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CNN Live Event/Special

Source: Trump Nervous About Meadows Aide's Testimony; Sources: Hutchinson Was Conduit Between Lawmakers And Trump; Jan 6 Cmte Met In Secure Location Before Today's Hearing; Soon: Former Meadows Aide Testifies At Surprise Jan 6 Cmte Hearing; Ex-Meadows Aide Hired Lawyer Cited In Mueller Report. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 28, 2022 - 12:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We are awaiting the start of a new hearing about the January 6 select committee, abruptly announced just 24 hours ago. CNN has learned that a key witness to many critical events and conversations inside the Trump White House is expected to testify today. This is CNN's live coverage attack on democracy, the January 6 hearings. I'm Anderson Cooper in Washington.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And I'm Jake Tapper. The rush to hold this hearing and the secrecy surrounding it suggests that the House like committee is about to present new information that is both urgent and important. The panel has not revealed any details publicly, but CNN has confirmed resources that Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, will testify today live.

Hutchinson is considered to be one of the panel's most consequential witnesses due to her proximity to the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before and all on January 6. Hutchinson has been interviewed by the select committee at least three times before behind closed doors. Clips from those recorded interviews were played during previous hearings.

We saw Cassidy Hutchinson testify on many different parts of then President Trump's efforts to overturn the election. Because remember, this was not just about the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, it was about various other Trump schemes to undermine the democratic election. For example, Hutchinson testified to the committee that Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani were involved in early conversations about putting forward slates of fraudulent electors for Trump in states that Biden won.

Hutchinson testified about Republican Congressman Scott Perry's role in pushing for Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark to take charge of the Justice Department to weaponize the Justice Department to push state legislatures to undo the election results in their states based on those lies about fraud. And Hutchinson named several Republican members of Congress, who inquired about potential presidential pardons from Trump.

All of this comes on the heels of a dramatic development in the federal criminal investigation of January 6. The FBI seizing the phone of Trump's election lawyer John Eastman. Video from Fox, showing the confrontation as he's been - was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico last week, asking to see the warrant.

Let's get reaction from Trump world now to Cassidy Hutchinson's decision to testify publicly. Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, who's covering President Biden overseas but also working with her sources from the Trump years with insights into the inner circle. Kaitlan, what are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. Cassidy Hutchinson may not be a well-known name outside of Trump world, but she certainly is inside of it. And when Mark Meadows was the chief of staff, she was basically an access point to the Trump White House, because when lawmakers often wanted to get in touch with President Trump, they called Mark Meadows. When they wanted to delay - to relay a message to Mark Meadows, they often called Cassidy Hutchinson because she was one of his closest aides inside the White House.

She said, right outside his office inside the West Wing, and Mark Meadows often included Cassidy Hutchinson, in a lot of his meetings that he had, certainly she traveled with him on Air Force One to Trump rallies. She was very intimately involved in a lot of the inner workings of the Trump West Wing when Mark Meadows was the chief of staff.

And so, that is why her testimony today has raised so many concerns among those still in the former president's orbit. Because one person told me, she really knew everything because she knew who was trying to get in touch with Mark Meadows, who is speaking to Trump, of course, as she has testified privately, who was also asking for a pardon, surrounding January 6.

And Jake, she was there on those final days of Trump's time in office. She was there on January 6, and those are going to be big questions that people are looking to see what it is that she reveals today. And someone else that I spoke with who is in Trump's world that it is not good, that she is testifying, and they don't expect it to portray the former president in a positive light.

And obviously, this hearing has caught the former president and his world like off guard just as much as everyone else when it was abruptly scheduled yesterday. So, they are going to be watching closely to see what it is that she is going to testify. And of course, potentially Jake, how damaging it could be, given just how much she knows about what happened in those final few months in Trump's time in office.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Let's go to Pamela Brown now, who joins us from Capitol Hill. Pamela, just how close was Cassidy Hutchinson to her boss, the then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows?

[12:05:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Extremely close. As sources I've been speaking with this morning had been telling me that she had direct access to Meadows. All the time she was coming up here on Capitol Hill with Meadows for key meetings as well, she was known on a first name basis by congressional leadership Republicans here on Capitol Hill because of how close she was to Meadows.

She was the go between oftentimes. So, she was with Meadows quite a lot. I am told by several sources. She had a falling out with him in 2021. So, it will be interesting to say to see what she reveals here today. Now a source familiar tells me, Jake, that she testified for at least 20 hours behind closed doors with the committee over several sessions.

The committee a source says, was really focused on the information flow through Meadows to Trump. She was in the thick of it, as this source said. And then, of course, because she was all caught up in it, the source says, she wanted to testify, she wouldn't come out here and tell her story today.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela, thanks so much. The hearing gets underway about an hour from now. Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles. Ryan, how has the select committee been preparing for today's hearing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake. They're preparing for this hearing in a much different way than they have for prior hearings and really different than any part of the investigation up until this point. CNN today spotted exclusively members of January 6 select committee huddling inside a secure House briefing room here on Capitol Hill.

Now, the reason that you'd want to be behind closed doors inside a secure briefing room would be to discuss classified information now. Up until this point, the large share of the information that the committee has been dealing with has not been a classified material and does not require people with security clearances to only be in the room to have conversations like this.

The fact that they were inside a room like this could indicate that the information that they have just learned in the last few weeks, perhaps the information from Cassidy Hutchinson could involve classified content. Now, I am told that it was just members of the committee that met inside that secure briefing room this morning that they did not hear any witness testimony.

But it was all the members of the committee, and Jake, this is also part of the way this hearing played out. You know, we're told that many of these committee members did not learn the full extent of what Cassidy Hutchinson could testify to today till is even as early as this morning. So that could also have been a big part of why they were meeting behind closed doors before this hearing kicks off today. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Ryan, thanks so much. They were meeting in a SCIF. Let me bring in my panel, SCIF, a sensitive compartmented information facility, so nobody could spy on them. Jamie Gangel, there is a lot of extra - there are a lot of extra precautions being taken today with Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: for several weeks, multiple sources familiar with the investigation have told me, quote, she is their star witness and that she is a triple threat, why? She had access. She has credibility. And she is not a never Trumper. She has been extremely forthcoming. What do we know? The first time she goes in, they didn't ask her the right questions. So, she asked to go back and testify again to the committee.

One big question. Why now? Why this abruptly scheduled hearing? I think there are a couple of things going on. One is, I think she is young, and she was a little nervous, even for old hands on the Hill, testifying before Congress can be a daunting proposition. I'm also told it will not surprise anyone. There are security concerns. We've seen it with other witnesses. We see it with members of the committee. And finally, we can never discount the pressure from Trump world. Jake?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Jamie, I'm so struck by that, because I'm struck by what Cassidy Hutchinson is doing today. Of all the witnesses that we've heard from so far, she probably has the most to lose. She is early in her career, relatively young, someone who has not been protected by Trump world in the Trump aftermath. A lot of former Trump people they get, you know, enveloped in the, you know, nonprofit world in the political action committee world.

They get jobs, they get positions to protect them from all the negative blow back. She doesn't have any of that, as she is coming before this committee on national television. And she's doing it, yes, under a subpoena. But she is answering questions truthfully, based on what she knows, and she knows a lot. She knows a lot about Meadows. She knows a lot about Trump. And she also knows a lot about Capitol Hill. And what members of Congress were telling the White House on January 6.

TAPPER: And Kasie, take a listen to this clip. This is just from the recorded testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson from when she was testifying about these fraudulent slates of electors what she knew. Let's roll that clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you remember being involved in those early discussions around the Thanksgiving time, regarding having alternate electors meet.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WH CHIEF OF STAFF: Mr. Giuliani? Federal consider Giuliani's associates Mr. Meadows. Members of Congress, although it's difficult to distinguish if the members I'm thinking of were involved during Thanksgiving, are they're involved as we progress through December.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. So, Cassidy Hutchinson is such an interesting figure on Capitol Hill. You know, sources that I've talked to, were surprised at how aggressive Meadows could be in demanding that she was in meetings that were otherwise sensitive. Remember, like the most sensitive meetings on Capitol Hill are usually members only. She obviously was a staffer to Meadows.

I think it's also important to understand how Meadows himself typically operated, and you know, we've gotten some windows into that in the course of reporting on these hearings, right, all of those text messages. Obviously, we didn't get them all. But we got a lot of them. You know, as a reporter who covered him both as a member of Congress, and then later when he was White House chief of staff. I mean, that's how you communicated with him, right?

He was very free about it. Sometimes I would sort of remark to myself, it is remarkable that this man who was in such an important position, was willing to put that in a text message, Jamie, why you're laughing, I'm sure you got the same kind of thing. So, you know, the fact that she does, she knows everything. She knows everything.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She used to tell her friends what a blessing it was to have a front row seat to history. She had a front row seat to corruption. And she's decided to tell the truth. To Abby's point that she has the most to lose, in some ways maybe you could argue she has the most to gain. She's a young woman who's decided to side with the truth, inside of the country, and to cooperate and to come forward.

And so, what makes it so important? Remember in recent days, the committee has also received new documents from the Trump White House from the national archives. They have fought to get those documents - the classified documents have been the one that have been held up in the legal review process. The committee leaders have said they've received a whole bunch of new tips and new information. So, who do you run that by?

You bring in the person who was right there in every meeting. Why is she so important? I'll add well, you add three points. I'll give you the fourth point. She took notes. Mark Meadows did not like to take notes. That's why he wanted her in on all the meetings. He was a texter. She was a note taker. Remember when Richard Downing, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General the other day had the contemporaneous notes. Trump said, could declared corrupt, leave it to me and leave the rest of me and the Republican Congressman.

Cassidy Hutchinson has notes from all of these meetings, whether it's about fake electors, whether it's about pressuring pence, whether it's about what Meadows told her about Trump on January 6. So, every time they get new information, they go back to the woman who saw it all, was in most of the meetings, heard from everybody, and they run it by her again.

Tapper: It is interesting just to consider this young person at this very vulnerable part of her career in her life, coming forward, giving answers, telling the truth to the American people which is sadly quite a contrast with what we see from a lot of other members of her own party, especially elected officials in their 50s and 60s.

Stay right here for live coverage of today's hearing. Coming up, new insight into the lawyer representing Cassidy Hutchinson today. Later we're going to talk to two former Trump White House insiders, who are close to Cassidy Hutchinson and have a unique read on what she's thinking and feeling today. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.




COOPER: We are closing in on what promises to be very significant hearing in the January 6 investigation. Sources tell CNN that a key Trump White House insider will testify the former aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' Cassidy Hutchinson. Panels keeping details under wraps after unexpectedly announcing the hearing just yesterday.

Let's start with our team here in Washington. We're getting new information on the lawyer who's representing Cassidy Hutchinson. Jessica Schneider has been digging on that. What do you know about this new attorney?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Anderson, because it's giving us an indication of just how much Cassidy Hutchinson is trying to distance herself from Trump world. So just in the past few days, she actually ditched a Trump world attorney who served in the White House to (Inaudible) in favor of Jody Hunt.

Now, Jody Hunt was at the Department of Justice for more than two decades. He served for both Republicans and Democrats as a career attorney within DOJ. But interestingly, in 2017, he became chief of staff for the embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And it's interesting because Jody Hunt, shed a lot of light for the Mueller report.

He took a lot of contemporaneous notes. He detailed how he seen Trump's wrath and his fury. He took notes when Trump exclaimed, I'm ft when a special counsel was announced, the Mueller probe looking into the Russia investigation, and he also talked about how Jeff Sessions would carry a resignation letter with him every time he went to the White House.

So, this is now somebody, Jody Hunt, advising Cassidy Hutchinson, and he's seen it all. He's seen what Trump world is like, and perhaps now Hutchinson trying to distance herself a bit by hiring Jody Hunt. Anderson?

COOPER: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thanks. Chris, I mean, the expectations for this hearing are quite high. I mean, they've set sort of a high bar, given that this was a last-minute hearing wasn't supposed to happen for at least another week.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's, you know, I was thinking about this in terms of the run up to this here. And we had five hearings over the last couple of weeks. And I think it's fair to say that they have been very impressive and have seemed to build in drama, particularly with the two last week.

First of all, with people like Russell Bowers and Raffensperger from the states got under pressure. And then the extraordinary story that we heard last Thursday about what was going on inside the Justice Department and the pressure that Jeff Rosen and Richard Donoghue, were under to send letters I didn't believe to the states to say that there was all of this indication of questionable elections and maybe you should send alternate slates of electors.

And then we were told that they were taking time off, and a lot of us I think were surprised, we are going to take time off till July because they seem to have built up this head of steam. And then suddenly, last night we hear they're going to hold a surprise hearing and I thought it was particularly telling a tweet that John Dean, who knows something about being a noted witness in a congressional investigation into a presidential scandal. He said, better be big in all caps. Meaning, you know, you said, you had a good start. You put this off to July, now suddenly you're calling it your secret testimony, it better be good and honestly, he's right, and that be good.


COOPER: And Gloria, I mean, they have already interviewed her a number of times. So, the question is, is there something new that came about? Is it this change of lawyer that that sparked this sudden decision to testify?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And maybe she was a little nervous about putting off any testimony until after July if she felt personally threatened by all of this, but she did change lawyers. Were told she's offered a lot more information than she had in the past. And she offered a lot of information in the past. If you'll recall, and one, you know, and I just want to talk about her because I think it's a remarkable story of this young woman comes to Washington.

You know, she was an intern for Steve Scalise and Ted Cruz. And I just saw an interview she did with her college newspaper in 2018. And she said, I have set a personal goal to pursue a path of civic significance. And here she is today on that journey.

COOPER: This is quite enough one of the steps on the journey.

BORGER: Probably not the one - probably not the one she planned. But you know, you just have to have this sense of how difficult this must be for her personally, because these people were her friends. I was told by a source today that she has been so close with Mark Meadows, and this source said that she was his shadow, going everywhere with him in every single meeting. So, if you're a member of the Trump team, you might be a little nervous.

COOPER: Laura, I want to play just a little clip of a deposition that she gave to the committee, talking about the alleged efforts by a Trump ally in Congress to replace the acting attorney general.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Understanding that representative press was pushing for a specific person to take over the department?

HUTCHINSON: He wanted Mr. Clark, Mr. Jeff Clark to take over the Department of Justice.


COOPER: There's obviously a political damage, and then there is legally damaging. How damaging can her testimony be?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, given that we've heard about the steps taken to try to install Jeffrey Clark, just last week as the head of the DOJ, and how damning the testimony is, is incredibly damning here. When we talk to me is, this has a lawyer's fingerprints sort of all over it, the idea of why now, why get the information today. And I have questions and concerns as somebody who's put on number of witnesses about credibility.

The public will ask the questions about why now. Why are we just learning certain things? Why is the committee now privy to certain information after more than a year? It's the same question that were asked about why the Eastman felon may be taken now, questions about a raid on Jeffrey Clark's home. This, to me does not undermine their credibility. But there are questions that actually are out there to say, what didn't you know, before and you now know? What's why it has to be quite big.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Jeff, one advantage that the committee has, and this has been true throughout is that they have spoken to her before. And one of the things you learn in a courtroom or any sort of preparation, is that when you are examining someone in public, you better have talked to them before because it's very difficult to extract information for the first time. They have spoken to her for apparently 20 hours. And that was before she switched lawyers.

So, there is obviously specific information that they know that they want to get out. I am particularly interested in hearing whether she heard any of these participants, starting with the president say that they knew Trump lost the election. Because I think that is just an enormously important background fact, to everything that goes on it himself.

SCHNEIDER: Before where the Trump said it himself. What she heard in real time.

BORGER: If she was the shadow of Mark Meadows, she is the confidant and who is the person that will know the most and can flip on you, the confidence opportunity.

COOPER: Just in terms of what to expect, given that they have done all these interviews with her before, and I don't know if they've talked to her since she has switched attorneys. But this is not going to be a fishing expedition it like some hearings are, I mean, all these hearings have been very tight, very controlled because they know what questions to ask.

TOOBIN: Exactly. And, you know, one of the things that I find a little puzzling about this hearing is, you know, if they've spoken to her for 20 hours, and if a lot of that has come out already, why did they need to do this as an emergency. Now the question is, did they get something new once Jody Hunt became her lawyer. That suggested. I don't know that.

WALLACE: Let's take the Laura's question about credibility. And if she had 20 hours, and she didn't tell them things, why is she telling them things now that she didn't before? I just want to talk about the security aspect because, you know, in these hearings, we've been talking about Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman who, frankly you know, terrible stories about their disruption but they were collateral damage.


They were election workers at Illinois and pretty far down. Here you've got a woman that is so important to the story inside the White House. And I'm told that the security is going to be different. in the briefing room today than it has been in earlier sessions.

COOPER: Gloria, did you agree (Inaudible)

BORGER: No. I just, look, I think this is going to be usually important. They wouldn't have invited her back unless they had gotten some new information. They held it so closely. They didn't tell other members of the committee about it. So, we'll just kind of help you wait and see.

COOPER: Up next. We'll talk to two former Trump administration insiders, you know, Cassidy Hutchinson, they'll share their insights once she may reveal in her testimony today. Stay with us.