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CNN TONIGHT: January 6th Committee Member: Trump WH Counsel Didn't "Contradict" Other Witness Testimony; FBI Director To CNN: "Way, Way Too Many People" Acting Violently On Political Grievances; IRS Asks Watchdog To Probe Invasive Comey, McCabe Tax Audits. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired July 08, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: News continues. Want to hand it over to Kasie Hunt, and CNN TONIGHT.


KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: Anderson, thanks so much.

I'm Kasie Hunt. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

A critical day, for the January 6th committee, finally taking their most coveted testimony, so far. Hours, and hours, and hours, with former Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, under oath, behind closed doors. More than seven hours, to be precise. And it's all on the record.

But what exactly did the panel learn? Does Donald Trump have a lot more to be worried about, tonight?


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Mr. Cipollone did appear voluntarily and answer a whole variety of questions. He did not contradict the testimony of other witnesses. And, I think, we did learn a few things, which we will be rolling out, in the hearings, to come.

So, I think, it was a, you know, a grueling day for all involved, Mr. Cipollone, and the staff, and the members. But it was well worth it.


HUNT: "Well worth it" says committee member, Zoe Lofgren, on CNN, earlier tonight. She did not get into specifics. But she thought Cipollone was candid, with the panel, today, and believes that his answers were, quote, "Honest."

Congresswoman Lofgren did note, quote, some complications when it came to attorney-client privilege, belonging to Trump. But she said, executive privilege was not an issue, because the holder of that privilege is, in fact, President Biden. In another interview, she said the former White House Counsel never pleaded the Fifth.

So, what does that mean for the ex-President? There was a lot of intrigue, about this testimony, because, of course, Cipollone was such a critical figure, in the Trump White House. He could know whether Trump knew about the violence that was planned for the 6th.

Lofgren said a couple of times, tonight, how worthwhile, this testimony is. Cipollone spent more than two years, in the White House, legally advising then-President Trump. Could he ultimately be the one, who opens up Citizen Trump, to the most legal exposure, so far, in this committee's year-long investigation?

Jim Schultz, worked in the Trump White House Counsel's Office, before Cipollone arrived. And he joins us now, with some valuable insights.

Jim, thank you so much, for joining us, again.

How important, do you think, this testimony was, today? What does it tell you that it took as long as it did? And clearly, Congresswoman Lofgren, was pretty high, on what they learned.

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So, he gave an interview, for five hours, some time ago. So, a lot of that is just confirming, on the record, what he had said, during the interview, prior to this.

So, we had another two hours. And what was done during that? What was accomplished during those two hours? We don't know. We're going to learn very soon.

But, I imagine, a lot of it, was corroborating, what had been said, by prior witnesses, about what Cipollone heard, the advice Cipollone gave, and some of the things that went on, in the days, leading up to January 6th.

HUNT: So, I know, there's obviously been a lot of focus, on Cassidy Hutchinson's blockbuster testimony, and rightfully so.

But I do think we should remind people that Liz Cheney, had looked into the camera, and told Cipollone, she wanted to hear more from him before, we, as a country, heard from Cassidy Hutchinson.

What beyond the testimony she offered, do you think, Cipollone can most - can shed light on, that's the most important?

SCHULTZ: Look, I think, the conversations, relative to Jeffrey Clark, the conversations relative to whether the former President was going to go down to the Capitol or not, the conversations relative to John Eastman, and some of the things they were doing, with electors, I'm sure that those questions, they were front and center, today.

And I believe that you're going to, you know, a lot of that discussed with Cipollone (ph) and corroborating them.

HUNT: Can you take us inside the White House Counsel's Office? I know you were there, before Cipollone was. But what kinds of conversations? Because I've covered several presidential administrations. This was a pretty unique universe, in which to operate.


The Trump White House, and the Counsel's Office, it was, by many accounts, used in different ways, perhaps, pressured and pushed, in directions that it's normally not pushed. I mean, what kinds of things would Cipollone know, that could shed light on what you saw?

SCHULTZ: Well, look, what Cipollone knows, is what went on, in the Oval Office, and around the President. And most likely, the other White House Counsel staff, some of them may be involved - may have been involved, in those conversations. Some of them probably weren't.

It's a staff of about 25 to 40 lawyers, depending upon the timeframe, within which folks work there. Usually, there's more, when the opposite party is in charge, in the Congress, because you're dealing with oversight issues.

But a lot of the work that goes on the White House Counsel Office has a lot to do with confirming judges, working on regulatory issues. But the things that are germane to what they were discussing today, were largely - are going to be things that go on at the top of the chain.

Pat Cipollone, in particular, he's the one that's there to counsel, the President. He was the assistant to the President, at that time. He was the guy, in charge of the White House Counsel's Office, and he's the one that would have been having those conversations.

HUNT: So, the reporting that we have suggests that, as we pointed out, the Biden White House has effectively said, executive privilege is not an issue, here.

But we do know that the attorney-client privilege issue was, at least the way Lofgren characterized, it was a complicating factor. How do you think that may have actually played out over the course of this testimony?

SCHULTZ: Look, as it relates to things relating to the commission of potential crimes, or criminal-related matters, attorney-client privilege doesn't attach in those instances. So, I believe that, in those instances, he would be free to testify, as to what he heard, and what he saw.

And remember, if he's giving legal advice, to the White House, that's the part that's privileged. If you're not actually giving legal advice, at the time? That privilege doesn't attach.

So, I'm sure there was some give and take, back and forth, as to whether this is something he was giving legal advice on, this was something he heard outside of giving legal advice, and was there the commission of a - was there an argument that there was a crime being committed, at the time, and does privilege not attach there.

HUNT: Yes. Are you saying, if some of the testimony where clearly, we've heard other witnesses say, "Pat Cipollone told us not to do this, because we would be committing a crime," that's not covered by attorney-client privilege?

SCHULTZ: In certain instances, it would not be.

If there is, or if there were crimes being perpetrated, at the time? Then yes. I mean, because then the government official that may be - that may be involved in that criminal activity, is acting outside the scope of their role, as a government official, if they're acting, in their individual capacity, and perhaps committing crimes.

At that point in time, there's this disconnect between, who is the lawyer representing? The lawyer's representing the office of the White House, right, and the - because they're the White House Counsel. The White House Counsel is not Trump's personal lawyer.

HUNT: Fair enough. All right, Jim Schultz, stay with us.

I want to add in some very experienced political minds, to our conversation. Former Montana Governor, and State Attorney General, Steve Bullock, joins us. Former Florida congressman, Francis Rooney. And former Senior Adviser, to Mitch McConnell, Scott Jennings.

Welcome to you all. It's great to have you, tonight.

Congressman Rooney, I actually want to start with you. Because, for our viewers, who may not remember, you had expressed some openness, the very first time that former President Trump, was potentially facing, legal jeopardy, during the impeachment hearings. And then, obviously, you stepped down. You just had not to run for reelection.

So, how do you view what we've heard, from the committee, so far, and particularly the Cipollone testimony? When you're thinking about it, as a Republican, who is wondering, like all of us, are other Republicans are going to be swayed by this?

FRANCIS ROONEY, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Yes. Well, the reason I said I was open to hearing all the evidence, about impeachment, is I'm a business person. I'm used to getting the facts together, before I make a decision.

And obviously, Trump didn't like that. And a lot of people didn't like it. And - but I heard all the evidence. And I talked to two ex-White House Counsels, and they convinced me that it wasn't impeachable, even though it was pathetic on that.

HUNT: Fair enough. So, how does that - how does that experience apply, in this situation?

ROONEY: Well, I think, we need to get all the facts now.

We know that there are facts related to the people, coming onto the Ellipse, with guns, and the President wanting to aid and abet them, and then inciting them, to go down to the Capitol. I don't know whether that's all legal - legally culpable or not.

But maybe Mr. Cipollone could amplify what he said, about crimes being committed, or not, and we can't go down to the Capitol, and things like that. I think that would be - to me, that would be very important, for the American people, to know.

HUNT: Yes. Scott Jennings, what does eight hours, with Pat - almost eight hours, with Pat Cipollone, tell you?


SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it obviously tells me he was more than forthcoming. I mean, it sounds like they had some attorney-client issues. But you don't sit in a room that long, without saying something.

I mean, the question is clear. Did you tell the President or anyone else they were committing a crime, and they disregarded you? I mean, that--

HUNT: It is a pretty straightforward question, isn't it?

JENNINGS: --I mean, that's the - that's the clear - I mean, I know there were other issues. But that's the question. And so, I guess we'll find out next week, whether that question got asked and answered.

But that's kind of what I want to know. Not just about what was going on outside in Washington, on the 6th, but as it relates to what was going on with the pressuring of Mike Pence? Because I assume he had an opinion on that as well.

HUNT: Yes. What's your take?


First of all, going back, the privilege, just let's recognize that the White House Counsel, only in the official capacity. So, that's not on the campaign capacity. It's not the personal capacity. And--

HUNT: Right. It's the office itself.

BULLOCK: Yes. And the President had nothing to do with the meeting of Congress, pursuant to the 12th Amendment. So, I'm not sure where that privilege is there.

And I think, Scott's point, it could be a lot, right? Seven hours. Clearly, the committee had a lot to go through. And Cipollone - Mr. Cipollone, clearly also, unlike Eastman, Giuliani, Mitchell, still recognizes, those ethical obligations that you have, as a lawyer.

HUNT: Yes.

BULLOCK: It could be a little bit less so too. Because, it could well have been that, sometimes in a deposition, or otherwise, you spend an hour, trying to get an answer, to one question.

So, it will be interesting, to see, when this is released, really how forthcoming he's been, or he was, because he hasn't always been necessarily the profile in courage. HUNT: Jim Schultz, let me bring you back into this. And I want to get Scott's point of view on it, as well.

But what's your assessment of the credibility, or lack thereof that Cipollone has inside Trump World?

SCHULTZ: I don't know what his credibility is inside Trump World.

I think Pat Cipollone is incredible - he has tremendous credibility. Generally speaking, he's a careful lawyer. He's a smart lawyer. He does the right things, and was clearly doing the blocking and tackling that needed to be done, in advance of January 6.

So, I think, he's going to come off as a very credible witness. We've already heard that he did that the committee was satisfied that he came off as a credible witness, and very candid. And that's what I would expect, from a lawyer, like him.

HUNT: Well, and Scott Jennings? Cipollone, also - and this is kind of in the context of some of the political conversations, we've been having, around, Mick Mulvaney was telling, Republican voters, to look at the very staunch Republicans, who were testifying, before the committee, ignore - I mean, even ignore Liz Cheney, despite the fact that she's a Republican. She's lost some credibility among the MAGA crowd.

Pat Cipollone has a pretty unimpeachable record, among conservatives, in Washington, and in general.

JENNINGS: Oh, no question. He's highly regarded, by Republicans, here in D.C., and elsewhere.

It's interesting for all the characters that came and went out of the White House, Donald Trump picked two really good White House counsels. Don McGahn was terrific. And then Pat Cipollone was also terrific. So, these - credentials, on these guys, both professionally, and politically, are really high.

HUNT: Yes. It's going to be very interesting, to see what we are able to get, when the hearings resume, next week.

Jim Schultz, thank you, as always, for being with us. We really appreciate your time.

Steve, Francis, and Scott, stay with us. We're going to continue our discussion.

Should there be consequences, for any lawmaker involved, in insurrection planning? What the voters say? Up next.



HUNT: The revelations, coming out of the January 6th committee, could have serious implications, for people, not named Donald Trump, namely several Republican members of Congress.

A new Monmouth poll finds that a majority of both Democrats and Independents think any member of Congress, who helped the planners, of the January 6th insurrection, should be removed, from office. Plus, a not insignificant 36 percent of Republicans believe the same.

We've got our political brain trust, back here, to discuss. Steve Bullock, Francis Rooney, and Scott Jennings.

Scott, let me start with you want this? Because there clearly are some Republicans, in Congress, who have serious questions, to answer about what they were doing, around January 6th. Some of them were brand-new members of Congress.

How do you think, those people should be held accountable, if it's proven that they have roles, whether it was, some people were showing rioters - eventual rioters, around the Capitol that shown that they knew what was - what was being planned et cetera?

JENNINGS: Well, the number one way people are held accountable, as Congressman Rooney knows, and Governor Bullock, is by the voters. I mean, these things become part of your record, and you have to go home and defend it. So, that's one way.

I mean, I assume some of these people have been asked to answer questions, by investigators. And if they have some criminal culpability that'll be explored as well.

But, to me, when a member of Congress does something, in their official capacity, it's becomes of immediate need, for the voters, in that district, to examine that, and whether they should be representing them anymore.

HUNT: Yes.

JENNINGS: So how - this question was interesting to me, because it doesn't say how to remove them. And the way most members of Congress are removed is by being beaten or retiring.

HUNT: Right. Although that's not going to happen for like a Lauren Boebert, or a Marjorie Taylor Greene, unless they lose a primary, right?

JENNINGS: And they didn't lose primaries. They both had primaries, this year, and they didn't lose. So, these issues were examined.

So, I'm reticent to always to - I mean, a lot of people always want to kick members of Congress out, and throw them out, and what - I always think the voters, people's votes are very important to me. And letting voters decide, who represents them, to me is very vital to our democracy.

HUNT: Sure. I mean--


HUNT: Go ahead.

BULLOCK: Well, the challenge is like, look, we have 35 election deniers, running for governor, in 20 states, around the country. I mean, so much of this is baked in, right now that folks say that the way that they do win, is actually coddle up, to the Trump side of things.


And democracy - elections might be outcomes. Democracy is a process. And we've got to make sure that that process is protected, or folks like this are going to win, based on a denial of the last election.

HUNT: Right. Well and that's kind of the consequences of leaders, in Donald Trump, who repeatedly say things that are not true.

I mean, Congressman, you were in Congress, until 2021, right around the time that all of this was unfolding.

And there was an incredible amount, and there still is, it's gotten worse, of distrust that was generated, by some of these members of Congress, the hardest core MAGA, among them, with Democrats, but also others, I mean, Adam Kinzinger, because of what they may, or may not, have done, on January 6th.

How did you experience that? And how big of a problem, do you think, it is to have these Republicans serving?

ROONEY: Well, it's part of the bigger problem of what kind of party do we have that these people would be so completely unhinged. That was a coup. That was - they were participating, in a coup. Now, I don't - have to defer to the legal experts here, about what that means.

But I look at it as one of the most outrageous things to ever happen, in this country. And I hope enough people will finally realize, the magnitude, of what these people did, and what some other people did, to aid and abet them.

HUNT: I mean, do you see any evidence that it's breaking through? I mean, especially - and I know, you have a lot of connections, in elite Republican circles. I mean, it's a relatively small world.

A lot of these people have been working in town, for many, many decades. And a lot of them during, for example, the first impeachment, were arguing against it. They were willing to carry Donald Trump's water, at that point.

Do you get the sense that that's changed, dramatically, in recent weeks, as these testimonies become public?

ROONEY: I think it's definitely changed. Just look at the amount of money Ron DeSantis has raised, from business.

HUNT: Ooh! Raised from business!

ROONEY: I think - I think this party that we have used to be - one of the pillars of our party used to be suburban people, and business. And now the party is almost hostile to business. It's populist and nativist.

HUNT: And you think that even - I mean, Ron DeSantis, has also pretty publicly taken on some businesses, like Disney, for example.

ROONEY: He has. But he hasn't attacked capitalism, per se. I haven't heard him say "Greedy corporations," like I've heard some other Republican senators say.

HUNT: Scott Jennings, are you picking up something similar here?

JENNINGS: Well, I definitely think that there are a lot of Republicans, out there, who voted for Donald Trump, twice, maybe gave him money, wanted to see him succeed, who know we cannot drag the party, and the country, through this, again, in 2024, that he's the least likely of Republican, to have a chance, to win the White House.

And they see someone, like DeSantis, as somebody, who gives you all of the fight, and all of the policy, without all of the baggage, and worse that came with January, the 6th that Donald Trump would bring. I think--

HUNT: And you think, top leaders might be actually willing to take the risk of supporting DeSantis, over Trump?

JENNINGS: We'll see. I mean, I think that he is more than viable, to win the nomination, and to win the White House. I think there are other people as well. Tim Scott, I'm very fond of as well, and Nikki Haley, and others.

There's going to be a big field. Any of them would be a better choice. And, I think, a lot of Republicans, in their hearts, know that. And, frankly, I think that's why Donald Trump's considering launching his reelection campaign, right now, because that fire, I think, is starting to build, a little bit, and he wants to try to tamp it out.

HUNT: Right.

ROONEY: Yes. I think a lot of Ron's donors are probably looking past the governorship race.

HUNT: I'm sure - 100 - you don't need $111 million, to get reelected Governor of Florida.

ROONEY: Not as a Republican, right now.

JENNINGS: It helps though, it helps.

HUNT: I mean, yes.

BULLOCK: Right (ph).

JENNINGS: It'd go a long way in Montana.


HUNT: Go watch further in Montana (ph)!

So, I have to play devil's advocate here, to you, Governor, which is so why aren't Democrats capitalizing on this gigantic mess that Republicans have? Because the Biden administration is having trouble.

BULLOCK: Well, I think, look, the Republican Party, we often say, "When the Democrats get together, we organize a firing squad in a circle." It's kind of nice to see the Republicans, finally doing that, as well. And--

HUNT: It's quite right (ph).

BULLOCK: --and there will be the opportunities, as they implode. I'd also say, though, it's interesting that you can look at Senator Scott, like he said, he hasn't watched the hearings. Nikki Haley, "Oh, Republicans against Republicans, again"

HUNT: Oh the heaven that sans (ph) Trump era is like still there.


HUNT: I mean?

BULLOCK: So, it's still--

HUNT: It's some Republicans (ph).

BULLOCK: --so overwhelming in that. So, it'll be interesting to see how that sits out. I mean, I might be for Congressman Rooney for President. Boy, he's not going to (ph).

ROONEY: Oh, no!

JENNINGS: But the question you asked him was, why aren't Democrats taking advantage of this implosion? Because they're imploding! 70 percent of Democrats don't want Joe Biden to run for re-election. Neither party has its act together on 2024.

ROONEY: Yes. Each sides got the lunatic fringe.

JENNINGS: It's a big thing (ph).

ROONEY: And we're all stuck in the middle.

BULLOCK: Yes, look?

HUNT: In fairness, there's - the Left did not attempt a coup.

ROONEY: Yes, that's true.

HUNT: But I take your point that many are too far left, for the mainstream of the country. BULLOCK: And I still think it's a little early. We love to be the pundits to say, "Here's what's going to happen in 2024." There's still a lot of time.

HUNT: Right.

BULLOCK: You know?

HUNT: And the reality is, if we've learned anything, from the last couple of election cycles, we have absolutely no idea.


HUNT: And it's not useful, for us, to speculate.

ROONEY: Remember?


ROONEY: Remember, Jimmy Carter, as well as Donald Trump, yes.

JENNINGS: Tell the audience?

HUNT: All right, Steve Bullock, Scott Jennings, thank you guys both, for being here.

Congressman, we're going to talk to you, later, on this hour, so please stick with us.

The January 6th hearings, resume Tuesday, as we've said, with a focus on domestic extremists. I'm joined next, by someone, who's met with the committee, about warning signs that were ignored, in the run up to Insurrection day.

Stay with us.



HUNT: Tuesday's January 6th hearings, are going to focus on the connection, between extremist groups, and the Trump White House. Those groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.

Some of their members were part of the January 6th mob, and have already been arrested, and charged, with various crimes. But does that mean that these extremist groups aren't any less of a threat now?

Joining me tonight is Donell Harvin, the Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence, for Washington, D.C. He was in that position during the Capitol insurrection. And he's met with the January 6th committee, multiple times.

Sir, thank you so much, for joining us, tonight.


HUNT: Can you remind our viewers what types of things you have discussed, during your testimony, with the committee? And do you expect to publicly testify?


HARVIN: Well, the discussions I've had with the committee, I'll leave with the committee. I don't want to get ahead of them, in their investigations. I have spoken with the committee, on the possibility of publicly testifying. And I'm available to them, should they need me.

Some of the things, I've said, publicly, however, that are consistent with my testimony are the fact that these groups were amassing, in the days, leading up - to the days and weeks leading up to January 6th. And there's still a threat, as we speak.

HUNT: What's the nature of the current threat, from these groups?

HARVIN: Well, clearly, the Department of Justice has done a great job investigating, and indicting many of the individuals that were there, on January 6th.

However, there are individuals that were not there, that stayed home that we consider to be extremely dangerous, actually thought that those, who were organizing January 6th, were JV (ph), so to speak.

And they came out, out of the woodworks, on the 7th and 8th, on online, lamenting the fact that they hadn't been there, and had they been there that things would have been different.

HUNT: Wow!

HARVIN: So, to think that we have accomplished a great deal, in the prosecution, of 800 or so, rioters, on January 6th, is a fallacy.

There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of individuals that are radicalized, across this country. And the mobilization to violence, from radicalization, can happen in a very brief period of time.

HUNT: When we heard Cassidy Hutchinson testify, before the Committee? During that, the course of that hearing, we heard, for the first time, tapes of interactions, by law enforcement, discussing arms, guns, being held by people, in the crowd, outside the Ellipse, when the President was making that speech, presumably headed down to the Capitol.

That was - it was then suggested that the President was aware of this. Cassidy Hutchinson recounted, the President saying, to get rid of the magnetometers that surrounded the speech that those people were not there to hurt him, specifically.

What do you know about that? Were you aware of the fact that the crowd had arms on the day of the insurrection? HARVIN: We had warned our law enforcement partners, in the federal space, weeks before January 6th that they were planning on bringing weapons.

That was one of the - some of the concerning information that we were getting online that they had planned to sequester, they were seeking tips, and tactics, on how to hide long guns, and how to bring in weapons, into the District of Columbia, which is illegal, by the way.

And, on that day, we were actively monitoring, through various mechanisms, the fact that people having guns, and getting pulled out of the crowd. And so, we knew that there were guns, going to be planned to bring - be brought into D.C., and we knew on that day that people had weapons.

HUNT: So, what do you make then of - and you were talking a little bit earlier, about what you knew, about what was going on online, with some of these groups, planning ahead of January 6th.

What do ties, between the White House, and White House aides, whether it's the President himself, Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, and the White House ties to people, who then we suspect, or we know, in some instances, had ties to some of these groups?

I mean, what does it tell you that the White House perhaps was in contact with Roger Stone, about what was going on, on January 6th?

HARVIN: Well, I'll tell you, we had no intelligence or an information suggesting that there were ties between the violent groups that were coming on January 6th, and the White House, at that time.

Since then, there's a lot of work that's coming out of the January 6th committee. And we're learning more about potential ties. Just like you, I'm a spectator, in this space. I'm looking forward to seeing what's coming out of it. But if it's true, it's very concerning.

We also saw, and we're not just talking about violent groups, here. January 6th, part of the untold story, is the rise of the conspiracy theory movement that we all laughed about, years ago. And they're serious, now. Not only are they serious, but they have an armed militia backing them.

And so, when you look at those two forces together, we have these mixed ideologies, what we call in Homeland Security, a "Salad Bar" ideology, it becomes a very dangerous threat environment.

HUNT: All right, Donell Harvin, before I let you go, just to clarify, you're available to the committee, but they have not yet actually asked you to testify in public?

HARVIN: I'm available to the committee. And they know how to reach me, if they need me.

HUNT: All right, Donell Harvin, thanks very much, for your time tonight, sir. Really appreciate it.

HARVIN: Thank you.

HUNT: Ahead, we're going to look at what the FBI Director, tells CNN, concerns him most, about the rise in political violence, here, and abroad, after today's tragic assassination, of the former Japanese Prime Minister, and the recent murder plot, against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, when CNN TONIGHT returns.



HUNT: FBI Director, Christopher Wray, spoke to CNN, today, just hours, after the assassination of former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. He expressed concerns, about the threat of more political violence, back here, at home.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: There are way, way too many people, in today's world, who are taking their very passionately-held views, and manifesting them, through violence.


HUNT: I want to bring Francis Rooney, back to the conversation.

And joining us also, CNN National Security Analyst, Carrie Cordero. And Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff, to the Homeland Security Secretary, in the Trump White House.

Miles, actually, let me start with you, because of what Christopher Wray just said there, basically that he's concerned that what happened here, a political assassination, could easily spill over, here, to the United States. I mean, what do you know, about the state of that possibility, today?



And I don't want to sound alarmist. But I was saying during the break that I think the light is blinking red, right now, in this country, when it comes to the possibility of things, like political assassinations. That sounds scary. That's not fear-mongering or political talking point. It's a real public safety threat that we're seeing, with the data.

Not only have we seen plots against Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, or the Governor of Michigan, or potentially the Governor of Virginia. Let's not forget, on January 6th, there were people, who had it in their mind that they might assassinate the Vice President of the United States.

HUNT: They literally said, "Hang Mike Pence!"

TAYLOR: Absolutely. When we look at the period, before Trump came into office, and we compare it to now? It's my assessment that we've roughly seen a 10-fold increase, in domestic terrorism threats, and attitudes, towards political violence.

The FBI that, Chris Wray oversees, has investigations, in all of its field offices, for domestic terrorism, across the country. We're seeing plots of extremists, online and across borders, just like we saw with ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

And just a few weeks ago, the DHS issued a terrorism advisory that said, in the lead up to the midterms, they're very worried, about a spike in violence, and a spike that's driven by, partly, political conspiracy theories.

HUNT: Yes. Congressman Rooney, you have some personal experience with this. Many members of Congress have received multiple extremely ugly death threats. What does it mean, to be someone, who is the target of these threats?

ROONEY: Well, I mean, it didn't really bother me all that much. But it bothered my family.

HUNT: And you received death threats?

ROONEY: Yes. That was, like almost trauma (ph), over the four years.

HUNT: Wow!

ROONEY: But I got some for the impeachment, and some for writing the Op-Ed that we should accept the election, and move on. That really steamed a lot of people in my area.

And, at the end of the day, you look back to Charlottesville, and the whole culture change that started, I think, there, and it's progressed, as you say? We're in a whole different world, than we were, at the end of the Obama administration, or the Clinton, or Bush, or whatever.

And now, people are anesthetized to violence, and willing to consider things that would have been unthinkable, four years, five years, ago.

TAYLOR: If I could put one data point on that, Kasie?

HUNT: Sure.

TAYLOR: A recent poll showed that one in 10 Republicans believe that force and violence would be justified to restore Donald Trump to the White House. One in 10!

We're literally talking about millions of people, from a University of Chicago study that said he should be forcibly reinstalled. That's a huge increase, in attitudes, towards political violence.

HUNT: Carrie? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: One of the things that's so severe, about this current problem, is that the potential for violence reaches all levels of people, in public life.

So, I've talked to members of Congress, sitting members of Congress, who are receiving these threats, constantly, both in their Capitol position, and back home, in their districts.

We heard testimony in the January 6th hearings, from the former Secretary - the current Secretary of State of Georgia, and the senior election officials, in Georgia, who were just inundated, with threats, to them, and their families, from the most senior levels, in that state election offices, down to people, who are simply election workers, people who are just, serving in public service, regular everyday people, who are the subject of these threats.

It ranges from federal lawmakers, to state lawmakers, to governors, to people, in state legislatures, to people, just working in public service. And all of them are wrapped up in this environment of potential political violence.

The moment is here. It's not something that is in the future that Director Wray is projecting might happen. These people are constantly under threat.

HUNT: Right. I mean, I think back to those two Georgia election workers, who, the one said she - she can't even use her name, when she goes to the grocery store. She's afraid to go out. Her life is just absolutely been ruined.

CORDERO: And they're not doing the work anymore.

HUNT: Right.

CORDERO: That's the thing. We have to have people, who are willing to serve, in these positions of elected office, and in these positions of civil service, across their states, and across the federal government. And if they're in constant fear, they won't do those jobs.

HUNT: Right. So? Go ahead.

ROONEY: I think this perverse become so intense, about the MAGA group, and the extremists, and the conspiracy people that a lot of people that might never commit a crime, in their life, may wind up doing it, because they're caught up in this wave.

HUNT: That's remarkably scary.

And Miles, what do you think, this means, for a potential Trump reelection bid? I mean, we've been talking tonight about how he may want to announce very soon. I mean, he's talked about doing it, before the midterm elections, as people are urging him to wait until after that.

But if he does run for reelection, what does that do in terms of animating some of these extremist groups that see themselves as his supporters or enforcers?

TAYLOR: Well, look, I have to go back to the lessons that we learned that Carrie knows, and Congressman Rooney knows, from the terrorist threats, we faced, after 9/11. How did those movements evolve?

And this will tell you a lot about what we need to worry about, if Trump runs again. Those movements evolved from lies and conspiracies that got mainstreamed, in cultures, where those political grievances, people couldn't exercise them, in the system, and they used violence, to exercise those grievances.

When we look at the GOP base, right now, those fringe conspiracy theories are now believed by almost half the base.


TAYLOR: Half of Republicans now statistically believe--


HUNT: Wow!

TAYLOR: --in QAnon conspiracies, and the great replacement theory, and the stolen election lie. A subset of them are going to resort, to violence to carry that out. And if Trump runs, again, and continues to fan the flames, of those conspiracy theories, counterterrorism history tells us that we're likely to see more violence, because of that.

HUNT: You get the last word.


CORDERO: The only thing I would add to that is that it's - I don't view it as just a Trump problem, and him running again. There are numerous other members, either sitting members of Congress, or people, who want to serve, in the Congress, who are running, almost on a platform of violence, posing with armed weapons--

HUNT: Yes.

CORDERO: --the commercials that we've seen.

HUNT: Very good point.

CORDERO: So, it's not just specific to him. This attitude of acceptance of violence and, really, incitement of violence--

HUNT: It's beyond--

CORDERO: --is spreading across--

HUNT: Yes. It's--

CORDERO: --a political party.

HUNT: It's glorification and incitement of violence. It's much more than just acceptance.

All right, thank you all, for a great conversation, tonight. Really appreciate all of your insights.

Coming up here, the rare and intense IRS audits, of both James Comey, and his number two, Andrew McCabe. Were they the targets of political payback, with a Trump-appointee, in charge?

Former IRS Commissioner, who served under Presidents, Trump and Obama, joins me next.


HUNT: This just in, to CNN.


Two people familiar, with former Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone's testimony, Friday, told CNN that the January 6th committee, did not ask him, if he told Cassidy Hutchinson, on January 6th, that they would quote, "Get charged with every crime imaginable," end quote, if they went to the Capitol.

The sources say, if asked, he would not have confirmed that particular statement.

Separate source, familiar with the committee, tells CNN, quote, "The Select Committee sought information about Cipollone's views on Trump going to the Capitol on January 6th," implying that the committee's questions were focused on Cipollone's perspective, as opposed to his take, on other witnesses' testimony.

Very interesting. We're sure to see more about this upcoming, on their hearing, on Tuesday.

All right, let's turn now to concerns that the Trump administration may have weaponized the IRS. That is the question, after "The New York Times" reported that two of Trumps perceived political foes, former FBI Director, James Comey, and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, were the subjects of intensive and extremely rare tax audits.

"The Times" put the probability of both Comey and McCabe's 2016 and 2019 tax forms, respectively, being chosen, at one in 82 million guys (ph).

Given the growing scrutiny, the Agency says the IRS Commissioner asked the Treasury Department's Inspector General, to conduct the review.

In a statement to CNN, the IRS denies that there were any quote, "Politically-motivated audits," and called the idea, quote, "Ludicrous and untrue."

Let's get some perspective now, from a former IRS Commissioner under Presidents, Obama and Trump, John Koskinen.

John, thank you so much, for being with us, tonight. I think all of us have many, many, many questions about this. Andrew McCabe responded to the IRS. He called the idea of politically- targeted audits, ludicrous.

I want to show you what McCabe had to say, and get your reaction, on the other side. Take a look.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY FBI DIRECTOR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's clearly not ludicrous, when we're talking about a coincidence that that really is almost impossible, statistically.

Americans need to be able to have trust and faith that the institutions they rely on are conducting their business, in a fair and impartial manner. And there's an indication here that that might not be happening.


HUNT: So Commissioner, do you think it's ludicrous to think that there might be something politically foul afoot here?

JOHN KOSKINEN, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA & PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, normally, if it were just two people, who lived in the same neighborhood, or worked in the same company, we probably wouldn't be having these conversations.

But the fact that both Mr. Comey, and Mr. McCabe, had been fired, by President Trump, who said terrible things about them that they were traitors, they should go to jail, obviously makes it important, to make sure that nothing untoward was done.

The National Research Program, which was - where they were, in effect, audited, is a program that's been around for years, and is designed to test the compliance rate, in the United States.

So, having one person, who ran the FBI, selected, and then two years later, his deputy selected, does seem to me worth asking a question, about just to ensure, as Mr. McCabe said that the public are confident that every taxpayer is treated fairly, nobody is targeted, and that nothing like this actually can happen.

And so, I have great confidence in the IRS workforce. They're all career employees. Only the Commissioner, and the Chief Counsel, are political appointees. And they all know well, that it's a criminal violation, just to look at another taxpayer's return, if you're not authorized, let alone to do anything with it.

So, I think, it's important, as I said, all along, for the Inspector General, to take a look at this, to report to the IRS, and to the public, what actually happened. And that should be a fairly straightforward review, because there are great and numerous controls, around the process, to make sure that something like this doesn't happen. And, I think, as I've thought about it, in my four years, as Commissioner, in the last few days, it would be almost impossible, to imagine how you could pull this off, without--

HUNT: Right.

KOSKINEN: --some career employees noting, and raising their hands, and saying, "Something's wrong here."

HUNT: Well, I mean, it is really remarkable, especially for two lifelong public servants, who don't bring in the kind of income that typically seems to generate an IRS audit.

So, many more questions will have to answer about this. But former Commissioner, John Koskinen, thank you so much, for joining us, tonight, to answer at least a few of them.

We'll be back in just a moment.


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HUNT: Thanks so much, for being with us, tonight. "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with Laura Coates, sitting in, starts right now.

Hi, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, Kasie. Have a great weekend. Thanks so much.

HUNT: You too.

COATES: And this is "DON LEMON TONIGHT". I'm Laura Coates, in for Don Lemon.

More than seven hours, seven hours, that's how long Pat Cipollone was apparently behind closed doors, talking to the January 6th committee. More than seven hours.