Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Soon: Jan 6. Cmte To Hold Final Hearing Before Midterms. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 13, 2022 - 12:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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, they most of them are the conspirators with the President of the United States.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Marc Short, by the way is not in that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just said not all. I said not all.

COOPER: He was the one we were showing, he just happened to be the one who got followed by the cameras. John Dean, the -- were -- no new witnesses today, from what we understand, no live witnesses, I should say, we may see some witnesses we haven't seen before on tape, Pompeo or others. We also expect to actually hear from all the members of the Committee, which may always makes me pause because often what's been remarkable about this Committee is how laser focused they've been. They've really only allowed one or two committee members to be the ones really asking the questions. I don't know if this is going to become like every other Committee meeting where people just want to make sound bites. And --

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WH COUNSEL TO PRES. NIXON: I don't think so. I think what they're going to do is laser focus, if you will, on different areas to make sure they show the full picture. They've clearly got a theme with the clear and present danger that's very impactful. But as far as this effort to influence justice, and the Department of Justice, I don't see that what -- that's what they're doing. I think that Justice goes down its own track. The Congressional Committee goes down its own track. It has a different name. It has to impress the public, if there's a problem here, we need laws. So these are really different situations.

COOPER: Franklin Foer, you at The Atlantic, you recently profiled Attorney General Merrick Garland. How do you think he is using this Committee, watching this Committee and moving forward?

FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, he watches these hearings. He said that -- he was telling you he's watching them in public. And he's very adamant that he goes home and he recaps them all the time. And so I do think he's paying attention and that can't help but influence the way that he sees the bigger picture. But I think that John is correct, that essentially, his investigation is moving on a separate track. And I think it's very important to him in the way that he thinks about his job and his responsibilities, that in the end, he's not actually influenced by this.

But I think there is a synergistic relationship between the Congressional investigation which has certain subpoena powers able to puncture certain privileges that the Justice Department can't puncture, which is why they're so keen to get hold of these transcripts. And then the Justice Department has its own subpoena powers. And so what's striking to me is how after this thorough investigation, where we have this abundance of evidence, technology permits us to see everything. We have all these text messages, yet, there's still these other technologies that are encrypted, and the ability to hide is still there.

And so at the end of the day, we're still left with dots that haven't really been fully committed, even though the most overt and obvious parts of the crime are just screamingly obvious and will be hammered home today.

COOPER: Do we know has the Committee shared all of its information with the Department of Justice, Franklin? Because early on there was sort of seemed like there was quibbling going back and forth or some sort of turf wars?

FOER: I -- I'm actually not entirely sure about that. I think that most -- I think some of it has been shared, but I'm not sure all of it has been.

COOPER: The Merrick Garland, did you get a sense of a timeline he has? I mean, obviously, there's a lot of work still to do in the Department of Justice?

FOER: Well, so I think that there is -- there's a timeline that exists where we know that if there's going to be an indictment against Donald Trump, that results in a trial of Donald Trump before the next, the turn of administration, it would have to come by late spring next year, because there's this long delay between when a trial is scheduled, and when it actually happens. And if it's a trial that related to something that came out of January 6th, there's a massive amount of discovery. This is the most thorough investigation, Merrick Garland says in the history of the Justice Department. So a new trial could actually take an extra six months or so if it was about something as complicated as January 6th.

DEAN: Anderson, a perfect example of how these can go down different tracks, is the Watergate tapes. Those were discovered by Congress. And then they were not gotten by Congress, but rather than the executive branch.

COOPER: Thank you all. Appreciate it. The hearing gets underway soon.


Coming up, we'll ask Trump administration insiders what they expect to hear today and how it squares with what they know about the former president. Stay with us.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You're looking at images of individuals mainly members of the media it looks like starting to take their places inside the historic canon caucus hearing room on Capitol Hill. We've learned that the January 6th Select Committee is about to share some compelling never before seen video of congressional leaders Democrats and Republicans after they were evacuated from the Capitol during the riot.

We also expect to see and hear newly obtained testimony, including from former members of the Trump cabinet. This hearing obviously comes at a pivotal moment in the investigation of Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. We're getting some new information about the thinking inside Trump world at this moment in the investigation of Donald Trump. Kristen Holmes has been digging in on that. Kristen, what are they telling you?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Trump World is very slick because on one side you have Donald Trump himself and on the other you have the aides advisers and out allies who don't have all of the same protections that the former president does. So when it comes to those former aides, allies, and advisers, many of them are on edge ahead of this hearing. As Kaitlin said earlier, a lot has happened since the last hearing dozens of subpoenas went out to those in Trump world for the Department of Justice's own investigation into January 6th.


And many in Trump's orbit believe those subpoenas stemmed from evidence that was presented at these televised hearings. So we're hearing from a lot of people who are slightly worried about what might be revealed today. They say, what's the next shoe to drop and other aid telling me, if I appear in the background of some video, does that mean the Department of Justice is going to come after me?

So a lot of concern on that side and they will be watching very closely. Remember, many of them have turned over documents but still haven't been interviewed by the Department of Justice and don't want to be. Now on the other side, you have Donald Trump himself, who is completely distracted by the number of federal state investigations court cases, and I'm told he's absolutely fixated on that documents case out of Mar-a-Lago. He has been watching the back and forth closely walking around Mar-a-Lago, lamenting that he's being treated unfairly raging, that he is not treated the same as other presidents.

So he's a little bit distracted by what many believe are his very deep concerns over legal troubles. But again, his aides, they will be watching closely to see how this might impact them as well.

TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes, thanks so much. And we're joined by some former Trump administration aides, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who is the former White House Communications Director. Olivia Troye, who was a former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence in the White House. And Sarah Matthews, the former deputy White House press secretary who testified before the January 6th Select Committee. Alyssa, let me start with you. The Committee is hoping to make the case that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to American democracy, do you think he is?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Oh, he absolutely is. And the Committee up until this point has masterfully laid out the case of every step of wrongdoing from the pressure campaign on Mike Pence to the fake elector schemes to being OK, frankly, with the fact that rioters who showed up, you know, being warned that they were planning to commit violence, that they may have had weapons on them.

And then finally that he himself wanted to go to the Capitol on January 6th, you know, we don't know what is going to happen with the countless investigations into Donald Trump. But these Committee hearings matter, because it's the Court of Public Opinion. It is warning the American people of what he did, because at the end of the day, the voters are the best mechanism for accountability with him. And this absolutely has impacts for 2024 if he's going to run again.

TAPPER: And Sarah Matthews, we could hear from some former Trump cabinet secretary, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, perhaps even a Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who Trump attacked on truth social the other day, perhaps not coincidentally, what do you think we could learn from them?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I'm hoping that if they do show the tape testimony from these cabinet officials that we could see if there were any conversations happening around January 6th about the 25th Amendment being invoked.

TAPPER: Removing the president, the cabinet removing the president.

MATTHEWS: Exactly. And so I think that that could be really interesting if we do see these taped testimonies from these folks. And if there were conversations happening in the aftermath of January 6th of whether we should remove him.

TAPPER: And I think we heard, yes, maybe it was a "Washington Post" live or something, I think the former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made an allusion to the fact that there were conversations about that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And she was one of the people to resign in the aftermath of January 6th. And so clearly, that shows that there were cabinet officials who were concerned about Trump and the way he handled January 6th.

TAPPER: And Olivia, CNN has learned that the Committee received nearly 1.5 million communications from the U.S. Secret Service in the past two weeks, communications from the lead up to January 6th. What do you think might be in there? What are you going to be looking for?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: Yes, look, January 6th was one of the most egregious national security incidents, has happened domestically in our country. And like, it's a breach of the U.S. Capitol, the Vice President's life was in danger. And all of these people were endangered. People got hurt, people died.

And so I'm looking for what were they communicating? What did they know? And when did they know it and the threat level? What was the threat level going into January 6th, were they communicating to the Vice President's team, what they were seeing? Were they concerned about it? And then what was he exchanged with sort of the national security apparatus as well? And what were they telling the U.S. Capitol Police? Because usually, there's a lot of coordination that happens in that, in the lead up to it. And so what did they know when and what do they do about it?

And then as it was going on, as they were telling each other, you know, we're seeing guns, we're seeing this, this is real. This is getting out of control. What was the response to that? Were they communicating with people inside the White House? Who was involved in that? And what was done? And you know, while he, Donald Trump, sat there and did nothing.

TAPPER: Did nothing. Sarah, earlier this summer your friend Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the Committee, she provided a secondhand account, most of -- almost all of her testimony was about things she saw and witnessed. But one item was about a story she had been told by the then White House Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato, former secret service agent, and Ornato told Cassidy Hutchinson in front of another secret service agent about this incident where Trump was lunging for the wheel of the presidential SUV because he wanted to go to the Capitol. He did not want to go back.


Do you think that we're going to get corroboration of that from this, all the Secret Service data that has been turned over to the Committee because I found Cassidy Hutchinson very credible? My understanding is Tony Ornato has refused to come forward and answer questions in an open hearing, even though he's been on whispering campaign ever since. But do you think we'll see corroboration?

MATTHEWS: So I am hopeful that we'll see corroboration of that because as someone who worked firsthand with Cassidy and Tony, I can attest to the fact they had a very close relationship at the White House, and they were friendly with each other. So it's not unsurprising to me that Tony would share a story like that with Cassidy.

And then on top of that, I think the Secret Service text messages being deleted, kind of lends credence to Cassidy's testimony that maybe there was some sort of cover up going on. I don't think you can delete text messages with one push of a button. It's not something you can do very easily. I am relieved to hear though that we will be still getting some form of electronic communications in the form of e-mails and things of that nature, from Secret Service that the Committee will be unveiling today. And hopefully that will shed light on what the Secret Service knew was happening.

TAPPER: Alyssa? GRIFFIN: Cassidy's testimony has been corroborated through and through, she was defamed, she was maligned, after speaking out in virtually everything she's claimed has now been corroborated. But I would point out, it's October now and we still have not heard from Tony Ornato. The person who went on the record and said she was lying. This didn't happen. So I hope that in some of the Secret Service tapings and interviews that we know the Committee did, we're going to see even further evidence that what she shared is true. And she's going to be vindicated in this. And I also think we still need to hear from Tony because he did lie.

TAPPER: And we are just minutes away from the start of the hearing and all the new evidence that Committee is planning to present. CNN special coverage continues, we're going to sneak in a quick break. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to our coverage of the January 6th Select Committee. They're about to convene panel members say they will reveal a trove of new information that they have obtained in the last few months. We've learned that will include what they described as dramatic, previously unseen video of congressional leaders, Democrats and Republicans after they were evacuated from the Capitol during the insurrection for fear of their -- what could happen to them, their lives.

We also expect the Committee to share recent testimony that they got from former Trump cabinet officials. And also we expect them to reveal details from more than 1 million e-mails and other communications turned over by the U.S. Secret Service. This is all designed to bolster the Committee's closing argument before the midterm elections making the case that in their view, former President Donald Trump was at the center of the efforts to overturn the 2020 election and in their view remains a threat to American democracy today. And Jamie Gangel let me start with you because you're learning about another, this is video evidence that they got.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a video I'm told by multiple sources to keep an eye out for what they described as a compilation video of some witnesses we've already seen and some new witnesses. But altogether I'm told it presents new evidence, more detail that Trump knew that the election was not stolen, that he was told by his inner circle by top Trump officials, by DOJ officials, former Attorney General Bill Barr we famously know told him.

And my understanding is that it speaks to the point that Trump was told by people he trusted one thing. And then he went out and he lied. He went out to the ellipse and lied about it. And he continues to lie today.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Which is a bad intent.

TAPPER: A bad intent. And George, let me bring you in as well as the lawyer here because I mean, one of the things we've heard from even people who have been willing to testify against the president, like the former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue is when I asked him was this against the law. He said, I can't get into his state of mind. Maybe he actually believed that these lies were true. This would suggest --

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: And the best evidence of his state of mind is going to be what he was told and what he said. And it goes both to both statutes I mentioned earlier, the conspiracy to defraud the United States requires fraudulent intent. And if he's told one thing, and then he goes out and says the other, like, right after that, that's fraudulent intent. The other statute which is the obstruction statute requires a show, showing of corrupt intent. Well, if you're told one thing and then you go out and say the other it's not true, that's corrupt intent. And it's just it checks the boxes very neatly.


BASH: So one question I have, and maybe you can answer this is to prove intent, especially at this level. Do you need more than he was told by these all these people? Do you also need him saying one thing maybe him saying, I know the election wasn't stolen? I know I didn't win.

CONWAY: Don't need that. You can, a jury could conclude that somebody knew better because they were told 100 times.

BASH: But it's harder to prove.

CONWAY: Yes, yes. It would be helpful to have him say, or to have testimony that he said that, yes, I knew I lost. And in fact, there is, you know, some of these books actually reveal that people, people that we know, who basically he moved around the White House for a little while, right after, right on election night, or a couple of days after saying how could I have lost to this guy? And he was told by some people, some people I know, that you lost because there was a bad campaign, people ran a bad campaign.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But I mean, this is exactly why this is difficult with Trump, because that I think might all be true, but you're still going to hear him say, well, they told me all of this stuff, but I just don't believe it. I believe that I won. And if I believe that I won that that's enough. And do I personally think that that is justifiable? Obviously not. It's not true. Will it pass muster in a court of law? Probably not. But with Trump's supporters, that has been an enough.

TAPPER: Yes, But you can --

CONWAY: I used my O.J. analogy with this. Remember what O.J. also he went to jail for was stealing the stuff back from the guy he thought took his memorabilia. OK. The fact that he thought he really owned it, didn't matter.

TAPPER: Let's go to Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill for us. Melanie, what, if anything, do we expect to hear from top Republicans as today's hearing plays out?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Jake, I can tell you that House Republicans are planning a much more muted response to today's hearing than we have seen in the past. A source in House GOP leadership tells me that they want to keep the message squarely focused on the economy and inflation and that today's hearing has not come up in some of their recent messaging and strategy meetings.

Now they do have plans for a formal rebuttal. They have conducted their own investigation and their own report that is narrowly focused on the security failures that led to the capital breach, but they are going to save that for whenever the Select Committee unveils their final report later this year. And additionally, I'm told, Jake, that the House GOP Twitter accounts that have landed in some hot water previously, during some of these hearings, are planning to dial down their tone today.

So they have gotten in trouble previously for some tweets, including one that was deleted attacking Sarah Matthews, a witness. So the game plan today is to lay low. They're trying to focus on economy. And they are betting that Republicans voters across the country are going to care more about the economy than today's hearing, Jake.

TAPPER: John King?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Well, for history, and for good of country, how the House Republicans, how most Republicans, not just the House Republicans, have handled the months of these hearings is pretty reprehensible. They've just been the grand ostrich party and stuck their head in the sand and decided we're not paying any attention to any of this, 26 days from the election, I completely get the raw politics argument of saying, let's not make a big stink today. Let's not even call it an illegitimate committee. Let's not stir up anything today because Republicans believe as of today, that after a summer where they got a little nervous after the Dobbs decision that heading into the final three weeks or so four weeks of that this campaign has moved in their direction.

With 26 days before we count votes, and some people are actually voting today early voting is open in some states. They believe especially in those most competitive districts, places where Donald Trump struggled, suburban areas in America that they can win. And the last thing they want to do is upset the applecart. They believe things are moving in their direction. So it is smart politically. I'm not saying it's good for the country, or good for the long term future of the party or good for principle to ignore facts. But politically, it's smart for the Republicans to just go away.

BASH: But it was always not great, big picture politically for them to be doing what they're doing. The reason why the account of the House conference chair who took over for Liz Cheney after she was pushed out, put out these statements is because the former president was telling them to, saying I want my defenders out there. And he was not just telling them to pretty much demanding it.

They know that when it comes to the politics of midterms, the economy is number one, they talk about the economy, immigration, and crime until they're blue in the face. What's interesting is that now so close to the midterms, they seemed to be pushing back on Trump's demands.

GANGEL: I think just one question though, will Donald Trump let them get away with that today? You know, is he going to be on the phone?

TAPPER: He wants his Roy Cohn out there, a tweeter version of Roy Cohn.


PHILLIP: The other element of all of this is that just frankly they have not had a whole lot to work with in terms of pushback, it's been hard to push back on what's been presented by the January 6th Committee.