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CNN Live Event/Special

Jan. 6 CMTE Shows Trump's Pressure On DOJ To Support His Election Fraud Lies; Released Footage Shows Never-Before-Seen Interview With Pence. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 23, 2022 - 17:00   ET



REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBER: Did anybody in there support Mr. Clark?


KINZINGER: Mr. Rosen, it was you he was going to replace. So, what was your view about the President's plan to appoint Mr. Clark?

JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, as I alluded to earlier, the issue really wasn't about me, it was -- it would have been fine. As I said, to have had Rich Donoghue replaced me, I would have said, great. I get 17 days vacation or something.

But the issue was the use of the Justice Department. And it's just so important that the Justice Department adhere to the facts and the law. That's what it's there to do. And that's what our constitutional role was. And so, if the Justice Department gets out of the role that it's supposed to play, that's really bad for our country. And I don't know the simpler way to say that.

And when you damage our fundamental institutions, it's not easy to repair them. So I thought this was a really important issue to try to make sure that the Justice Department was able to stay on the right course.

KINZINGER: Mr. Donoghue, did you eventually tell the President that mass resignations would occur if he installed Mr. Clark and what the consequences would be?

DONOGHUE: Yes. So this was in line with the President saying what would I have to lose. And along those lines, he said, so suppose I do this, suppose I replace him, Jeff Rosen, with him, Jeff Clark, what would you do? And I said, Mr. President, I would resign immediately. I'm not working one minute for this guy who I just declared was completely incompetent.

And so, the President immediately turned to Mr. Engel. And he said, Steve, you wouldn't resign, would you? And he said, absolutely, I would, Mr. President, you leave me no choice.

And then I said, and we're not the only ones. No one cares if we resign. If Steve and I go, that's fine. It doesn't matter. But I'm telling you what's going to happen, you're going to lose your entire department leadership.

Every single AAG will walk out on you. Your entire department of leadership will walk out within hours. And I don't know what happens after that. I don't know what the United States attorneys are going to do.

We have U.S. attorneys and districts across the country, and my guess would be that many of them would have resigned. And that would then have led to resignations across the Department in Washington. And I said, Mr. President, within 24, 48, 72 hours, you could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department because of your actions. What's that going to say about you?

KINZINGER: Mr. Engel, what was -- can you describe what your reaction was to that?

STEVEN ENGEL, FORMER UNITED STATES ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, no, I think when the President -- my recollection is that when the President turned to me and said, Steve, you wouldn't leave, would you? I said, Mr. President, I've been with you through for attorneys general, including to acting's Attorney General, but I couldn't be part of this. And then the other thing that I said was that, you know, look, all anyone is going to sort of think about when they see this. No one is going to read this letter.

All anyone is going to think, is that you went through two attorneys general in two weeks, until you found the environmental guy to sign this thing. And so the story is not going to be that the Department of Justice has found massive corruption that would have changed results of the election, it's going to be the disaster of Jeff Clark. And I think at that point, Pat Cipollone said, yes, this is a murder suicide pact, this letter.

DONOGHUE: And I would note too, Congressman, that it was in this part of the conversation where Steve pointed out that Jeff Clark would be left leading a graveyard. And that comment clearly had an impact on the President. The leadership will be gone, Jeff Clark will be left leading a graveyard.

ENGEL: Again, the premise that which Mr. Donoghue has said, but that Mr. Clark could come in and take over the Department of Justice and do something different was just an absurd premise. And all he was doing, Mr. Clark, by putting himself forward was blowing himself up. And, you know, if the President were to have gone that course, you know, would have been a grievous error for the President as well.

KINZINGER: Liz (ph) Cipollone, the White House counsel, told the committee that Mr. Engel's response had a noticeable impact on the President, that this was a turning point in the conversation.

Mr. Donoghue, towards the end of this meeting, did the President asked you what was going to happen to Mr. Clark? DONOGHUE: He did. When we finally got to the, I would say the last 15 minutes of the meeting, the President's decision was apparent. He announced it Jeff Clark tried to scrape his way back and asked the President to reconsider, the President doubled down said, no, I've made my decision, that it, we're not going to do it. And then he turned to me and said, so what happens to him now, meaning Mr. Clark, and he understood that Mr. Clark reported to me.


And I didn't initially understand the question, I said, Mr. President, and he said, are you going to fire him? And I said, I don't have the authority to fire him, he's a Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General. And he said, well, who has the authority to fire him? And I said, only you do, sir. And he said, well, I'm not going to fire him. I said, all right, well, then we should all go back to work.

KINZINGER: Did you get a call from the President later that night?

DONOGHUE: I did. Probably 90 minutes later or something like that?

KINZINGER: What was that about?

DONOGHUE: The President at this point, we left the White House, reconvened at the department. I left the department I was back in my apartment. My cell phone rang, it was the President and he had information about a truck supposedly full of shredded ballots in Georgia. That was in the custody of an ICE agent, whose name he had.

I told him that ICE was part of Department of Homeland Security. I hadn't heard about this. If Department of Homeland Security needed our assistance, we of course, would provide it. But it was really up to DHS to make a call if their agent was involved.

And he said, fine, I understand. Can you just make sure that Ken, meaning Ken Cuccinelli, knows about this? I said, fine, I would pass that along to him. I eventually contacted Ken Cuccinelli later that evening, and I said, this is what the President told me. If you guys have anything you think should be brought to our attention, let me know. And he said, thank you, and that was it.

KINZINGER: Mr. Cipollone left the meeting, convinced the President would not appoint Mr. Clark. But he didn't think the President had actually accepted the truth about the election. Sure enough, all the same debunked theories appeared in his speech at the ellipse three days later.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the state of Arizona, over 36,000 ballots were illegally cast by non-citizens.

Eleven thousand six hundred more ballots and votes were counted more than there were actual voters. You see that?

In Wisconsin, corrupt Democrat run cities, deployed more than 500 illegal unmanned unsecure drop boxes, which collected a minimum of 91,000 unlawful votes.


KINZINGER: Mr. Donoghue, Mr. Rosen, Mr. Engel and others stop President Trump's efforts, at least temporarily. Yet the message President Trump and his Republican allies pushed throughout December made its way to his supporters anyway. And they come up the pressure campaign on the way to storming the Capitol on January 6.

Mr. Rosen, were you at the Department of Justice on January 6th?

ROSEN: Yes, I was there all day.

KINZINGER: Once the Capitol was under attack, I understand that you communicated with fellow cabinet members and Capitol Hill leadership. Can you tell us who you spoke to?

ROSEN: Yes, I was basically on the phone virtually nonstop all day. Some calls with our own DOJ folks, some with cabinet counterparts at DHS and Defense and Interior, some was senior White House officials and with a number of congressional leaders. I received calls from Speaker Pelosi, from Leader McCarthy, from Leader Schumer. I believe Leader McConnell's chief of staff called a number of other members of Congress, as well.

And the you know, the basic thrust of the calls with the members of Congress was there's a dire situation here and can you help and I reported to them that we were on a very urgent basis, sending help from the department. We wound up sending over 500 agents and officers from FBI, ATF and the U.S. Marshals to assist with restoring order at the Capitol. So, had a number of calls, as I say it was more or less nonstop all afternoon.

KINZINGER: Did you speak to the Vice President at that day?

ROSEN: Yes, twice.

KINZINGER: No, please go ahead.

ROSEN: Well, I was going to say the first call was a one on one discussion, somewhat akin to the congressional leadership calls, updating him on what we were doing to assist. And the second call was a conference call around 7:00 with the Vice President, congressional leaders, senior White House staff, some other cabinet officials to address that order appeared to be close to being restored or restored, but security still being determined. And the question being, what time could the Congress reassemble? And the answer was 8:00, and thankfully Congress did reassemble and complete its constitutional duty.


There was one highlight of that second call with the Vice President, which is Mr. Donoghue had gone to the rotunda of the Capitol to be able to give firsthand account and was able to tell the folks on the call, including the Vice President, that we thought 8:00 would work.

KINZINGER: Did you speak to the President on January 6?

ROSEN: No, I spoke to a number of senior White House officials, but not the President.

KINZINGER: Mr. Donoghue on January 6, we know from Mr. Rosen that you helped in the effort to reconvene joint session, the joint session, is that correct?

DONOGHUE: Yes, sir.

KINZINGER: We see here in a video that we're going to play now, you arriving with your security detail to help secure the capital. Mr. Donoghue, 30 minutes after you arrived to the Capitol, did you lead a briefing for the Vice President?

DONOGHUE: I'm not sure exactly what the timeframe was, but I did participate in the call and participate in briefing the Vice President as well as a congressional leadership that night, yes.

KINZINGER: And where did you conduct that call out?

DONOGHUE: I was in an office. I'm not entirely sure where it was. My detail found it because of the acoustics in the rotunda were such that it wasn't really conductive to having a call. So they found an office. We went to that office and I believe I participated two phone calls, one at 1800 and one at 1900 that night from that office.

KINZINGER: What time did you actually end up leaving the Capitol?

DONOGHUE: I waited until the Senate was back in session, which I believe they were gaveled in a few minutes after 8:00 p.m. And once they were back in session, and we were confident that the entire facility was secured and cleared, that there were no individuals hiding in closets or on your desks, that there were no IEDs or other suspicious devices left behind, I left minutes later, I was probably gone by 8:30.

KINZINGER: And Mr. Donoghue, did you ever hear from President Trump that day?

DONOGHUE: No. Like the AAG, the Acting AG, I spoke to Pat Cipollone and Mark Meadows and the Vice President and the congressional leadership, but I never spoke to the President that day.

KINZINGER: So in today's hearing, showcase the efforts of the Americans before us to stand up for democracy. Mr. Rosen, Mr. Donoghue state steadfastly committed to the oath they take as officials in the Department of Justice. On January 6 itself, they assisted during the attack while our Commander in Chief stayed silent. Their bravery is a high moment in the sordid story of what led to January 6.

My colleagues and I up here also take an oath. Some of them failed to uphold theirs, and instead chose to spread the big lie. Days after the tragic events of January 6, some of these same Republican members requested pardons in the waning days of the Trump administration. Five days after the attack on the Capitol, Representative Mo Brooks sent the e-mail on the screen now. As you see, he e-mailed the White House, quote, "pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz," requesting a pardon for representative Gaetz himself, and unnamed others. Witnesses told the select committee that the President considered offering pardons to a wide range of individuals connected to the President. Let's listen to some of that testimony.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was Representative Gaetz requesting a pardon?

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: I believe so. The general tone was we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the President's positions on these things. A pardon that he was discussing, requesting was as broad as you could describe from beginning. I remember from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things.

He had mentioned Nixon, and I said Nixon's pardon was never nearly that broad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And are you aware of any members of Congress seeking pardons?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks, I know, both advocated for -- there'll be a blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting and a handful of other members that weren't at the December 21 meeting as the preemptive pardons.

Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon. And he was doing so since early December. I'm not sure why. Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they all contact you?


HUTCHINSON: Not all of them but several of them did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you mentioned Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Brooks.

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Biggs did. Mr. Jordan talked about congressional pardons, but he never asked me for one. It more for an update on whether the White House is going to party members of Congress. Mr. Gohmert asked for one as well. Mr. Perry asked for part too, I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Perry? Did he talk to you directly?

HUTCHINSON: Yes, he did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Marjorie Taylor Greene contact you? HUTCHINSON: No, she didn't contact me about it. I heard that she had asked White House Counsel's Office for a pardon from Mr. Philbin, but I didn't frequently communicate Ms. Green.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you aware of any conversations or communications regarding the possibility of giving Congressman Matt Gaetz a pardon?

JOHN MCENTEE, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE PRESIDENTIAL PERSONNEL OFFICE: I know he had asked for it, but I don't know if he ever received one or what happened with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know the Congressman Gaetz asked for a pardon?

MCENTEE: He told me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us about that.

MCENTEE: He told me he'd asked Meadows for a pardon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you involved in or did you witness any conversations about the possibility of a blanket pardon for everyone involved in January 6th?

MCENTEE: I had heard that mentioned, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know whether the President had any conversations about potentially pardoning any family members?

MCENTEE: I know he had hinted at a blanket pardon for the January 6th thing for anybody, but I think he had for all the staff and everyone involved. Not with January 6 but just before he left office. I know he had talked about that.


KINZINGER: The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you've committed a crime.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIRMAN, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: I wanted to thank our witnesses for joining us today.

The members of the Select Committee may have additional questions for today's witnesses and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to these questions. Without objection, members will be permitted 10 business days to submit statements for the record, including opening remarks and additional questions for the witnesses.

Without objection, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois for a closing statement.

KINZINGER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Justice Department lawyers are not the President's personal lawyers. We count on them to be on the side of the law and to defend the best interest of the United States, not the best interest of any political campaign. That's how it's been since the department was founded soon after the Civil War.

Justice Department lawyers are supposed to play it 100 percent straight. President Trump tried to erase his loss in the ballot box by parachuting an unqualified man into the top job at Justice. It was a power play to win at all costs with no regard for the will of the American people. It was about ignoring millions of votes, ignore them, throw them out, label on fraudulent, corrupt, illegal whatever, facts were clearly just an inconvenience.

From the Oval Office, President Trump urged others to bring his big lie to life. He begged, just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressman. He didn't care what the department's investigations proved. What good were facts when they would only confirm his loss?

And it's no surprise at all the far out fully fabricated whack job conspiracy theories collapsed under even the slightest scrutiny. That insanity went from the internet to the highest levels of government in no time.

The bottom line, the most senior leadership of the Justice Department from Attorney General Bill Barr to Jeff Rosen, his successor and his deputy Rich Donoghue, everyone except Jeff Clark, was telling President Trump the very same thing, the conspiracy theories were false. The allegation of a stolen election was a lie. The data left no room for doubt, nothing to question. And the Constitution left no room for President Trump to change the outcome of the election.

But we're here today because the facts were irrelevant to President Trump. It was about protecting his very real power and very fragile ego, even if it required recklessly undermining our entire electoral system by wildly casting baseless doubt upon it. In short, he was willing to sacrifice our republic to prolong his presidency.


I can imagine no more dishonorable act by a president. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these men you've heard from here today. Real leaders who stood for justice when it was in grave peril, who put their country first, when the leader of the free world demanded otherwise, they threatened to resign rather than corrupt our democracy. And thanks largely to each of them, President Trump's coup failed.

Contrast that to Jeff Clark, who would do exactly what the President wanted. Say there was massive fraud, forget the facts and leave the rest to President Trump's congressional friends. Mr. Clark refused to cooperate with this committee, he pled the fifth over 125 times. Why risk self in criminal incrimination.

And President Trump's congressional friends, some of them are angling for pardons? They knew that every bit of what they did was a lie and it was wrong. That's all the more reason to respect those who came here to testify today. We thank them for their unflinching service in the face of incredible pressure.

As it said, the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is good men to do nothing. Thankfully, there were good people in the Department of Justice. You heard from other good people too, on Tuesday, they too defended us. But I'm still worried that not enough has changed to prevent this from happening again.

The oath that we take has to mean something, it has to cut to the core of who we are, and be the driving force of our service to this nation. We on this committee, we may be able to shine light on the darkness, but that is not enough. It's now up to every American now and in the future to stand for truth, to reject the lies, wherever we confront them, in our towns, in our capitals, in our friendships, in our families and at the ballot box, and within our own minds and hearts.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

THOMPSON: Without objection, the Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney, for closing statement.

LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIRMAN, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I again want to thank the witnesses for being here today. After today, I suspect that there will be some who label you agents of the deep state or something else conspiratorial or nonsensical meant to justify ignoring what you've said today, ignoring the facts that may be the short term cost of acting honorably and telling the truth. But your actions should have an important long term impact. They will help keep us on the course set by the Framers of our Constitution.

Let me paraphrase the words of John Adams and others. Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is ultimately for the American people to decide.

And let me also today make a broader statement to millions of Americans who put their trust in Donald Trump. In these hearings, so far, you've heard from more than a dozen Republicans who've told you what actually happened in the weeks before January 6, you will hear from more in the hearings to come. Several of them serve Donald Trump and his administration, others in his campaign, others have been conservative Republicans for their entire careers.

It can be difficult to accept that President Trump abused your trust, that he deceived you. Many will invent excuses to ignore that fact. But that is a fact. I wish it weren't true. But it is.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

THOMPSON: Again, I thank our witnesses, and thank my colleagues for this hearing.

As we conclude our fifth hearing in this series, I want to remind the American people of a few things the committee has shown. Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Top Republican officials who supported Trump knew that he lost and told him he lost. Trump knew he lost. Those who say the election was affected by widespread voter fraud are lying. They were lying in 2020, they were lying in 2021, and indeed, they are lying today. Donald Trump went to court, that's the right any candidate seeking to challenge the outcome of an election must do. Donald Trump lost in court, dozens and dozens of time. He lost in part because there was no evidence that voter fraud had any impact on the results of the election.


To borrow a phrase from our witness earlier this week, Mr. Bowers, all he had was theories and no evidence. As I've said, if you're running for office in the United States, that's the end of the line. You accept the court's judgment, you can see the race, you respect the rule of law, and the will of the voters. But for Donald Trump, that wasn't the end of the line. Not even close.

The voters refused to keep him in office. The courts refused to keep him in office but he continued to lie. And he went in search of anyone who would go along with his scheme. And we've shown today he pressured the Justice Department to act as an arm of his reelection campaign. He hoped law enforcement officials would give the appearance of legitimacy to his lies. So he and his allies had some veneer of credibility when they told the country that the election was stolen.

Earlier this week, we showed how Donald Trump brought the weight of the presidency down on local and state officials who are trying to do their jobs, and ultimately did. They investigated his claims and found them to be false. And then they endured Trump's pressure campaign at great risk to themselves and their loved ones. And of course, that was a scheme to get the former Vice President Mike Pence to violate the law and the Constitution by rejecting the Electoral College votes on January 6 and blocking the peaceful transfer of power.

I mentioned the former Vice President last because as we showed, when he refused to bow to the pressure in those critical moments on January 6, that was a backup plan for stopping the transfer of power, the mob and their vile threats. Up to this point, we've shown the inner workings of what was essentially a political coup and attempt to use the powers of the government from the local level all the way up to overturn the results of the election, I mean, the votes, sin fake electors just say the election was corrupt.

Along the way, we saw threats of violence. We saw what some people were willing to do in a service of the nation, the Constitution, no, in service of Donald Trump.

When the Select Committee continues this series of hearings, we're going to show how Donald Trump tapped into the threat of violence, how he's summon the mob to Washington, and how after corruption and political pressure failed to keep Donald Trump in office, violence became the last option. Our investigation is ongoing. Those hearings have spurred an influx of new information that the committee and our investigators are working to assess. We are committed to presenting the American people with the most complete information possible. That will be our aim when we reconvene in the coming weeks. The Chair however, request those in the hearing room remain seated until the Capitol Police have escorted members from the room.

Without objection, the committee stands adjourn.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, there it is, the end of a very disturbing day of testimony from top officials of the Trump Justice Department talking about how Donald Trump tried to weaponize the Department of Justice to steal the election from, not just Joe Biden, but from the American people.

Dana Bash, there are so many blockbuster reports here that I can't even count. What stands out to you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just the drama, the incredible drama. It is not an under -- an overstatement, I should say.


It's not an overstatement to say that what we heard today describes one of the most important scenes in American history. These men describing how they made a tactical decision coordinating before they went to a Sunday afternoon meeting in the Oval Office, to make clear to the President of the United States that he cannot use the federal government, the Justice Department to keep himself in power. They stopped a political coup. That is what they described.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's actually kind of amazing that the backup plan to plan A, which was the political coup, was the violence on January 6th, which is what the chairman just said, that January 6, was what they had to do, because they were not able to convince the Department of Justice to go along with this crazy plan to insert chaos into our understanding of what happened in the 2020 election.

I thought the most important thing to remember about what Trump's role in all of this was, was when he said to the acting Attorney General, that what I'm asking you to do is just say it's corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressman. That alone is a statement of a certain degree of intent. He knew that what he was asking them to do was to lie, and that he would finish the rest of the job.

TAPPER: And we had testimony today, Jamie Gangel, at the end of the hearing from Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, one of his top aides talking about the members of Congress, the Republican members of Congress who reached out to try to get a pardon because of their participation in this scheme.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Members of Congress who have been saying they never did any such thing. The committee had the receipts. There was an email there from Mo Brooks. The headline was The Slug Was Pardons. And they had testimony from several White House aides, Cassidy Hutchinson Johnny McEntee, the -- from the White House Counsel's Office, Eric Herschmann, each of them, saying that these congressmen had reached out Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz Gohmert, Brooks, Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Greene, according to Cassidy Hutchinson hadn't spoken to her, but she had heard she had reached out to the White House Counsel's Office.

And as Adam Kinzinger said at the end, the only reason you ask for a pardon, is if you think you've done something wrong.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the absolute relentless nature of the coup attempt. That every time Donald Trump was told no, he went somewhere else to try to find somebody else. And that even after so striking, they have this essentially cliff meeting at the White House. They're off the cliff. Donald Trump wants to put Jeff Clark in charge because Jeff Clark is going to do his bidding. He's told everybody will resign, sir, this will be bad for you. We've got for the country.

Trump finally backs off. The Deputy Attorney General gets back to his apartment. He says the president calls about a truck with ballots, even after, even after you have the country on a cliff. The president gets a half an hour and tries again. And the committee to move on to the next point says now they're going to connect the dots to the actual violence, that after being --

PHILLIP: This is one of the interesting things I thought also, John, to your point. I mean, I don't think we really understood how far the federal government went in looking into some of these crazy allegations.

TAPPER: Every single one of them was investigated.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, the Department of Defense calling over to lead, to find out if they had been using satellites to change the votes in election machines in the United States. I mean, this is like tin hat stuff, and the highest levels of our government. They were looking into it legitimately to try to find something.

BASH: And then -- I'm sorry to interrupt, but in response to the point you just made, all of those facts that we've learned that the Justice Department went in and investigated, actually investigated. The response by the President of the United States is you guys might not be following the internet the way I do.

PHILLIP: Which actually is true.

BASH: That's the President of the United States.

TAPPER: Yes, that's true.

BASH: It's the internet. It's conspiracy theories. And he has the actual Department of Justice, investigating all these wild claims.

TAPPER: And let's not forget Jeffrey Clark, according to all the testimony we heard today, was willing to assert that nonsense, as fact, willing to tell states you need to go back and convene a special session and reappoint new electors, not Biden ones, but Trump ones because of all this fraud based on these lies, these crazy as I think it was -- I forget if it was Donoghue -- yes, it was Donoghue, the Acting Deputy Attorney General said, insanity, right? Insanity.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: It reminds me of when Vice President Pence said that this is rubber room stuff.

GANGEL: Right. And they made very clear. I just want to go back in real time to December because I was talking to Republicans sources who were trying to push back on Trump election fraud claims and they were really concerned when Bill Barr left as Attorney General because he was a big personality, and they felt he had the personality to push back on Trump.


As we've seen in his testimony, he's very plain spoken. They were worried about Rosen. He is a soft spoken guy. He's a very polite guy. He's never been in this situation before. What we heard today with Jeff Rosen, Richard Donoghue, Steve Engel, these guys, not household names, quiet guys who do their job. They stood up at this key moment on January 3rd in the Oval Office.

PHILLIP: And Pat Cipollone was kind of, I mean, he was mentioned several times, but they were very clear, Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel wanted to be in these meetings to stand up for DOJ. So again, it raises the question that the committee wants Pat Cipollone to come before the committee and give his side of this. He won't do it. But you can tell based on what everybody's saying, he was an ally in an effort to get Trump to back off some of this crazy stuff.

KING: Incredible detail that we would -- should leave several other participants worried including Congressman Scott Perry, in terms of the idea. If you're trying to make a criminal case about defrauding the United States government or interfering with the normal activities of the United States government, Scott Perry better have an answer for what the committee laid out today about his involvement here, which he has completely denied.

But also more evidence just of the compelling dereliction of duty of the President of the United States on that day. Jeff Rosen is the Attorney General, saying he spoke to the Vice President, he spoke to the leadership in Congress, the President of the United States never called. Your government is under attack. Your vice president's life is threatened. Every single member of Congress's life is threatened.

Everybody who works in that building, law enforcement janitors, the cafeteria workers, their lives are threatened. The President of the United States never called the top law enforcement official in the United States of America on the day the government was under attack.

TAPPER: The other thing that's interesting is about that this confrontation with President Trump is hearing from the Deputy Attorney General Donoghue and the Acting Attorney General Rosen, and they're saying they're going to -- they will resign. They, you know, Trump offered some sort of deal where we're Jeffrey Clark would become the attorney general, but Rosen would stay on. And Rosen found it very easy to turn down that deal.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: But they were going to step down. And then the -- Stephen Engel who was the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel who had been there the whole time, the entire Trumper.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: And he says he'll step down to and Trump says, really, you'll step down? He goes, yes, I will -- I've been with you through four attorneys general and acting attorneys general and I will step down. And then they talk about all the other acting Attorney Generals and all the other U.S. attorneys.

And again, I don't think this can be emphasized enough for the American people. These are Trump loyalists, these are people who wanted Donald Trump to be president, who supported him, who had lasted all the way to December 2020.

PHILLIP: If you were there in December, you were a Trumper.

TAPPER: These are people who did not have a problem with Donald Trump shaking down the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, did not have a problem with Donald Trump calling the four Democratic Congress women saying that they should go back where they came from, this four women of color. These are people who love Donald Trump, but they were not willing to do this.

BASH: It's such an important point. And that's why one of those moments that they described, when Steve Engel who had been there through for attorneys general, and was loyal on all of those issues that were incredibly controversial throughout the Trump presidency, when he pushed back against Donald Trump. That was the moment when he said, OK, he clearly has -- he has credibility with me. If he doesn't want me to do this, I'm back in that.

TAPPER: And Anderson, one thing that I thought was really interesting is when they looked at the White House logs for January 3rd and at 4:19 p.m. They are actually referring to Jeffrey Clark as the Acting Attorney --


TAPPER: -- General. In someone's mind in the White House, this was a done deal.

COOPER: Also, that we almost had Sidney Powell as a special counsel is an extraordinary detail, which I certainly hadn't heard before. And as Abby Phillip said, I mean, this really kind of reframes the violence we saw on January 6th, in a sense. I mean, that, you know, people look at the violence and think of that as that was the be all and end all of this insurrection.

But that was a result of this tactical when you had the -- all the major figures, the Department of Justice, telling the President that they would step down, the President didn't view that as an opportunity to rethink the insanity he had been pursuing or rethink his ludicrous theories are made up lies. He just saw that as a tactical challenge and then violence became the answer on January 6th.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It was the next step for him. And that's what the committee is trying to prove. I mean, I think if you look at this, in its entirety, you see a president who has a manic preoccupation with fixing the elections.

COOPER: He's a coup plotter who just happens to be the President of the United States.

BORGER: Exactly. And you see how manic he became more and more. And then the lawyer said, you know, they kept saying he was agitated and grew more agitated and then grew more agitated. And so you, you see this picture of a president that's banging on every door, trying to figure out a way that he can win.

So he's trying to corrupt the Justice Department. He's trying to find people who will bend to his will. So he -- Congressman Perry says, OK, here's a guy who will do it. Meet Mr. Clark.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Which tells you he's learned nothing in the Jefferson --


COATES: -- Beauregard Sessions until now.

BORGER: No, but it doesn't matter.

COATES: From Jeffrey Sessions --

BORGER: Right.

COATES: -- Jeffrey Clark, he has been intent on trying to ensure that the Department of Justice are puppets in his game.

BORGER: Right.

COATES: But they cannot be. Also, if I am Fani Willis, the Fulton County DA, I am over the moon today, after what I've heard. The Fulton County case just got that much stronger. The idea that think of the dates here, January 2nd, was the date of that call to Brad Raffensperger.

The next day, January 3rd, is this now infamous Oval Office meeting. So you have the President of the United States going more than just finally these 11,000 or so votes. Now they're saying I want this Georgia letter sent out. I want to put my thumb on the scale here. And all of those men who were there that day, not only fighting against the idea of being a puppet to the President of the United States, but also saying we cannot let this letter go out to Georgia.

BORGER: But he's also saying why don't you seize machines? What about these Italian satellites? I mean those crazy stuff.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR There are two things sort of stepping back that really struck me about today's hearing. One was, this was really a close call. This was very much a near thing. Because that again, let's go back to the letter that Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman and the President wanted the Justice Department, it would have said we identified significant concerns, send this out to the states, the swing states, and we want your legislatures to send separate slates of electors for Trump and states that Biden won.

If Jeffrey Rosen had acceded to that, suddenly, you're in a very different situation on January 6th, now suddenly, you've got in multiple states, dual sets of electors and who knows, that sets up a completely different dynamic. So that's one --

COOPER: Also Donoghue had gone along with the President just said it was corrupt --


COOPER: -- for the Justice Department.

WALLACE: Yes, but if they had sent that letter, it's a very different matter. The other thing that really struck me was Stephen Engel, the other panel was discussing him. He was the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel. That's in effect the lawyers, to the lawyers at the Justice Department what you can do and can't do.

And as was pointed out, Trump, for some reason, liked him, trusted him. But Trump is not persuaded because he's wrong. The facts are wrong about the state. He's not persuaded because it's immoral to do what he's doing. He's persuaded because Engel says this is going to be really bad PR. This isn't going to work.

Because people are going to look and they're going to say, you had two Attorney Generals in attorneys general in two weeks, and you finally had to go to the environmental guy to get somebody would sign the letter, and it will end up being the Jeffrey Clark has presiding over a graveyard. I promise you that struck because what Donald Trump was saying it's not wrong, it's not immoral, it's that it won't work. It's going to get bad (INAUDIBLE).

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: This is a central point. I mean, the cumulative evidence that we have seen last week and this week of -- think of, if you had to make a list of all the different ways, all the different people and all the different times that Donald Trump was told, there are no facts, no law to support your claims. I mean, I don't know if we keep track of them.

COOPER: And yet he goes out on January 6th.

CONWAY: And yet, even at this meeting, he's told again, it's 2.5 hour meeting again, there's nothing here. And he still wants them to send a letter, just send a letter out. I'll take care of it. The Republican Congressman will take it. The only thing that stops him, not the facts, not the law, but the fact that they told him that hundreds of --


CONWAY: -- lawyers in our Justice Department would walk out the door.

COOPER: Still ahead, we'll talk with the select committee member who led the questioning today, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He'll join us live.



TAPPER: Welcome back, the fifth public hearing of the January 6th committee wrapping just minutes ago. We heard bombshell testimony from a former aide to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about members of Congress Republicans asking pre-emptively for pardons following the January 6th Capitol insurrection.

We also learned that Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry was pushing for a lower level Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to become the Acting Attorney General.


Former President Trump was hoping that Acting Attorney General Clark would then help him weaponize the Justice Department to help him overturn the results of the 2020 election.

I want to turn to the select committee member who played a leading role in today's hearing, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. The hearing was really about Trump's attempt to weaponize the Justice Department, but it ended with the panel revealing the names of Republican members of Congress, who witnesses say sought pardons, pre-emptive pardons from then President Trump.

They include Congressman Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, perhaps Marjorie Taylor Greene, it's unclear hers is less direct. These are still your sitting colleagues in the House of Representatives. What should happen to them? Should they be censured? Should they be removed from committees? What do you think?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, look, I -- that's, I guess, the decision for colleagues, right? I mean, my job is to put that evidence out there. And as I said, at the end of that is like, I only know one reason to seek a pardon because you're worried that you're guilty, that you committed a crime. This is something they have to answer to their constituents.

You know, I can't enforce rules of the House or do certain things unilaterally. But I think the bigger point is, listen, America, do you really want your members of Congress out there trying to bend or break the law so that they can maintain political power? That is like anathema to everything we ever learned in history class, whether you are in third grade or whether you're a senior and that's got to stop. TAPPER: It's interesting because you had three Trump loyalists, Rosen Donoghue and Engel testifying today. These are officials who were loyal to Donald Trump, but they were willing to resign instead of go along with his unconstitutional, perhaps, illegal scheme. On the other hand, you have the Trump loyalists that we just mentioned, these Republican members of the House. Do you think, in your opinion, are they fit to remain in office?

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, again, I don't want to go there. That's decision between them and their constituents. I, you know, I've been able to present what I presented. I will say this, though, let's contrast them to these three gentlemen that were in front there today.

I'm sure all three of them voted for Donald Trump. I'm sure all three of them were sad he lost. You know, I'm sure all three of them wish the election would have been different. But when faced with that pressure, I mean, I don't think -- it's tough to explain how much pressure it is when you have a President of the United States putting that on you, for all of them to stand strong.

For all the deputy, you know, attorneys to basically make the decision that they were going to all resign. It's an amazing story in that courage, honestly. But I think the other thing that we have to keep in mind, and I kind of said this in my opening statement, is what would happen if something different happened in the future? What if any of those people would have said we will put the Department of Justice stamp on your lies and conspiracy? This democracy will be in trouble. This isn't over. We're not out of the woods.

TAPPER: Donoghue, the former Deputy -- Acting Deputy Attorney General said that he told Jeffrey Clark, that Clark was advocating, quote, nothing less than meddling in the outcome of an election. And we also heard that Clark was conducting his own investigation. And take a listen to what we heard about voting machines. The idea that Trump was telling Jeffrey Rosen to seize, you know, why haven't you seized the machine? In your view, do you think that the committee heard or presented evidence today that Trump directed the Justice Department to break the law?

KINZINGER: I think we've shown a lot of evidence that the President knew what he was doing. The breaking the law apart, I think, yes, personally, but again, I like to leave that to DOJ. Ironically, DOJ was on the stand today. They probably have a special interest in what happened at this moment.

You'd mentioned the voting machine things. Think about this. The President asked Rosen to seized voting machines. He said, I can't do it. So the President calls Ken Cuccinelli at DHS and says, hey, Rosen here said you can seize voting machines. Of course, he never said that.

TAPPER: Right.

KINZINGER: But that just goes to show you can't trust anything the President says. Thankfully, Ken Cuccinelli said, you know, we can't seize machines either. TAPPER: I mean, one of the things that's so telling, and I guess we've known this for years now, but just to see it play out because of the committee hearings, is that, you know, a few people different in those roles, you know, a bunch of Jeffrey Clarks serving as Vice President, serving as acting Attorney General, serving as Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona, serving as Secretary of State of Georgia.


Just a handful of Jeffrey Clarks replacing any of those individuals and all these individuals I'm talking about are Trump loyalist, conservative Republicans. And we very well could have lost democracy in the United States.

KINZINGER: Yes, you know, who else knows that. Not just you, not just me, but the Steve Bannons of the world that are actually planning this. They think under the radar, they can put in, you know, loyalists, and frankly, they can. I mean, that's the point is, every one of these hearings we've done, we've shown like a layer of stuff that could go wrong. And there's really no like, there's no magic police force that if people don't follow through on their oath is going to come in and enforce that. It's really just us having to hold true to what we believe.

And, you know, it's -- what happens in Trump's second term in theory or a Trump accolade in his term in presidency. Now he can interview anybody for DOJ, or any position and says, is your loyalty to me or is it to the Constitution? And eventually, trust me, you're going to find people that say, I will pledge my loyalty to you over the Constitution.

TAPPER: I remember you telling me one time that the guardrails held, but sometimes you drive by guardrails on a highway and you see it's dented and it held. But then you wonder, is it going to hold next time?

KINZINGER: That's right. Yes, I mean, you can see it -- you see it probably save somebody's life destroyed their car. But if it takes another one right to there, it's probably going to -- you're going to plunge off a cliff. We're really there. And this is why the whole thing, it's great to tell the story. But the biggest point is, ladies and gentlemen, you have to vote not based on every little issue that bothers you, but based on who is going to uphold their oath to the Constitution, because that is the only thing, only thing that matters.

TAPPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican of Illinois, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.

KINZINGER: Yes, you bet.

TAPPER: Today's hearing comes as CNN has obtained the never before seen footage from a documentary covering the final weeks of the Trump administration. In one of the clips that we rolled for you earlier today, we saw former Vice President Mike Pence speaking to the documentary filmmaker, Alex Holder after the January 6th attacks.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I joined the Senate Democratic leader and calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment.

If the vice president or cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's when I received it. But the House members got it a while back.

PENCE: Yes, excellent. Tell Zach (ph) to print me off a hard copy for the trip home.


PENCE: Great. I'm always hopeful about America. I always believe that America's best days are yet to come. And I still believe that.


TAPPER: Now, I want to bring a point of clarification here because you saw a screen in there that said that when Vice President Pence -- he received an e-mail, he was receiving a note from the House of Representatives asking for him to invoke the 25th Amendment. A -- that Pence's team disputes that. They dispute it. They say, "In the documentary, Vice President Pence was reacting to a confirmation that his letter, back to the House, was sent to Speaker Pelosi rejecting her ploy to invoke the 25th Amendment."

And we should note that Vice President Pence's version of events here 7:48 p.m., he says as the timestamp, matches with what happened that day because at 8:00 p.m., news outlets, were reporting on Vice President Pence's letter. So his version of events makes more sense personally to me, but we should note that the filmmaker Alex Holder, spoke with my colleague, Don Lemon today, and Holder stands by his claim about what Pence was looking at on the phone.

Holder said, "I remember when it happened that because I could see on the phone what it was. And so what I could think about afterwards was just trying to make sure what I could see sort of married up with what was going on sort of simultaneously, so." And Don Lemon says, "So you knew for sure that this was what he was, that he was talking about?" And Alex said, "Yes, both myself." Don jumps in and says, "What did you see? What could you see?" Holder said, "Well, we saw the e-mail with the Speaker's logo on it and I and the Director of Photography also saw it as well."

Again, to be clear, the timing of Vice President sending his letter matches up with the Pence account, the Pence account, but we wanted to make sure that you had all the information having to do with that clip.

Wolf Blitzer picks up our coverage in "THE SITUATION ROOM", that's next.