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CNN Live Event/Special

January 6 Investigation Committee to Show Trump Allies' Ties to Extremist Groups. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 11:00   ET





POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Of course. Blake, thanks very much for being on the ground with your reporting from there.

Thanks to all of you for joining us today, a big day, a lot of news, a lot of images from space. We'll see you tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: Still a lot of news to come, too; key hearings. I'm Jim Sciutto. Our special coverage of the January 6 hearings starts with our colleagues right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): The January 6 committee is getting ready to go public with new testimony by a key witness though the panel is prompting to Dodd (ph) to the role of extremist groups in the insurrection and expose their ties to top Trump allies.

Welcome to CNN special coverage, "Attack on Democracy: The January 6th Hearings." I'm Anderson Cooper.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): And I'm Jake Tapper. Committee aides say this hearing will begin to explore the final phase of then president Trump's radical efforts to overturn the legal and legitimate results of the 2020 election, including Trump's role in inspiring, inciting, instructing his supporters to come to Washington, D.C. and march to the Capitol.

How many of those did Trump and people in his circle know were armed and planning to violently stop the counting of votes?

We don't know yet. We expect to get our first look at reported testimony by Pat Cipollone, who was interviewed behind closed doors on Friday. CNN has learned Cipollone was asked extensively about a White House meeting in December 2020 involving Trump and some of the most extreme, perhaps even unhinged election deniers.

We're told that meeting will be spotlighted in today's hearing. There will be live testimony as well. CNN has confirmed Stephen Ayres, a rioter who pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally, he will appear, as will a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers. Jason Van Tatenhove, who said he was the propagandist for the group, committee members say this hearing will shed new light on the actions and motivations of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, whose leaders face seditious conspiracy charges in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot.

And they say they will reveal how those extremists were tied to Trump allies, including longtime adviser Roger Stone and Trump former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom Trump pardoned for unrelated crimes.

Investigators will zero in on Trump's December 19th tweet, urging supporters to come to Washington, D.C., on January 6, promising "it will be wild." One select House committee member described that tweet as a siren call to violent extremists, summoning them to D.C., to join what became an insurrectionist mob.

The hearing today will be led by committee members, Representatives Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Stephanie Murphy of Florida, both Democrats. Let's go right to Capitol Hill and CNN's Ryan Nobles.

Tell us more what you're learning of the testimony of Pat Cipollone and the key White House meeting we know Cipollone was asked about.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a reason the committee was so aggressive in efforts to get former White House counsel Pat Cipollone to testify in front of committee investigators.

And that's because he was privy to so much information and so many things that happened in the Trump White House in the time after the November 2020 election and January 6.

And one meeting that took place on December 18th in the Trump White House, that featured a whole host of election deniers, Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and others.

At the time, CNN reported it was an explosive meeting and there were folks like Pat Cipollone warning the former president it was time to move on. But instead he took the advice of these election deniers.

On that following day, Trump sent out the tweet the committee will focus so much upon, calling his supporters to Washington on January 6th. Cipollone's testimony will be so important, Jake, because we are told he described an insane meeting on December 18 to the committee investigators.

That's something that made him very concerned in the days leading up to January 6th. And it's expected we will see him talking about that on video today during this hearing on Capitol Hill. Jake.

TAPPER: Interesting. Now to Manu Raju. He has new information on evidence that will be presented today.

Manu, tell us what you're learning. MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know that this committee plans to show extensive coordination and planning by these extremist groups, who breached the Capitol and committed so much violence on that day.

A source familiar with the matter said they have obtained encrypted messages from these extremist groups.


RAJU: And they plan to showcase some of those messages, interactions between members of the extremist groups and Trump allies. The source would not say which allies are at issue. But aides said they plan to explore the roles of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser under Donald Trump.

At the same time, this committee also expected to look into the role of some of the Republican members of Congress at today's hearings. We've seen how Republican members of Congress have done everything, from pushing to overturn electoral results to seeking pardons allegedly from Donald Trump at the time.

Supposed to be some more discussion about Republican members of Congress, all which points to the ample new evidence the committee are promising to showcase later today.

TAPPER: Manu Raju, thanks so much. Let's talk about this with my panel.

Jamie Gangel, let me start with you. I'm curious what Pat Cipollone said behind closed doors. I think he testified for something like eight hours.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Correct. But there's a reason the committee wanted Pat Cipollone so badly and frankly shamed him after the Cassidy Hutchinson testimony. And while her testimony was full of bombshells and was a game changer, I am told Cipollone is the key witness.


Let's go back to Alexander Hamilton. He was the man in the room.

TAPPER: In the room where it happens, thank you. Over and over and over again and what I'm told is, unlike Eric Hershmann, who was also White House counsel, very colorful, Cipollone is quiet. He is reserved.

But his testimony, I am told, is extensive and will give the public a very clear understanding of just how off the rails Trump was. And also one of the key things the committee wants to show is supreme dereliction of duty, what Trump was and wasn't doing on January 6th and that Cipollone speaks exactly to that point.

TAPPER: And another thing, Dana Bash, we will hear today is about the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, these far-right militia groups. And the question, of course, is what's the connection in terms of people in Trump's circle and these far-right groups?

Is there coordination, communication, what are your sources telling you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the key question. I'm told what we are going to see today is laying out of narratives on both tracks, how the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were acting and planning on January 6 and how the Trump orbit were doing it.

I'm told they will show communication more than coordination between the two, meaning there's no directive, I'm told, they have found about the Oath Keepers from anybody in Trump world, saying go do this on January 6.

There's no evidence that the president, for example, said go to this street corner or do that. But what they have found is serious communication, particularly Manu mentioned this, between two figures, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and members of these groups, who ended up attacking the Capitol.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This connects to what we learned in some of the previous hearings. Even if there is no coordination in the hearing, the communication is significant, too, because Trump knew the individuals were armed.

He was also in close contact with people like Roger Stone and Giuliani, who were in contact with those plotting to attack the Capitol. So some of this is common sense.

If you know people are armed, you know they are planning to go to the Capitol, what's the obligation on the part of people in power, the president on down, to act on that information?

And I think that's part of what the committee is trying to present here.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Then you as connect the communications you connect to inside the White House. They were well aware of the threat of violence, that this was not spontaneous as Trump land has tried to say, a whole bunch of disappointed people at a rally.

So you show the communications. They want to show that the Trump tweet, "it will be wild, come to Washington January 6th."

They want to show --


TAPPER: Let's put that up for one second.

And you can keep --

If we can put up the tweet, just because this will be referred to a lot.

KING: This will be referred to quite a bit.


TAPPER: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6. Be there. Will be wild."

KING: So what the committee is going to show through these communications internally, within the Proud Boys, within the Oath Keepers, they took this as the flare essentially. This is Donald Trump sending up a flare, come to Washington.


KING: Now to Dana's point, about nobody said come to Washington and break things or attack things but everybody knows who these groups are. Their identities are well-known. These are not yoga instructors. These are violent, anti-government extremists. That's what they do.

So when you invite them you know what you're getting. Cipollone is key because the warnings reached the White House, the FBI, other groups. Secret Service was monitoring these communications because it's a big day in Washington. You have the vice president, the entire Congress in the building.

They knew about these communications for days. They get word to the White House. Cipollone starts from Election Night, when the president is going out to say I won, when he didn't. Bad idea, reckless idea, maybe illegal. So you get the progression from Cipollone, from this is dangerous to this is potentially illegal.

BASH: I'm told we'll hear up to a dozen clips from Cipollone in today's hearing.


BASH: There's a lot more for later but --

GANGEL: -- going to be more down the road.

What John said about violence, let's remember from the past hearing, the moment from Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, where we know he said, "Take down the magnetometers because they are not here to hurt me."

He knew over and over --


TAPPER: -- there. He knew they were armed. That's what Cassidy Hutchinson testified.

GANGEL: And what the committee wants to show is, at every turn, he was told, A, the election was not stolen and, B, that he chose to go down a path of violence.

TAPPER: Still ahead, how former president Trump remains riveted as the insurrection investigation plays out on television. This is CNN. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.





COOPER: On Capitol Hill, last-minute preparations underway for today's January 6 hearing. Panel members say they will connect the dots between extremist groups involved in the insurrection and Trump allies and enablers, who are encouraging him to overturn the 2020 election.

As the select committee continues building a case against the former president, Kristen Holmes has more on that.

What are you hearing from Trump world?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing Donald Trump remains riveted on the January 6 hearings, much to the chagrin of top aides and allies. We learned he was privately fuming about Pat Cipollone sitting for those questions, eventually going to his social media page, saying why would a future President of the United States want to have candid and important conversations with his White House counsel if he thought there was even a small chance -- and I'm going to paraphrase here -- there would be questions about inner workings, inner secrets.

He calls it bad for the USA. About today's hearing, a source close to Trump, I asked if he would be watching, they said he's always watching. He's not the only one. Roger Stone, once a close ally, has been watching these hearings very closely.

He believes the committee is, quote, "trying to put him in peril." One thing to note is this source says that while Roger and Donald Trump were once thick as thieves, they talked almost every single day, now they are still in touch but it just hasn't been the same since January 6.

COOPER: No doubt Trump is schvitzing in Mar-a-lago, watching feverishly, getting sandwiches brought to him.

Laura, what do you think is the most important thing Pat Cipollone can fill in?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We can know, did he specifically tell the president of the United States there were going to be laws that would be violated if they carried on with the false electors, if there was a discussion about having somebody inserted as a loyalist at the top of the DOJ and what he knew about the coordination between extremist groups on January 6 and before that.

This is the person who is uniquely positioned to tell what you the president of the United States knew, not through innuendo or intimation but what he actually knew. As far as privilege, the idea of -- it actually has to -- you kept between the two of you if there even was a privilege.

It can't just be because you're the president of the United States and you had a conversation, even if it violated the law, it has to be about forward thinking, because Pat Cipollone is not Donald Trump's private attorney. He is the Office of the White House Counsel's attorney, meaning the legitimacy of the presidency hangs on him.

COOPER: Elie, doesn't Cipollone have the power to set the rules on what he wants to say?

They're not going to take him to court. There's no time to really flesh that out.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, and he did just that, he carved out and said I'm not going to address certain conversations between Donald Trump and myself.

In an ideal world, if you're the committee, you would take him to court. That takes months and months. We don't have near that time. And Pat Cipollone was everywhere. Every one of these schemes, Pat Cipollone was there. I'm most interested this December 18 meeting.

Just to be clear, this is a crazy meeting that actually happened inside the White House. You have a lawyer, Sidney Powell; a former general, Michael Flynn.


HONIG: Urging the sitting president to declare martial law, seize the voting machines, use armed agents. Pat Cipollone is there for that.

Was there anything in that meeting, which ends around midnight, that led to the "will be wild" tweet which Trump sent at 1:42 am.

Could be coincidence but I would want to know what led you to say January 6 will be wild?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That is not coincidence. We're going to hear all about that. This was probably the nuttiest meeting that was ever held in the Trump White House. I think that's saying something.

People were standing up, yelling at each other. They almost got in physical fights, Flynn and one of the White House lawyers. And the president is sort of taking this all in, listening to these four conspiracy theorists with his inside team, saying, no, no, no. You can't seize the voting machines. And Pat Cipollone, hopefully, we will hear about that.

AUDIE CORNISH, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: It's interesting this is the moment we're going to step back from the tweet. So the tweet is this frame, right? We're going to get all of the outside -- what does advanced planning, coordination mean between the groups?

We know there was a constellation of extremist and conspiratorial ideologists in the crowd.

What, if anything, do we mean by links?

Roger Stone used Proud Boys as security. That doesn't necessarily mean he told them to storm the Capitol. I think the hearing and the lawmakers will have to show some specificity in terms of the connections they're trying to make.

COATES: And that's a big lift. The statement that there is a coordination between extremist groups, some of whom have been charged with conspiracy charges, that's a big ask for the American public to lean in and trust.

It can't be the Michael Cohen testimony of, I knew the code. I understood the code.


CORNISH: -- those same defendants right now are awaiting trial. Their cases have been pushed to December because of the effects of the hearing. Defense lawyers are going to judges and saying the hearings are poisoning the well for D.C. jurists. This is becoming a problem for us.

BORGER: As Dana was saying, it isn't so much coordination as it is communication. So I remember in a previous hearing, where Cassidy Hutchinson was saying that the president told Mark Meadows to call general Flynn and, you know, Roger Stone and get in touch with them.

These are the two people the committee is looking at in terms of communication, perhaps coordination.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Depending on your goals, which is enough.

BORGER: That's right, that's right.

But why is the president of the United States saying, before January 6, get in touch with my lieutenants?

What is it?

I don't know the answer to that.

HONIG: I would love to learn more about that phone call that Mark Meadows made to Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. I'm not sure we will because the participants are not testifying.

BORGER: Exactly.

HONIG: To this broader point there is a really important line here between connections, which is sort of the theme of the day, and conspiracy. As Laura knows, as a former federal prosecutor, that's a tough line to cross. Just knowing something is happening doesn't necessarily get you over the line to a conspiracy. You have to show there was some agreement, a meeting of the minds, to

commit some criminal act. And we know DOJ is watching and I think that's what they're going to be watching.

COOPER: It was discussed (ph) as of a couple of days ago, there were supposed to be two hearings today and then a hearing -- I guess it was Thursday night as the concluding thing. That's now being moved. Unclear how many more hearings there will be. This is still very much, it seems, a dynamic process, I guess that's one --

CORNISH: As more people speak, more people come out, they get more information. Also we see this as such a polished presentation. I've joked in the past that this is a TikTok era, not the Watergate era hearings.

So they want to present this information in ways that can counter the narrative that, right now many other people are hearing from, what I guess you would call the other side, from Trump world, right?

There are documentaries. You're one algorithm away from hearing the alternative narrative of what happened with the election.

BORGER: And this is kind of an unfolding story people are watching. It's almost like a reality show. We didn't know who the mystery witness was last time. Well, we postponed the hearing for this Thursday because we have more information coming in.

And suddenly Steve Bannon, who refused to testify before the committee, has decided, oh, well, maybe I want to come in and testify in person, just as he's going to trial for contempt --

COATES: He wants to be a part of that show. But remember --


COATES: -- the job of this committee is not prosecutorial. It might be that they will refer for prosecution. We just don't know. But their job is to present the American public the court of the electorate.

Having said that, remember this is not intended to be something that is the complete and total picture allowing for the other side to come and speak. But the point here is to say what happened.


COATES: And of course the messengers themselves are Republicans, are Trump allies, are those who have said they still might vote for the Republican nominee even if it were to be Donald Trump.

At the end of the day, they're going to have to prove, at least to the American public, that there was a connection, more than just a wink and a nod, a nudge, because they're trying, I think, to discredit the former president from being the president once again.

HONIG: This happens naturally, by the way, in investigations. I can't tell you how many times you get one witness. They come forward and can open up all new arenas for you. And I think Cassidy Hutchinson may well have been one of those tipping point witnesses.

One day after she testified, subpoena to Pat Cipollone. Now today we're going to see a dozen more clips of Pat Cipollone. One door tends to open up another.

COOPER: There's much more ahead. We'll take you inside the extremist groups at the center of today's hearing as well as former president Trump's circle of allies. Stay with us.