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January 6 Committee Makes Its Case To The Public Tonight; FBI Arrests Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate On Charges Related To Involvement In January 6 Riot; School District Pressed For Answers Weeks After Uvalde Attack; Former Trump Education Secretary DeVos Says She Had 25th Amendment Talks With Pence And Cabinet Members; January 6 Committee Makes Its Case To The Public Tonight. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 09, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: No evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin, unquote, this appears to be part of the latest public push by the government to make the study of UFOs more mainstream.
Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok @jaketapper. I'll see you in an hour for special coverage of the January 6th committee hearing. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, historic hearings. The January 6th select committee is about to make a prime time case to the public and is promising new evidence that the worst attack on American democracy in U.S. history was no accident.
Candidate charged. A Michigan Republican running for governor arrested and charged in connection with the January 6th attack.
And new reporting on what authorities now say happened at the Robb Elementary School. They're saying what they knew about survivors were still inside as they waited and waited and waited for orders to storm the classroom with an active shooter and wounded children still inside.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We are now less than two hours away from the first televised select hearing of the House select committee on January 6th. Proceedings like this don't come along very often. The incident that sparked these particular hearings has never happened before in this country's history and though, we don't yet know what their impact will be. We do know that some of what we will see, and hear, and learn tonight and in sessions to come will be for the very first time. In a moment I'll talk to committee member Adam Schiff.
But, first, CNN's Ryan Nobles on the committee's work so far.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It has been just over 17 months since rioters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaking through windows, attacking law enforcement and coming within seconds of members of Congress. And for more than 11 months, a group of nine members of Congress have been investigating what led to that day, including former President Donald Trump's false claims the election was stolen.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it.
NOBLES: And Trump's inaction for more than three hours as the Capitol was under siege.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): The idea that all of this was just a rowdy demonstration that spontaneously got a little bit out of control is absurd. You don't almost knock over the U.S. government by accident.
NOBLES: While the January 6th House select committee has done most of its work out of the public eye there have been some significant revelations. They've interviewed more than a thousand witnesses and collected more than a 140,000 documents, like text messages to and from Trump's then-chief of staff Mark Meadows that he was sending leading up to the riot.
DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE ADVISER: What people are going to understand about the Meadows' text messages is how horrible they are.
NOBLES: CNN obtained Meadow's messages, including this lengthy text from Trump's son, Don Jr., from November 5th, before the election had even been called for Joe Bide, where he outlined tell his father and his allies would try to prevent Joe Biden from taking office. Don Jr., telling Meadows we have multiple paths. We control them all.
Another part of the committee's aim, to draw a straight line from the attempt to subvert the will of the voters to the riot on January 6th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): All of my colleagues, all of them knew that what happened on January 6th was an assault on our Constitution. They knew it at the time, yet now they are defending the indefensible.
NOBLES: The committee has also interviewed Trump's immediate family, including Don Jr., his fiance, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump's daughter Ivanka, and her husband and former Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner. Some of that video could be played tonight. Other Trump associates stonewalled the committee leading to criminal indictments for some
What lingers over the hearings is whether the committee has uncovered enough to expose Trump's role on that day.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): What was the president's role? We know some of the things about what the president did certainly in propagating the big lie before that day and what he did at the rally that day, but what was going on at the White House?
NOBLES: And if the information could lead to Attorney General Merrick Garland to prosecute those responsible for attempting to undermine the election and inciting the mob, a task that may be their biggest challenge.
NOBLES (on camera): And tonight marks the start of a series of hearings that will take place across the month of June. In fact, the committee in just the last hour announcing plans for a fourth hearing that will take place on Thursday of next week.
So, so far, Wolf, in addition to what we'll hear tonight, we'll also hear from the committee on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. It is clearly only just beginning. So, what more can we expect in tonight's primetime hearing, Ryan? Tell our viewers what else we're learning.
NOBLES: Yes. Wolf, viewers tonight should not expect to see a traditional congressional hearing, where you have a series of members of Congress asking questions to a series of witnesses and it goes back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. Instead, this will be much more of a multimedia presentation where there will be a lot of video. There will be clips from interviews that took place behind closed doors and then there will be witness testimony from two people directly connected to what happened on January 6th and were in and around the Proud Boys, that right-wing group that cause a lot of chaos on January 6th.
What the committee is hoping to lay the groundwork for is the case that this was a premeditated act what happened here on January 6th and it's directly connected to the effort to undermine the election results. Wolf?
BLITZER: We shall be watching for sure. Ryan Nobles, thank you very, very much.
We are joined now by one of the committee's key members, California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. Congressman Schiff, thanks so much for joining us. You are also the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
You just heard Ryan's report. What does your committee actually hope to accomplish first of all in tonight's hearing?
SCHIFF: Well, we hope to really tell the overall story of how close we came to losing our democracy and how we are not out of the woods, the multi-pronged effort to overturn a presidential election, the first time in history, we had a non-peaceful transfer of power, what led up to January 6th and what happened on that day, put to rest these claims as revisionist history that this was a normal tourist day, that this was legitimate political discourse. So, we want to tell the overall story and we want to do it in a way that will engage the public and we also want to set out what we intend to show in the hearings to come.
BLITZER: You recently said former President Trump, and I'm quoting you now, is the author and the architect of this plan to overturn the election, close quote. Will you present new evidence, Congressman, new evidence tonight to make that case to the American people?
SCHIFF: You know there will be, I think, a mixture of evidence that we will present this evening and in the nights that follow some of which the public has seen, much of which the public hasn't seen that go to just how one thing led to another, one attempt to overturn the election led to another, ultimately culminating on the violent attack at the Capitol.
We'll certainly be discussing in the days and weeks to come the president's role in each of these lines of effort as well as what the president did and, critically, what the president didn't do while the Capitol was under attack.
So, we'll be covering all of that certainly with a thousand interviews that we've conducted and over 100,000 documents we've obtained. There's a lot of new information and the challenge for us is how to discern what is the most important, to share with the public and how to do so in a way that can be easily digested given the magnitude of these events.
BLITZER: The former president has already been impeached twice. He was acquitted twice at the same time. You were the lead impeachment manager in that first trial, but Trump remains, for all practical purposes, still the de facto leader of the Republican Party and a very potential presidential candidate in 2024. Do you believe these hearings will change any of that?
SCHIFF: Well, these hearings are not aimed at the midterms or at the next presidential election. These are aimed at trying to protect our democracy from anyone who poses a threat to it, from anyone who would try to overturn a presidential election in the future. And part of, I think, preparing the country and exposing all that went into the last attempt is to inoculate ourselves and make sure that we don't go through this again.
So, that's really our object, which is to expose what took place all of the efforts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power and, ultimately, we intend to propose reforms to protect ourselves from any kind of a repetition.
BLITZER: And we will be getting -- I'm asking, will we be getting new information released tonight?
SCHIFF: Oh, yes. I mean, there will certainly be new information tonight. You will see and hear things that haven't been aired before. And I think that will be true of each and every hearing. But the challenge, Wolf, is that because the public has learned about many events, contemporaneous with our learning about them, some of this is already in the public eye, but much will be new.
And we hope that what will be most important is the way we weave it all together, that is what is the whole story here, what took place and how do the pieces fit together, these pieces that we've been hearing about for months and months.
How does it fit together? How who was behind this? How close did it come to succeeding? And what led to the violence that day?
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks so much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: President Biden is in Los Angeles right now for the summit of the Americas. Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is also there traveling with the president. Kaitlan, so, what is the president saying just ahead of tonight's historic hearings?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden said he thinks that Americans are going to get a good look at details of what actually happened on January 6th for the first time tonight in this hearing. Because as you heard from Congressman Schiff there, that has really been the objective of the committee, is trying to put what happened that day in the form of a story, basically, the beginning, the middle, the end, all of the details that we did not yet know when January 6 was actually happening, of what had unfolded in the weeks before at the Willard Hotel, at the White House and these conversations that Republican lawmakers were having.
And the president said he thinks that he's going to raise big questions about who exactly was responsible for what happened on that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it was a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution. I think these guys that broke the law tried to turn around the result of an election. And there are a lot of questions, who is responsible, who is involved. I'm not going to make a judgment on that, but I just want you to know that we're going to probably be -- a lot of Americans are going to be seeing for the first time some of the detail that occurred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Notable that he said he did not want to make any judgments about who or what was responsible for what happened that day, Wolf, but you heard the president bringing this up unprompted today while he's here in Los Angeles hosting the Summit of the Americas, talking about how he thinks this is going to really occupy a lot of the country's attention tonight.
BLITZER: Is the White House saying, Kaitlan, whether or not the president actually plans to watch these hearings tonight. COLLINS: They haven't said that he plans to watch the hearing from beginning to end. They did say he will see bits and pieces of it. But we should note, Wolf, if you look at the president's schedule, obviously, we're three hours behind here in Los Angeles tonight, there is a lot of downtime for the president at his hotel before he has dinner with these world leaders that he's hosting here tonight. So, he will be at his hotel when this hearing is getting kicked off.
Clearly, he is paying attention to this since he brought it up while meeting with the Canadian prime minister earlier. And it's even kind of loomed over the summit to a degree. This is a summit that is focused -- Summit of the Americas is focused on migration, climate change and whatnot, but look, for example, he's about to meet with the president of brazil, someone who is very close to former President Trump and someone that cast Biden's election. So, really, what happened to that day has its own ties to what's happening on the world stage with President Biden today, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins covering the summit in Los Angeles, thank you very much.
Next on this day, of all days, an arrest, get this, an arrest in connection with the January 6th attack with a suspect who is actually in the running to be the next governor of Michigan.
And later, breaking news on what police at Robb Elementary School actually knew about survivors inside the classroom they were waiting to storm.
BLITZER: Even after all we've seen and all we are about to learn from tonight's hearings on the subject, this latest January 6th story came as a shock, the arrest of a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
CNN's Sara Murray is joining us with the latest. Sara, I understand a confidential source actually identified Ryan Kelly as a participant in the insurrection. What more can you tell us?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. In these documents that we got from law enforcement today they brought in a number of charges and misdemeanors against Ryan Kelly for his participation in the riot, and one of the folks who turned him in was currently a confidential source who had been working with the FBI to provide information about domestic terrorism groups in Michigan.
Now, again, Kelly is not charged with terrorism. He's charged with a number of misdemeanors. And in these court documents, we can see these images of him on the grounds of the Capitol. He is in this fray of people who are pushing forward, who are assaulting officers, he's in a fray that's moving barricades, he's in a fray that's gesturing to folks to come join him on the Capitol stairs. So, that's why he faced these charges. But it did come as a big surprise. It says in these documents that they've been investigating him since January of 2021, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. But it still came as a huge surprise. The idea that a suspect in the January 6th riot is now running for a governor, not just governor but governor of a battleground state, no less, is certainly chilling. Has he already been released from jail?
MURRAY: Yes. He made his initial appearance today and he was released on bond. And the Republican primary to take on Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan has been rocked by chaos. A number of other candidates were disqualified from the ballot because they didn't have these valid signatures. Now, we're seeing these charges against Ryan Kelly.
But the other things we're seeing from Republicans in Michigan, including Kelly, is they're almost trying to use this to his benefit. He left the courthouse today. He was joined by a Republican who is running for attorney general there. He posted his campaign, posted on his Facebook that he was a political prisoner. And we've seen other Republicans in Michigan come out and essentially say this is some kind of politically motivated prosecution, so we'll see what happens as this court case plays out, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, we certainly will. Sara Murray reporting for us, thanks, Sara, very much.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan Senate bill to expand security protection to the immediate families of U.S. Supreme Court justices actually stalled in the House of Representatives today. It passed the Senate unanimously and comes in the wake of the arrest of a man who is now charged with attempting to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Let's get some more now from CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild on how all of this went down.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Police searching the home of a California man charged with attempted murder after he told police he wanted to kill a Supreme Court justice and then kill himself, he said, to give his life purpose.
He told authorities he was upset over the leak of a draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and the possibility the court could loosen gun laws. Authorities say 26-year- old Nicholas Roske went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Maryland home with a gun, zip ties and other tools. But after seeing two deputy U.S. Marshals outside, he called 911 on himself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Units be advised, a caller came to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He came from California, took a taxi from the airport to this location.
WILD: Attorney General Merrick Garland says the Justice Department will not tolerate this behavior.
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices, of course, strike at the heart of our democracy.
WILD: Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin says Congress is now ready to approve a bill extending security to the immediate family members of the justices.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): What happened this week with Justice Kavanaugh is a reminder that we live in a dangerous place and these people are vulnerable and we should protect them.
WILD: Republicans are blasting the delay.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): A disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.
WILD: House Democrats want to expand the Senate bill to cover clerks and staff. Speaker Nancy Pelosi promises action soon.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We had hoped that we could do it today, but we certainly will do it at the beginning of next week.
WILD: This all comes as the January 6 hearings are set to begin tonight in prime time and Washington gears up for a potentially volatile June. That's when major Supreme Court decisions, large-scale protests and more tours at the Capitol will converge in an already heightened threat environment.
CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: There's, I think, a lot of vitriol.
WILD: Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger is ramping up security while D.C. police are activating their riot cops throughout the month. These moves come as the Department of Homeland Security warns of the possibility of a violent summer and fall fueled by conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies.
A major concern, the pending abortion ruling, intelligence analysts warn of potential threats toward lawmakers, Supreme Court justices, abortion providers and religious groups, the threats coming from both sides of the abortion debate.
MANGER: I am worried about the violence, I'm worried about the lone actor coming in and doing something dangerous.
WILD: Protests related to abortion and gun laws could bring thousands of people to Washington. Sources say Capitol police are now adding overtime shifts.
MANGER: The focus is really on what the protests that are going on at the court, the protests that are going on at the homes of the justices. I understand that tension could very quickly turn to, you know, to the Capitol.
BLITZER: And Whitney Wild is joining us now live from just right near the U.S. Supreme Court. Whitney, I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this. How long do the sources you're talking to, how long do they expect this very tense environment here in the United States to last?
WILD (on camera): Well, Wolf, federal officials think that this is going to last through the summer and very likely at least through the midterm election season, much of that fueled by misinformation and disinformation spun up on social media as well as personal grievances related to the 2020 election, people feeling like they can use violence to justify their actions when it comes to domestic violent extremism.
Further, Wolf, that tension is already surfacing on social media. Here in D.C., intelligence analysts from the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have already flagged in just the last couple of weeks a dozen threats that they think are credible enough to warrant further investigation, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. And the Department of Homeland Security issued a very, very alarming statement the other day warning that this is going to continue for some time.
Whitney Wild reporting for us, Whitney, thank you very, very much.
Up next, new reporting that police officers in Uvalde, Texas, knew a victim still alive and injured in the classrooms where a gunman killed 21 people. Those victims waited more than an hour for help.
And we'll go live to Capitol Hill for an update on the gun legislation talks after a key meeting this afternoon between both parties.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There's breaking news tonight in the Uvalde school shooting tragedy. A brand-new investigation by The New York Times finds that police supervisors knew some of the victims in the two classrooms held by the gunmen were not only alive but they were injured. And The Times reports on transcripts of law enforcement body camera video.
CNN's Omar Jimenez is joining us from Uvalde, Texas, right now. Omar, an official with the Texas Department of Public Safety previously told me that officers delayed because they, quote, could have been shot. What can you tell us about this latest reporting that's just coming in?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Well, one of the things that we are looking at in particular is that law enforcement knew, as you mentioned, there were injured individuals inside before deciding to breach again. That's according to a New York Times review of investigative documents and video.
I want to read you some of the high points of the transcripts that were reviewed by The Times, in particular, people are going to ask why we're taking so long, a law enforcement official on the scene of the shooting could be heard saying, according to body camera transcripts. We're trying to preserve the rest of the life, part of the transcript reads, according to The Times.
Now, according to our timeline, it was around 11:44 A.M. that day that officers first asked for backup. And then within 20 minutes, that was when as many as 19 officers gathered in the hallway. But according to The Times' reporting, around 12:30, that's when school's Chief Pete Arredondo said, again, according to The Times review, the transcript, we're ready to breach but that door is locked.
One officer could be heard saying, if there are kids in there, we need to go in there, again, according to The Times review. It wasn't until 12:50 P.M. that they got a key from the janitor, breached the classroom and shot the suspect.
But, again, that wonderance from one of those officers in these transcripts, according to The Times review, people are going to wonder why we waited so long remains the central question, multiple overlapping investigations.
BLITZER: Yes, it's so, so disturbing.
We've got mostly silence, as you well know, Omar, from local authorities in the days since the attack. What did the school district share today?
JIMENEZ: Well, we learned that they are looking to boost law enforcement presence on some of these campuses, not just in the summer school period, but in the fall period, as well. We tried to ask a question, however, because Robb Elementary sent out communication the day of the shooting that there was a lockdown on campus due to gunshots in the area, but that students and staff were safe.
According to law enforcement, though, shots had already been fired. So, we asked simply who was in charge of that communication going out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: Is that a school level decision? Is that a law enforcement decisions that would put out that form of communication?
DR. HAL HARRELL, UVALDE CISD SUPERINTENDENT: I'm going to jot those down. A lot of that sounds like it will be in the investigation and the results.
JIMENEZ: But just generally speaking even just for schools?
HARRELL: I'm going to wait until the investigation comes out. I'm not going to get into -- JIMENEZ: Well, then, forget Robb Elementary for a second. Generally, at schools in your district.
HARRELL: We'll have some more updates on the safety and security as we move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: And that was the theme of most of the answers to reporter questions today.
And then they ended the press conference after a little bit more than ten minutes. Take a listen to how it ended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: How can you expect your community to feel safe going back to school? We have heard from parents who told us they do not feel safe sending their students back to school and you have a responsibility, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: All of that was met with silence. And one of those parents was Alfred Garza, the father of Amerie Jo Garza, who was killed in this attack earlier this week. He says, it is going to take a lot of change for not only him but many in this community to feel safe about sending their kids back to school.
BLITZER: Yes, you're absolutely right. Omar Jimenez, good question, sadly, no answers. Thanks very much. Omar is joining us from Uvalde.
The House select committee, by the way, is preparing right now for tonight's historic prime time hearings on the January 6th insurrection. But over in the Senate, the focus is on whether any kind of gun legislation is a possibility.
New polling this week shows well over half of the nation supports stricter gun laws. That's a noticeable jump from November, but similar to how Americans felt in the last spring for that matter. Support for tougher gun laws here in the United States tends to spike for a period immediately after major mass shootings. But that same polling, by the way, taken after Uvalde and Buffalo and Orange County, California, the shootings all there, show only about a third of Republicans want stricter gun laws.
Our Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona is joining us right now. Melanie, so, where do things stand this evening? What's the latest?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Wolf, there's no deal yet but negotiators are still talking, which, of course, is always a good sign. A bipartisan group of lawmakers who have been trying to hammer out a deal met earlier in the Capitol today. They are going to continue talking over Zoom tomorrow.
And they have really narrowed in on four main buckets. Number one is they want to encourage states to pass red flag laws, which would enable a judge to take a firearm away from someone who is deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Number two, they want to expand access to mental health programs. Number three, they want to enhance background checks narrowly, potentially, to include juvenile records. And number four, they want to bolster school safety. So, really, a much more modest set of proposals and the sweeping package that the House passed last night.
But I do want to offer some caution here because despite the optimism surrounding these bipartisan talks, there are still some Senate Republicans who are skeptical of any deal. And, specifically, they're concerned with the red flag laws and whether they have enough due process in them. So, still some work to be done and still some differences to be ironed out.
BLITZER: Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill, thank you, Melanie, very much.
Up next, some of the January 6th committee -- some of what the January 6th Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson's opening statement tonight will include. We've just gotten some details. They've just been released. We're going to tell you what he plans to say.
Also, the search for answers to the mystery of who placed pipe bombs found outside Democratic and Republican Party headquarters here in Washington just before the insurrection.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: I want to go right back to the U.S. Capitol and CNN's Ryan Nobles who has just received excerpts of the January 6th Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson's opening statement for tonight's historic hearing. So, what are you learning, Ryan?
NOBLES: Yes, that's right, Wolf. This gives us a sense of what Chairman Thompson will say tonight in his opening statement during tonight's hearing, which begins in just a couple of hours. He is going to say, in part, quote, we can't sweep what happened under the rug. The American people deserve answers. So, I come to you this evening not as a Democrat but as an American who swore an oath to the Constitution. The Constitution doesn't just protect Democrats or just Republicans, it protects all of us, we, the people, and this scheme was an attempt to undermine the will of the people.
And then later on, he will say the world is watching what we do here. America has long expected to be a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope and freedom, a model for others. When we are at our best, how can we play that role when our own House is in such disorder?
And what's interesting about this statement, Wolf, it is a nod to both Republicans and Democrats, and this committee has come under a degree of criticism because of its partisan nature. There are, of course, both Republicans and Democrats on this panel but two of those Republicans have been sharply critical of the former president, Donald Trump, and they were asked to be on this committee by the Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
This is an attempt by Bennie Thompson to at least make the case that the committee has tried to act in a bipartisan and nonpartisan way that they're just looking for a sober look at the facts and the evidence in front of them. Obviously, there is going to be a lot of Americans that may be critical of that and may not buy that argument, but this is at least him attempting to establish that right at the beginning of this hearing here tonight.
BLITZER: Yes. The whole world will be watching indeed. Ryan Nobles, thank you very much.
Tonight's truly extraordinary prime time hearing into the January 6th insurrection into the U.S. Capitol, the hearing is expected to reveal new evidence and that includes video never seen by the public.
But haunting images just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol certainly remind us of one of the most terrifying, unsolved mysteries of that week. Nearly a year and a half later, we still don't know who left live pipe bombs at the offices of the Democratic and Republican National Committees up on Capitol Hill.
We'll get more now from CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While there is a significant amount of information out there on this person's movements and appearance on the night in question --
STEVEN D'ANTUONO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, FBI WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE: A face mask, a gray hooded sweatshirt and black and light gray Nike AMX speed turf shoes with a yellow logo.
TODD: Authorities still don't know who this person is or why they left pipe bombs outside the Democratic and Republican Party headquarters the night before the Capitol insurrection. What we do know is the suspect walked a nomadic path according to surveillance footage from the FBI which authorities suggest they're not from the D.C. area.
We know a dog walker walked right past the suspect and we have information that, according to The Atlantic, the FBI has interviewed more than 900 people in this case and has even done analysis on the way the suspect walks. What we don't have is a name, a gender or any indication that this person is anywhere close to being caught even though authorities have been investigating for 17 months now.
TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: This is a mystery and, frankly, we would use the public help in solving it. They need to drop a dime, as we used to say, and let someone know what they think. TODD: Former Capitol Chief Terrance Gainer says he doesn't think the trail has gone cold. Gainer and other law enforcement veterans believe the FBI is still meticulously combing through the devices themselves, which officials say were made with galvanized pipe and homemade black powder and attached to egg timers, and they're analyzing other clues.
PETER LICATA, FORMER FBI LEAD BOMB TECH IN NEW YORK CITY: They're looking for bomber signature. They're looking for any of what we call trace evidence, which is latent prints, DNA, hair fibers, things that may tie together to match the device to a specific individual.
TODD: The FBI has said the two bombs were placed near DNC and RNC headquarters between 7:30 and 8:30 P.M., just a few blocks from the Capitol, on January 5th and weren't discovered until around 1:00 P.M. on the 6th, just as rioters were breaching the Capitol.
What we've learned in recent months is how close one bomb came to potentially harming incoming Vice President Kamala Harris. Sources told CNN Harris' motorcade drove within a few yards of one of the bomb on the morning of the 6th and that she was inside the DNC office with one of the bombs just outside for almost two hours before the device was found.
D'ANTUONO: These pipe bombs were viable devices that could have been detonated resulting in serious injury or death.
TODD: Despite what we know of the case, despite a reward of $100,000 for information on the suspect, why hasn't the person been caught?
LICATA: I think the person was very careful. Sometimes it takes a few days and sometimes, in this case, it takes years in order to find the individual that perpetrated this type of act.
TODD (on camera): The analysts we spoke to say there's also the possibility that this person may never be caught and that whoever the suspect is remains very dangerous. We reached out to the FBI today to see if they could provide updates on the case. There were no updates that the bureau could make public. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very disturbing indeed. Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you, Brian, very, very much.
Up next, as we wait for the start of the January 6th select committee's first public hearing tonight up on Capitol Hill, a former Trump cabinet is admitting to being parts of the discussions to possibly invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with others in the Trump cabinet and then with the vice president, Mike Pence, after the Capitol attack. We have details when we come back.
BLITZER: A whopping admission today from one of the longest-serving members of the Trump cabinet, this on the same day that the January 6th select committee kicks off its public hearings tonight. The former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told "USA Today" that she did, in fact, discuss the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to actually remove Trump from office. She discussed that with other members of the Trump cabinet and with then Vice President Pence after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The amendment provides for the removal of a positive if he or she is incapable of performing the duties of the office. DeVos said Trump's actions on that day were, and I'm quoting now, a line in the sand and when she determined that the 25th Amendment was not going to be a viable option she resigned the next day.
Let's discuss and discuss that, as well as tonight's upcoming hearing. Joining us, CNN chief national affairs analyst Kasie Hunt, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, the former FBI director, Andrew McCabe, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent and CNN's chief legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin.
Kasie, how big of an admission is this from former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, especially coming on this, the first night of these public hearings?
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It's pretty remarkable, Wolf, because there is the first time we think that we've heard this directly from one of the people involved in these conversations, an acknowledgement from someone who would have been in line to make a decision along those lines and the way she explained it had to do with the then sitting vice president Mike Pence who seemed to indicate he didn't want to go down this route. We also know it was discussed by members of Congress.
We've heard Kevin McCarthy on tapes that were published by a pair of "New York Times" reporters where he discusses whether the 25th Amendment is something that's actually possible. The time line would have been too long to sort through this at the time, but I think big picture, this helps us get an additional window into how the Republicans that Trump had included as part of his government were thinking about the events of January 6th and what had occurred that day and how deeply disturbing it was to many of them.
Now, we know that a lot of people who continued to hold elected office and Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader in the House, hoped to be speaker, is among them. He changed his tune very quickly from his period where he was willing to challenge then President Trump. There were many Republicans, frankly, who seemed pretty eager to be rid of the Trump influence on their party.
They all changed course pretty quick and it really was a matter of weeks before the tenor started to change here. So, I think that's going to be something that obviously is going to be in focus tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly will be. As far as tonight is concerned, any type of criminal decisions will obviously be up to the Department of Justice.
Andrew, how do you expect the committee will potentially lay the groundwork for that?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wolf, the committee is going to start tonight by trying to tell a compelling story to the American public. This is not as, you know, a criminal case. There's no jurors to try to persuade here. They're not trying to persuade senators to vote for impeachment. They are simply bringing the information to the American people.
If they want the attention of the public on these matters, they have to tell it come a compelling way and the more convincingly they can present these facts, the more persuasive their own recommendations if there are any to Justice Department at the conclusion of this process will be. If there is great public interest and support for what the committee has uncovered over the course of this investigation that will have the effective backing the Department of Justice into a very uncomfortable position if, in fact, the committee recommends a referral at the end of their process.
BLITZER: Congressman Dent, like many issues in America, this year in 2022, there are deep divisions among party lines when it comes to January 6th and these hearings. If you were advising the committee, how can they keep this nonpartisan, is that even possible?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the thing that I would do if I were them, I would certainly make sure that they put front and center, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, two Republicans. I will make sure there are plenty of Republican witnesses, people like Marc Short, who is the chief of staff to Mike Pence, and you want to hear from Republicans who witnessed what happened that day and were mortified by what they saw.
And I would, frankly, encourage some of the Democrats on the committee who might have a higher bipartisan profile to step back a bit and I think it's also important, too, that, you know, we get some new information here so that, you know, we capture the interest of the American public.
The bottom line is, you want this -- you want Cheney and Kinzinger out there, front and center. You want to hear from the Republicans who saw what happened. People like maybe Betsy DeVos who just reveal what she did today, and others who have front row seat and can speak to this. That way you inoculate yourself against the charge of extreme partisanship.
BLITZER: Yeah, that's a good point.
You know, Jeffrey, the hearing is not a court of law as we all know. Do you expect any potential criminal charges to come from the committee's findings?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, this hearing is about three things -- Donald Trump, Donald Trump, and Donald Trump. And the issue whether he had criminal intent, whether there's a referral or not, that's really the central legal issue in all of this. You know, did he know that he lost the election and was trying to overturn it anyway, or did he actually believe there was a valid, legal reason to overturn the election? That's the issue with criminal intent.
I don't think it matters whether there will be ultimately a referral. The Justice Department is going to make its own decision, but the question of whether the president had criminal intent based on the facts and based on what the committee can develop, that's going to be the thing I'm looking for in this hearing.
BLITZER: Yeah, me too. Andrew, we're going to hear from Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards later tonight who the committee said was the first law enforcement officer actually injured in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Do you expect that to resonate, especially with members of the public who are big proponents of law enforcement?
TOOBIN: Well, it should, Wolf, right? And it goes directly to that contingent of the Republican Party, of Republican supporters who consider themselves great fans of and supporters of law enforcement. In any sort of presentation like this, there is little evidence or testimony that's more compelling than that that comes from a completely neutral, innocent victim and that is what the officer will likely provide to us in her testimony.
BLTIZER: Yeah, that will be dramatic to hear from her, no doubt about that.
Congressman Dent, how crucial will cooperating Republican witnesses, individuals like former Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short, for example, be in building a case?
DENT: I think they're essential. There are plenty of Republicans again who were mortified. You know, we've been talking with the 25th Amendment, I believe most Republicans at that time, in that moment, in the immediate aftermath, felt that Donald Trump should have resigned and they need to get some of these Republicans and there are plenty of them who saw what happened.
And I think they are going to make the most compelling case of any other folks and again -- now, the Democrats have to be so careful because they, they have to keep this very professional.
And, you know, I'm friends with Adam Schiff, but, you know, he is perceived by many Republicans as partisan, same with Jamie Raskin. If I were the Democrats I would make sure people like Stephanie Murphy, and Congresswoman Luria, and others, Aguilar, those folks are not seen as partisan. I think should be more prominent in these hearings.
But the bottom line is, there are Republican and there are Republicans in Congress, too, Jaime Herrera Beutler, she was one who conveyed some of what she heard in a conference from some comments of Representative McCarthy at the time, and there are plenty of people like her who can tell you very compelling stories what they heard in real time.
TOOBIN: Here's a different idea, how about not hearing from the politicians at all? How about let's hear from witnesses? Let's see evidence.
I mean, the last thing this country needs --
DENT: They were witnesses, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Btu the last thing this country needs -- well, I'm talking about members of the committee. We don't need to hear about the members of the committee. Bloviating politicians is not going to address the issues here. Witnesses, evidence, tapes, video, that's what's going to change peoples' opinion if anything. It's certainly not going to be anything Democrat or Republican members said.
BLITZER: Let me let Casey weigh in on this. Do you expect, Casey, the committee will succeed in connecting the dots for the American public?
HUNT: I think it's the central challenge here. I think one other challenge, too, is going to be projecting this into the future, because there are a lot of people who feel they've heard enough of this and made up their minds about it. But if the committee can convince people to be continued to worried about it, then I think they'll accomplish the mission that they set out for.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens.
All right. Casey Hunt, Andrew McCabe, Charlie Dent, Jeffrey Toobin -- to all of you, thanks very much.
And we'll be right back.
BLITZER: A historic night here in Washington, our special live coverage begins right now.