Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Now: 1/6 Committee Details Trump's Refusal to Accept Election Results. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 13:30   ET




BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL. And by that time, Meadows had caught up with me and -- leaving the office and caught up with me and said that -- he said, look, I think that he is becoming more realistic and knows that there's a limit to how far he can take this.

And then Jared said, yes, we are working on this. We are working on it.


REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Likewise, in this testimony, Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, described her conversations with President Trump's director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, a former Republican Congressman.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO MARK MEADOWS: He had expressed he was concerned about control and potentially dangerous for democracy or the way things were going.


MURPHY: Of course, underlying all of this is the fundamental principle that the president of the United States cannot simply disregard the rulings of state and federal courts, which are empowered to address specific election related claims. The president cannot simply pretend that the courts had not ruled.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): By that time, the president or his associates had brought or lost 60 out of 61 cases, that they have brought to challenge different aspects of the election and the number of states.

They lost 60 out of 60 one of those cases. So by the time we get to January 3rd, that has been clear.

I assume that you would agree the president is obligated to abide by the rulings.


CHENEY: And I assume you also --

CIPOLLONE: Everybody is obligated to abide by the rules.

CHENEY: And I assume you also would agree that the president has a particular obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

CIPOLLONE: That is one of the presidents obligations. Correct.


MURPHY: Yet, President Trump disregarded these court rulings and the counsel from his closest advisers and continued his efforts to cling to power.

In our prior hearings, you have heard considerable testimony about President Trump's attempts to pressure Vice President Pence to corrupt the Department of Justice, to pressure state officials and state legislatures, and to create and submit a series of fake electoral slates.

Now, we will show you what other actions President Trump was taking between December 14, 2020, and January 6th.

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

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

Throughout our hearings, you have heard that President Trump made baseless claims that voting machines were being manipulated by foreign powers in the 2020 election.

You have also heard Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr, describe such claims as complete nonsense, which he told the president.

Let's review that testimony.


BARR: I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public.

That there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn't count and that these machines controlled by somebody else were actually determining it, which was complete nonsense.

And it was being laid out there. And I told them that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that. And it was doing a great disservice to the country.


RASKIN: We have learned that President Trump's White House counsel agreed with the Department of Justice about this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Barr made an announcement about this on December 1st, less than a month, that he had seen fraud and they say first.

CIPOLLONE: It is fair to say that I agreed with Attorney General Barr's conclusion on December first. Yes, I did and I supported that.


RASKIN: However, the strong rejection of the attorney general and the White House counsel of these claims did not stop the president from trying to address them in public.

But that is not only did. As you will see in this clip, the president asked Attorney Bill Barr to have the Department of Justice ease voting machines in the states.


BARR: My recollection is the president said something like, well, we could get -- you know, some people said we could get to the bottom of this if the department sees the machines. It was a typical way of raising the point.

And I said, absolutely not, there's no probable cause and I'm not going to seize any machines. And that was that, yes.


RASKIN: But this wasn't the end of the matter. On the evening of December 18th, 2020, Sidney Powell, General Michael Flynn and others entered the White House for an unplanned meeting with the president, the meeting that would last multiple hours and become hot-blooded and contentious.

The executive order behind me on this screen was drafted on December 16th, just two days after the Electoral College vote by several of the presidents outside advisors over a luncheon at the Trump International Hotel.

As you can see here, this proposed order directs the secretary of defense to seize voting machines, quote, "effective immediately."

But it goes even further than that. Under the order, President Trump would appoint a special counsel with the power to seize machines and charge people with crimes with all resources necessary to carry out their duties.

The specific plan was to name Sidney Powell as special counsel. The Trump lawyer, who had spent the postelection period making outlandish claims about Venezuelan and Chinese interference in the election, among others.

Here is what White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, had to say about Sidney Powell's qualifications to take on such expansive authority.


CIPOLLONE: I don't think Sidney Powell would say that I thought was a good idea.


RASKIN: Sidney Powell told the president that these steps were justified because of her evidence of foreign interference in the 2020 election.

However, as we have seen, Trump's allies had no such evidence and, of course, no legal authority for the federal government to seize state voting machines.

Here is Mr. Cipollone against announcing Sidney Powell's terrible idea.


CIPOLLONE: There was real question in my mind and a real concern, you know, particularly after the attorney general had reached the conclusion that it wasn't sufficient election fraud to change the outcome of the election, when other people kept suggesting that there was, the answer is, what is it?

And at some point, you know, you have to put up or shut up. That was my view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was this on a broader scale?

CIPOLLONE: To have the federal government seize voting machines, it is a terrible idea. That is not how we do things in the United States. It was illegal authority to do that.

And there's a way to contest elections, you know, that happens all the time. But the idea that the federal government could come in and sees election machines, now, that -- I don't understand why we would tell you why that is a bad thing. It is a terrible idea.


RASKIN: For all of its absurdity, the December 18th meeting was critically important because President Trump got to watch up close for several hours as his White House counsel and other White House lawyers destroyed the baseless factual claims and ridiculous legal arguments being offered by Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn and others.

President Trump now knew all of these claims were nonsense. Not just from his able White House lawyers but also from his own Department of Justice officials and, indeed, his own campaign officials.

As White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CIPOLLONE: With respect to the whole election fraud issue, to me, it is sort of senseless claims and people were open to them early on because people were making all sense of claims and the real question is, show the evidence. OK?


RASKIN: It wasn't just the Justice Department. The Trump campaign and the Trump White House lawyers who knew it. Even Rudy Giuliani's own legal team admitted that they did not have any real evidence of fraud sufficient to change the election results.

Here is an email from Rudy Giuliani's lead investigator, Ernie Kerik, on December 28th, 2022, to chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Mr. Kerik did not mince any words.

"We can do all of the investigations we want later. But if the president plans on winning, it is the legislators that have to be moved. And this will do just that."

Mr. Kerik wanted the president to win but what he didn't say in this email what he would later tell the Select Committee, that the letter wrote to us in November.


The letter said, quote, "It was impossible for Mr. Kerik and his team to determine conclusively whether there was widespread fraud or whether that widespread fraud would have altered the outcome of the election."

In other words, even Rudy Giuliani's own legal team knew before January 6th that they hadn't collected enough actual evidence to support any of their stolen election claims.

Here is what Jason Miller told the committee about some of the so- called evidence of fraud that the campaign had seen from the Giuliani team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what the examples of fraud, numbers, names and supporting evidence was that you sent to Mo Brooks's office quickly. And when I said you, you are the campaign.

JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: There are some very, very general documents as far as, say, for example, the handful of dead people in several different states.

Here are explanations on a couple of the legal challenges as far as saying that the rules were changed and in an unconstitutional manner.

But to say that it was, that was probably an understatement.


RASKIN: Here is how President Trump's deputy campaign manager described the evidence of fraud that the campaign had seen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never came to Lauren or understand that Mayor Giuliani had produced evidence of election fraud. Is that fair?



RASKIN: And here is testimony that we received from the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Rusty Bowers, about an exchange that he had with Rudy Giuliani after the election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point, did one of them make a comment that they didn't have evidence but they had a lot of theories?



RASKIN: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told people that he thought Trump should concede around the time the Electoral College certified the result. But nonetheless, he later worked to try to facilitate President Trump's wishes.

Here is what Cassidy Hutchinson told us.


HUTCHINSON: During this period, he -- I perceived his goal with all of this to keep Trump in office. And he had very seriously and deeply considered the allegations of voter fraud.

But when he began acknowledging that maybe there wasn't enough voter fraud to overturn the election, I witnessed him start to explore potential constitutional loopholes. More extensively, which had been connected with the John Eastman theories.


RASKIN: The startling conclusion is this: Even an agreed-upon complete lack of evidence could not stop President Trump, Mark Meadows and their allies from trying to overturn the result of a free and fair election.

So, let's return to the meeting at the White House on the meeting of December 18th.

That night, a group showed up at the White House, including suit Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn and the former CEO Patrick Byrne. After gaining access to the junior White House staffer, the group made

their way to the Oval Office. They were able to speak with the president by himself for some time until the White House officials learned of the meeting.

What ensued was a heated and profane clash between this group and President Trump's White House advisors, who traded personal insults, accusations of disloyalty to the president, and even charges to physically fight.

The meeting would last over six hours beginning here in the Oval Office, moving around the West Wing, and many hours later, ending up in the president's private residence.

The Select Committee has spoken with six of the participants as well as staffers who could hear the screaming from outside the Oval Office.

What took place next is best told in their own words, as you will see from this video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe it was going to work? That you would be able to see the president without an appointment?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, you did get to see them without an appointment.

POWELL: We did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much time did you have alone with the president? I say along, you had other people with you.

POWELL: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But from his aides before the crowd came running?

POWELL: Probably no more than 10 or 15 minutes.



POWELL: That's the baloney that set a new land speed record.

CIPOLLONE: I got a call either from Molly -- (INAUDIBLE).

HUTCHINSON: That was the first point that I had recognized, OK, there was nobody from the White House. Mark is gone. What is going on right now?

CIPOLLONE: I opened the door and I walked in and I saw Mark Flynn. I saw Sidney Powell sitting there. I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?

CIPOLLONE: I didn't think they were providing -- well, first of all, the Overstock person -- (INAUDIBLE).

Actually, the first thing I did was I walked in and I looked at him and I said, who are you? And he told me.

I don't think any of these people were providing the president with good advice. And so I didn't understand how they had gotten in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a short period of time that you had with the president did he seem receptive to the presentation that you were making?

POWELL: He was very interested in hearing particularly about the terms of 13848 but apparently nobody else had bothered to inform him of.

ERIK HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: It was claimed that the Democrats were working with Hugo Chavez, Venezuelans and whoever else.

At one point, General Flynn took out a diagram that supposedly showed, via all over the words and who was communicating with whom via the machines and some comments about next thermostats being hooked up to the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's been reported during this meeting with Powell, Dominion voting machines and made various election fraud claims that involved foreign countries, such as Venezuela, Iran and China. Is that accurate?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the meeting tense?

DEREK LYONS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STAFF SECRETARY: Oh, yes. It was not a casual meeting.


LYONS: I mean, at times, there were times people were shouting at each other. They were throwing insults at each other. It wasn't just sort of people sitting around and chitchatting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you recall whether he raised after they had litigation?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what was his response?

CIPOLLONE: I don't remember what she said. I don't think it was a good response.

POWELL: Cipollone and HERSCHMANN and whoever the other was showed nothing but contempt and disdain of the president.

CIPOLLONE: The three of them were really sort of forcefully attacking me -- verbally -- Eric, Derek, and we were pushing back and we're asking one simple question As a general matter. Where is the evidence?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What response did you get when you asked Ms. Powell and her colleagues?

CIPOLLONE: A variety of responses based on my current recollection, including, "I can't believe you would say something," you know, things like this, like, "What do you mean where's the evidence? You should know. Things like that or, you know.

A disregard, I would say a general disregard for the importance of what actually backing up what you say, with facts.

And then there was the discussion of, we don't have it now but we will have it or whatever.

POWELL: I mean, if it had been me sitting in his chair, *I would have fired all of them that night and have them escorted out of the building.

HERSCHMANN: We were challenging what she was saying. And she said, well, the judges are corrupt. And I was like everyone? Every single case that you have done in the country, that you have lost, every one of them is corrupt? Even the ones we appointed?


HERSCHMANN: I'm being nice. I was much more harsh to here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So one of the other things that has been reported during this meeting was that President Trump told White House lawyers, Mr. Herschmann, Mr. Cipollone, that they weren't offering him any solutions but Ms. Powell and others were. So, why not try what Ms. Powell and others were proposing.

Do you remember anything along those lines being said by President Trump?

LYONS: I do. It sounds right.

HERSCHMANN: I think it got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely out there.

When you've got people walking, and late at night, it had been a long day, and what they were proposing I felt was nuts.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm going to categorically describe it as, you guys are not tough enough. Or maybe I put it enough, "You're a bunch of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) --

excuse the expression, but I'm almost certain the word was used. HERSCHMANN: Screaming at me that I was a quitter. He kept standing up

and turning around and screaming at me. And at a certain point, I had it with him so I yelled back.

The president come over and asked to back down.

GIULIANI: The president and the White House team went upstairs to the residence but to the public part of the residence, the big parlor where you can have meetings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They call it the Yellow Oval?

GIULIANI: Yes, exactly, the Yellow Oval Office. I always called it the upper.

And I'm not exactly sure where the Sidney group went. I think maybe the Roosevelt Room. I stayed in the Cabinet Room, which is kind of cool. I kind of like that -- all by myself.

LYONS: At the end of the day, we landed where we started the meeting at least from a structural standpoint. which was Sidney Powell was fighting, Mike Flynn was fighting. They were looking for avenues that would enable -- that would result in President Trump remaining President Trump for a second term.


RASKIN: The meeting finally ended after midnight.

Here are text messages sent by Cassidy Hutchinson during and after the meeting.

As you can see, Ms. Hutchinson reported the meeting in the West Wing was "unhinged."

The meeting finally broke up after midnight during the early morning of December 19. Cassidy Hutchinson capture the moment of Mark Meadows escorting Rudy Giuliani off the White House grounds to, quote, "make sure he did not wander back into the mansion."

Certain accounts of this meeting indicate that President Trump actually granted Ms. Powell's security clearance and appointed her to a somewhat ill-defined position of special counsel.


POWELL: He asked Pat Cipollone if he had the authority to name the special counsel and he said yes. Then he asked him if he had the authority to give me whatever security clearance I needed and Pat Cipollone he said yes.

And then the president said OK. I am naming her that and giving her security clearance.

And shortly before we left, and it totally blew up, was when Cipollone and/or Herschman and whoever the other young man was, said you can name her whatever you want to name her and no one will pay any attention to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you respond? How did the president respond to that?

POWELL: Something like, you see what I deal with? I deal with this all the time.


RASKIN: Over the ensuing days, no further steps were taken to a point Sidney Powell. But there's some ambiguity about what the president said and did during the meeting.

Here is how Pat Cipollone described it.


CIPOLLONE: I don't know what her understanding of whether she had been appointed, what she had been appointed to.

In my view, she had not been appointed to anything and ultimately there had to be other steps taken.

That was my view when I left the meeting but she may have a different view and the president may have a different view and the president.

CHENEY: Where any steps taken including the president telling her she had been appointed?

CIPOLLONE: Again, I'm not going to get into what the president said in the meeting. My recollection is, you are not appointed until steps are taken to get the paperwork done.

And when I left the meeting, OK, I guess what I am trying to say is, I'm not going to get into what the president said or said he wanted.

RASKIN: Mr. Cipollone, when the matter continued to flareup over the next several days, was it your understanding that Sidney Powell was seeking an appointment or that she had been asserting she had been appointed at the president at the December 18 meeting.

CIPOLLONE: You know, now that you mention it, probably both. You know? I think she may have been of the view that she had been appointed and was seeking to get that done and that she should be appointed.


As you listen to these clips. remember Ms. Powell, a person who President Trump tried to make Ms. Powell was ultimately sanctioned by a federal court and sued by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation.

In her own defense to that lawsuit, Sidney Powell argued that no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact.

Not long after Sidney Powell, Donald, Flynn and Rudy Giuliani left the White House in the early morning hours, he turned away from outside advisors to outlandish and unworkable schemes and his White House counsel's advice to swallow hard and accept the reality of the loss.

Instead, he would galvanize his followers and unleash a political firestorm and change the course of our history as a country.

Trumps purpose was to mobilize a crowd. How do you mobilize a crowd in 2020? With millions of followers on Twitter. President Trump knew how to do it.

At 1:42 a.m. on December 19, 2020, shortly after the participants left the meeting, Trump sent out the tweet with his explosive invitation.

Trump repeated his Big Lie and complained it was, quote, "statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election," before calling for a big protest in D.C. on January 6. "Be there, will be a wild."

Trump supporters responded immediately. Women for America First pro- Trump organization group, previously applied for a rally permit for January 22nd and 23rd in Washington, D.C., several days after Joe Biden was to be inaugurated.

In the hours after the tweet, they moved their permit to January 6, two weeks before. This rescheduling created a rally for Trump where eventually speak.

The next day, Allie Alexander (ph), leader of the Stop the Steal organization and key organizer of Trump supporters, registered, named after Trumps tweet.

He provided comprehensive information about numerous newly organized protest events in Washington, including event times, places, speakers and details on transportation to Washington D.C..

Meanwhile, other key Trump supporters, including far-right radio personalities, began promoting the wild protest on January 6.


ALEX JONES, HOST, "INFO WARS": It is Saturday, December 19th. The year is 2020. And one of the most historic events in American history has just taken place.

President Trump, in the early morning hours today, tweeted that he want the American people to march on Washington D.C., on January 6th, 2021.

TIM POOL, PRO-TRUMP YOUTUBER: And now Donald Trump is calling on his supporters to descend on Washington D.C., January 6th.

JONES: He is now calling on, we, the people, to take action and show our numbers.

MATT BRACKEN, RIGHT-WING COMMENTATOR: We will only be saved by millions of Americans moving to Washington, occupying the entire area, if necessary, storming right into the capitol.

We know the rules of engagement. If you have enough people you can push down any kind of fence or a wall.

POOL: This could be Trump's last stand and a time when he has specifically called on his reporters to arrive in D.C. That is something that may be the big push Trump supporters need to say this is it. It is now or never.

SALTY CRACKER, PRO-TRUMP YOUTUBER: You better understand something, son/ You better understand something. Red wave, bitch. It's going to be a red wedding going down January 6.

POOL: On that day, Trump says show up for a protest, it's going to be wild. Based on what we've already seen from the previous events, I think Trump is correct.

SALTY CRACKER: Mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you better look outside. Kick that F'ing door open. There will be a million-plus armed Americans.

JONES: The time for games is over and the time for action is now. Where were you when history called? Where were you when you and your children's destiny and future was on the line?



RASKIN: In that clip, you heard one of Trumps supporters predict a red wedding, which is a pop culture reference to mass manslaughter.

But the point is, Trump's call to Washington reverberated powerfully and pervasively online.