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January 6 Committee Hearing Reveals Testimony From Pat Cipollone. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 13:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But now says he's willing to testify before the January 6 Committee.

I asked him if he expects Bannon to testify. He said -- quote -- "Not yet." He said that Bannon has to comply with all the terms in the subpoena, such as document production and the like. So he doesn't expect that at the moment.

Also, Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, someone who was involved with efforts to try to push to overturn the election, there has been some interest in talking to her, I asked him, do you expect to talk to Ginni Thomas? And his quote was: "Not at this point."

He said, it's a matter of determining the committee's priorities. I asked him that and said whether she was resisting the subpoena. And, lastly, Pat Cipollone, who, of course, we expect to hear from today in that video deposition. We asked him whether or not he's expects him to come as a live witness of this committee. He said no. He said, at this point, that deposition, roughly seven-and-a-half-hours, good enough for the committee.

So we don't expect to hear any more from Cipollone beyond that private interview.


And, John King, obviously, the committee taking the step of subpoenaing forcing Ginni Thomas to testify, which they're not doing, which they're not doing, could be controversial within the committee. I don't know that the Republicans on the committee would be behind that or not. But her fingerprints are all over this conspiracy.


And so, again, you're trying to stretch the outside groups that are involved. She's constantly texting Mark Meadows. She's working with some of the Rudy Giulianis and the Sidney Powell groups outside. The question the committee has to make in the time it has left, because we are in an election year -- and even though they may have another chapter, we are an election year, including Liz Cheney having to fight a primary back home -- is, where do you want to put your eggs in the basket? Which eggs are most important for you to put in the basket? Today, they believe it's critical to this violence question, knowing about violence inside the White House.

TAPPER: Just to interrupt briefly, we see the committee walking in right now. There's the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson. Behind him, I believe, is Stephanie Murphy, the congresswoman from Florida, who will be co-chairing today's hearing, the vice chair, Liz Cheney behind.

Go ahead. Finish your thought. I'm sorry.

KING: Just quickly, remember, Cassidy Hutchinson said the White House Counsel's Office wanted Donald Trump, A, not to speak that day, but, B, if he was going to speak, to take all the references to Pence and fight out of the speech.

Do we hear that from Cipollone today?


And on Cipollone, as I mentioned, we're going to hear several clips from him. And although he was very careful not to disclose conversations he had with the president then, he was giving his own opinion in the seven-hour testimony, which people who were inside this meeting with him said they can take to the bank as to what he told them.

TAPPER: Let's listen in. Let's listen in.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol will be in order.

Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess at any point. Pursuant to House Deposition Authority Regulation 10, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during this hearing.

Good afternoon.

When I think about the most basic way to explain the importance of elections in the United States, there's a phrase that always comes to mind. It may sound straightforward, but it's meaningful. We settle our differences at the ballot box.

Sometimes, my choice prevails. Sometimes, yours does. But it's that simple. We cast our votes. We count the votes. If something seems off with the results, we can challenge them in court. And then we accept the results.

When you're on the losing side, that doesn't mean you have to be happy about it. And in the United States, there's plenty you can do and say so. You can protest. You can organize. You can get ready for the next election to try to make sure your sad has a better chance the next time the people settle their differences at the ballot box. But you can't turn violent. You can't try to achieve your desired

outcome force or harassment or intimidation. Any real leader who sees their supporters going down that path, approaching that line, has a responsibility to say, stop. We gave it our best. We came up short. We try again next time, because we settle our differences at the ballot box.

On December 14, 2020, the presidential election was officially over. The Electoral College had cast its vote. Joe Biden was the president- elect of the United States.


By that point, many of Donald Trump's supporters were already convinced that the election had been stolen, because that is what Donald Trump had been telling them. So, what Donald Trump was required to do in that moment, what would have been required of any American leader, was to say, we did our best, and we came up short.

He went the opposite way. He seized on the anger he had already stoked among his most loyal supporters. And as they approached the line, he didn't wave them off. He urged them on.

Today, the committee will explain how, as a part of his last-ditch effort to overturn the election and block the transfer of power, Donald Trump summoned a mob to Washington, D.C., and ultimately spurred that mob to wage a violent attack on our democracy.

Our colleagues Ms. Murphy of Florida and Mr. Raskin of Maryland will lay out the story.

First, I'm pleased to recognize our distinguished vice chair, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, for any opening comments she would care to offer.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Our committee did not conduct a hearing last week, but we did conduct an on-the-record interview of President Trump's former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

If you have watched these hearings, you have heard us call for Mr. Cipollone to come forward to testify. He did. And Mr. Cipollone's testimony met our expectations.

We will save for our next hearing President Trump's behavior during the violence of January 6. Today's hearing will take us from December 14, 2020, when the Electoral College met and certified the results of the 2020 presidential election, up through the morning of January 6.

You will see certain segments of Pat Cipollone's testimony today. We will also see today how President Trump summoned a mob to Washington and how the president's stolen election lies provoked that mob to attack the Capitol.

And we will hear from a man who was induced by President Trump's lies to come to Washington and join the mob and how that decision has changed his life.

Today's hearing is our seventh. We have covered significant ground over the past several weeks. And we have also seen a change in how witnesses and lawyers in the Trump orbit approach this committee. Initially, their strategy in some cases appeared to be to deny and delay.

Today, there appears to be a general recognition that the committee has established key facts, including that virtually everyone close to President Trump, his Justice Department officials, his White House advisers, his White House counsel, his campaign, all told him the 2020 election was not stolen.

This appears to have changed the strategy for defending Donald Trump. Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration, that he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisers, and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong.

This new strategy is to try to blame only John Eastman or Sidney Powell or Congressman Scott Perry or others, and not President Trump. In this version, the president was -- quote -- "poorly served" by these outside advisers.

The strategy is to blame people his advisers called -- quote -- "the crazies" for what Donald Trump did.

This, of course, is nonsense. President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices. As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American.

And he was told this over and over again. No rational or sane man in his position could disregard that information and reach the opposite conclusion. And Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind, nor can any argument of any kind excuse President Trump's behavior during the violent attack on January 6.

As you watch our hearing today, I would urge you to keep your eye on two specific points. First, you will see evidence that Trump's legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, knew that they lacked actual evidence of widespread fraud sufficient to prove that the election was actually stolen. They knew it. But they went ahead with January 6 anyway.


And, second, consider how millions of Americans were persuaded to believe what Donald Trump's closest advisers and his administration did not. These Americans did not have access to the truth, like Donald Trump did. They put their faith and their trust in Donald Trump. They wanted to believe in him. They wanted to fight for their country.

And he deceived them. For millions of Americans, that may be painful to accept, but it is true. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

THOMPSON: Without objection, the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida Ms. Murphy and the gentleman from Maryland Mr. Raskin for opening statements.

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that then-President Donald Trump lost in a free and fair election. And yet President Trump insisted that his loss was due to fraud in the election process, rather than to the democratic will of the voters.

The president continued to make this claim despite being told again and again by the courts, by the Justice Department, by his campaign officials, and by some of his closest advisers that the evidence did not support this assertion. This was the big lie.

And millions of them were deceived by it. Too many of our fellow citizens still believe it to this day. It is corrosive to our country and damaging to our democracy. As our committee has shown in prior hearings, following the election, President Trump relentlessly pursued multiple interlocking lines of effort, all with a single goal, to remain in power, despite having lost.

The lines of effort were aimed at his loyal vice president, Mike Pence, at state election and elected officials and at the U.S. Department of Justice. The president pressured the vice president to obstruct the process to certify the election result. He demanded that state officials find him enough votes to overturn the election outcome in that state.

And he pressed the Department of Justice to find widespread evidence of fraud. When Justice officials told the president that such evidence did not exist, the president urged them to simply declare that the election was corrupt.

On December 14, the Electoral College met to officially confirm that Joe Biden would be the next president. The evidence shows that, once this occurred, President Trump and those who were willing to aid and abet him turned their attention to the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6, at which the vice president would preside.

In their warped view, this ceremonial event was the next and perhaps the last inflection point that could be used to reverse the outcome of the election before Mr. Biden's inauguration. As President Trump put it, the vice president and enough members of Congress simply needed to summon the courage to act.

To help them find that courage, the president called for backup. Early in the morning of December 19, the president sent out a tweet urging his followers to travel to Washington, D.C., for January 6. "Be there. Will be wild," the president wrote.

As my colleague Mr. Raskin will describe in detail, this tweet served as a call to action and, in some cases, as a call to arms for many of President Trump's most loyal supporters. It is clear the president intended the assembled crowd on the -- January 6 to serve his goal.

And as you have already seen and as you will see again today, some of those who are coming had specific plans. The president's goal was to stay in power for a second term, despite losing the election. The assembled crowd was one of the tools to achieve that goal.

And, in today's hearing, we will focus on events that took place in the final weeks leading up to January 6, starting in mid-December, and we will add color and context to evidence you have already heard about and will also provide additional new evidence.

For example, you will hear about meetings in which the president entertained extreme measures designed to help him stay in power, like the seizure of voting machines. We will show some of the coordination that occurred between the White House and members of Congress as it relates to January 6. And some of these members of Congress would later seek pardons.

We will also examine some of the planning for the January 6 protests, placing special emphasis on one rally planner's concerns about the potential violence. And we will describe some of the president's key actions on the evening of January 5 and the morning of January 6, including how the president edited and ad-libbed his speech that morning at the Ellipse, directed the crowd to march to the Capitol, and spoke off-script in a way that further inflamed an already angry crowd.


I yield to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Thank you, Ms. Murphy.

Mr. Chairman, Madam Vice Chair, four days after the electors met across the country and made Joe Biden the president-elect, Donald Trump was still trying to find a way to hang onto the presidency. On Friday, December 18, his team of outside advisers paid him a surprise visit in the White House that would quickly become the stuff of legend.

The meeting has been called unhinged, not normal and the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency. The outside lawyers who had been involved in dozens of failed lawsuits had lots of theories supporting the big lie, but no evidence to support it.

As we will see, however, they brought to the White House a draft executive order that they had prepared for President Trump to further his ends. Specifically, they proposed the immediate mass seizure of state election machines by the U.S. military.

The meeting ended after midnight with apparent rejection of that idea. In the wee hours of December 19, dissatisfied with his options, Donald Trump decided to call for a large and wild crowd on Wednesday, January 6, the day when Congress would meet to certify the electoral votes. Never before in American history had a president called for a crowd to

come contest the counting of electoral votes by Congress or engaged in any effort designed to influence, delay or obstruct the joint session of Congress in doing its work required by our Constitution in the Electoral Count Act.

As we will see, Donald Trump's 1:42 a.m. tweet electrified and galvanized his supporters, especially the dangerous extremists in the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other racist and white nationalist groups spoiling for a fight against the government.

Three rings of interwoven attack were now operating towards January 6. On the inside ring, Trump continued trying to work to overturn the election by getting Mike Pence to abandon his oath of office as vice president and assert the unilateral power to reject electoral votes. This would have been a fundamental and unprecedented breach of the Constitution that would promise Trump multiple ways of staying in office.

Meanwhile, in the middle ring, members of domestic violent extremist groups created an alliance both online and in person to coordinate a massive effort to storm, invade and occupy the Capitol. By placing a target on the joint session of Congress, Trump had mobilized these groups around a common goal, emboldening them, strengthening their working relationships and helping build their numbers.

Finally, in the outer ring, on January 6, there assembled a large and angry crowd, the political force that Trump considered both the touchstone and the measure of his political power. Here were thousands of enraged Trump followers thoroughly convinced by the big lie who traveled from across the country to join Trump's wild rally to stop the steal.

With the proper incitement by political leaders and the proper instigation from the extremists, many members of this crowd could be led to storm the Capitol, confront the vice president in Congress, and try to overturn the 2020 election result.

All of these efforts would converge and explode on January the 6th.

Mr. Chairman, as you know better than any other member of this committee from the wrenching struggle for voting rights in your beloved Mississippi, the problem of politicians whipping up mob violence to destroy fair elections is the oldest domestic enemy of constitutional democracy in America.

Abraham Lincoln knew it too. In 1837, a racist mob in Alton, Illinois, broke into the offices of an abolitionist newspaper and killed its editor, Elijah Lovejoy. Lincoln wrote a speech in which he said that no transatlantic military giant could ever crush us as a nation, even with all of the fortunes in the world, but if downfall ever comes to America, he said, we ourselves would be its author and finisher.

If racist mobs are encouraged by politicians to rampage and terrorize, Lincoln said, they will violate the rights of other citizens and quickly destroy the bonds of social trust necessary for democracy to work. Mobs and demagogues will put us on a path to political tyranny, Lincoln said.

As we will see today, this very old problem has returned with new ferocity today, as a president who lost an election deployed a mob which included dangerous extremists to attack the constitutional system of election and the peaceful transfer of power.


And, as we will see, the creation of the Internet and social media has given today's tyrants tools of propaganda and disinformation that yesterday's despots could only have dreamed of.

I yield back to the gentlelady from Florida, Ms. Murphy.

MURPHY: Article 2 of the United States Constitution establishes the Electoral College.

Each state's laws provide that electors are to be chosen by a popular vote. And on December 14, 2020, electors met in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to cast their votes. Joseph Biden won by a margin of 306 to 232. The election was over. Mr. Biden was the president- elect.

Before the Electoral College met, Donald Trump and his allies filed dozens of legal challenges to the election. But they lost over and over again, including in front of multiple judges President Trump had nominated to the bench. In many of these cases, the judges were highly critical of the arguments put forward, explaining that no genuine evidence of widespread fraud had been presented.

For example, a federal judge in Pennsylvania said: "This court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state."

On December 15, after the Electoral College certified the outcome, the Republican majority leader in the Senate acknowledged Mr. Biden's victory.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Yesterday, electors met in all 50 states. So, as of this morning, our country has officially a president-elect and a vice president-elect.

Many millions of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January the 20th. The Electoral College has spoken.

So, today, I want to congratulate president-elect Joe Biden.


MURPHY: Even members of President Trump's Cabinet and his White House staff understood the significance of his losses in the courts and the absence of evidence of fraud.

They also respected the constitutional certification by the Electoral College. Many of them told President Trump that it was time to concede the election to Mr. Biden. For example, then-Secretary of Labor Gene Scalia, an accomplished lawyer and the son of late Justice Scalia, called President Trump in mid-December and advised him to concede and accept the rulings of the courts.


EUGENE SCALIA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: So, I had to put a call into the president.

I might have called on the 13th. We spoke, I believe, on the 14th, in which I conveyed to him that I thought that it was time for him to acknowledge that President Biden had prevailed in the election.

But I communicated to the president that when that legal process is exhausted, and when the electors are -- have voted, that that's the point at which that outcome needs to be expected.

I told him that I did believe, yes, that, once those legal processes were run, if fraud had not been established that had affected the outcome of the election, that, unfortunately, I believed that what had to be done was concede the outcome.


MURPHY: As you have seen in prior hearings, President Trump's Justice Department, his White House staff, and his campaign officials were repeatedly telling him that there was no evidence of fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the election.

And, last week, we conducted an eight-hour interview with President Trump's White House counsel, Pat Cipollone. You will see a number of excerpts of that interview today and even more in our next hearing.

Mr. Cipollone told us that he agreed with the testimony that there was no evidence of fraud sufficient to overturn the election.


QUESTION: I want to start by asking you if you agree, Mr. Cipollone, with the conclusions of Matt Morgan and Bill Barr, of all of the individuals who evaluated those claims that there was no evidence of election fraud sufficient to undermine the outcome in a particular state?



MURPHY: And Mr. Cipollone also specifically testified that he believed that Donald Trump should have conceded the election.


QUESTION: Did you believe, Mr. Cipollone, that president should concede once you made a determination, based on the investigations that you credited, DOJ did, and did you in your mind form a belief that the president should concede the election loss at certain point after the election?


CIPOLLONE: Well, again, I was the White House counsel.

Some of those decisions are political. So, to the extent that -- but, if your question is, did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time, yes, I did.

I believe Leader McConnell went onto the floor of the Senate, I believe in mid-December, and basically said, the process is done, yes. That would be in line with my thinking on these things.


MURPHY: As Attorney General Bill Barr testified, December 14 should have been the end of the matter.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: December 14 was the day that the states certified their votes and sent them to Congress.

And, in my view, that was the end of the matter. I didn't say -- I thought that this would lead inexorably to a new administration.


MURPHY: Mr. Cipollone also testified that the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said he shared this view.


QUESTION: As early as that November 23 meeting, we understand that there was discussion about the president possibly conceding the election, and, specifically, we understand that Mark Meadows assured both you and Attorney General Barr that the president would eventually agree to a graceful exit.

Do you remember Mr. Meadows making any such representation?

CIPOLLONE: Are you saying as part of that meeting or separately?

Again, without getting into that meeting, I would say that that is a -- that is a statement and a sentiment that I heard from Mark Meadows.

QUESTION: I see. And, again, do you know if it was on November 23 or at some point?

CIPOLLONE: Again, I -- it was probably around that time, and it was probably subsequent to that time. It wasn't a one-time statement.


MURPHY: Mr. Meadows has refused to testify, and the committee is in litigation with him.

But many other White House officials shared the view that, once the litigation ended and the Electoral College met, the election was over. And here's President Trump's former press secretary.


CHENEY: I want to clarify, McEnany.

So, back to my previous question, it was your view then -- or was it your view that the efforts to overturn the election should have stopped once litigation was complete?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In my view, upon the conclusion of litigation was when I began to plan for life after the administration.


MURPHY: And this is what Ivanka Trump told us:


QUESTION: December 14 was the day on which the Electoral College met, when these electors around the country met and cast the electoral votes consistent with the popular vote in each state.

And it was obviously a public proceeding or a series of proceedings that President Biden had obtained the requisite number of electors. Was that an important day for you? Did that affect sort of your planning or your realization as to whether or not there was going to be an end of this administration?

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think so. I think it was my -- my sentiment probably prior as well.


MURPHY: Judd Deere was a White House deputy press secretary. This was his testimony about what he told President Trump.


JUDD DEERE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I told him that my personal viewpoint was that the Electoral College had met, which is the system that our country is set under to elect a president and vice president.

And I believed at that point that the means for him to pursue litigation was probably closed.

QUESTION: And do you recall what his response, if any, was?

DEERE: He disagreed.


MURPHY: We have also seen this testimony from Attorney General Barr, reflecting a view of the White House staff in late November 2020.


BARR: And then, at that point, I left. And as I walked out of the Oval Office, Jared was there with Dan Scavino, who ran his -- who ran the president's social media, and who I thought was a reasonable guy and believe is a reasonable guy.

And I said: "How long is -- how long is he going to carry on with this stolen election stuff? Where is this going to go?"

And, by that time, Meadows had caught up with me.