Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Soon: Jan. 6 Committee To Show How Extremists Plotted Capitol Attack; Source: All Jan. 6 Committee Members Participated In Cipollone Deposition. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 12:30   ET



OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: It is just so appalling to me still today that he continues to quarter braced in series.

I mean, it is a dangerous moment for our country to see how in bed they were with these extremist groups and, you know, the reporting and court documents show the extent to which the planning was happening, and the fact that they wanted to take over government buildings. I mean, that is still to me so egregious. I think that'll be important today.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Stephanie, you told my colleague Kasie Hunt that you testified about possible links between these extremist groups, these far-right militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys --


TAPPER: -- and Trump campaign officials, Trump orbit, people, you know, maybe -- I don't know what you call Roger Stone. He's not a campaign official. He's not a White House official, but he's an adviser to Donald Trump.

GRISHAM: Correct.

TAPPER: What can you tell us about what you've testified on?

GRISHAM: Not a whole lot. I hope that that will come out today. But there were people within the campaign who had connections to a lot of those radicalized groups.

So I just gave kind of a roadmap to the committee about that. So I look forward to seeing if that comes out. And I'm with Olivia, that this is so important I think today for the American people, because it's a vital links right now that the President, his closest advisers, and these militia groups were together.

TAPPER: I can't help but observe that so many of the people in the Trump administration who are showing courage, whether it's you two, or you, or Cassidy Hutchinson, all our young women. As opposed to a lot of the older men who have been cowardly and weak,

and refusing to tell the truth because they might have death threats, or I don't want to make light of that, it's not fun to get death threats, as all four of us know --


TAPPER: -- but what do you make of that?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS UNDER TRUMP: Well, it's an honor to be surrounded by strong women who have done the right thing and spoken out.

I mean, I've said this before, but Cassie Hutchinson is my friend. She's 26 years old and showed more integrity, courage and patriotism than many men twice her age in more senior roles who had a duty to do the right thing.

I don't know what's in the water that makes it that we're the women who are the ones who are willing to speak out. But I'm grateful for all of these women's voices.

And the others, I mean, Liz Cheney has been, I think, very empowering to those of us who've come forward. When I've sat down with the committee, she made me feel like I was in a position to share everything that I could. And I think that's been very helpful throughout this.

TAPPER: And Olivia, you were talking about the national security implications of Michael Flynn being so unhinged and, you know, all of his very disturbing fringe beliefs, not just about seizing voting machines, but also he seems allied with QAnon, which is that crazy cult that believes this insanity about.

We don't even have to go into it. But as somebody who has the focus and experience and expertise in national security, it's -- there must be very disturbing to see. I mean, here's Stephanie talking about people in the Trump campaign with ties to these groups that are national security threats.


TAPPER: These far-right groups.

TROYE: Absolutely. Look, I covered -- had the Homeland Security portfolio for former Vice President Pence. This is something that we tracked closely at DHS and the concern about the growing rise of extremism here in our country, and to think of the fact that there are links to the Oval Office and the inner circle of a presidency connected to these groups, is incredibly appalling. And these threats still remain today.

These people are showing up at school board meetings. I was actually at an event last night, where I had a group of moms say, these groups are so out there. They show up the meetings, they're bullying, it's very dangerous. And that is why this is so incredibly important to show the American

people that this is a threat that it's still exist, and it's not going away anytime soon. The violence is there, and it's on the rise.

GRIFFIN: Well, and I've spent quite a bit of time, I hate to admit studying up on the Proud Boys in the Oath Keepers. The first time I've never heard of the Proud Boys was that famous stand back and standby moment and the President first --

TAPPER: During the presidential --

GRIFFIN: -- presidential debate.

TAPPER: When instead of Chris Wallace asked him to condemn the group --


TAPPER: -- and I think Joe Biden mentioned the Proud Boys specifically and he didn't --

GRIFFIN: He essentially greenlit that -- miss the way that I interpreted it, but something in kind of their pathology and what they believe in is that they say they're for traditional values and standing up for women and chivalry.

Now, these men attacked the Capitol, including female police officers who were beaten and ended up in the hospital. It is a joke, it is a coal, but I don't want to diminish it because it's also an organized extremist group that like we've got to get serious about cracking down on because they're growing in numbers, their online recruitment is taking off.

And I just -- I think we were asleep at the wheel ahead of January 6 with regard to them, and I hope that this puts them front and center.

TAPPER: Did you talk to Trump about it when you work for him about these groups?

GRIFFIN: After the stand back and standby I asked him I said, you know, who are they? What is like, what is the position there and just said, oh, that this something along the lines of like, oh, they're just people who support me, it's like QAnon.

They're -- you know, they sound like they're for good things. They're against pedophilia and other things.

It's -- he never acknowledged that he knew what they were truly for but he was more familiar with them than I was and I think most people were at that time and that alone shows a level of coordinating.


GRISHAM: Well, and Trump being Trump, it was because they were his supporters.

TAPPER: Right.

GRISHAM: They're my people. They're my supporters. You know, behind closed doors, he made fun of them and called them basement dwellers and whatnot.

So just like he does many of his own supporters, but he -- anybody who would support him, it didn't matter. And so I think that was the standby in -- stand down comment. It was -- I'm not going to say -- deny anybody who say was Charlottesville.


GRISHAM: I'm not going to deny anybody who supports me, no matter how horrific they are.

TAPPER: When you found out that people on the campaign had ties to these groups, what was your reaction?

GRISHAM: I'm sad and ashamed to say I wasn't surprised. I -- it is little things I had seen throughout the first campaign. I didn't realize it was that quite the level that it was.

But again, I'm just glad that these things are coming to light. And I want to say, I do think these hearings are having an impact, certainly on the former president.

I'm hearing from Mar-a-Lago, he is very nervous. And if you just see the cadence of his ridiculous statements, knowing him like I do, he's scared and I like that.

You know, they're having an impact. For people saying that nobody's watching these committee hearings and they're just a joke, he's sure commenting on a lot, so.

TAPPER: He sure is --


TAPPER: -- on truth social or whatever the name is of that Trump social media platform.

GRIFFIN: He's not on board to board anymore.

TAPPER: Is that -- oh yes.

GRIFFIN: Don't forget.

TAPPER: That's right.

GRISHAM: Well, it's under investigation.

GRIFFIN: Don't want to be under investigation again.

TAPPER: All right, interesting. As we get close to the start of today's hearing, our legal experts will weigh in on what they expect today and whether this could ultimately lead to any criminal charges against Trump or anyone in his orbit.

CNN's live coverage continues after this quick break. We'll be right back.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The gavel come down soon inside the Cannon Caucus Room for today's hearing by the House Select Committee investigating January 6.

The panel plans to share some of its newly obtained testimony by former Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone. The hearing will also focus on the far-right militia groups, the so called Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Evan Perez has been digging in on that. So these extremist groups they are seems key to the Justice Department's investigation of January 6, right?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. And this is the part of the January 6 story I think that we've seen a lot more from the Justice Department.

We know a lot more about what they found so far. And one of the things we've learned is that they've gotten a ton of cooperation from people inside those organizations.

We know that some people have turned over encrypted communications, they've been able to get testimony from some of these people to essentially flip on other members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

And what's interesting is that, you know, that's -- what we haven't seen that yet emerge in some other parts of the criminal investigation by the Justice Department, for instance, the investigation into the electors.

We know that the FBI has approached people who are involved in the fake electors' scheme, and I've tried to get some cooperation from them.

We'll see if that is one of the things that we know prosecutors and the FBI are working on. They're trying to get people who are involved in that.

I know exactly what Donald Trump and what other people inside his circle were involved -- what they were doing to be involved in that whole scheme to present these fake electors and overturn the election, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Evan, we'll check back in with you.

Here with our panel of attorneys. John, I mean, a lot of comparisons, obviously, being drawn between the Watergate hearings, January 6th hearings. I want to talk about accountability.

I mean, obviously, in the wake of Watergate, you pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, you serve time in federal custody, what do you think the consequences should be for federal prosecutors who, you know, as they weigh accountability for former Trump, people and former Trump (INAUDIBLE)?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT NIXON: Well clearly, there are a couple of many criteria, the prosecutors have cooperation, the degree of involvement in the activity.

When you take somebody to trial, if they take them to trial, they're likely to throw the book at them, and they'll build the best and strongest case they have.

In my own case, I was in the witness protection program at the time. It really started when I testified. And so all the way on through for the next 18 months.

COOPER: So you were in witness protection for 18 months while testifying it after?

DEAN: Right. That meant mostly I had two agents with me or two marshals with me 24/7. They would rotate out. When I -- my time came to serve time, I was in the federal custody.

I was kept at a safe house and not involved being driven to the prosecutor's office every day except the weekends for 127 days. I was either at the courthouse, I was at their K Street office.

COOPER: What do you think should happen to people in Trump's inner circle?

DEAN: What should happen to them? It depends upon who they are and what offense they have committed. There's some pretty serious offense. Seditious conspiracy is just about the worst thing you can do is to overthrow the government.

These have very hefty -- a very hefty sentences with him. So I think some people are going to get the book thrown at him if particularly if they fight to the very end and resist this.


COOPER: Do you think Mark Meadows will serve time?

DEAN: I think he's certainly a target of the investigation. Bob Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, did 18 months for his role. He added a couple of perjuries along the way, which Mark Meadows may or may not add. Nixon's chief of staff got the same sentences of Trump -- former Attorney General Gad (ph).

COOPER: What we don't know is how eager the Justice Department is at this stage. I mean, obviously, they've been very aggressive about people who entered the Capitol, who attacked the Capitol, who heard officers, what do you think -- what lays ahead legally here? LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, one of the things to keep in mind is if we have co-operators are kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, co-operators are great because you get more information.

On the other hand, jury may receive them with skepticism and think to themselves, you're only doing this or saying we need to say because you're a self-preservation, which is obviously a very big enticing factor. And so it can cut both ways.

But the idea, these are very serious charges. I mean, up to 20 years for these conspiracy based charges. The burden of proof for a prosecutor is however different from the burden of proof of the legislative committee.

But having said that, accountability looks like in cases like this jail time, when somebody has tried to overthrow the government and to undermine democracy, jurors are not particularly respected (ph).

This is a D.C. jury, we're talking about as well. We're talking about the District of Columbia, not known for thumbing its nose on politics in general.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, we need to be clear here. If we are talking about meaningful accountability, it will fall to prosecutors, it will fall to the Justice Department, because there's only so much Congress can do.

They can hold hearings, they can help us with the historical record, which is hugely important. Perhaps they can legislate.

But you know what's going to happen when these hearings end, they're going to end. There's no verdict, there's no vote, there's no thumbs up or thumbs down.

And at that point, we're all going to be looking at DOJ. And Anderson, speaking about where is DOJ at this point, we always have to say we don't know, right? Good prosecutors operate behind closed doors. Grand jury is inherently secret.

And as Evan said, DOJ has done a remarkable job going after prosecuting the leaders and members of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. But there was a big warning sign a couple of weeks ago, when we found out DOJ had not gotten to Cassidy Hutchinson yet, which to me is inexplicable.

COATES: And of course, there was that letter that was written with the committee back and forth about not getting information and wanting them to hand over information to DOJ which is a little bit stunning that they wouldn't have had access.

Now, could they have had a bite at the apple, but then that more was learned later on. And think back to the Mueller probe, for example. There was a tension between what Congress was able to get versus Mueller because people were fearful of a Mueller probe because it could lead to jail as opposed to Congress. And so there was idea of who do I speak to first -- COOPER: I don't understand the why wouldn't the commission just

automatically be xeroxing and sending over the transcripts to justice. I mean, it's, you know --

COATES: They should.

COOPER: Bennie Thompson from the Commission said, well, we're not going to stop our work in order to brief them. They don't have to brief anybody. Can't they just send over the transcripts?

COATES: I asked that very question when I interviewed Congressman Jamie Raskin about this very issue, and his thought was, well, they are on different platforms and different parallel courses.

But for the credibility of the public and the transparency component, why not be as forthcoming in Canada as you can possibly be? That if their thought was, they didn't want people to believe in some form or fashion that they were in cahoots.

Because that can undermine the credibility as well as. Everything I have I give to you, how does the public distinguish who actually is in charge.

COOPER: I want to play just some testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson about a conversation that she had (INAUDIBLE).


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP W.H. CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I saw Mr. Cipollone right before I walked out onto West exact that morning.

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

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: And do you remember which crimes Mr. Cipollone was concerned with? In the days leading up to the 6th, we had conversations about potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral account.


COOPER: You would think that would be something we might hear more about today.

DEAN: Yes, if -- well, we also understand that they stayed out of trying to ask questions would create a conflict between their witnesses.

There is a natural also -- committees watch this for building their own record, as well as the prosecutor versus the congressional committee. There's a natural strain.

Archibald Cox is Watergate Special Prosecutor tried to block my testimony. When he couldn't do that, he tried to block it being televised. So they didn't want that and that was to not create adverse --

COOPER: Interesting.

DEAN: -- publicity.

COOPER: Yes. We're going to take a short break. The hearings begin just minutes from now. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We are just minutes away from the start of today's January 6 House committee hearing. The House Select Committee is promising new revelations today about alleged ties between Trump allies and these far-right extremist militias that played a leading role in the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.


The panel is aiming to show how all the elements of Trump's various efforts to overturn the 2020 election came together and erupted into violence on January 6.

We expect to see the first excerpts from recorded testimony by a crucial witness, that's the former Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, who sat behind closed doors for hours on Friday with the committee.

Let's go back to Ryan Nobles now on Capitol Hill. And Ryan, as we await the start of the hearing, the gavel banging, what more can you tell us about former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's reported testimony?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we've known for some time that the committee viewed his testimony as very important. And they really demonstrated that by the way the deposition was conducted.

For the most part, these closed door interviews are conducted largely by the investigative team of the Select Committee. That's because they last so long, sometimes seven and eight hours.

Now, members of the committee, the actual members of Congress are able to join whenever they'd like. They can slip in and out, they can do so virtually, as it allows with their schedules.

I'm told with the Pat Cipollone interview that every single member of the Select Committee was part of that deposition, and most of them were there for the entire more than seven hours, that Cipollone was a witness in front of the committee.

Now that just demonstrates how important the committee views his testimony. Our sources told us that after the deposition that they found the conversation to be very fruitful, that they learned a lot about what was happening inside the Trump White House in the period of time after the election, leading up to January 6. We do expect to see the first clips of that deposition in today's hearing.

But Jake, where Cipollone will really take a starring role is in the next hearing that's scheduled to take place next week, possibly in primetime, where the committee outlines that 187 minutes during the Capitol siege, where they believe in what they've described as Donald Trump's dereliction of duty.

Pat Cipollone is someone that knows a lot about what was happening in the White House on that day. And that's where we expect to see a lot of his witness testimony. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.

Let's talk about this with my panel while we wait for the committee to come in and begin this latest hearing.

Jamie Gangel, one of the things that we have not heard directly but you and I have discussed and other people on the panel here have discussed, is the degree to which Liz Cheney has been trying to either shame or bait various witnesses to come testify.

And I think she used Cassidy Hutchinson's very compelling testimony in some ways to shame Pat Cipollone.

Here is this young woman, 26 years old, brave, courageous, risking it all to tell the truth. Where's the White House counsel? And that seemed to work.

I would also note that we've heard off the record rumblings from Tony Ornato, the former Trump Deputy White House Chief of Staff who is said to dispute some of the characterizations, although he hasn't testified, you know, he hasn't come forward and put his hand and sworn and answered the questions.

My understanding is behind the scenes, there were a lot of I do not recalls, but he has not come forward. It'll -- anybody can leak lies, right?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So I don't really have the time of day for this when a friend of a friend says he didn't do this. If someone said you said something explosive, or I said something explosive, in about five seconds, we would put out a statement and say we didn't say that and we put our name to it.

So there is no question been an attempt to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson. I think the counter to that is her testimony. She just, I think, put that to rest.

One point that I just was told that we're going to focus here are Trump's words and his demeanor, especially on January 6th. So what have -- we have seen evidence of intent with these violent groups, the pipe bomber, we still don't know who it is, the gallows that didn't just appear. So I think we're going to see some connections made there.

TAPPER: Yes. And one other thing when it comes to Tony Ornato's credibility is that we've had Alyssa Farah Griffin, Olivia Troye, who we spoke with earlier --

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: -- former Trump White House officials saying that they don't think he tells the truth, that they think he's somebody who was not honest. And, you know, he could come forward and publicly testify if he wants to.

Let's go to Manu Raju right now who just spoke with the chairman of the committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. What did he have to say?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I talked to him about some of the other key issues that are outstanding here, including the former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon, who has been charged with contempt of Congress for defying the subpoena but now says he's willing to testify before the January 6th committee. I asked what he expects Bannon to testify.