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CNN Live Event/Special
January 6 Committee Holds Final Public Meeting. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired December 19, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: We don't see that -- we don't see that in this -- this version of the Republican Party, especially in the House.
So, I'm pessimistic that anything is going to happen further within the House Ethics Committee, even in the new House.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: But, to David's point, let's just underscore two of these members are Kevin McCarthy, the leader, who may or may not be the next speaker, and Jim Jordan, who is likely to be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
It's -- it may be dead on arrival, but it certainly says something that two such prominent members of the Republican Conference.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But just correct me if I'm wrong, Pamela.
There are different "offenses" -- quote, unquote -- about these different members. Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan refused to comply with subpoenas from the committee. But there are other individuals, like Scott Perry, who -- the congressman from Pennsylvania, who I think was playing some sort of role in introducing Jeffrey Clark, who was the guy in that Trump wanted to take over the Justice Department to weaponize the Justice Department to overturn the election.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
TAPPER: That's a that's a different offense -- quote, unquote, -- "offense" than what we're talking about with McCarthy and Jordan.
BROWN: And also, he, according to the committee, asked for a pardon as well. He has denied that claim.
But it is important to note, big picture, and the reason why I'm really focused on what they do on this regard, is because, as you well know, they have referred others to DOJ, including Steve Bannon and including Mark Meadows. If they don't do that in this case, and they and they send to the Ethics Committee, I think the argument could be made that they are being held to a different standard, they are getting special treatment. That is, I think, something that they have probably had to consider as
they decide what steps to take. But, also, there's the dynamic of look, the Republicans are going to be in the majority of the House next year too, and how does that weigh in to this?
TAPPER: Can I just ask you a question about the precedent that we're talking about?
Because I would think this is a town that seems to not often think beyond the next 15 minutes. But if, even under Kevin McCarthy, even in the House Ethics Committee full of junkyard dogs, as you put it, if they think it's OK for members of Congress, meaning themselves, to avoid congressional subpoenas, do they not understand that that will apply to Democrats as well for their own investigations and people they want to investigate who are Democratic members of the House?
LAUFMAN: Of course, they do, but they're not going to be bound by principles of consistency.
LAUFMAN: This is all about power, and retaining power, and avoiding damage in the next Congress to their members.
And I expect Kevin McCarthy, as speaker, and his lieutenants to do everything possible to protect his members from the inception of any ethics investigations. There's a code of official conduct that's part of the House rules. The first provision prohibits members from engaging in any conduct that may bring discredit upon the House.
Well, all of the conduct attributed to these members by this committee, of course, brings appalling, enormous discredit on the House, but it's going to take some Republican member to agree that the institution of the House and protecting the integrity of the House is more important than protecting the fortunes of a particular member for this to get past the get-go.
And I -- we will have to wait and see what happens, but it's improbable to me that any of these complaints will advance. A member in the next Congress could make a complaint. Jamie Raskin, for example, could go to the floor and offer a motion. But it still has to be dealt with by the committee. And I think it's going to be frozen from the beginning.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I know there's a sense that maybe the committee hasn't had the kind of impact. Some people measure impact by election cycles.
But I think one thing we did learn the last couple of months is, the public does have a sense of election denialism, how far a person will go in taking action to maintain power. They had that sort of shown to them very explicitly this summer.
And I do think that is something that had an effect overall. So, while I know it's very easy to say, well, what about Trump, what does this mean for Trump, I do think they have had a kind of cultural impact that can't be denied.
GANGEL: Could I just ask a very quick question? Because you have been at House Ethics Committee, but you have been at the Justice Department.
Kevin McCarthy could very well be a material witness, because part of the testimony we have heard is, he spoke to Donald Trump that day. So, even if House Ethics goes nowhere, could Kevin McCarthy be called to DOJ?
LAUFMAN: Maybe the Department of Justice could seek to elicit interview with Kevin McCarthy. They could issue him a grand jury subpoena. He may cite speech and debate privileges to avoid having to respond to a grand jury subpoena.
I would expect the department to make its best efforts to elicit information from Kevin McCarthy. But if the past is a guide, we're going to see him trying to litigate that.
BROWN: Yes. I would be surprised, frankly, if they don't or if they haven't already, and we just don't know it, right?
I mean, they have -- clearly, they have done it with the president's former chief of staff. It would be surprising given the fact, as you point out, he was a material witness, for them to not be looking at that.
And to Audie's point in terms of the impact this committee has had, committee members would tell you, look, we have had that impact. Look at what happened in the last election. Many election deniers lost their races. Many Trump-endorsed candidates lost their races.
Now, of course, we can't definitively ever draw the direct line, but I think they would argue that it has had an impact. As Jamie said, today is going to be focused primarily on Donald Trump. And, of course, his team is gearing up for a whole P.R. blitz to try to undercut the committee's credibility. They're going to argue they're never-Trump partisans. They are going to try to undercut these criminal referrals.
One way I'm told they're going to do that is by claiming the committee left out Trump saying -- asking for his -- the protesters to march peacefully and patriotically to the Capitol Building on the Ellipse. He did say that. And that is true that that was not played.
But the committee's overarching point was that the former president knew there were armed protesters. There were people armed. He wanted them to go march on the Capitol. And he -- and he told them to go fight like hell. That was a big focus.
And then, also, Trump -- team Trump is going to argue that Bennie Thompson, among others on the committee, in the past had objected to election results. It is important, though, to note the difference between that and the efforts that this committee has laid out in terms of the overall efforts to overturn the presidential elections... TAPPER: Here are the members. Sorry to interrupt.
BROWN: ... not just a race.
TAPPER: Here are the members of the House select committee coming in to the meeting room, led by the chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, and then, of course, Vice Chair Liz Cheney, who gave up her career in politics, at least in the short term, to serve on this committee to try to hold Donald Trump and his minions responsible in no small way.
And we're going to hear from them in a second.
GANGEL: I just -- to underscore, both Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, they are the two Republicans who joined the committee. There are also Republican staff members. They both are leaving Congress.
TAPPER: Yes. Well, she -- she's leaving Congress not willingly, we should note. She lost her primary to a Trump-endorsed candidate who was being supported by a lot of the same people who have -- who have testified to the committee about Donald Trump's lies, were still, even though they were telling the truth behind the scenes in some cases, and appalled by what Donald Trump was doing,fully part of the effort to get rid of Liz Cheney.
Let's listen in.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): A quorum being president, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol will be in order.
Without objection, the chair's authorized to declare the committee in recess at any point. Pursuant to House deposition authority Regulation 10, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during today's meeting and, further, its approval to release deposition material that accompanies release of the Select Committee's final report.
Good afternoon, and may God bless the United States of America.
To cast a vote in the United States is an act of faith and hope. When we drop that ballot in the ballot box, we expect the people named on the ballot are going to uphold their end of the deal. The winner swears an oath and upholds it. Those who come up short ultimately accept the results and abide by the rule of law.
That faith in our system is the foundation of American democracy. If the faith is broken, so is our democracy. Donald Trump broke that faith. He lost the 2020 election, and knew it. But he chose to try to stay in office through a multipart scheme to overturn the results and block the transfer of power.
In the end, he summoned a mob to Washington, and, knowingly, they were armed and angry, pointed them to the Capitol, and told them to fight like hell. There's no doubt about this.
This afternoon, my colleagues will present our key findings, reminding you of some of the information we presented in earlier hearings, and telling you how it fits in our broader conclusions. Those conclusions have helped shape the committee's final report, which we will adopt today, pursuant to House Resolution 503, which establishes the Select Committee nearly a year-and-a-half ago.
I expect our final work will be filed with the clerk of the House and made public later this week.
Beyond that release, the Select Committee intends to make public the bulk of its nonsensitive records before the end of the year. These transcripts and documents will allow the American people to see for themselves the body of evidence we have gathered and continue to explore the information that has led us to our conclusions.
This committee is nearing the end of its work. But, as the country, we remain in strange and uncharted waters. We have never had a president of the United States stir up a violent attempt to block the transfer of power. I believe, nearly two years later, this is still a time of reflection and reckoning.
If we are to survive as a nation of laws and democracy, this can never happen again. How do we stop it? This committee will lay out a number of recommendations in this final report. But, beyond any specific details and recommendations we present, there's one factor I believe is most important in preventing another January 6: accountability.
So, today, beyond our findings, we will also show that evidence we have gathered points to further action beyond the power of this committee or the Congress to help ensure accountability under law, accountability that can only be found in the criminal justice system.
We have every confidence of that the work of this committee will help provide a road map to justice and that the agencies and institutions responsible for ensuring justice under the law will use the information we have provided to aid in their work.
And for those of you who have followed this committee's work, I hope we have helped make clear that there's a broader kind of accountability, accountability to all of you, the American people. The future of our democracy rests in your hands. It's up to the people of this count to decide who deserves the public trust, who will put fidelity to the Constitution and democracy above all else, who will abide by the rule of law, no matter the outcome.
I'm grateful to the millions of you who followed this committee's work. I hope we lived up to our commitment to present the facts and let the facts speak for themselves.
Let me say, in closing, the women and men seated around me on this dais are public servants in the most genuine sense. They put aside politician and partisanship to ensure the success of this committee in providing answers to the American people.
I especially want to thank and acknowledge our vice chair, who has become a true partner in this bipartisan effort, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming.
And I also recognize her for any opening statement that she would care to offer.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your tremendous leadership of this committee. I know we all have benefited greatly from your wisdom and your wise counsel. So, thank you very much.
In April of 1861, when Abraham Lincoln issued the first call for volunteers for the Union Army, my great-great-grandfather Samuel Fletcher Cheney joined the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He fought through all four years of the Civil War, from Chickamauga, to Stones River, to Atlanta.
He marched with his unit in the grand review of troops up Pennsylvania Avenue in May of 1865, passed a reviewing stand where President Johnson and General Grant were seated.
Silas Canfield, the regimental historian of the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, described the men in the unit this way. He said they had a just appreciation of the value and advantage of free government and the necessity of defending and maintaining it. And they enlisted prepared to accept all the necessary labors, fatigues, exposures, dangers, and even death for the unity of our nation and the perpetuity of our institutions.
I have found myself thinking often, especially since January 6, of my great-great grandfather and all those in every generation who have sacrificed so much for the unity of our nation and the perpetuity of our institutions.
At the heart of our republic is the guarantee of the peaceful transfer of power. Members of Congress are reminded of this every day as we pass through the Capitol Rotunda. There, eight magnificent paintings detail the earliest days of our republic.
One painted by John Trumbull depicts the moment in 1793 when George Washington resigned his commission, handing control of the Continental Army back to Congress. Trumbull call this -- quote -- "one of the highest moral lessons ever given the world."
With this noble act, George Washington established the indispensable example of the peaceful transfer of power in our nation. Standing on the West Front of the Capitol in 1981, President Ronald Reagan described it this way: "The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony that we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle."
Every president in our history has defended this orderly transfer of authority, except one. January 6, 2021, was the first time one American president refused his constitutional duty to transfer power peacefully to the next.
In our work over the last 18 months, the Select Committee has recognized our obligation to do everything we can to ensure this never happens again. At the beginning of our investigation, we understood that tens of millions of Americans had been persuaded by President Trump that the 2020 election was stolen by overwhelming fraud.
And we also knew this was flatly false. We knew that dozens of state and federal judges had addressed and resolved all manner of allegations about the election. Our legal system functioned as it should, but our president would not accept the outcome.
Among the most shameful of this committee's findings was that President Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office watching the violent riot at the Capitol on television. For hours, he would not issue a public statement instructing his supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol, despite urgent pleas from his White House staff and dozens of others to do so.
Members of his family, his White House lawyers, virtually all those around him knew that this simple act was critical. For hours, he would not do it. During this time, law enforcement agents were attacked and seriously injured, the Capitol was invaded, the electoral count was halted, and the lives of those in the Capitol were put at risk.
In addition to being unlawful, as described in our report, this was an utter moral failure and a clear dereliction of duty. Evidence of this can be seen in the testimony of President Trump's own White House counsel, and several other White House witnesses.
No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again. He is unfit for any office.
The committee recognizes that our work has only begun. It's only the initial step in addressing President Trump's effort to remain in office illegally. Prosecutors are considering the implications of the conduct that we describe in our report, as are citizens all across our nation.
In 1761, John Adams wrote: "The very ground of our liberties is the freedom of elections."
Faith in our elections and the rule of law is paramount to our republic. Election deniers, those who refuse to accept lawful election results purposely attack the rule of law and the foundation of our country. The history of our time will show that the bravery of a handful of Americans doing their duty saved us from an even more grave constitutional crisis.
Elected officials, election workers and public servants stood against Donald Trump's corrupt pressure. Many of our committee's witnesses showed selfless patriotism, and their words and courage will be remembered. The brave men and women of the Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police and all the other law enforcement officers who fought to defend us that day saved lives and our democracy. [13:20:04]
Finally, I wish to thank my colleagues on this committee. It has been a tremendous honor to serve with all of you. We have accomplished great and important things together. And I hope we have set an example. And I also want to thank all of those who have honorably contributed to the work of our committee and to our report.
We have accomplished much over a short period of time. Many of you sacrificed for the good of our nation. You have helped make history and, I hope, helped to right the ship.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentlelady yields back.
As you know, this is our final meeting of our committee. Over the course of the last year-and-a-half, we have presented evidence in 10 public hearings, testimony from our brave law enforcement officers, senior White House and campaign officials and many others.
Today, we are prepared to share our findings with you. But, before we do so, it's important to remember what we have learned, and, critically, exactly what happened at the United States Capitol on January 6.
Without objection, I include in the record a video presentation of some of the key evidence our investigation has uncovered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROLINE EDWARDS, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I mean, I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood.
MICHAEL FANONE, FORMER D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge, they grabbed and stripped me of my radio, they seized ammunition that was secure to my body. They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects.
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The key thing to do is to claim victory. No, we won. Fuck you. Sorry. Over. We won.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
STONE: You're wrong. Fuck you.
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right out of the box on election night, the president claimed that there was major fraud under way.
I mean, this happened, as far as I can tell, before there was actually any potential of looking at evidence. BILL STEPIEN, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I didn't think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time. So, that led to me stepping away.
MATTHEW MORGAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHIEF LAWYER: Generally discussed on that topic was whether the fraud, maladministration, abuse or irregularities, if aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign, would that be outcome-determinative?
And I think everyone's assessment in the room, at least amongst the staff, Marc Short, myself and Greg Jacob, was that it was not sufficient to be outcome-determinative.
EUGENE SCALIA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: I told him that I did believe, yes, that once the those legal processes were run, if fraud had not been established that had affected the outcome of the election, then, unfortunately, I believe that what had to be done was going to see the outcome.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): What were the chances of President Trump winning the election?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FORMER FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: After that point?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes.
Fellows, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: The numbers are the numbers. The numbers don't lie. We had many allegations. And we investigated every single one of them.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Did one of them make a comment that they didn't have evidence, but they had a lot of theories?
STATE REP. RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ): That was Mr. Giuliani.
SCHIFF: And what exactly did he say, and how did that come up?
BOWERS: My recollection, he said: "We have got lots of theories. We just don't have the evidence."
You're asking me to do something that's never been done in history, the history of the United States. And I'm going to put my state through that without sufficient proof?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's a tape earlier in the day of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman Moss and one other gentleman quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine. SCHIFF: In one of the videos we just watched, Mr. Giuliani accused
you and your mother of passing some sort of USB drive to each other. What was your mom actually handing you on that video?
WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: A ginger mint.
RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: Do you know how it feels to have a president of the United States to target you?
The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one.
BARR: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.
JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He wanted to talk about that he thought the election had been stolen or was corrupt and that there was widespread fraud.
And I had told him that our reviews had not shown that to be the case.
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY GENERAL ATTORNEY: And I said something to the effect of: "Sir, we have done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed."
PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, my first thought was, we're -- this is a terrible idea. Jeff Clark cannot be installed as acting attorney general in the United States.
QUESTION: You ultimately told us that you described this meeting as a -- or the -- not this meeting, the Georgia letter that was proposed as an effing murder-suicide pact.
Do you remember using the term murder-suicide pact?
RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
QUESTION: Was it your impression that the vice president had directly conveyed his position these issues to the president, not just to the world through a dear colleague letter, but directly to President Trump?
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Many times.
CIPOLLONE: My view was the vice president had -- didn't have the legal authority to do anything, except what he did
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: And I said: "Hold on a second. I want understand what you're saying. You're saying that you believe the vice president, acting as president of the Senate, can be the sole decision-maker as to, under your theory, who becomes the next president of the United States?"
And he said: "Yes."
And I said: "Are you out of your effing mind?"
JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: The president was -- all the attention was on what Mike would do or what Mike wouldn't do.
QUESTION: There's a telephone conversation between the president and the vice president. Is that correct?
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: The conversation was -- was pretty heated.
QUESTION: Apologize for being impolite, but do you remember what she said her father called him?
JULIE RADFORD, FORMER IVANKA TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: The P-word.
PROTESTER: Bring out Pence!
PROTESTER: Bring him out!
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was clear that it was escalating and escalating quickly.
RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
MATTHEWS: So, then, when that tweet, the Mike Pence tweet was sent out, I remember us saying that was the last thing that needed to be tweeted at that moment. It felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have gained access to the second floor. And I have got the public about five feet from me down here below.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, copy. They are on the second floor moving in now. We may want to consider getting out and leaving now. Copy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The members of the V.P. at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. There were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on so forth.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Approximately 40 feet, that's all there was, 40 feet between the vice president and the mob.
J. MICHAEL LUTTIG, FORMER FOURTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE: Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.
DONELL HARVIN, FORMER D.C. CHIEF OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE: We got derogatory information from OSINT suggesting that some very, very violent individuals were organizing to come to D.C.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO MARK MEADOWS: As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicles that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of: "Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day."
I remember looking at him saying: "Rudy, could you explain what's happening on the 6th?"
He had responded something to the effect of: "We're going to the Capitol. It's going to be great. The president's going to be there. He's going to look powerful."
RIOTER: We were invited by the president of the United States!
ERIC BARBER, DEFENDANT: He personally asked for us to come to D.C. that day. And I thought, for everything he's done for us, if this is the only thing he's going to ask me, I will do it.
STEPHEN AYRES, SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS PROBATION: Well, basically the president got everybody riled up, told everybody to head on down. So we basically were just following what he said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have lost the line. We have lost the line. All MPD, pull back!
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Within 15 minutes of leaving the stage, President Trump knew that the Capitol was besieged and under attack.
CHENEY: So, are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the secretary of defense that day?
CIPOLLONE: Not that I'm aware of, no.
CHENEY: Are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the attorney general of the United States that day?