when he's describing all these people coming to his house with bullhorns, brandishing a gun, intimidating his family, he said only: "It was disturbing. It was disturbing."
TAPPER: And, John King, we heard allegations from Rusty Bowers and the committee that there were two other members of Congress who apparently played a role in the scheme.
Speaker of the House Bowers, Speaker of the Arizona House Bowers said that Congressman Andy Biggs specifically reached out to him and asked him if he would decertify the electors. And then we also heard testimony from an investigator on the committee that a staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson reached out to the office of Vice President Pence and wanted to present these fake electors from Wisconsin and Michigan.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I think that is part of the -- again, the committee is presenting this conspiracy. This is not just one man, not just Donald Trump venting.
Donald Trump had a lot of help after it was long over. It was over. The whistle had blown. The court challenges had failed. The recounts and the audits have confirmed Joe Biden won
And yet you have members of Congress, members of the House, members of the Senate, the White House chief of staff enabling the president of the United States to think -- cheated.
I thought Rusty Bowers was so powerful there. He said the law didn't allow him to do it. His faith didn't allow him to do it.
KING: "I do not want to be a winner by cheating."
Why is that so hard for Donald Trump and the modern-day, current-day Republican Party to accept? Look at the law. Look at the Bible. I do not want to win by cheating. Why is that so hard?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Abby, please go.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a whole legal theory, "legal theory" -- I will put that in quotation marks -- from John Eastman. And it really boils down to creating chaos. They knew it was illegal.
They stated so in their -- quote, unquote -- "legal documents," and they wanted people to just throw the whole thing into chaos in order to create just an opening. And they thought that no one would stop them.
But the people who did stop them were people like Rusty Bowers and others who pushed back on all of this at the state level, basically looking at the basic facts of this and saying, it is completely ridiculous to think that any of this authority exists at the state level or at the federal level.
The bottom line is that none of this is particularly complicated. You don't have to be a lawyer to understand how outlandish and ridiculous these plots were. And most of these people, even though they were saying, hey, if you have got a reasonable reason to believe that this might be true, we will look into it.
Most of these people knew immediately, right off the bat, that it was illegal, that it was unethical and unconstitutional.
COATES: There were two questions that were posed by this witness. And one was, to what end? To what end?
Which is the really million-dollar question of, how far are you prepared, knowing what you're talking about, Abby, the idea of, there's no legal documentation or way to do so. There's no evidence. There's no there, there.
Having Eastman cite clauses of the Constitution that are literally inexplicable who he's actually talking about. And the second one was, aren't we all Republicans here?
COATES: This question or thought of that, as long as we choose party, that would essentially mean everything else goes out the wayside, the idea of leaning and having the pressure, not just by the sense even of, let's have some farcical notion of the law.
But, also, shouldn't that be enough to galvanize? Shouldn't that be enough of the loyalty decisive factor here? And, in both instances, you saw someone saying -- and that question, he said, what I can't -- I'm allowed to do and what I'm forbidden to do.
And in neither scenario was he able to do what he's being pressured to do.
The hearing is going to resume soon with more live testimony.
We're going to hear from top election officials from Georgia talking about many things, including Trump's infamous phone call leaning on them, asking them for the -- for them to find votes, so he could win. We're also going to hear from a Georgia election worker who will share a harrowing account of death threats that she and her family faced after Trump and his allies falsely accused her and her daughter of ballot fraud.
That's all ahead. We're going to squeeze in a quick break.
We will be right back.
TAPPER: We are keeping an eye on the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill, where testimony is about to resume.
The January 6 Committee will turn its focus next to Georgia. Two top state election officials there, both Republicans, will share their firsthand accounts of being pressured by then-President Trump to -- quote -- "find votes" in his favor to flip the state from Biden to Trump.
We're also going to hear from a former Georgia election worker who said she received death threats after Trump and his allies falsely smeared her, accusing her and her mother of ballot fraud.
Right now, we have some new reporting from Manu Raju.
Manu, you just got some new information from the chairman of the House Select Committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson. What did he have to say?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I asked him about this new revelation that came out during the hearing that Ron Johnson, the senator from Wisconsin, apparently tried to get the vice president, Mike Pence, on January 6 to take an alternate slate of electors as Congress was certifying Joe Biden's victory.
Pence's aide told the Johnson aide that he would not agree to go that far. I asked Thompson whether or not they would call Ron Johnson to testify. He said -- he said they have not yet called on Johnson to come forward. He said, this committee hasn't made a decision yet on whether to call him.
And I asked him about this fake collector effort, whether he thought it was criminal. He said that he -- they're just presenting the facts, stopped short of calling it a criminal effort -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Manu. Keep us up to date on that.
We also heard the testimony on tape, recorded testimony, of Cassidy Hutchinson. Cassidy Hutchinson was a top aide to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
We have been reading and reporting on her accounts to the committee now for weeks, if not months. She is the one who said she saw Mark Meadows burning documents. She's the one who said Mark Meadows had been warned ahead of time by the Secret Service that there was a real potential for violence.
Dana, today, she testified about a meeting at the White House. Tell us more about that.
BASH: She testified that she was in a meeting where the White House Counsel's Office told Rudy Giuliani and others that their scheme for this fake electors slate, not just in Arizona, but elsewhere, was not legally sound.
That, in and of itself, is important testimony, but it's also foreshadowing of what we're going to see down the road with Cassidy Hutchinson.
Jamie, you said that Rusty Bowers is a star witness. My understanding is that she will be as well, because she had first-person knowledge of so much of what happened.
GANGEL: And I'm hearing we're going to hear from other young White House aides, names we may not recognize, but people who were in the room and heard things.
And I just want to say, John Eastman was quoted by Rusty Bowers as saying: "Just do it and have the courts sort it out."
I think that speaks in general to this. They just -- they didn't care about the law. They didn't care about fraud. They just wanted them to do it.
TAPPER: Let's listen.
THOMPSON: The committee will be in order.
President Trump's pressure campaign against state officials existed in all the key battleground states that he lost. But the former president had a particular obsession with Georgia.
Here is the president on the afternoon of January 6, after his own attorney general warned him that the claims you are about to hear are patently false.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They should find those votes. They should absolutely find that.
Just over 11,000 votes, that's all we need. They defrauded us out of a win in Georgia, and we're not going to forget it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: So, the state of Georgia is where we will turn our attention to next. I want to emphasize that our investigation into these issues is still
ongoing. As I stated in our last hearing, if you have relevant information, or documentary evidence to share with the Select Committee, we welcome your cooperation.
But we will share some of our findings with you today.
Secretary Raffensperger, thank you for being here today.
You have been a public servant in Georgia since 2015, serving first as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and then, since January 2019, as Georgia's secretary of state.
As a self-described conservative Republican, it is -- is it fair to say that you wanted President Trump to win the 2020 election?
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, it is.
THOMPSON: Well, Secretary, many witnesses have told the Select Committee that Election Day, November 3, 2020, was a largely uneventful day in their home states.
In spite of the challenges of conducting an election during a pandemic, you wrote in "The Washington Post" that the election was -- quote -- "successful."
Tell us, what was your impression of how Election Day had proceeded in Georgia?
RAFFENSPERGER: Well, on Election Day in November, our election went remarkably smooth.
In fact, we meet at the GEMA headquarters. That's the Georgia Energy Emergency Management association meeting location, but we were following wait times in line. In the afternoon, our average wait time was three minutes statewide that we were recording for various precincts.
And it actually got down to two minutes. And, at the end of the day, we felt that we had a successful election from the standpoint of the administration and the operation of the election.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Raffensperger, did Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, and by what margin?
RAFFENSPERGER: President Biden carried the state of Georgia by approximately 12,000 votes.
SCHIFF: And, Mr. Secretary, as I understand it, your office took several steps to ensure the accuracy of the vote count in Georgia, reviewing the vote count in at least three different ways.
These steps included a machine recount, a forensic audit, and a full hand recount of every one of the five million ballots cast. Did these efforts, including a recount of literally every ballot cast in the state of Georgia, confirm the result?
RAFFENSPERGER: Yes, they did.
We counted the ballots, where the first tabulation would be scanned. Then, when we did our 100 percent hand audit of the entire -- all five million ballots in the state of Georgia, all cast in place, all absentee ballots, they were all hand-recounted.