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CNN Live Event/Special
Source: Today's Hearing To Unpack Flynn's Role In Election Schemes; Source: Trump Vents To Allies In Expletive-Laced Rants About Jan 6 Cmte; Soon: Jan 6 Cmte To Explore Ties Between Trump World, Extremist; Source: Trump Fuming About Cipollone Testimony; Source: Cmte To Detail Dec. 2022 Meeting Between GOP Lawmakers, Trump; Source: Cipollone Testimony To Detail Key Trump Oval Office Meeting; Soon: Jan 6 Cmte To Detail Trump Convos About Seizing Voting Machines. Aired 12- 12:30p ET
Aired July 12, 2022 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And we're one hour away from another blockbuster hearing on Capitol Hill. We'll soon get our first glimpse to testimony by the former Trump White House counsel, revelling what he told insurrection investigators behind closed doors. You're watching CNN special coverage in the January 6 hearings. I'm Anderson Cooper.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Jake Tapper. The House Select committee is promising to take us inside. Then President Trump's circle of radical 2020 election deniers and revealed their ties to extremist groups that played a leading role in the January 6, Capitol riot.
Trump's former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone may be key to making their case as a firsthand witness to pivotal events on and before January 6 weeks back clips from his nearly eight hour recorded interview, excuse me, to be featured today. The first time these clips will be seen publicly. We also expect live testimony from Stephen Ayers, a rioter who pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally.
We're also expect to hear from Jason Van Tatenhove. He's a former spokesman and self-proclaimed propagandist for the far-right militia group the oath keepers. Committee is aiming to show how Trump was a critical force in mobilizing extremists and other rioters to come to Washington D.C. and march to the Capitol where hundreds of Trump supporters committed acts of violence against law enforcement, and some had clearly prepared for that violence, and what ended up being the hideous crescendo of a month's long campaign to stop democracy led by Trump and his team.
House aides say the panel will focus in on what they call a pivotal moment in the chain of events. Trump's December 19 tweet urging supporters to come to Washington D.C. on January 6, promising it will be wild. The panel says it will reveal how Trump allies Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and others were interacting with members of these far- right extremist militias, some of whose members have since been charged with seditious conspiracy, as they focused on January 6, as the last chance to block the legal transfer of presidential power.
Congressman Jamie Raskin and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy will lead the hearing that gets underway about an hour from now. Let's go back to Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill for us. And Ryan, you have some new information now on the panel's plans to focus on former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake. If there is a name that you should expect to hear come up over and over again during today's hearing. It is that of the former national security adviser Michael Flynn. This is someone that was among the loudest voices in the former president's ear, pushing him to continue his claims that the election was stolen and even take dramatic action to that end, including encouraging the military to cease voting machines in swing states.
He also was peddling a lot of false claims of election interference from foreign entities and was pushing the former president and his associates to try and investigate those claims as well. You know, Flynn is also someone that has direct ties to some of the extremist groups that will be featured in today's hearing. Some of them served as personal security for Flynn in the week leading up to January 6.
And of course, Flynn was a part of that meeting on December 18, which we know will be a key part of today's hearing. And he also was a part of the Willard hotel war room, where many of the biggest election conspiracy theorists were huddling and the week leading up to January 6.
Now committee sources say there is a good chance that we will actually see Michael Flynn's tape deposition, but it's very likely that he won't be saying very much. We've already seen clips of Flynn's deposition in prior hearings. And he seems to just take the fifth over and over and over again. And of course, Jake, you'll remember that he took the fifth when asked a very specific question. Do you believe in the peaceful transfer of power? That was a question Michael Flynn refused to answer. Jake?
TAPPER: Yes. Kind of an easy question to answer for anybody who believes in democracy. Ryan, thanks so much. We're also learning more about Trump's thinking as these hearings play out. Let's go to Kaitlan Collins. She is covering President Biden's Mideast trip. So, she's in Jerusalem, but she's also working her sources in Trump world. Kaitlan, tell us more. What are you hearing about Trump's reaction?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. And you know, former President Trump has repeatedly downplayed the significance of these hearings, saying that they didn't - they weren't going to ever really amount to much. That's something that you've heard echoed by those who still are in his orbit.
But one thing that I've heard from sources that Trump has been asking people in recent days is, when are these hearings going to come to an end? They have been much more effective. I think that many people in his orbit expected. These are people, you know, who've been through multiple impeachment hearings, a lot of investigations. They really did not think this was going to be effective in any way. But you've seen some of this compelling testimony, including from people like Cassidy Hutchinson coming forward. And so that has led this question of when these hearings are going to end. When they have to stop worrying about what the next shoe that's going to drop is going to be, Jake.
And some people had assured Trump that they believed that this week was going to be at the end of these committee hearings. They thought there was going to be a second one on Thursday. That would be the final one. But as you heard from committee members in recent days, those plans are shifted. They interviewed Cipollone recently. They say they want to get more of the information that they're getting in order, and so they will have one next week.
And Jake, as these hearings have gone on, Trump has been watching them. He has continued to complain about the one thing that bothers him most, which is that none of his Republican allies are up there on the Dyess defending him. We're trying to cross examine these witnesses. Of course, there are two Republicans on the committee, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. But they are far from being considered Trump allies.
And so, that's why you've seen that consideration in recent days, maybe have Steve Bannon come and testify publicly. That's been something that Trump world has entertained, though committee members said that that would not be happening in a public setting. But I think it goes back to, Trump hates this idea that there is no one up there defending him.
And instead, it is getting several hours of these televised hearings about his actions leading up to January 6. And so, they keep asking when they are going to end, Jake, though, that it remains unclear when the final one exactly is going to be. But he has been watching them pretty closely.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Appreciate it. And Jamie Gangel, it is interesting that Donald Trump is upset that there's no one up there to defend him. There is really no way to defend it, though. I mean, like you would really need - I mean, that's why you have people who are these useful idiots, who are Trump allies on Capitol Hill, who are willing to say anything and lie, but I mean, how do you defend any of this?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: And let's just say from the committee's point of view their strategy. I don't think that the hearing we see next week, which is tentatively happening next week, will be the last. The committee has been talking about its will be the end of this series of hearings. I think we are likely to see more as the summer goes on. I think we're going to see some in September. They know that this triggers Donald Trump. And it also helps new witnesses come forward and new information come.
One of the things I just want to mention about what we're going to see today is Liz Cheney never says anything by accident. And at the beginning of the hearings, you remember she says President Trump summon the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of the attack. I think that is the premise of today's hearing, planning, premeditation, intent that it was Trump is the hub, and all of these people are spokes.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And if the former president is upset that nobody is defending him, the only person he has to blame is himself. And Kevin McCarthy, - well, Kevin McCarthy, who---
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, he is responsible for that too.
BASH: Exactly. Kevin McCarthy wouldn't have said, you know, what I'm not going to allow the other Republicans who are Trump apologists to participate in this. He did that because Donald Trump said that. Well, he's obviously having regrets about this as he watches this, as he's waiting for this to end according to Kaitlan's reporting.
And it is notable that the people who have been subpoenaed and won't testify are those who might have some semblance of support or defense or sympathy, at the very least for Donald Trump. They're not testifying, they're defying subpoenas. It's not as if they haven't been asked, they have.
TAPPER: Right. So, Donald Trump has himself to blame for the fact.
BASH: No one on the committee and no one in the witness.
TAPPER: I remember originally, Abby, this was supposed to be an independent commission and not members of Congress 50-50 and Nancy Pelosi acceded to every one of Kevin McCarthy's demands.
PHILLIP: That is exactly what I was going to say, is that it didn't even have to be this kind of structure, in which it's the members of Congress who are partisan by definition, up on the Dyess carrying this out. It could have been outsiders and experts, and it could have been done in a way that would have given at least, you know, the veneer of kind of neutrality to it all. And they didn't want to do that.
TAPPER: The Republicans didn't want it.
PHILLIP: Republicans did not want to do that. And so, they can't really complain about that now. But even that aside, I mean, I am so struck today, that we are sitting here, I think discussing very calmly, this idea that of a former sitting president of the United States had very close ties to violent extremist groups while he was president.
This is a president who tried to tie, you know, antifa to Democrats for years and years. He is in the White House. His close advisers are sitting there with proud boys and, you know, and all these other extremist groups, and they plotted violence. They are known to be violent. They were armed and they carried out violence on his behalf. All of those things actually happened. [12:10:00]
And it's extraordinary to me that that doesn't get that much attention. I mean, I think if we were talking about, you know, violent terrorists from the Middle East, it would be a huge, huge scandal but these are domestic violent extremist groups, and they have clear ties to the president, whether or not there was coordination per se. Those ties in alone, I think are really extraordinary. And that's what we're going to learn more.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we're having somewhat of a lunatic conversation, which is the path that Donald Trump puts you on for too often in life as Donald Trump's feelings are hurt. Donald Trump's feelings are hurt because people who worked at his White House are testified that he tried to steal the United States government and there's no one to defend him.
I mean, what we're looking at today is just part of the story. Donald Trump has not apologized for any of this behavior. Donald Trump has not once said, I did the wrong thing, I made a bad call. And he wants us to feel bad for him because he might be being hurt politically for this.
He tried in court, he failed. He tried other levers of government, he failed. He tried to get his vice president, he failed. He tried to get key members of Congress to help him, they said we'll try, but we need Mike Pence's help. Mike Pence said no. He tried to replace the attorney general, they said we will all resign in mass.
So, what did he do that when all the levers of government were not available to him? He had Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone bring the thugs to Washington. And we're supposed to feel bad for Donald Trump. He's trying to stage a coup, seize voting machines, attack the Capitol, that's a coup.
TAPPER: So, just a note on the snowflakes in Mar-a-Lago who are upset about what's going on. We should also take a note to acknowledge the courage of Republicans who are doing a right thing here, whether it's Liz Cheney, or Adam Kinzinger on the committee, or individuals like Cassidy Hutchinson, risking it all to tell the truth, and being subjected to the smears of those snowflakes down to Mar-a-Lago who don't have the courage to come forward themselves.
Coming up next, what the select committee hopes to reveal about Republican members of Congress and their actions in the lead up to January 6. We're nearing the start of the hearing. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're getting closer to the start of today's January 6 hearing and the first public look at recorded testimony by former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, a pivotal witness who was with Trump at key moments, including when the Capitol riot was unfolding. I'll go right now to Manu Raju. Manu, the committee also plans to spotlight a White House meeting with Republican members of Congress, which meeting is this?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's going to be more details about the role of Republican members of Congress in the run up to January 6, including a meeting that I am told occurred on December 21, 2010-20. It was at the White House, is attended by several conservative members of the House Republican conference, members from the so-called House Freedom Caucus.
People who have been mentioned in past hearings as well, such as Congressman Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris and others. I am told that they will be mentioned they are part of this meeting. Now some of those members have been subpoenaed by this committee. Some of those members have fought those subpoenas, and some of those have actually been alleged to have sought pardons from Donald Trump's.
They have denied that, but nevertheless, this will be part of the discussion. It's shining new light on the timeline of events. We already know that December 18, that meeting at the White House 2020 will also be discussed. That's where they were apparently deliberating how to overturn the election, seizing voting machines, naming a special counsel.
Then December 19 comes, Donald Trump issues a tweet, a call to arms of sorts, urging his supporters to come to Washington on January 6. And this new meeting that we planned to hear more about today will have occurred just two days later on December 21 of that day. So, more light being shed on the discussions that were happening behind the scenes, including by some Republicans in the House. Anderson?
COOPER: Manu Raju, appreciate it. Just from a legal standpoint, I keep having to remind ourselves, we're talking about a coup, we are talking about the planning for a coup. I mean, you know, a lot of people sort of say, well, this wasn't that at all. This was a demonstration that got out of hand. But we've already seen the levers being put in place, the efforts being made across the board at the state level, you know, the phony electors, it's stunning to think about.
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It is. I mean, this is the thoughtful planning. At every point in time, somebody could have said, this is wrong. This is anti-democratic. And oh, by the way, you had voters who already chose the president of the United States, and it's not Donald Trump. But instead, you had members who were a part of common sitting members of Congress, we're going learn about.
The president United States saying to remove the magnetic meters, just decide that there's actually weapons on the premises marching towards the Capitol. You have Sidney Powell at one of these meetings as somebody who might be named special counsel to oversee the election interference that never actually took place.
Somebody who admitted later on to suggest anyone who would have believed me was sort of out of their mind. I'm paraphrasing on these notions. This is what's so stunning, that every point in time there was every opportunity, Anderson, to stop what was happening.
And now remember, on January 6, they all seemed to say, oh, this was just tourists who were visiting. This was, oh, what do you mean there's an attack on the Capitol and they weren't welcoming people inside. They were running and leaving police officers and Capitol police to fend off an attack---
COOPER: When wonders if Mike Flynn already had his field marshal uniform, kind of made, specially made and designed hanging in his closet.
ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Yes, haven't helped us. So, it's important to keep in mind, this was a multi branch effort executive and legislative. And by and large, in my view, the committee thus far has painted a remarkably compelling picture. They've been detailed, they've been precise in what they've shown us. But one area where they've tiptoed a bit is what was going on with your colleagues in Congress.
Let's run through this. It took them until the very end. They issued hundreds and hundreds of subpoenas, not until the very end, they subpoena five of their colleagues. And exactly, all five recipients, Kevin McCarthy and others said, no, no thanks, and they did nothing to follow it up. So, I think they need to fill in this gap today. What was the involvement of members of Congress?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, these members of Congress were the pardon me caucus, eventually because they knew that by participating in these meetings to overthrow the government, it might be a legal problem for them, correct?
BORGER: And even though lots of them are denying, they asked for pardons, we're going to see what the committee has. But the portrait we're seeing in the president right now is somebody who is unhinged, obsessed, turning everywhere. So, the people who work for him, have already said, forget about it. He thinks they're quitters. Then he goes to the crazy conspiracists, who give him all this, you know, you can seize the voting machines.
And there is - this has Venezuela, China, whatever it is, and everybody tells him, they are not, you can't do it. So, who does he go to? He goes to the members of Congress. And he says to them, well, we'll learn today. What do you think about all of this? What can I do with the certification? Do you think it's right for me to get Mike Pence, to do what he needs to do? Let's see what those conversations were.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the same time, all of this is swirling around, it's sort of a stew of it. And I think it bears sort of noting that there is already a kind of conspiracy patois that a lot of people are familiar with once you've reached this point, right? The president doesn't have to use any particular language. He sort of is speaking in this language full time.
And you know, you've had Jamie Raskin call this an egg. Just want to get this quote, right. The idea that this is an attempted coup, wrapped inside a violent riot, wrapped inside some cosmetic protest on the outside. Today, we're going to highlight that cosmetic part.
I think the House committee is really going to try and say, look, none of this is accidental. Yes, there were people who were there to be part of the rally. But there was also a strong constituency of people with violent histories, who also were talking about insurrection and that there's going to be a lot of information to show about that.
COOPER: Still to come, former Trump administration insiders, join us and share what they know about key events under scrutiny in today's hearing, including exclusive White House discussion of radical ways to overturn the election.
TAPPER: About a half hour from now, the January 6 House select committee is promising to pull back the curtain on what one member of the committee calls the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency, which is saying something. The panel says it will showcase a heated discussion, involving then President Trump and extreme election deniers, exploring radical ways to try to overturn the 2020 election.
We're joined now by former members of the Trump administration, the Trump White House, Olivia Troye, who is a top adviser to Vice President Pence, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who was White House Director of Strategic Communications, and Stephanie Grisham, who served as White House press secretary as well as many other roles.
And let me start with you, Stephanie, because we expect to hear a lot about an Oval Office meeting on December 18, with Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn. I know you weren't in the meeting. Nobody here was in that meeting. But what's your reaction? You worked for the first lady at the time, and there were these, I mean, these were radical extremist fringe elements. This is, you know, Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn.
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes. Towards the end of the administration, it was my understanding that there were less people there to kind of safeguard against the crazies or the fringe coming in. That was something we battled with Mrs. Trump is having the secret meetings up in the residence. So that doesn't surprise me at all.
These people - there were no gatekeepers towards the end is my understanding. We've seen, you know, that Meadows was maybe checked out a little bit. I believe that's what Cassidy Hutchinson was talking about. So, it doesn't surprise me.
TAPPER: What do you think?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS UNDER TRUMP: Well, and even beyond no gatekeepers, which I think is true, actually I think there were a few facilitators. So, I left December 4, a little before this meeting. But even in the final weeks after the election was called for Biden, I would start seeing people like Sidney Powell in the West Wing lobby, or you would see Mike Flynn, people who are extremists.
I mean, I'll remind you, Michael Flynn said, declined to say under oath that he believes in a peaceful transition of power. This is an extremist person who was granted an audience multiple times with the president. My understanding is it was the former chief of staff Mark Meadows who facilitated those meetings.
And I think it's part of a narrative that shows how we got to where we did on January 6, which was the craziest ideas being presented to a frankly unhinged president, who was desperate for something to hold on to power. And those voices never should have gotten in front of him.
TAPPER: Michael Flynn was giving interviews to these fringe networks at the time, Newsmax and OANN, etc, in which he was talking about things like the president - advising the president to declare martial law to have the military go into states and seize voting machines and demand new elections in the states that Biden won.
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: Yes. It's incredibly disturbing to see a former general doing that kind of thing and bracing these radical measures to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. And I think that is something that you see that catches on. I think the hearing today will piece that together for Americans, which I think is important to really understand the extent of the cooperation that went on here.
And like, coming from a national security background, I worked with Mike Flynn. I was at the defense intelligence agency.