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Soon: January 6 Committee To Show How Extremists Plotted Capitol Attack; Source: Cipollone Testimony To Detail Key Trump Oval Office Meetings. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 11:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The January 6 Select House Committee is gearing up for another high-stakes hearing. The panel says today's hearing will show how all the elements of then-President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election came together and erupted into the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol. John King is at the magic wall right now to give us a deeper look at what the committee will try to emphasize today in terms of the constant connection between the Trump inner circle and some of these far-right militia groups, John.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And that's the key, Jake, not only the planning of these far-right groups but their communications with key Trump advisors. So let's go through some of the timelines. Number one, of course, Donald Trump, then-president, is central to all of this, but the committee will lay out and we've seen some of this already that Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, three Trump advisors who are trying to help him steal the election, as well as longtime Trump allies, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon were in constant communications with the Proud Boys, with the Oath Keepers, with others as this played out.

One of the things we will see here is with both the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and a lesser-known group called the First Amendment Praetorian, that's a group of ex-military guys, several of them close to Michael Flynn, the former military man himself, providing security for right-wing events, including some big rallies here in Washington about contesting the election, including on January 5.

We know here, often the committee has teed up good testimony, good material for the Justice Department. In this case, the Justice Department has been out ahead in charging members of these groups. 17 members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys are charged with seditious conspiracy. Three of them, you see them down here, have already entered guilty pleas. So the Justice Department has laid out the planning, the massing of weapons, the coordination, and the come to Washington prepared to fight messaging between these groups in many of these criminal cases, and we'll hear some of that today.

Then the key is can you connect it to the White House, Stewart Rhodes, the head of the Oath Keepers? This is right after Election Day, right? We aren't getting through this. We aren't going through this without Civil War, too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, and spirit. That's right after Election Day. And then at the end of the year, December 31, there's no standard political or legal way out of this. Now, that tweet there follows by 10 days plus a couple of days, this tweet from Donald Trump that the committee says essentially, Jake, was the organizing call.

Peter Navarro racist -- released a 36-page report. The Peter Navarro report is full of bogus claims. But this is the big part. Big protests in DC on January 6 be there, will be wild. Now, what did Donald Trump -- what was his understanding of the word wild? Among the interesting testimony we've already heard is Cassidy Hutchinson who says Rudy Giuliani was at the White House one day and said this.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: As Mr. Giuliani and I are walking to his vehicles that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, Cassidy, are you excited? The 6th is going to be a great day.


KING: That's one piece of it again, Cassidy Hutchinson, a key aide to the White House Chief of stark man -- staff Mark Meadows, says Rudy Giuliani talked about it. Then you have the Steve Bannon podcast, again, Bannon, constantly stirring this up on his podcast, also known to be in touch with members of these groups. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. This is on the fifth of January. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's going to be moving. It's going to be quick.

So, people close to Donald Trump will say well, these are agitators outside of Trump land. He didn't know anything about it, which is why this is key also from Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to Congress. Was Donald Trump involved in trying to keep in touch with these groups?


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R-WY): Miss Hutchinson, is it your understanding that President Trump asked Mark Meadows to speak with Roger Stone and General Flynn on January 5?

HUTCHINSON: That's correct. That is my understanding.

CHENEY: And Miss Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Meadows called Mr. Stone on the fifth?

HUTCHINSON: I'm under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and General Flynn the evening of the fifth.


KING: So, Jake, consider that your tee up. I just want to put it up on the screen here. In the aftermath, all of the charges filed so far. 855 defendants, 325 individuals pleading guilty, but, that Cassidy Hutchinson, the president asked Mark Meadows to reach out the night before, a look at the hearing today for more details on those communications as the committee tries to prove that everybody involved knew you bring the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the First Amendment Praetorians here to Washington, you're going to get violence.

TAPPER: Yes, that was stunning to hear from Cassidy Hutchinson. John King, thanks so much. Let's talk about this with our security panel here. Andy McCabe let me start with you. So we know that Oath Keepers were on Roger Stone's protective detail the day before the insurrection.


A man who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy served as Roger Stone's chauffeur. Stone has also been linked to the Proud Boys in other ways. But those facts alone do not prove a conspiracy. So what should you be looking for? What should we be looking for? What more is needed to connect the dots?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY FBI DIRECTOR: Sure. So like every large, complicated investigation, the key to the investigation is communications. And it sounds like we'll be hearing some of that today. The actual communications, whether they're text messages, e- mails, whatever those might be, or simply phone some contacts like we heard about between Mark Meadows and Flynn and Giuliani. Those connections build the enterprise, the group that's working together to accomplish some sort of illegal end. That's how prosecutors think about it, that's how agents think about it, and that's how your viewers should think about it as they listened today.

TAPPER: Juliette Kayyem, Congressman Jamie Raskin, who is going to be one of the co-leaders of today's hearing, Democrat from Maryland. He said in a recent interview "there were Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, The QAnon Network, Boogaloo Boys, Militia Men, and other assorted extremist and religious cults that assembled under the banner of stop the steal.


TAPPER: Did that coalition exist before Trump started his anti- democracy campaign?

KAYYEM: No. In monitoring the sort of darkest parts of the web about what's happening in this time period, because, you know, we're focused on the election period, this is going on for years before it's being cultivated and nurtured by Trump, the way he talks, both sides his own mouth of out of Charlottesville, so that grows. Each of these groups is in their own lane. And they have different purposes, motivations, some of it is pure white supremacy, others of it is sort of, you know, voting and realignment. They then coalesce in this time period around stop the steal.

It is the first time that people who are monitoring them see while they now have one common cause, and that is part of the atmosphere who, Donald Trump, who says he's online all the time anyway, is seen, he knows that they're absorbing it, that they're adapting to it, and he just plays that for week after week after week. And then December 19, just a tweet, because it comes in the context of years and years, the December 19 tweet is the moment when he gives all that energy of focus. I'm going to give you a date, a time, a place, and motivation, all be there. And that's why the tweet becomes relevant for this discussion today.

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: And so part of what I think the committee is doing is they're really putting together the timeline, and they're piecing together all the things that we're seeing publicly which we did.


CORDERO: We observed this happen all throughout the Trump administration, where things would be put out publicly in a tweet or a public statement. And then those of us on the outside were wondering, well, what's going on behind the scenes. And what the committee is, I think, starting to do more effectively, and we'll see how they put it together today is they're connecting all these public pieces, whether it's Bannon, whether it's Trump's tweets, whether it's the public statements being made online by some of the domestic violent extremist group leaders, and then they're putting together the communications that were going on behind the scenes.

TAPPER: Commissioner Ramsey, we're going to hear today from a guy named Stephen Ayres. He recorded and posted a video online that night, January 6, claiming that the whole attack was a false flag operation. Obviously, it was not a false flag operation. He also blamed the Antifa for the violence that endured. We also know that's not true, of course.


TAPPER: He also said this about DC law enforcement. I want to have you take a listen and then get your reaction.


STEPHEN AYRES, PLEAD GUILTY TO ENTERING CAPITOL ILLEGALLY ON JAN. 6: We got footage all over the place on the Capitol and you can see for yourself and probably I share some of it here and there. But there's plenty of footage that shows exactly what it is. Cops letting people in the Capitol, the cops standing there wherever -- when they let everybody walk through, they chanted and cops escort them out, OK, go to this way, go to this way, go to this way, so it is planned so. I just say you know that.


TAPPER: Now, later that evening, Ayres and several others recorded a video, later posting it online about the events of the day. The video shot inside the hotel room featuring Ayres' claiming the police let everybody walk in. Now, obviously, Ayres has a history of spreading false information. What do you -- how is the committee to take his testimony today, given the fact that he has said so many false things in the past?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, he asked that a lot of false things in the past. And I know there is an investigation going on in terms of whether or not there were any police officers that were engaged in any way at all. But I think you can see from the footage, the vast majority of the officers fought --


RAMSEY: To try to keep the rioters, the insurrectionist out of the Capitol, and many were seriously injured, a couple of them died as I believe a direct result of their activities that day. And so that's just false information to defame the entire -- it really defamed the entire profession as far as I'm concerned. Now, that's not to say there weren't some mistakes made because I still have concerns over how much information actually made it to the Capitol Police in terms of Intel, prior to January 6 because I think that they could have done a better job in terms of preparing and being ready for it, even though they may have been overwhelmed anyway.


When you look at the size of that crowd, and there was no barrier at all around the Capitol like it is now whenever something happens, it would have been very difficult to really hold them at bay for that extended period of time. But I do believe that they had been better prepared or perhaps they might have been able to prevent it from actually penetrating the Capitol itself. But that remains to be seen. But that is totally separate from what he's talking about.

TAPPER: So, as a legal matter, Andy McCabe, as a legal matter, Donald Trump says it's going to be wild. Donald Trump is putting out all these lies. Donald Trump is talking about, you know, this great injustice happening. All these people, all these followers come and they do what they did. Is Trump responsible if he did not directly say, go there and break the law?


TAPPER: I mean, he said, basically everything up but that, but he did not say go there and break the law.

MCCABE: As a legal matter, what we'd be trying to prove in a court of law, which this is not, is a conspiracy. And at the heart of the conspiracy is agreement. You need evidence to show, in this case, that Trump and the folks who assaulted the Capitol had some sort of a mutual understanding or agreement that that's what he wanted and that's what they agreed to do. We are not quite there yet, with the evidence that's been made public. Who's to say where we'll be at the end of this hearing? We've got -- we've been surprised in the last few, so maybe we'll get some surprises today as well.

KAYYEM: Can I say something to this? Because I think it's -- your panel before was the lawyers and here's the security people. So one way to look at the committee is, are they -- are they putting together pieces for a legal case for DOJ? And that's the way I think a lot of opponents of Trump are looking at it. They want him in jail. They want lots of people in jail. We look at it as if there is an ongoing insurgency.


KAYYEM: There was a real insurgency and there's an ongoing one. And the only way insurgencies end, is they either grow and that's bad or you eviscerate them in nonviolent ways. And what's one way I've come to think of the -- what the committee is doing so successfully, it's like a non-violent counterinsurgency. They are exposing. They are humiliating. They are bringing in his team and who are all saying he was crazy.

I mean, we were -- you know we were telling him he was crazy. So we may be looking for this light bulb that tells us today oh, there's the e-mail that Trump told the head of the Oath Keepers to do X Y, and Z. And it may be that what we're really seeing is the sort of protection of democracy as these groups get eviscerated in all sorts of nonviolent ways.

TAPPER: All right, still ahead. How the recorded testimony of Trump's former White House Counsel could impact today's hearing and the broader January 6 investigation? Watergate star witness John Dean will weigh in as our special coverage continues.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by for the seventh public hearing laying out the findings of the January 6 Select Committee. Former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone may prove to be a star witness today as we see clips from his recorded testimony for the first time. We are joined by former Nixon White House Counsel and star witness in the Watergate hearings, John Dean. How important do you think hearing from Pat Cipollone is going to be today?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT NIXON: I think they'll probably use some clips to make points for their already planned hearings that stuff that came out in his testimony will certainly bolster the case. But I would assume they had pretty well lined up their witness support for the points they're going to make today. He just is icing on the cake at this point on these issues, so what have they'll use clearly?

COOPER: What is it like? I mean, Cipollone was testifying for eight hours behind closed doors, videotaped. We haven't seen any of that yet. We don't know how much of that was, you know, him pleading, you know, claiming presidential privilege for a certain conversations. And he had a wide latitude to kind of set the rules for him coming in to do this. They really wanted him in. Just what is it like going through that kind of testimony?

DEAN: The most difficult thing, Anderson, is don't drink too much water because --

COOPER: Because they may guarantee you want a break?

DEAN: He may get down to practical issues but --

COOPER: Although maybe it's a good thing to take some -- take breaks and just get it. Break them and then on it.

DEAN: It does. It doesn't track the thoughts.


DEAN: Rather thoughts. It's -- I think -- you know, I found as a witness who was ready to be there, wanted to be there, and wanted to share, there was a certain relief. I can't imagine that Pat Cipollone didn't feel some relief, as well. He had issues on his mind. He tried to stop things that were illicit. And he tried to catch them before they became overt acts of crime. So I'm sure that was some satisfaction that laying that out that he certainly cleared himself. He also was protecting the Office of the President at that point, which he didn't really do to me -- for me in the -- in the impeachment inquiry where he really is defending Donald Trump and not the office.

COOPER: The awkward position, though, that Cipollone was in is not just his relationship with President Trump and the need to defend the White House council office. He also quite frankly, wants to continue working in Republican circles.


I mean, he, like a lot of the former people who are around the Trump, they're continuing in Republican politics and they want to have viable businesses. Pat Cipollone, I'm sure has lots of Republican clients from Maga world and needs to keep them.

DEAN: It was -- it was a fine line. He also has a problem I'm going to make clear that he wasn't part of any of this improper behavior and showing that he took the right actions. Conspiracies are can be fuzzy, and you can get in one, and you got to make it pretty clear how you break and get out of it. He certainly made the final break when he testified. But you know, up to there, we don't know what he did.

COOPER: He testified on -- but if memory serves me, he testified on behalf of the President in the first impeachment hearing.

DEAN: He did -- he did.

COOPER: So and this is a man who certainly and he was stuck through the White House, despite, you know, apparently threatening to quit many times, according to Jared Kushner, who, you know, has called him whining. He stuck through to the end. He was a true believer.

DEAN: Well, he knew -- he knew what kind of job he was getting into before he got there from his predecessor, McCann -- McGahn, and appreciated that this is a president -- was a president who walked a fine line and pushed the envelope. He used a couple of metaphors that are really dangerous, and he knew what Trump was capable of. And it was a tough job for that reason. You know, Nixon had a propensity, but I didn't see it until very late when I confronted him. And he just not going to change, Nixon. Trump, I'm sure was that way all the time.

COOPER: There were supposed to be two hearings today and then another one on Thursday. That Thursday one has now been pushed forward some time to next week. We believe there's only one hearing today. How much more of a story do you think this committee needs to tell?

DEAN: Well, I think as long as they have strong material that they're going to continue to give us information. And I think they are collecting material they didn't anticipate getting. Yes, they know the overview. And I don't -- I think they're smart enough in what we see so far, that they're going to tell the essential story and not a lot more. They're not going to try to overdo it. They're not going to -- they're not going to let the audience get bored and they're going to try to keep us in suspense. And delaying these hearings actually builds a little bit more suspense, that this will be milked out now what happens today. An important hearing today, they're getting into the danger zones in the criminal zone. So I think they will keep going, as long as they have solid material, and they won't beat it to death. And this isn't showboating. This is -- this is -- this is clearly planned.

COOPER: Any Republican who is testifying knows that the former president is watching and judging and keeping notes, and everyone knows his vindictiveness, his pettiness, his willingness to, you know, go scorched earth after anybody who speaks against him if you want to -- if you are Pat Cipollone, that must also be in your mind when you sit down to testify.

DEAN: It is. But also, I knew when I finished testifying, Nixon would be weaker. When Cipollone finished, I suspect Trump is much weaker. So he --

COOPER: And that when the -- when you testified and you knew he would be weaker, that gave you strength.

DEAN: It did.

COOPER: Because you knew that this person who could try to figure out some way to destroy you and you're already banished from that camp had less power over you.

DEAN: That's the way I felt, yes.

COOPER: Oh, as I see.

DEAN: And I would think that Cipollone would have -- you know, what Cipollone's job is to not offend, as you mentioned, Maga world where he can get business in the future for his law practice. But yet, tell the story and do it and protect the office of the president and do it in a way that he can really build that case at either the Department of Justice, but certainly the committee needs to make legislation that will deal with some of these issues.

COOPER: Of course, in an ideal world, you would want an attorney testifying openly and honestly and bravely and courageously, and in the ideal world that would bring that attorney clients whether it's in Maga world or in any other world because we all want attorneys who are brave and courageous and open and honest. The world does not always work like that so some people will be looking at this to see whether they want to give this guy business purely based on their loyalty to the president or not.

DEAN: Exactly.

COOPER: Yes. John Dean, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Our coverage continues in a moment with new information on chase, evidence, and testimony, plus, the one question Donald Trump is asking as we wait to the start of the hearing. Stay with us.



COOPER: And we are one hour away from another blockbuster hearing on Capitol Hill. We'll soon get our first glimpse at testimony by the former Trump White House Counsel.