Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
Soon: Jan. 6 Cmte To Hold Final Hearing Before Midterms; Sources: Secret Service Was Aware People In Jan. 6 Crowd Had Weapons; Sources: Cmte To Show Never-Before-Seen Video Of Congressional Leaders; Jan. 6 Cmte To Argue Trump Remains "Clear & Present Danger": Source: New Evidence From Cmte May Overlap With DOJ Investigation. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired October 13, 2022 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Instead, I think it's a demonstration and I think we are going to find out that there was probably only one juror or maybe a very small number of jurors who disagreed about the imposition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the question is, why don't you keep you on deliberating since it is split, really look at the evidence.
CALLAN: That's a great question.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST, AT THIS HOUR: A great question that remains right now. Thank you both very much. As we now know the verdict coming in is Nicholas Cruz life in prison without the possibility of parole. But let's end this moment talking about in with the pictures of the 17 lives who were lost on that day, February 14, 2018.
On Capitol Hill, the January 6 select committee is about to share striking never before seen video, along with new testimony and evidence. All with a focus on former President Trump and the central role, the panel says he played in the attack on democracy.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Welcome to CNN's live coverage of the January 6 hearings. I am Anderson Cooper.
JAKE TAPPER: CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jake Tapper. This is the final public hearing before the midterm elections committee members are promising to hammer home their urgent argument that Donald J. Trump remains in their view, a clear and present danger to American democracy as Trump continues to push false claims about the 2020 election.
Committee aides tell us that the hearing today will zero in on Trump's state of mind on and around January 6. We're told we're going to see and hear from Trump cabinet officials and other new witnesses who have recently been interviewed by the committee that could potentially include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Some of the most compelling evidence we're told is likely to come from the U.S. Secret Service. The services turned over more than a million emails and other communications to the select committee. The messages could potentially shed new light on Trump's actions and intentions on January 6, 2021. They could potentially corroborate some of the bombshell testimony by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson in court, including her claims that Trump new supporters at his January 6 rally where carrying weapons, were armed.
Committee aides say the hearing will feature new video footage, showing efforts to respond to the violence of January 6, as it was unfolding. Committee member Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, says all the new evidence will make the case of January 6 was premeditated, and that President Trump in his view was overwhelmingly culpable.
Let's go right to Capitol Hill and our own Manu Raju. Manu, tell us what you're learning about the secret service communications that are going to be revealed in this hearing?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Source with direct knowledge of the matter tells me that the committee plans to show messages that the secret service was aware of increased violent rhetoric that was on the social media site Parler, rhetoric that was directed at government officials in particular, the day before the January 6 attack on January 5, 2021.
One agent reported that some of the that violent rhetoric was directed squarely at then Vice President Mike Pence, who of course Donald Trump wanted to overturn the election results while presiding over the joint session of Congress certifying the election results on January 6, 2021.
Now the committee is also has messages, showing how the secret service was aware of weapons on the crowd, in the crowd on January 6 of that rally that Donald Trump attended. The rally in which of course led preceded the riot at the Capitol. They were aware of bear spray, riot shields, and they were aware that some of the people even had guns.
I'm told that the messages will reveal that they were aware that people had body armor, ballistic helmets, radio equipment, military grade, backpacks, and some of these people did not want to go through magnetometers, the screening services to make sure that they were not weapon.
This is a secret service was aware that people did not want to get screened at a time and recall that Cassidy Hutchinson, that former White House aide testified that Donald Trump did not want these people to go through the magnetometers themselves and not want them to get screened. Even though the secret service clearly knew that they had weapons.
Now, the committee also has an email detailing a bit of Donald Trump's mindset in the aftermath of the Supreme Court rejecting an effort to overturn the election results in mid-December 2020. Donald Trump was "pissed" according to one of the messages that we expect to be seen here. So, this is a big part of today's testimony. Jake? All of these messages coming from the secret service, aware of what Donald Trump was doing and aware of what was happening on the rally that preceded the riot.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill for us. Thanks so much. Jamie Gangel, we're also told that there's going to be some striking never before seen video. What can you tell us about that?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we have learned from multiple sources exactly what this video is. We've never seen it before. It is video behind the scenes of top congressional leaders. Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Schumer after they're evacuated from the Capitol. They were taken to Fort McNair.
I am told it is remarkable. It is compelling that it shows the congressional leadership, interacting on the phone with then Vice President Mike Pence with other officials trying to stop the riot, trying to do the right thing, and that it is in sharp contrast to what to Donald Trump, who for 187 minutes, just sat there. This is something we have never seen before, and I'm told it's stunning.
TAPPER: Yes. Trump aid, Sarah Matthews said that because Trump didn't do anything during that time. That's why she resigned that very day. And that's going to be one of the themes Dana Bash, how culpable Donald Trump is. What can you tell us about that?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. Two sources familiar with the prep for today's hearing. Say, that's really the most urgent, the most overarching goal that they have is to refocus on Donald Trump himself, his quote, action and inaction. That's one of the sources I talked to put it and his central culpability. And all of this, and it is, in part going to be illustrated by what Manu was talking about, all of this new material that the committee has gotten from the secret service.
The emphasis, of course, is going to be what the goal and the mission of this committee is, which is the days leading up to, months leading up to January 6, and what happened on that day. But the committee members want to also make a very stark and clear point, that the former president is a "clear and present danger in the future." Their audience, of course, the American people, but also one source I talked to was very candid, saying it's also the DOJ, the Department of Justice.
TAPPER: Interesting. And I wonder if it's the Justice Department even more than it is the American people at this point, who have probably largely made up their minds about how they feel about this.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And so, the Justice Department has this investigation, ongoing members of the committee, if we roll back the tape six months ago, would have said what are they doing? Why aren't they being more aggressive? I think the committee has come to understand, actually behind the scenes, the Justice Department is doing considerable work, bit of a timeout now about being public, because we have an election in 26 days.
But so, there is a debate in the committee still about, do you have a direct referral, do you lay out. We the committee members believe Donald Trump broke law A, law B, law C, law D, we think maybe other people broke these laws. This shift seems to be against that, but just laying out in the report very clearly what they did.
So, we have a proxy debate going on here, too. They want to make the case against Donald Trump. Donald Trump cannot be on the ballot again until 2024. There's an election in 26 days. The legacy of January 6 lives in races all around this country, some candidates on the Republican ticket who were here, here on January 6, at the Capitol in the crowd.
Some who helped Donald Trump tried to overturn the elections, including the man running for the governor of your home state, Pennsylvania. Others who are running, saying that the legislature should be able to come together, if we don't like the way the people voted, we should be able to come together and overturn those results.
So, it's interesting as the committee makes the argument against Trump 2024, the roots of this are getting deeper and deeper into American politics, deeper into the Republican bloodstream. And so, you can make an argument about 2024. I think 27, 28, 29 days from now, we're going to be looking at the results, and maybe saying that the cancer has spread pretty significant.
TAPPER: I think that that's a big fear. And Abby Phillip for that reason, we have seen conservatives, these two Republicans who are on the committee, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, actually going and endorsing Democrats, even though these are, especially Liz Cheney, you know, dyed in the wool conservatives endorsing Democrats in places like Arizona, because these election liars, who are - they're running on a platform of, I will not count the votes in Democratic leaning counties are on the ballot and could win.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, country over party. I mean, imagine such a thing, it seems really far-fetched. But I think they understand that you can't even get to partisan differences if you don't even believe in the fundamental issue of democracy in the first place. And for that Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney have essentially been become estranged from their own political party, both of them, basically implying that they don't have a home among Republicans right now, or until they fully - the party fully rejects Donald Trump.
I think one other thing about Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, and their effect on the committee's work is that they understand that the power of the evidence really matters because they're not just speaking to Democrats and people who already believe in them, they already - they also want to talk to their fellow Republicans.
And I think today's hearing in which we're going to hear a lot from a kind of almost like a third party, the secret service and things that were happening contemporaneously. I think it has the effect of basically saying like, these are people who don't really have a skin in the game, and here's what they were saying at the time. And I think that's a really powerful source of information at this particular stage in the hearings,
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Factually, legally, morally, politically, all comes down to Donald Trump. Donald Trump was the person who set this all-in motion by the big lie. He was the person who for whom this all was beneficial. He was the one trying to stop the peaceful transition of power by whatever means possible, the legal, illegal, violence, lies, and it all comes back in - all the audiences.
This connects to all the audiences, including the DOJ because the two statutes involved that are relevant here are 18 U.S.C. 371 conspiracy to defraud the United States, which requires just basic deceit and lies in trying to obstruct a lawful function of government and 1512 the obstruction statute, which says that if you corruptly, again, that could be through lies or violence or anything else, to obstruct an official proceeding which this absolutely was of the United States government. You go to jail and all dovetails.
TAPPER: I guess, we'll see if we're a nation of laws or men coming in the coming days as the January 6. Committee is getting ready to begin today's hearing. We're getting new information about the committee's deliberations on possible criminal referrals to the Justice Department. We'll tell you what we're learning, next.
COOPER: We are waiting the start of the hearing by the January 6 select committee, the last hearing before the midterms. We've learned it'll feature but dramatic never before seen video of congressional leaders after they were evacuated from the Capitol on January 6. We also expect new evidence from hundreds of thousands of communications turned over by the U.S. Secret Service.
As the hearing plays out, the committee is still deciding whether to send the criminal referrals. the Justice Department want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray. Sara, what are you learning about that? Because this is not something that they have to do or necessarily may want to do.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson, it's not something they have to do. But you know, one of the things that we know is the committee is going to be aiming to highlight evidence today that they believe could be of use to prosecutors who are going forward with these criminal investigations. You know, we don't expect to see the criminal referral today.
The committee is still figuring out the timing, if they actually want to do this, but they know that the Justice Department probe is moving forward. They know there's a criminal investigation going on in Georgia and they want to make sure that they are putting front and center information that they think could be helpful to those prosecutors.
I mean, one sort of more minor example of that was they sent a letter to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, asking for him to come in for a voluntary interview. That still hasn't happened when it comes to the January 6 committee. When we saw prosecutors in Georgia move pretty quickly after that letter to subpoena Gingrich. Anderson?
COOPER: Sara Murray, appreciate it. Back here, now in New York, with our team Elie Honig. Just from a legal standpoint, is there any reason for them not to send a criminal referral or to send some sort of a referral?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So criminal referral is meaningless as a legal matter. It's important symbolically, it's important politically, but prosecutors get referrals all day, every day, any of us could pick up our phone right now, called DOJ's mainline, say I have information, I'd like you to investigate.
COOPER: The department justice doesn't need a criminal referral from this committee.
HONIG: Yes. And it doesn't force them to do anything. That said, I think the evidence that the January 6 committee has uncovered is really the thing. And I think today we're going to hear a prosecutorial style closing argument. Because let's remember, how much new information, crucial new information we've gotten from the January 6 committee. We didn't know who Cassidy Hutchinson was, in the days and weeks following January 6. We hadn't seen the text from Mark Meadows. And what you can see here is the committee is leading the way and DOJ is following.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But there are some members in the committee who say it's not their job to do that. That's not the job of Congress. And more than one member of the committee has said the only way we would do this, is if it were unanimous. And how did they get that.
COOPER: What about a final report being issued?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I mean, that's going to be a very crucial. But remember talking about, they've used this medium of television, they've been intentional in doing so to have the broadest audience. The idea of listening or reading through the congressional report, probably not going to be the most enticing things for people to see.
However, the job today will be at as of a trial attorney. They have to submit - have the summation. They want to tell you it's been months since I've seen you. We've got new people are here. I will revisit this moment. The big picture here is, I told you what I was going to tell you, that there was the connection to the White House that there is democracy on the ballot, here's why it's still important. But the way they do it today will be the most crucial. If they find themselves in the minutiae of trying to corroborate, I think they will lose the audience of the electorate, as opposed to, here's why this is still crucial. That's a very difficult thing for them to do.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I also think, yes, the Justice Department does not need their criminal referrals. But it has been interesting to see what the Justice Department has done in this period since we last saw this committee come together. Two things also, you know, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago had not happened when we were at the last year.
The other thing that we've seen that, I am told is the most concerning to Trump's attorneys right now is the grand jury investigation happening in Washington into the fake electoral scheme. They have asked, the DOJ has asked the January 6 committee for information related to that. And I'm told that's where they've actually made a lot of progress. They've issued dozens of subpoenas. They have seized cell phones of some of these people. They've gotten to some of these fake electors' homes.
COOPER: The January 6 committee has or--
COLLINS: The grand jury that's investigating in Washington. So yes, some Trump allies will say, you know, these January 6, hearings don't mean anything, but they are kind of providing a roadmap that clearly the Justice Department is looking at very closely.
COOPER: That's something that you're hearing that it's the investigation into the electors that is of such concern?
COLLINS: That's where they - I mean, I don't think that I don't necessarily know or have reporting that that's going to result in any trouble for Donald Trump per se. Maybe it does on the sidelines. But I'm told that is what they're most concerned about. That's where they think the most movement is going to happen and what they've been looking at the investigation.
BORGER: And that's so important. I mean, that's so important for this committee. Because this committee has been talking about the fake electors, and they're going to make the case today, I believe. And when they say, why should we care about this now? The reason they're going to say to the American public is because it's going on now, what happened before is happening again only with more emphasis and more backing. So, if they show you the fake electoral issue, then they can take you to the present, where you see what's going on around the country.
COATES: And by the way, I mean, some one person they've spoken to since last we spoke is Ginni Thomas. The idea of election denialism, still going on.
COLLINS: But she still stands by. COATES: She's still stands by and she's still, also the wife of a Supreme Court justice, who is the gatekeeper in some respects to the Mar-a-Lago notions of the document review and what's going on from there. I mean, we can't look at these things in a vacuum. I think their job today is going to be helping the American public to understand.
Look, there are all these different vantage points, you've seen. Secret service's vantage points, those who were in the inner office, in the Oval Office, the president himself not so much, but everyone around the Oath Keepers trials still going on, etc. But now you've got this very real notion.
To your point, you're going to tell me that there's a Supreme Court justice, whose wife has engaged in the election denialism has testified before the committee. There's this ongoing thing with Mar-a- Lago. I mean, they're going to have to connect the dots to make this very real. This isn't in the rearview mirror.
HONIG: I think the language that we're hearing, the tagline that we've been hearing from the committee, previewing today is clear and present danger. They say, Donald Trump remains a clear and present danger to democracy. I think that's a sort of catchy phrase. But I also think that's a call up the block to DOJ. Because they understand, the hearings work is essentially going to be over after today.
Yes, they will issue a report that will be very important, but for people who are thinking about consequences beyond a report, which you can buy in a bookstore and read and will be important historically, that's going to fall to the United States Department of Justice. And so, I think the committee understands that today's hearing is really a moment of torch passing really, from Congress over to DOJ.
COOPER: As we await the start of the hearing and new evidence of former President Trump's state of mind on January 6, we'll be joined by former White House insiders, including one who testified before the select committee. Well, let's get historic perspective from two veterans of the Watergate era back in a moment.
COOPER: We are closing in on the start of a critical hearing from January 6 select committee. The panel getting one last chance before the midterm elections to make its case that former President Trump was and still is a threat to democracy. I want to go to Evan Perez who's standing by. How might the evidence presented today influence the investigation by the Justice Department?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, every single one of these hearings has helped the Justice Department make the case certainly that they need to get some of the same testimony that this committee has been able to get. And you know, playing out right across the way from the Capitol at the U.S. courthouse is a fight that's been going on over privilege, where the former president has been arguing to some of his closest aides.
Some of his top people in the administration aren't allowed to provide testimony to the Justice Department's investigation, which is looking at just only six obviously, the effort also to impede the transfer of power. Just today, we saw Marc Short, who was a former aide to the Vice President Pence, Kash Patel and that our former National Security aide to the foreign president. You see them right there, exiting the federal courthouse.
Anderson, at the courthouse has been this fight going on where in secret, where the former president's been arguing that they're covered by executive privilege, by attorney client privilege, but they're not allowed to provide testimony to this investigation. Justice Department has been arguing that they are and the fact that they provided some of this testimony to the committee is helping that case.
So today, obviously we asked Marc Short what this was about? They wouldn't answer the question. But you better understand that this is an important fight. This is an important thing that's going to - that's really going to have consequences in the coming weeks and months as the Justice Department decides where the charges are coming from here.
COOPER: Evan Perez, thanks very much. We'll get more on what's ahead with former Nixon, White House Counsel John Dean, veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, and Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer. So, Carl, I mean, obviously the Watergate saga took more than two years to unfold. It's been 21 months since the January 6 insurrection. What do you expect today? What questions still need to answer?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The big question is how wide and deep is the conspiracy to violate the most basic tenet of American democracy, free elections in this country. And there is an open and shut case that this committee has developed to Donald Trump impeded that most basic element of our democracy that he stood at the head of a conspiracy to undermine free elections in this country.
That we're going to see today, including a tick tock that parts of it that the committee has developed, that on January 6, the 1887 law that specifies you have to have the president United States elected on that day, beginning at 1pm by the Congress. That law was impeded. Trump identified the weak spot in American democracy, which is you impede that meeting.
You don't let it happen. And you have set the grounds for a revolution to impede the free election. And that's what happened. All those witnesses you saw, come out of the courthouse that Evan was talking about a moment ago.