Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Ex-White House Aide Provides First-Hand Account of Trumps Actions on January 6. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 28, 2022 - 15:30   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: He was upset that they weren't getting through the magnetometers. People were having their weapons confiscated. So, thousands of people didn't want to actually come through the magnetometers. She heard the president say, I don't f'ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f'ing mags away -- meaning the metal detectors -- let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here.

BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: It's somewhat a dangerously and pathetically about the spectacle of being president, about how it looks on television, what the photo is. And you know, this is a very worrisome thing. And what -- I mean, look at the witness today, Ms. Hutchinson, this is a question everyone who goes to work for anybody, not just politicians, I am putting my lot and myself with them. And you want to count ten before you sign up with one of those people. Because for months, actually years, this woman went along with this and finally broke. But if more people will kind of use that common sense task of, is this somebody I'm going to really stand up for or are they going to ask me to stand up for things that are lies.

COOPER: Should point out, I think it was Kaitlan Collins who earlier said, that if you were in the White House on January 6th, you were already a true believer, you had made it through to that point in the administration.

John Dean, I want to play something that Liz Cheney said at the end of the testimony today, indications of potential witness tampering or attempt to influence witnesses, let's listen to what she said.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Quote, what they said to me is as long as I can continue to be a team player, they know I'm on the right team. I'm doing the right thing. I'm protecting who I need to protect. You know I'll continue to stay in good graces in Trump world. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts.


COOPER: She was explaining, John, what several witnesses, two, I guess, in this case, unnamed messages they had received, got calls or messages they had received from people within the Trump world essentially saying the former president would be watching, reading transcripts, that he knew that they would remain loyal. What do you make of that?

JOHN DEAN, SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I make it -- it doesn't take very much explanation because it's pretty clear. These are threats, you better either tailer your testimony down, don't give any gratuitous information, toe the line, lie if necessary if you want to be part of the team. The president is watching. And this is a young woman we know who wants to continue in Republican politics. Well, I think she better get a new goal because they're not going to want her. They won't forgive.

The next thing she's going to experience is they're going to start a real campaign to discredit her. She's one of the most vital witnesses against two of the most powerful people in the Trump White House, Trump and Meadows, and she's still very viable. And as I say, there's much more she knows, so they're going to start to discredit her, and it's going to be ugly.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins was reporting that the former president said that, you know, his immediate reaction was that he didn't know her, barely knew her, heard bad things about her. Pretty thin gruel he uses that I didn't know that person excuse an awful lot.

DEAN: That was the first reaction that Nixon had when I surfaced as a potential witness against him. John, I never met with him. I never talked to him. I didn't have maybe two or three conversations with him the whole time he was here. Well of course, I had 37 recorded conversations with him, and they were pretty important conversations in his presidency.

COOPER: You've had tougher words, John, for Pat Cipollone about his not testifying, what do you think of that today in light of what Ms. Hutchinson has done?

DEAN: It is so disappointing. He is such an important witness, and being a live witness, being there and present and supporting and backing up his testimony. One of the things I didn't understand about the hearing today is the extensive use of her prior video deposition. She's very articulate. She could have added things the committee doesn't even know that are thinking are part of her knowledge and her mind. She was responding with a camera, first sort of reaction when she was being asked questions.


I thought that that format didn't work well today, and they should have let her have some notes and given some oral testimony. Because I think she does have a lot more to offer.

WOODWARD: I think that was intentional for her that she said I want to use my old testimony and then come back to me. And it created a cadence. I agreed with John that it was kind of disruptive, but I think it was comforting to her because sometimes she was more articulate in the testimony just to the committee and not on --

COOPER: The pressure she was under today. It's hard to imagine.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Throughout the investigation, this committee has made sure every duck is in a row. And this is part of it, so there can't be a misstep by the committee.

COOPER: Up next, we're going to find out if two former colleagues of Cassidy Hutchinson were prepared for the powerful, damaging testimony she shared today.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The January 6th investigation just took a historic and frankly horrifying turn as a key Trump White House official offered damming new details about Donald Trump's actions leading up to and on the day of the insurrection. Cassidy Hutchinson painted a portrait of frankly unhinged Donald Trump who not only knew his rally was possibly going to lead to violence but also seemed to be encouraging and defending the potential violence. And according to Cassidy Hutchinson's account, Trump grew irate when his Secret Service detail refused to take him to the Capitol, what would soon be the scene of a riot.

We're joined by two former Trump White House insiders who know Cassidy Hutchinson very well. Former White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farrah Griffin, and the former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Olivia Troye. You and Cassidy Hutchinson are close. You have actually spoken to her. I knew nothing about her. I had never seen her speak other than in the deposition. She was remarkably composed and credible, and I think her testimony will be very impactful. How is she doing?

ALYSSA FARRAH GRIFFIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: She's doing great. She's in good spirits. I think the magnitude of the moment has certainly begun to dawn on her and how significant of a role she's playing in American history. She's somebody who I would have trusted in any scenario to keep her word, get a job done. But she's always been a behind the scenes player. So, to see her front and center with millions and millions of people watching and to maintain such poise and confidence doing what dozens of people twice her age, three times her age are too terrified to do, refusing subpoenas, not showing up, was remarkable. It was inspiring, honestly, as a woman to watch.

I don't even know what the biggest take away from today was. I had a sense of what she was going to say. This went far beyond anything I knew of. From the fact that she confirmed the former president wanted to see more violence on January 6th. He knew there were weapons, and he wanted to see them used. To wanting to take over the beast, his car and potentially drive it to Capitol Hill, I mean, she painted a picture of what was even worse than what I knew when I resigned in December, early December of 2020, which was a man unhinged, out of touch with reality, and with advisers around him seemingly doing nothing to stop it. TAPPER: You were in the room, Olivia Troye, and I want to play one of

the most shocking moments from the testimony today, in which Cassidy Hutchinson is describing. She's at the little staging area at the January 6th rally. The quote unquote Stop the Steal Rally with Donald Trump. He's frustrated because there isn't as big a crowd as possible and he's blaming that on the magnetometers. So, we're going to play that, and then I what to hear what the response was like for you and others that you were sitting among in the committee hearing when that happened?


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: And he felt the mags were at fault for not letting everybody in, but another leading reason, likely the primary reason is because he wanted it full, and he was angry that we weren't letting people through the mags with weapons. The secret service deemed as weapons and our weapons, but we were in the off stage announce tent. I was part of a conversation. I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of -- I don't f'ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away.


TAPPER: They're not here to hurt me. What was your response to that, and what was -- and she goes on to say, by the way, that, you know, that we're going to go up to the Capitol also. What was your response? What was the response of the members of Congress who were in the Capitol January 6th, the officers who were wounded on January 6th?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR TO MIKE PENCE: Yes, it was infuriating. I felt sick to my stomach. And as I was sitting there, I had a member of Congress to the right of me, Congressman Gallegos and to the left of me.


I had Sgt. Gonell who suffered significant injuries that day, and there was Mike Fanone, Harry Dunn, Hodges, they were all sitting there, and I looked to them to see their faces and we looked at each other and I could hear the audible gasping and anger hearing that clip. Because when you think about it, this sets the picture of the president leading the charge there and setting them up. And that was something that was said right there as I was sitting there. Is that they set us up, and I can't imagine seeing that clip and living that day the way they did and seeing the president of the United States talk about a crowd that wasn't big enough and that had weapons and saying let them in.

TAPPER: So, I've seen in social media and in media and news media that there are people out there, including conservative lawyers who say that this is the smoking gun, this is Donald Trump knowing that people were armed and not considering them a threat to him and wanting to send those armed people to Capitol Hill. How did you interpret it? GRIFFIN: I agree with that. I think the Pat Cipollone quote which I

don't want to botch, but essentially saying why he shouldn't drive up to Capitol Hill because you would have committed a number of felonies in doing so -- or crimes in doing so was very significant. And I think that also speaks to why, frankly, Pat Cipollone has not come and testified before the committee.

But this, I expected this hearing to really go after Mark Meadows and it certainly did that, it certainly put him in hot water. But this tied it directly to the former president, talking about the knowledge he had of the danger he was putting people in, at the Capitol and his own Vice President who he knew was there. He was fine with people with weapons going to Capitol Hill.

TAPPER: So, just the quote that you were referring to is Cassidy Hutchinson testifies she hears the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone -- and once again to underline -- loyal Donald Trump supporter, you have to be to be the White House counsel in December and January of 2020, 2021. He says to Cassidy Hutchinson, don't let the presidential limo, don't take Donald Trump up to the Capitol. Do not let that happen. Quote, we're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we let that happen.

GRIFFIN: They knew. And he still wanted to go forward, and then again, this incredible scene of him reaching over the wheel of the beast. I've been in the beast, this is a massive vehicle, he's a huge man. He's 6'3", 6'4", physically trying to take control of the car. This is a man detached from reality. And if today's testimony does not make some Republican members of Congress and Republican voters change their mind about this man, I don't know what will because it was pure insanity.

TAPPER: And at the end of the hearing, Liz Cheney, the vice chair, again, a very conservative Republican.

TROYE: We are all Republicans.

TAPPER: I know, and not just Republicans --

TROYE: Loyal.

TAPPER: -- very conservative Republicans who supported Donald Trump's election in 2016, election in 2020, et cetera, et cetera. But she reads some witness, you know, unnamed witness testimonies, basically sounding as though Trump world is reaching out to them and saying you better not say anything bad about us before the committee. Whether behind closed doors or in front and the suggestion was that it was witness tampering. Do you know anything about what's going on behind the scenes. Have you heard any stories like that, and either way, what's your reaction.

TROYE: Yes, I'm not surprised to hear that there's intimidation of witnesses and bullying. This is how these people behave. And so, I think that it's certainly something that the committee should be investigating and looking into. I think they've made reference to that that they are going to look into this. And I think, you know, given Cassidy Hutchinson's bravery today, I think they owe it to people like her and others who told the truth, who went on record while all of these other cowards stand by and allow this moment and continue to enable this danger that continues across our country in America.

TAPPER: What is it like for you guys? Because I can't ask Cassidy Hutchinson this question but she's in the same group. What is it like for you guys to be former members of MAGA, which claims to be a bunch of alphas who think they're so manly and heroic and virile, to be young woman who are showing more courage individually than like almost every House male Republican, almost every Trump White House administration official, certainly more so than Cipollone who sounds like he was going to do the right thing, but won't come forward and testimony, Mark Meadows, et cetera, what was that like?

GRIFFIN: Well, I'm so in awe of what Cassidy Hutchinson, Sarah Matthews, people who have come forward. But I'll say this, it's kind of surreal to watch as somebody who worked for Trump and believed in part of his agenda, and someone like Cassidy who was a loyal foot soldier, no one would have wanted to be in this position less than Cassidy Hutchinson. This is the last place she wanted to be today but she felt her duty to the country was way more important than her personal loyalties. And I'm so grateful for women like Olivia who have come forward but I don't know where all the seated members of Congress are who aren't stepping up, I don't know where the, you know, former cabinet secretaries who remain conveniently quiet since this are.


TAPPER: What's it like for you? I mean, because you came out in 2020, basically, warning the world about this man and how in your view unhinged and dangerous he was.

TROYE: Yes, and I'm grateful for people like Cassidy who are out there telling the truth about what the reality was in the days and in the aftermath of the election. And it's frustrating and it's angering at times to watch these people continue to enable such a dangerous individual that has proven himself to be dangerous time and time again.

And look, Cassidy, her life will be forever changed. My life will never be the same. Alyssa's life will never be the same. Because we stood up and we told the truth. We stood up for our country. And people will say, you know, there's nothing heroic about that. You worked in the Trump administration. Well, you're hearing about the intimidation of witnesses. You're hearing about the bullying. There are no doubts there will be threats on Cassidy's life. I'm worried about her safety. We've gotten threats recently. We were just talking about this. And what it means to still continue to be out there talking about this and warning people.

GRIFFIN: Yes, to the members of Congress who are afraid of their re- election, well, this woman is out there speaking at threat to their life. They should listen to that.

TAPPER: How about the two election workers in Georgia, Fulton County, who didn't go to work for anything controversial. They were just doing their job. Thank you to both of you. We do appreciate it. And I'm sure I speak for our viewers when we say we appreciate what you guys are doing.

Coming up, a member of the January 6th Select Committee will share his take on what we heard today and what it might mean for the investigation going forward. Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland will join us. That's next.



TAPPER: You're watching "THE LEAD," and our coverage of the January 6th hearings, the Select Committee is applauding former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson for her stunning insider account of Trump's actions before and on the day of the January 6th insurrection.

Trump and his allies already are rushing to downplay and dispute her testimony. That's a kind description of what they're trying to do. Here's a sample of Cassidy Hutchinson's most powerful statements during her appearance on Capitol Hill earlier today.


HUTCHINSON: I found Mr. Meadows in his office on the couch. He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, there's a lot going on, Cass. But I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6th.

CHENEY: Mr. Cipollone said something to you like, make sure the movement to the Capitol does not happen. Is that correct?

HUTCHINSON: That's correct. Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.

The president said something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now. To which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engle grabbed his arm, said sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing.

There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him either throwing dishes or flipping the table cloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor. As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie. It's still -- I still struggle to work through the emotions of that.

CHENEY: Did Rudy Giuliani ever suggest that he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6th?

HUTCHINSON: He did. CHENEY: Did White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ever indicate that

he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6th?

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon, yes, ma'am.


TAPPER: So that was conservative Congresswoman Liz Cheney interviewing under oath a conservative White House staffer, both of them Republicans. So how are Republicans on Capitol Hill reacting? Melanie Zanona has that story. Melanie, tell us more.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, I can tell you, Jake, that privately, many house Republicans are stunned by some of the new revelations that they've learned from Cassidy Hutchinson, who we should remind viewers, was a very familiar and friendly face to a lot of GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

One lawmaker texted me and said he saw enough of the hearing that he wanted to throw his lunch against the wall. Of course, that was a reference to something Hutchinson had testified to that Trump himself at one point was so angry, that he threw his lunch against the wall. Another lawmaker texted me and said wow, this is damning, and said it really speaking to Trump's state of mind on January 6th and shows that he was very personally involved in the goings on at the Capitol and wanted to be there as they were breaching the Capitol on January 6.

Of course, this is in stark contrast to how Republicans are talking publicly. They are mounting a full-out defense of Trump. They're trying to downplay the testimony as hearsay or secondhand. They are trying to defend the president in any way they can. But the fact that this is what Republicans are saying privately really speaks to how explosive this testimony is -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, maybe some of them will say it publicly. Melanie Zanona, thanks so much, appreciate it. Jamie Gangel let me bring you in. What are you hearing from your Republican sources about today?