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Jan. 6 Committee Refers Donald Trump To DOJ For Criminal Prosecution. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 19, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Advisors from lawmakers on the Hill and from his own children. President Trump would not issue a public statement, instructing his supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol. Mr. Trump's failures spanned the period from 1:10 p.m. when his speech ended, and instructed his supporters to march to the Capitol to 4:17 p.m. when he finally begrudgingly told his supporters to go home.
For 187 minutes, he actively disregarded his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. As we've established through months of investigation, that is because the mob wanted what President Trump wanted, to impede the peaceful transition of power. These are the Select Committee's findings about President Trump's dereliction of duty.
From the outside of the violence and for several hours that followed, people at the Capitol, people inside President Trump's administration, elected officials of both parties, members of President Trump's own family, and even Fox News commentators who are sympathetic to President Trump all tried to contact the White House to urge him to do one singular thing, the one thing that all of these people immediately understood was required, instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol. The president repeatedly refused, please, as he watched the violence at the Capitol on television.
During the day, the president never spoke with the National Guard, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, or any law enforcement agency. At no point during the day, or any other, did he issue any order to deploy any law enforcement agency to assist? Multiple witnesses, including President Trump's White House Counsel, testified to these facts. Your White House employees who had been speaking directly with President Trump stated that he didn't want anything done. The president was making phone calls that afternoon, but they weren't to law enforcement officials, whether President Trump continued to call his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Both President Trump and Mr. Giuliani spoke with congressional leaders, even after violent -- even after the violence had begun to encourage them to continue delaying the session.
Approximately three hours after being informed of the violence at the Capitol, hours during which as our evidence has shown, Donald Trump sat in his dining room and watched the violence on television. The president released a video statement in which he again repeated that the election was stolen, told his supporters at the Capitol that he loved them, and ultimately suggested that they disperse. The statement had an immediate impact on elements of the crowd, many of whom who have testified that it led them to depart the Capitol. At 6:01 p.m., President Trump sent his last tweet of the day. He did not condemn the violence. Instead, he attempted to justify it.
These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away, he wrote. Remember this day forever. There's no doubt that President Trump thought that the actions of the rioters were justified.
In the days after January 6, he spoke to several different advisors. And in those conversations, he minimized the seriousness of the attack. Here's new testimony from another one of President seniors' advisors, Kellyanne Conway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you talked to the president the next day, tell us about that conversation on the 7th.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER SENIOR COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I don't think it was very long. I just said that was just a terrible day. I'm working on a long statement. I said it's crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?
CONWAY: Now these people are upset, they're very upset.
LURIA: In the days following the attack, President Trump also expressed a desire to pardon those involved in the attack. Since then, he's suggested that he will do so if he returns to the Oval Office. In summary, President Trump lit the flame. He poured gasoline on the fire and sat by in the White House dining room for hours watching the fire burn. And today, he still continues to flat -- to fan those flames. That was his extreme dereliction of duty. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Gentlewoman yields back. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin, for the opening statement.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank you for your extraordinary leadership of this committee. Generations to come will praise you and the vice chair for your unswerving devotion to the rule of law. Several months ago, you tasked several of our members in a subcommittee with bringing recommendations to the full committee about potential referrals to the Department of Justice and other authorities based on evidence of criminal and civil offenses that has come to our attention over the course of our investigation.
We are now prepared to share those recommendations today. Mr. Chairman, let me begin with some relevant background considerations to our criminal referrals. The dangerous assault on American constitutional democracy that took place on January 6, 2021, consists of hundreds of individual criminal offenses. Most such crimes are already being prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
We propose to the committee advancing referrals where the gravity of this specific offense, the severity of its actual harm, and the centrality of the offender to the overall design of the unlawful scheme to overthrow the election, compel us to speak. Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass. Mr. Chairman, as you know, our committee had the opportunity last spring to present much of our evidence to a federal judge, something that distinguishes our investigation from any other congressional investigation I can recall.
In the context of resolving evidentiary privilege issues related to the crime-fraud doctrine in the Eastman case, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter examined just a small subset of our evidence to determine whether it showed the likely commission of a federal offense. The judge concluded that both former President Donald Trump and John Eastman likely violated two federal criminal statutes. This is the starting point for our analysis today.
The first criminal statute we invoke for referral, therefore, is title 18 section 1512(c), which makes it unlawful for anyone to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede any official proceeding of the United States government. We believe that the evidence described by my colleagues today and assembled throughout our hearings, warrants a criminal referral of former President Donald J. Trump, John Eastman, and others, for violations of this statute. The whole purpose and obvious effect of Trump's scheme were to obstruct, influence, and impede this official proceeding, the central moment for the lawful transfer of power in the United States.
Second, we believe that there is more than sufficient evidence to refer former President Donald J. Trump, John Eastman, and others for violating title 18 section 371. This statute makes it a crime to conspire to defraud the United States. In other words, to make an agreement to impair, obstruct, or defeat the lawful functions of the United States government by deceitful or dishonest means.
Former President Trump did not engage in a plan to defraud the United States acting alone. He entered into agreements formal and informal with several other individuals who assisted him with his criminal objectives. Our report describes in detail the actions of numerous co- conspirators who agreed with and participated in Trump's plan to impair, obstruct, and defeat the certification of President Biden's electoral victory.
That said, the subcommittee does not attempt to determine all of the potential participants in this conspiracy as our understanding of the role of many individuals may be incomplete even today because they refuse to answer our questions. We trust that the Department of Justice will be able to form a far more complete picture through its own investigation.
Third, we make a referral based on title 18, section 1001, which makes it unlawful to knowingly and willfully make materially false statements to the federal government. The evidence clearly suggests that President Trump conspired with others to submit slates of fake electors to Congress and the National Archives. We believe that this evidence we set forth in our report is more than sufficient for a criminal referral of former President Donald J. Trump and others in connection with this offense.
As before, we don't try to determine all of the participants in this conspiracy, many of whom refused to answer our questions while under oath. We trust that the Department of Justice will be able to form a more complete picture through its own investigation.
The fourth and final statute we invoke for referral is title 18 section 2383. The statute applies to anyone who incites, assists or engages in insurrection against the United States of America and anyone who gives aid or comfort to an insurrection. An insurrection is a rebellion against the authority of the United States. It is a grave Federal offense, anchored in the Constitution itself, which repeatedly opposes insurrections and domestic violence, and indeed uses participation in insurrection by office holders as automatic grounds for disqualification from ever holding public office again at the federal or state level.
Anyone who incites others to engage in rebelling, assists them in doing so, were gives aid and comfort to those engaged in insurrection is guilty of a federal crime. The committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States.
The committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer -- transition of power under our Constitution. The president has an affirmative and primary constitutional duty to act to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Nothing could be a greater betrayal of this duty than to assist in an insurrection against the constitutional order.
The complete factual basis for this referral is set forth in detail throughout our report. These are not the only statutes that are potentially relevant to President Trump's conduct related to the 2020 election. Depending on evidence developed by the Department of Justice, the president's actions could certainly trigger other criminal violations. Nor are President Trump and his immediate team, the only people identified for referrals in our report as part of our investigation, we asked multiple members of Congress to speak with us about issues critical to our understanding of this attack on the 2020 election and our system of constitutional democracy, none agreed to provide that essential information.
As a result, we took the significant step of issuing them subpoenas based on the volume of information particular members possessed about one or more parts of President Trump's plans to overturn the election. None of the subpoenaed members complied. And we are now referring four members of Congress for appropriate sanction by the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with lawful subpoenas.
Mr. Chairman, we understand the gravity of each and every referral we are making today, just as we understand the magnitude of the crime against democracy that we described in our report. But we have gone where the facts and the law lead us, and inescapably they lead us here. Accordingly, Mr. Chairman, in light of these facts, I asked unanimous consent that the chairman be directed to transmit to the United States Department of Justice relevant select committee records in furtherance of these criminal referrals.
THOMPSON: Without objection, so ordered.
RASKIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I now yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentleman yields back. Pursuant to notice, I now call up the select committee's file report, pursuant to section 4 (a) of House resolution 503. The clerk shall designate the report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Final report of the select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
THOMPSON: Without objection, the report will be considered rare and open to amendment at this point. I now recognize the gentlewoman from Virginia, Ms. Luria, for a motion.
LURIA: Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee favorably report to the House the Select Committee's final report, which includes the committee's legislative recommendations and criminal referrals of Donald J. Trump and others pursuant to section 4(a) of House resolution 503.
THOMPSON: The question is on the motion to favorably report to the House, those in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.
THOMPSON: Those opposed, no. In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, I request a recorded vote.
THOMPSON: A recorded vote is requested. The clerk will call the roll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Cheney.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Cheney, aye. Miss Lofgren?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN, (D-CA): Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Lofgren, aye. Mr. Schiff?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Schiff, aye. Mr. Aguilar?
REP. PETE AGUILAR, (D-CA): Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Aguilar, aye. Mrs. Murphy?
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY, (D-FL): Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Murphy, aye. Mr. Raskin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Raskin aye. Mrs. Lauria?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Lauria aye. Mr. Kinzinger?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R-IL): Kinzinger aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kinzinger aye.
THOMPSON: How's the chair recorded?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, you are not recorded.
THOMPSON: The chair votes aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, aye.
THOMPSON: The clerk will report the vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, on this vote, there are nine ayes and zero nos.
THOMPSON: The motion is agreed to. Without objection, a motion to reconsider is laid on the table. Without objection, the staff is authorized to make any necessary technical and conforming changes to the report -- to reflect the actions of the committee. The chair requests those in the hearing room remain seated until the Capitol Police have escorted members from the room. There being no further business. Without objection, the select committee stands adjourned.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The select committee stands adjourned. The grave and historic recommendation by the January 6 Select House committee. They are urging the Justice Department to prosecute former President Donald Trump on at least four separate criminal charges, all of them rooted in his role -- his leadership role in the attack on American democracy.
Those four crimes include the rare and very serious charge of assisting or aiding an insurrection. They include obstruction of an official proceeding, that's because of the efforts to impede the certification of the 2020 presidential results on January 6, 2021, in Congress. The House Select Committee also recommending that Donald Trump be charged with conspiracy to make false statements, as well as conspiracy to defraud the United States of America.
And, Jamie Gangel, not to put too fine a point on it but this has never happened before.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Correct.
TAPPER: It has never happened before that a bipartisan committee in the House of Representatives has said to the Justice Department, we think this former president committed crimes, here is the evidence, please go prosecute.
GANGEL: Absolutely historic, has never happened before, they have -- looked DOJ has been doing its own investigation but they have --they are sending over to the Justice Department a very specific roadmap of the evidence, the testimony they have collected. Today is a very bad day for Donald Trump and a very bad day for his presidency historically.
I just want to mention two things. One is there are some allies mentioned when we look through this. This is a very big executive summary. Normally, they're 20 pages. This is 160 pages. But there are other people mentioned. There is a criminal referral, John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who came up with the plan and they tried to convince Mike Pence to delay the count. He is mentioned specifically. There were others mentioned like Jeffrey Clark at the Justice Department -- Rudy Giuliani.
But the committee did something else. The words and others are throughout this report. And that is because they don't want to limit the Justice Department. They were not going to put out a laundry list of long names. They don't know everything. They don't know what the Justice Department has. But the point is, other people in Trump world who participated in what led to January 6 are on notice.
TAPPER: Pamela, John Eastman is something of the ideological godfather of the last-ditch attempt to overturn the election arguing that Mike Pence had the ability which he did not constitutionally, to reject electors. He is one of those who is going to be very nervous right now. Congress just told the Justice Department we think this man committed a federal crime.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. And we -- and we know DOJ has already been investigating John Eastman, but as Jamie said, this is now a further roadmap for DOJ to say, this is the evidence we collected. We all know about the memo that he put together --
BROWN: A roadmap to overturn the election results.
[14:20:02] Well, now, Congress is saying here are the specific statutes that he violated. Obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Those are two of the four that the committee is recommending for Donald Trump as well. So, it is notable that they want to single out John Eastman here, the former right-wing attorney and Trump attorney during the election, in saying the -- you know, others for the other people that they're including in this because they don't have the means the DOJ has, so it is notable, they want to single him out.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the end of the day, it's still very Trump-focused. You're not going to get any explanations about intelligence leading up to January 6, you're not getting any kind of full explanations about some of the other things that happened on the way there. But it's very clear that they feel fundamental. And I think Liz Cheney said this best that President Trump believed then and continues to believe now he's above the law and not bound by our Constitution.
This is important because over the next couple of months, as the former president tries to fight various investigations, he has often tried to talk about executive privilege. He's often tried to say, well, I am the presidency. This will have reverberations going forward. This is not just sort of her making a snide comment, the former president, and I think it's sort of a good moment to pause and think about how we're going to hear this echo over the next couple of months because these investigations are not over.
TAPPER: So, Andy, let me ask you a question as former acting director of the FBI. I have an impression, and maybe it's wrong, that prosecutors like public corruption investigations where they can get this congressman or this mayor or this governor. But when it comes to this type of investigation where somebody like Donald Trump or previously individuals like Hillary Clinton and others, that kind of level, that there's a wariness about getting involved. How do you think this referral is being received inside the Justice Department today?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: With exactly the sort of sentiment that you've just described, this is, by all accounts, a very mixed bag. This is a pandora's box for the Justice Department for several reasons. One, on the plus side, it is a bit of a roadmap. It's a resounding exclamation point at the end of the committee's work, it comes with the results of over 1000 interviews, hundreds of people who -- people who were interviewed and who they have detailed transcripts of their long interviews. And so that's great.
But it also presents huge problems because many of the witnesses who might be essential to proving criminal charges resulted to some of these referrals may have also said things for instance, under interview that were favorable to the president or exculpatory to the president, or have other problems that might challenge their ability to testify completely and effectively as witnesses. So, the Justice Department has to go so much further on every single one of these people who is touched and interviewed and seen by the committee in any way, there is still a ton of work for them to do.
GANGEL: Can we just add in? The criminal referrals today, and the way the committee handed them have really eclipsed a lot of the other news that's in here. It also begins with 17 findings. The first 12 are about Trump, but the others do address what happened with intelligence, what happened with security, what happened with the Capitol Police. And let's just also remember, this is just the beginning.
We're going to get the full report, which I think is six or 700 pages, plus appendices and footnotes, plus transcripts and testimony on Wednesday -- Thursday coming out. So, while we heard about the criminal referrals today, I think that we will be hearing much more to Audie's point about security, intelligence. They did cover all those things in the report.
BROWN: And in terms of what you know, people watching this might be wondering, what's new, what are we learning for the first time, and what have we seen before? What jumped out to me is hearing directly from Hope Hicks, a top adviser for the former president saying that he basically said I have to win even though acknowledging you know, he lost, I've got to win. It's all about winning to preserve my legacy.
And also, the bit about, you know, she said through talking to Herschmann -- Eric Herschmann that Trump did not want to put out a message to prevent violence ahead of the insurrection. And that feeds into the messaging from the committee that this is a dereliction of duty from Trump that he wanted this to happen that he sat back, he -- this was premeditated, he was pushing out those false claims, and he provoked the supporters to attack the Capitol building on that day.
But I do wonder, Andy McCabe, you know, I'm not a lawyer, how much -- for prosecutors as they tried to build a case, particularly on insurrection, how much not doing your job, not acting factors in? Would that be a more difficult case to prove?
MCCABE: Of course, a much more difficult case. And it's important also to note that with all of these charges -- excuse me, the president would likely have very significant defenses baked in. There's all kinds of grounds for him to say, for instance, with incitement of the -- of an insurrection, to say, hey, this was a political process, I was engaged in political speech, that is some of the most protected speech by the First Amendment, I actually thought that the election there were -- there were irregular -- you know irregularities in it, and that I was simply pursuing my -- you know, my right to pursue the result of the election that I thought was true.
Now, we can all sit here and say there's tons of evidence to show that didn't actually believe that. But nevertheless, the existence of those defenses makes these a much harder case for DOJ to prove than simply bringing evidence together and handing it to the department and saying, we'd like you to look into this.
CORNISH: One thing they didn't have to do that I appreciated was to bring some focus on the consequences for regular people. The election workers who suffered because they were caught up in a vortex of lies and the conspiracy theories, even the insurrectionists, who have gone on to say, I went because the president told me to go. These lives have been affected. Hundreds of people has faced charges from the DOJ.
I think, for us, it's like legal theories still. But there's lots of people whose lives are really torn apart by that day. And I think it was valuable for the committee to acknowledge and underscore that in its final meeting.
TAPPER: Yes. Although Jamie -- Congressman Jamie Raskin said something along the lines of this is a country that does not just go after foot soldiers, we go after the commanders as well.
TAPPER: I'm not exactly sure that that's accurate if you look at the history of all sorts of prosecutions, Abu Ghraib is coming to mind right now. Erin Burnett.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake, and here, just to talk a little bit more about what all of this means for our panel. So, George, and Laura, let's just start with the legal issues here that they started to flesh out. You know, when you look through this, George, what do you see? Obviously, four main charges, and then two others where they seem close to on the brink of recommending, but not quite there.
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Yes, I think they're trying to beat, they're trying to give the Justice Department running. They're trying to say here are the possibilities. We're not being exclusive. We don't -- we're not -- we're not saying that you couldn't bring other charges. And so, they're going broad.
And it's up to the Justice Department to pick and choose and actually draft an indictment, which is, you know, a skill in itself is going to -- it's all going to depend on things that we don't know about that the Justice Department may know about. It's not in this report or in the -- in the documents that they're going to release.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Which frankly, is a lot because remember, there's the Fulton County, there is the power and a subpoena from the federal government, from the Justice Department that really is not what the Congress has. Congress's role here is to oversight is legislative. It is about recommending it. And normally they have referral processes when they do not believe the DOJ is intimately aware of the crime were into the facts and evidence.
They've got their own things going on. They've got a special counsel assigned to all these things. And so, a lot of that is the writing room. But also, it's not just a magnanimous gesture, it's -- look, we're going to be additive.
COATES: Where we can be, supplemental where you need us to be, and then revelatory in other areas. And all these combined tell you why -- I mean, these are very serious charges. One charge up to 20 years in prison for the idea of obstructing an official proceeding, the rest about five years or so each of them. One really important to think about is this one of that incitement --
BURNETT: Just to be clear, that's more than a life sentence for Donald J. Trump.
COATES: That's more -- well, it's more than a life sentence.
BURNETT: Obviously, right.
COATES: And it's condemning of our democracy that a president would be engaged in this. But you've got this idea of the incitement really important that Congressman Raskin pointed out. You need not have the agreement for that incitement charge. The idea that everyone's in on it and has agreed to have a conspiracy. That one is more of a standalone, which tells you that even if you can't prove that there was a meeting of the minds and everything else, his actions enough were enough to say may have engaged in this behavior.
BURNETT: George, they also say and others, right? So, when he -- when Raskin went through these, right, it was Donald J. Trump and John Eastman for obstruction of the proceeding. Donald J. Trump and John Eastman for conspiracy fraud of the United States.
BURNETT: Donald J. Trump for conspiracy to false statement, Donald J. Trump for -- to incite an insurrection, and others, right?
BURNETT: And others. Now we know generally who those others are, they could be Rudy Giuliani, right? It could be Mark Meadows. But do you see anything in that? I mean, to someone out of you know, looking at piers is a bit vague.
CONWAY: Well, because here's what's -- well, it's vague because what makes this case -- what makes this complicated isn't the fact of what Donald Trump did, in lied, and tried to obstruct an official proceeding. He did it over and over and over again. What's complicated is all these people around him, who he acted through.
CONWAY: The different layers that gets from -- you know, from here to Capitol Hill, and from here to the electors in Michigan -- to fake electors in Michigan or elsewhere. And so, they're leaving it open- ended. But the point that they're trying to make is this all roads lead to Donald Trump.
BURNETT: And they did make that point, Kaitlan, they made it and they put out this 161-page -- 85 pages of reading plus footnotes document. You've been talking to the legal team.