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CNN Live Event/Special
Soon: Jan. 6 Committee Holds Final Public Hearing. Aired 12:30- 1p ET
Aired December 19, 2022 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- it was like seven, eight, nine hours after everything could happen. So he's absolutely livid. And he'll be watching, Melania will be watching. And then they're going to try to dismiss it as they have been. And then we go from there, we start over.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, listen, I mean, I've been waiting throughout this whole process for Donald Trump to offer any sort of rational defense, I didn't think it was going to get this out of hand, I wasn't aware of what was going on. And there's none of that. He just personally attacks members of the Committee or people reporting on it, or witnesses who have testified, and but there's no actual defense of what he did.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, because I don't think he can come up with the defense and he's going to rely on Republican House members to defend him for him. We're already expecting to see some House Republicans kind of contest today's Committee hearing, he knows others are going to do his dirty work for him. But there is no defense. We all watch that day in horror. There's a reason that you're sitting here with four people who are senior White House officials for that President speaking out against him like that, in and of itself is incredibly unprecedented because of what he allowed to happen that day. He has no defense, we're going to -- I am certain we will hear from him. He's going to be true thing about it. And I wouldn't be surprised if he's tuning in.
GRISHAM: Well, and one other thing I'll just say quickly, I mean, he -- that's a sign of weakness to him, he will never admit that he could have even not known about it, that would be a sign of weakness to concede, so you just deny and deflect and destroy.
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And to kind of go off at point, we also know from witnesses that he was sitting there watching it unfold, he can't deny that he didn't know what was happening. We all know Donald Trump, he sits and watches T.V., and he sat and watched T.V. in the dining room near the Oval. And so we know he saw what was unfolding. He chose not to act until at the very last second, you know, he sent something out. But let's also not forget, later that day, he sent out a tweet saying that this was a day to be remembered. He kind of seemed like it was a celebratory occasion to him. So he really can't have any defense. TAPPER: And Olivia, we're being told that it's likely not only going to be criminal referral about Donald Trump, there are likely going to be other individuals who played a role whether Jeffrey Clark or Mark Meadows, people that probably this wouldn't have gone as far as it did without their participation.
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: Yes, and the way I think it's critical because I think this is Trump. But this is way bigger than Trump. This crosses layers of members of Congress, this crosses people and people who are married to the Supreme Court justices. And these people are still in power in terms of members of Congress. We've lost a lot of wonderful, principled Republicans. As a result of the events of January 6th, we've lost Peter Meijer in Congress, we've lost Rep. Gonzalez and Ohio, I think about all those people who took a stand for what was right.
And yet all of these other individuals, there's been no accountability for them in terms of what they did that was wrong. And, you know, what they did was basically enable potential sedition in overturning an election.
GRIFFIN: Well, to Olivia's point, this was allowed to happen, not just because of Donald Trump, every one of us swore an oath to the Constitution when we assumed our roles in the White House, people around the former president who swore the same oath to the Constitution to defend against enemies, foreign and domestic that day decided to do nothing. Or in fact, they decided to spread conspiracies put bad information in front of him, give him ridiculous legal advice, which is what allowed it to happen.
And I think that's the moment we have to kind of step back and remember, in all this, because we've learned so much through these Committee hearings, is that people in a position of power, who could have done the right thing, just time and time again didn't and allowed this to go as far as it did.
GRISHAM: And the important lesson, too, I think, is I think the American people have seen all of this. I think the midterms really did show that. So I am, I believe I'm heartened to think that people are standing up, because that's how this gets stopped is the voters. The voters have to stop voting in extremists. And I'm hoping that with after the midterms, that's kind of showing up to be a positive.
TAPPER: And there is reason to be heartened, because in the right states, and in the right districts, voters, a lot of independents and some Republicans, as well as Democrats did not support the election liars in Arizona and in Michigan, and in Pennsylvania and on and on. But that's in the swing districts in the swing states. In the states and districts that are not swing that are just solidly Republican election liars won. And in fact, a bunch of them are about to take power in the House of Representatives.
TROYE: Yes, and a lot of them are going to -- and a lot of people that enable this moment are actually going to have more power now as a result of this. But I'll say this, a lot of these elections, even though we say, you know, yes, democracy, per se, there's a lot of democracy advocacy that took place where we won in the midterms. It's very tight. It was very tight. It was it was very close, and it shouldn't have been that close with a lot of these election deniers.
TAPPER: You testified -- has this been satisfying at all for you? Has it been terrifying what -- how has it been?
MATTHEWS: No, it definitely has been a very surreal experience. I don't think I ever would have thought that I'd be in this position to testify against my former boss for something of this significance. I never thought our country would be at this moment. And so I'm, you know, I'm curious to see what else the Committee has learned in their report and I'm hopeful that, you know, they make the right criminal referrals for those who need to be held accountable for what happened.
TAPPER: Well, all four of you have been very, very brave and courageous and doing what you do and it does not escape notice that all four of you are women.
Coming up how the January 6th Select Committee is about to make history we're going to talk with iconic figures from the Watergate era. John Dean, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein after this break.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The doors are open and the cameras are on. And the January 6th Select Committee is about to cap its lengthy investigation with the expected announcement of criminal referrals against the former President Donald Trump and possibly others involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. We're going to be bringing that hearing to you live here on CNN. Right now, as we await that, let's go to Pamela Brown at the magic wall with a look at the extensive interviews and evidence that led to this moment. I mean, Pamela, they have been right months and months and that time has been spent interviewing countless people.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, more than 1,000 witnesses and several within Trump's orbit, and we want to familiarize you with some of these people because you're going to likely see their names in the report. Here you are, here's his legal counsel.
These are some of the key members that have testified to the Committee either behind closed doors in a deposition or public testimony, including Pat Cipollone, the former White House Counsel, Eric Herschmann, former White House attorney who was also a fighting against efforts to overturn the election results. And then on the other end, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, they were very much on Trump's side pushing him to overturn the results.
And then you have members of the Trump campaign Jason Miller, former senior adviser Bill Stepien, the Trump campaign manager, Justin Clark, former senior adviser also testified to the Committee behind closed doors, Alex Cannon, the former Trump campaign lawyer and Matt Morgan, former Trump campaign General Counsel, they could have provided significant testimony on what was going on behind closed doors and the legal advice that the former president was getting.
And then you have Trump White House officials. Many of these offered just bombshell testimony to the Committee including Cassidy Hutchison, the former aide to Meadow. She said many things that were pretty explosive, as you'll recall at the time, including the story about Trump lunging at the driver of his secret service motorcade.
And then you have Matthew Pottinger, the former NSC official who testified alongside Sarah Matthews, the former deputy White House press secretary who was just on our air and Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary. And over at DOJ, several DOJ officials testified to the Committee whether it be in public or behind closed doors, including Steve Engel, the former head of OLC, Jeffrey Clark, former acting head of the DOJ Civil Division. He has been a big target of the Committee and efforts to overturn the election results, also BJay Pak, the former U.S. attorney who abruptly resigned after the election. He was told that he would be fired so he decided to resign.
And then Richard Donoghue, former Acting Deputy Attorney General, Jeff Rosen, the former acting Attorney General at the time during the election, and of course, William Barr, former Attorney General, who you'll recall, said during his hearing that Trump was detached from reality. And then Pence staff, Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, Mark Short, Gregory Jacob, five pleaded the 5th, did not exactly cooperate with the Committee, plead the 5th. Here's what Bill Barr had to say, we're just talking about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff which I told the President it was bullshit.
IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Pay respect to Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he said was saying.
BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I didn't mind being characterized as being part of team normal.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WH CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: The President said something to the effect of, I'm the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.
MATTHEWS: I motioned up at the T.V. And I said, do you think it looks like we're effing winning because I don't think it does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Some of the memorable moments of these hearings and as Pam said, the 1,000 or so interviews that the Committee conducted. Now, no former president has ever faced a criminal referral from Congress. So the veteran journalist credited with breaking the Watergate scandal, the people who understand sort of historical moment we are in better than anyone with us now, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, along with the former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean.
Thanks to all. So Bob, here we are, this is going to be the 11th hearing. They've had 10. And during times, it was, were they done? Were they not done? They would add a hearing. Here we are. And we know this is the final hearing. What is at stake today?
BOB WOODWARD, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, a great deal is at stake, of course. But what's interesting, I'm, you know, Dean, Carl, and myself here, this is was 50 years ago. And if you ask the question, what was Watergate? It's Senator Ervin, who ran those very good hearings said, Watergate was an effort to destroy the integrity of the process of nominating and electing a president.
I think we now find 50 years later, that there is the issue and it's in Supreme Court decisions on I think what they're going to recommend Trump be charged with which is subverting a criminal procedure in the Supreme Court decisions on this. There is a destruction destroy clause. It says, are we destroying what is valuable? Clearly, I mean, what's an issue here on January 6th, they're deciding who's going to be president, is that valuable, clearly is valuable. It's something we need to know. And the lists of charges -- potential charges against Trump are immense.
BURNETT: Yes. They are and we'll see what they come forth. We reported maybe at least three CNN anticipates, but we'll see what else they say. John Dean in that clip that we just played, right, 1,000 interviews or so, and Pamela just put together a few of them. You know, people say, you know, you were so instrumental in Watergate, right? What was there when you look at all of this coming into this final eleventh hearing, a John Dean moment that you feel this was it?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER WH COUNSEL TO PRES. NIXON: I think as close as anybody has come to what Bob described when I went in and blew myself up in front of the Committee and took the White House.
BURNETT: The original John Dean.
DEAN: Nobody has done that. Cassidy Hutchinson did come forward, truthfully testified was a stellar witness, an important witness changed the whole dynamics, if not the interest of the public in the proceedings, and that's very important. The public care. These have been very choreographed hearings, much more so than Watergate, a lot of the work of this Committee has been done behind closed doors. We're going to hear some of that today. And I think that's important to know.
BURNETT: We're going to hear some of it. And of course, we're going to see in these next hours and days, the transcripts, which they have, you know, really withheld so many from the public thus far from the DOJ, everyone's now going to see some of that. CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: We are going to see an extension of one of the greatest congressional hearings of modern times. The other two, you'd have to say, we're Joe McCarthy and the Watergate investigation, and this is as well run and demonstrable in terms of the issue and Trump's criminality and sedition as can be imagined. So the real question is, what is the Justice Department going to do?
By information, people I've talked to, I think Bob has talked to some, is they are going toward indictments. I don't think there's any question about that. But what is different here is this Committee has made the Department of Justice's role easier, because the evidence is so unequivocal. And also people have watched these hearings, they may be divided between Trump supporters and his enemies as it were, but people have watched, they're paying attention.
And in fact, the ground is shifting under Trump. We know that. Politically, to some extent, still as a huge movement. But that too makes it a little easier for the Justice Department when they see that Republican senators, both privately and publicly, are starting to abandon Trump. So we have all these factors at once.
BURNETT: Right of course, watching Congress and the reaction of those Republicans today, thank you all very much as we get ready, because the gavel is coming down on this historic meeting of the January 6th Committee in just a matter of minutes. Stay with us because you will see it all right here live on CNN.
TAPPER: And historic moment in the United States is about to unfold. These are live pictures from inside the House of Representatives meeting room where the Select Committee on January 6th is about to hold its final public session. And it will make some very, very significant announcements we're told. The panel is expected to refer at least three criminal charges against Donald Trump to the U.S. Department of Justice, including the rather rare charge of insurrection.
We're also going to find out if the Committee is recommending criminal charges or some other action against some of Trumps key allies in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Let's go to Manu Raju who's on Capitol Hill. And Manu, you just spoke with the chairman of the House Select Committee Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I asked him about those criminal referrals that we expect to see the Committee adopt today formally. And I asked him how quickly would they send those over to the Justice Department to officially refer Donald Trump and others for criminal action. He said quote, shortly after we take care of business today is when they plan to send those referrals to the Justice Department. Now I also asked him about whether there are any plans for meetings with the Special Counsel Jack Smith, he said, quote, no plans as of yet. Now we do know, of course, the Justice Department has wanted the treasure trove of evidence that this Committee has collected over the past year and a half, some of which they have obtained a lot of other documents. They do want as well. So we expect that information sharing to begin especially when those transcripts begin to be released as soon as later this week. But news here and that we do expect the Committee to move pretty quickly send these criminal referrals over to the Justice Department and it will be up to the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute Donald Trump or any of his allies.
TAPPER: All right, Mana Raju, thanks so much, Jamie, again, go, what are you looking for? We know some of what's going to happen today. There's a lot that remains unknown.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So I think we've been reporting for some time that Donald Trump is going to be the focus of this. So I think there is no question, we're going to see criminal referrals against Donald Trump front and center. I'm curious to see who else the Committee names of the allies. We've been told that what we've reported thus far, which is conspiracy to defraud obstruction of a proceeding, insurrection, is really just a small piece of the pie. So what other names are they going to put out there?
We've also been hearing that it was likely that the Committee would refer to the House Ethics Committee, the Republican members of Congress who were subpoenaed, but did not show up for their to testify. I just want to point out of those five, one of them, Mo Brooks is no longer going to be a member of Congress. So he will not come under that jurisdiction, if they decide to refer to the House Ethics Committee.
TAPPER: It's quite a thing for a member of Congress to avoid and ignore a congressional subpoena. Pamela Brown we're just moments ago. What are you looking for?
BROWN: Well, on that front, absolutely looking for what they do with their fellow members of Congress, Republicans who defied the subpoena? And also, you know, look, they have made some sweeping claims they have put forward witnesses and evidence in their hearings. But what other evidence are they going to put forward to essentially walk the talk, particularly as it pertains to these criminal referrals about the former president.
Look, as we've been discussing, one of the charges insurrection it has been rarely used. It has a high bar. You have to prove intent. So what evidence are they going to put forward to support that beyond what we already know, and the other two claims? Also, you know, they have done all these interviews with Secret Service agents since our last hearing.
I want to know what came out of those interviews the transcripts from Tony Ornato, Secret Service agent who worked in the Trump White House. Do they provide any evidence to support what they have said that there was perjury, there was witness tampering? You'll recall they released, there was a voicemail to Cassidy Hutchinson when she testified before she testified, urging her to be loyal to Trump. And so I'd like to see if there's any more evidence to support that.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: What will they say about their fellow members, we know at least six members sought pardons after the events of January 6th, you know, there's only so much they can do because they're running up against the ticking clock of a Republican led Congress, after which it will be very difficult to get your House Ethics Committee to say something about members who may have participated with Trump allies on that day. So there's only so much they can get done.
And at the end of the day, they've gotten as far as the Electoral College Reform Act for the Electoral College count, doing one of many things, which is saying the vice president cannot judge or overturn certification results. So they have -- they've got something to show for the end of this year legislatively, probably not as much as they would like. And so I'm interested to see what we're going to hear today how they will go on the record against their own.
TAPPER: David, to walk us through the House Ethics Committee process, let's assume that they refer to the House Ethics Committee and investigation or charges or some sort of punishment against, let's just say, Congressman Smith, just walk us through what happens then?
DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER JUSTICE DEPT. COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SECTION CHIEF: Well, the first thing would ordinarily happen is that the chairman, ranking member of the Committee would have to evaluate as a jurisdictional basis whether the information offered as a complaint meets certain technical requirements, but they have to jointly come to that agreement.
There's no rules that govern what happens if one side of the other refuses to agree that even meets that threshold jurisdiction. And this Committee is going out of business in a few days. So the real question is, what happens next, because these referrals will be dead on arrival with this version of the Ethics Committee as Congress is going to expire, then the Republican leadership and the Democratic leadership will constitute a new Ethics Committee.
What's that going to look like under the leadership of a Kevin McCarthy as Speaker? There's going to be junkyard dogs on that Committee that don't allow these to go any further, nothing of consequence happens on the Ethics Committee, unless there's a majority of members who supports it. It's evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, the only Committee in House that is evenly divided. So nothing of consequence can happen unless somebody crosses over. And it's hard to imagine Republican member crossing over to support any action against any of these Republicans, including, by the way, the new speaker designate, so we think, and the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
So, you know, in my experience working on ethics investigations like Newt Gingrich, there was a consensus that emerged even in a politically sensitive ethics case, because these were institutionalists who valued the institution of the House even when their own ox was going to get gored. We don't see that -- we don't see that in this version of the Republican Party.