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1/6 Committee Reveals Planning Behind Trump`s Call To March To Capitol; Witnesses Describe Unhinged, Nuts Oval Office Showdown; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Says, 1/6 Committee Alerted Justice Department Trump Tried To Call Witness; 1/6 Committee Lays Out Ties Between Extremists And Trump White House; Soon: Biden Departs For First Middle East Trip Of Presidency. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 12, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the January 6th select committee presents evidence that then-President Trump planned for and intended his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol. The panel arguing Trump`s, quote, call to arms directly led to the violent insurrection.
Also in today`s hearing, witnesses described what they said was an unhinged and nuts Oval Office showdown as Trump and his enablers considered outlandish ways to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election. And key White House officials pushed back.
And the closing bombshell, as the committee vice chair, Liz Cheney, revealed the panel has alerted the Justice Department in Washington that Trump tried to contact a witness in a possible attempt to influence testimony.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I`m Wolf Blitzer. You`re in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We`re coming to you live from Jerusalem to cover President Biden`s historic trip here. He leaves the White House in just a few hours and arrives here tomorrow. More on this important visit, that`s coming up ahead.
But, first, we want to break down all the new revelations from today`s hearing on the January 6th insurrection, what we learned about Trump`s actions then and now and new accounts of bedlam inside his White House.
Let`s go to our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles. He`s up on Capitol Hill. Ryan, walk us through all the dramatic evidence that emerged today.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that`s right, Wolf. The January 6th select committee had a lot to unpack today. They provided specific evidence of the plans of extremist groups and others to come to Washington on January 6th with the specific purpose of marching on the Capitol and standing in the way of the certification of the election results. And many of them said the reason they were here on that day was because Donald Trump wanted them to be.
NOBLES (voice over): The January 6th select committee used their seventh public hearing to build a case that Donald Trump had a plan, to call his supporters to Washington to march on the Capitol and stand in the way of certifying the 2020 election. One witness, Stephen Ayres, who has since pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally, said he answered Trump`s call.
STEPHEN AYRES, BREACHED CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6: We didn`t actually plan to go down there. You know, we went basically to see the Stop the Steal rally and that was it.
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): So, why did you decide to march to the Capitol?
AYRES: Well, basically, you know, the president, you know, got everybody riled up, told everybody to head on down. So, we basically were just following what he said.
NOBLES: The committee unveiling never-before-seen depositions and communications among Trump insiders, showing that the former president ignored the advice of his own advisers and instead leaned on the counsel of election deniers, like Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I`m going to categorically describe it as you guys are not tough enough, or maybe put it in another way, you`re a bunch of pussies. Excuse the expression, but that`s -- I`m almost certain the word was used.
NOBLES: The committee arguing Trump knew he lost the election but was driven to overturn the results anyway.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.
NOBLES: A drive that led to a raucous meeting at the White House in the middle of December, when Trump wanted to name Attorney Sidney Powell as special counsel in order to seize voting machines.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president said okay, you know, I`m naming her that and I`m giving her security clearance.
NOBLES: Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone testifying that he was displeased to see people like Powell and Flynn in the Oval Office and told Trump naming Powell special counsel was a grave mistake.
PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: To have the federal government seize voting machines, that`s a terrible idea for the country. That`s not how we do things in the United States. There`s no legal authority to do that. I don`t think any of these people were providing the president with good advice. And so I didn`t understand how they had gotten in.
NOBLES: Cipollone also describing his frustration dealing with people who couldn`t produce any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
CIPOLLONE: A disregard, I would say, a general disregard for the importance of actually backing up what you say with facts.
NOBLES: Afterward, Trump shifting gears but not backing down from his pursuit of pushing election lies, tweeting the next day an invitation to his supporters to descend on Washington on January 6.
MURPHY: Be there, will be wild, the president wrote.
NOBLES: The committee also presenting a draft tweet obtained from the National Archives showing Trump planned before January 6 to tell his supporters please arrive early, massive crowds expected, march to the Capitol after, this despite members of Trump`s cabinet and inner circle testifying that they told Trump he lost the election and he should concede to Biden after the Electoral College met in mid- December.
EUGENE SCALIA, FORMER TRUMP LABOR SECRETARY: I conveyed to him that I thought that it was time for him to acknowledge that President Biden had prevailed in the election.
CIPOLLONE: If your question is did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time, yes, I did.
NOBLES (on camera): And at the conclusion of today`s explosive hearing, Congresswoman Liz Cheney revealing that one of the witnesses the committee was considering talking to received a phone call from the former president recently. They said that that particular witness declined the call from Donald Trump and instead referred that information to their attorney. Their attorney then reached out to the committee, Cheney saying that they`ve now passed that information along to the Department of Justice. No word, Wolf, on who that witness is or if we will hear from them in the future. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, that was really a bombshell right at the end of the hearing today. Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.
Let`s bring in our political, legal and law enforcement experts. And, Jamie Gangel, I`ll start with you.
Former Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale flat out said Trump`s rhetoric got someone killed. How powerful was today`s hearing?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think today was a devastating hearing, Wolf, for Trump. Every day in the hearing -- in the series of hearings has built on it. This hearing laid the blame, the committee laid the blame on Trump directly from White House insiders. Brad Parscale is a campaign insider. These are the people closest to him.
And so what the committee has built is just a devastating case where Trump loyalists, over and over again, are the ones who are saying Trump was responsible and that, as Liz Cheney said in the first hearing, President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame. And that certainly underscored that today.
BLITZER: Well, let me let Andrew McCabe weigh in. Did the committee, Andrew, successfully make the case that the former president of the United States was actually giving directives to his followers and to these violent extremists?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, as usual, Wolf, we didn`t see any explicitly clear direction from the president to the -- his connections in the white supremacist world, the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, that sort of thing. But what we did see was an absolutely premeditated, intentional effort by the president to essentially send the signal out to that community and to his community of supporters to come to the Capitol, to the rally on the 6th. And then we now know, of course, that he intended to exhort them to march on the Capitol after the rally.
So, I don`t think we have the smoking gun that many would have liked to have seen but, essentially, the tweet on December 19th was like the bat signal, right? He puts it up into the clouds knowing that his community would respond.
BLITZER: He certainly did.
Gloria, I want you and our viewers to watch just how Trump supporters interpreted his words. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Donald Trump is calling on his supporters to descend on Washington, D.C. January 6th.
ALEX JONES, RIGHT-WING MEDIA PERSONALITY: He is now calling on we the people to take action and to show our numbers.
MATT BRACKEN, RIGHT-WING COMMENTATOR: We`re going to only be saved by millions of Americans moving to Washington, occupying the entire area, if necessary, storming right into the Capitol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be Trump`s last stand. And it`s a time when he has specifically called on his supporters to arrive in D.C. That`s something that may actually be the big push Trump supporters need to say this is it, it`s now or never.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better understand something, son. You better understand something, red wave, bitch. There`s going to be a red wedding going down January 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [18:10:02]
BLITZER: You know, Gloria, the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol clearly was not spontaneous. This was in the works for quite some time, wasn`t it?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it was. As Andy was saying, this was something that was premeditated and they produced the receipts today in the committee. We saw the draft tweet from the archival information, which talked about this big rally on January 6th. We saw Katrina Pierson in a -- after a phone call with Meadows, sending an e-mail to fellow organizers saying that the president intended to go to the Capitol. Another organizer said, look, it`s important to keep this a secret because I can`t tell the park service about it but we`re going to head to the Capitol.
So, we know that the president of the United States, knowing that there were armed mobsters out there, said to people, go to the Capitol. And we also know from testimony at other hearings when the president got in an altercation with the Secret Service that he wanted to go to the Capitol. So, again, this is not a spontaneous walk in the park here. This was premeditated, let`s go to the Capitol, because we want to overturn an election where an official certification was taking place.
BLITZER: Yes. It`s really amazing to even think about that.
You know, Elliot, how significant is it to hear directly from the former Trump White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who tried to guard against Trump`s worst instincts?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it`s incredibly significant. And in addition to Pat Cipollone, you also heard from cabinet secretaries who had tried to convey to the president that the scheme that they were hatching with the president`s allies was either unlawful, illegal or improper, and that`s significant. Again, what you`re seeing are insiders of the president circling around him and making clear. And, frankly, this will be quite relevant to any prosecutor as they bring a case. Was information presented to the president to let him know his actions were improper?
Also, we saw a lot of information today about the reach and power of the president`s words. And any indication of how he might have known that his Twitter following of 70 million people, however large it was, he had the power to call off a crowd or make it disperse or come together. And you saw a lot of evidence and information of that. So, very powerful from any of those insiders.
We also haven`t talked about witness tampering, Wolf. That suggestion that was made at the end, that`s frankly probably the easiest crime to prove of the ones that we talked about. We talk about sedition and so on. And there may well be a serious allegation of witness tampering here. It just depends on what further information comes out.
BLITZER: There`s certainly a lot more we need to discuss here in THE SITUATION ROOM, including, as Elliot just said, that bombshell from Congresswoman Liz Cheney at the very end of the hearing on potential witness tampering by Donald Trump.
Our live coverage from Jerusalem continues, next.
BLITZER: We`re back now with more analysis of today`s pivotal and truly historic January 6th select committee hearing in Washington.
Andrew McCabe, as Elliot mentioned earlier the vice chair of the select committee, Liz Cheney, revealed at the very end of this hearing very disturbing details that after the last hearing, former President Trump actually tried to call a potential witness in their investigation, a real witness. They`ve alerted the U.S. Justice Department. How concerning is this?
MCCABE: Well, it`s incredibly concerning, Wolf. I think not in the least part because it shows a level of desperation, I think, on the former president to reach out, to make any contact with a witness of this committee in light of what was said at the end of the previous hearing where Congresswoman Cheney really turned the light and the focus on witness intimidation that`s been going on until this point.
Then to get directly, allegedly directly involved in potentially contacting a witness by the -- by former President Trump, it`s just -- it`s hard to imagine what he could possibly have been thinking before he did that. But it does give the committee a solid lead to follow up on if they have the investigative will to do so or to refer to the Department of Justice.
BLITZER: Well, they did notify the Department of Justice of potentially what could be a crime, witness tampering.
Cheney says, Jamie, that Trump is an adult, not an impressionable child, and needs to be held responsible. It was a dramatic statement on her part. She might as well be speaking, though, directly to the attorney general of the United States, right?
GANGEL: There`s no question about it that the committee has been keeping the pressure up on the Justice Department. But I think what`s critical here, Wolf, is that the committee is doing its job for history, to lay out the case. And as we all know, you hear about prosecutors, it`s not always so hard to make an indictment. It`s a whole other question to make a case and convict someone.
But the committee, Liz Cheney, all of these witnesses, are providing critical information for the Justice Department and then we will see down the road whether there is a criminal referral and whether the Justice Department takes it from here.
One point to make, we are told that Cassidy Hutchinson`s testimony the other day was a game changer for the Justice Department, and I`m certain that some of the testimony here from these White House insiders, White House counsel, also is going to have an impact on the Justice Department. BLITZER: Including the sworn testimony from Pat Cipollone, the Trump White House counsel.
Gloria, the committee also revealed this text exchange between two very staunch Trump allies, Brad Parscale and Katrina Pierson.
Watch what they said after, after the January 6th attack. Watch and listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Parscale said, quote, this is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country, a sitting president asking for civil war. And then when he said, this week, I feel guilty for helping him win. Katrina Pierson responded, you did what you felt right at the time, and therefore it was right. Mr. Parscale added, yes, but a woman is dead. And, yes, if I was Trump and I knew my rhetoric killed someone. When Ms. Pearson replied it wasn`t the rhetoric. Mr. Parscale said, Katrina, yes, it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How stunning is it, Gloria, to hear someone so close to Trump flatly say the former president was indeed responsible for the bloodshed?
BORGER: Well, and also Brad Parscale is somebody who still does a little business with Trump`s PAC. I think it`s stunning because it`s just another example of people who worked for Donald Trump, were loyal to Donald Trump, and after January 6th said to themselves and said out loud, why did I do this? Look at this, this is a president who wanted to start a civil war.
But what we saw happen then after people felt that way in the moment, Wolf, we`ve seen them time and time again kind of back away from that feeling and rationalize, well, maybe it wasn`t so bad, et cetera, et cetera.
What the committee has done is say to these people, no, you were right, Lindsey Graham, when you said enough is enough after January 6th. All of you people who were thinking about invoking the 25th Amendment, you were right because the president was unhinged. And so this is a candid moment between two people very loyal to the president.
By the way, Katrina Pierson was worried about the people who were going to be on the mall and worried about the people who were going to march to the Capitol.
So, a candid moment and a reminder to everyone that these people, some of them have changed their minds and they shouldn`t have because they were right.
BLITZER: Elliot, what goes through your mind hearing that specific exchange?
WILLIAMS: That specific exchange, look, people around the president sort of came around when they were seeing how egregious the conduct was. You know, I think the most important thing, Wolf, is that we focus on what`s a crime, what you can charge Brad Parscale or Donald Trump or anybody else with. But if you step back and get out of that framing, this was historically egregious conduct at the highest levels of the White House that people who were loyalists of the president, including what we saw today, the labor secretary, the White House counsel and any number of others saw as just -- as purely egregious.
So, even if this conduct couldn`t be charged as crimes, it ought to never happen again.
BLITZER: Elliot Williams, thank you very much. Jamie Gangel. Andrew McCabe, Gloria Borger, thanks to all of you guys. I really appreciate it.
Coming up, former President Trump said to be fixated right now by the January 6th hearing. We`re watching this. We`re getting reaction. Our Kaitlan Collins is standing by. She`s got new information.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: We`re getting new reaction to this afternoon`s very dramatic January 6th testimony up on Capitol Hill. The committee detailed a very heated and profane Oval Office showdown between White House attorneys and outside Trump advisers pushing baseless claims of election fraud. Watch this.
CIPOLLONE: I opened the door and I walked in. I saw General Flynn. I saw Sidney Powell sitting there.
I don`t think any of these people were providing the president with good advice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the meeting tense?
DEREK LYONS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STAFF SECRETARY: Oh, yes. It was not a casual meeting. At times, there were people shouting at each other, throwing insults at each other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cipollone and Herschmann and whoever the other guy was showed nothing but contempt and disdain of the president.
CIPOLLONE: The three of them were really sort of forcefully attacking me verbally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely out there. I mean, you`ve got people walking in, it was late at night, it had been a long day, and what they were proposing, I thought, was nuts.
CIPOLLONE: I thought that the president did not have the authority to do what was being suggested under a proper reading of the law. I conveyed that. I think I actually -- somebody in the vice president`s, just blame me.
I think the vice president did the right thing. I think he did the courageous thing. I think he did a great service to this country. And I think I suggested to somebody that he should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions.
CHENEY: After our last hearing President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not yet seen in these hearings.
That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump`s call and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us. And this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice.
Let me say one more time, we will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously.
BLITZER: Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with me right now. Kaitlan, this was really important and a very significant moment we just heard from the committee vice chair about this potential witness tampering. What are you hearing about this? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Liz Cheney
really dangled that out there at the end. She was saying, we`ve got this preview of what is going to happen in the next hearing and also here`s one more thing that has happened since this last hearing. Of course, it immediately sent people in the former president`s orbit scrambling to try to figure out who this witness could potentially be, who is it that he tried to call.
It`s not immediately obvious, Wolf. Obviously, there have been over 1,000 witnesses interviewed by the January 6th committee. You`ve seen several of them appear on camera, so that rules them out. You know it`s not those who have appeared since she said it is a witness you have not yet seen here on camera or in person. But, of course, the big question is who is it, and, of course, you`ve seen people in Trump`s orbit already pushing back on this, saying that Cheney is allowed to say these things with them going unchallenged or unconfirmed. There are so many witnesses that it could potentially be.
But, obviously, this person felt uncomfortable with the former president calling them to the point where they did not answer the phone, they had said phoned the January 6th committee and told them about this, who then in turn turned this over to the Justice Department.
So, there is still a lot to learn about this and I think you do need to keep in mind the context of the former president, who has been accused of verging on witness tampering before, whether it be Michael Cohen or some of his other former aides who have come under legal scrutiny, but I do think this is something that Liz Cheney put out there and the committee is going to have a lot of questions about this.
BLITZER: I`m sure they will, very significant.
I thought there was another very dramatic and powerful moment when Pat Cipollone, the former Trump White House counsel, actually on his own decided he was going to heap a lot of praise on the former vice president of the United States.
COLLINS: Completely unprompted. He asked if he could say something about the vice president while he was being interviewed by this committee, and he went on to say that he was courageous, that I did the right thing that day, went on to suggest that he win the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As I was watching that, there are moments from these hearings that have really enraged Trump as he`s kept up with the highlights, been told and watched himself what was going on. That`s going to be one of them. Because, obviously, that is completely opposite of what Trump thinks Pence did that day. He did not think that he acted courageously. He called him an epithet. And so I think that is going to be a moment that obviously he will not be happy with.
But it does show where this divide came down. And maybe some people in Trump`s orbit won`t but that there are a lot of people in the White House on that day who do believe that Pence ultimately made the right decision.
BLITZER: Yes. I think history will show that he did make the right decision, deserves a lot of credit. And Trump really went after him and branded him as a loser and weak and all sorts of other words. I`m sort of paraphrasing right now.
COLLINS: Yes, and they testified today about he wanted to add parts about Pence to his speech on The Ellipse on January 6th, going after him because he knew that Pence was not going to do by then what he wanted him to do up on Capitol Hill.
BLITZER: Yes, good point indeed. Do we have any indication how much longer these hearings are going to go on?
COLLINS: That`s a big question here because Trump himself is wondering that. He has been asking people how much longer the hearings are going to go on. We thought potentially we could see an end to them this week with a hearing on Thursday. The committee then said that actually their plans had shifted to next week and that is when they are going to have hearings going forward, including with some witnesses. And so that will be something to watch.
But Trump, who has been downplaying the significance of these hearings, saying they`re not that effective, has also himself been asking when they are going to come to an end. BLITZER: Yes. It looks like they`re not going to come to an end for a while. There will be more hearings next week, at least, and maybe down the road as well.
Kaitlan, thanks very much, Kaitlan Collins here with me in Jerusalem.
Just ahead, is former President Trump criminally liable in the U.S. Capitol siege? I`ll ask a key member of the January 6th select committee. Congressman Pete Aguilar is standing by live. We will discuss.
Stay with us. Our special coverage continues tonight. We`re live from Jerusalem.
BLITZER: Former President Trump accused of a, quote, call to arms that led his supporters to a deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol. Let`s get some more on the gripping testimony from today`s January 6th hearing with a key member of the select committee, Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar of California is joining us now live. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us on this historic but very, very busy day.
First, what more, if anything, can you tell us about this truly explosive revelation from the vice chair of the select committee, Liz Cheney, that former President Trump actually tried to call one of your witnesses? Do you have evidence, Congressman, to suggest Trump knew that person would be a witness?
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, what we know is what we`ve said from the very beginning, which is we take it very seriously when individuals reach out to potential witnesses for the January 6th committee. We`re not going to let them be intimidated. We`re going to keep pursuing our work. And in this case, as the vice chair detailed, this individual handled it exactly how we would want them to handle it. We have turned that material over to the Department of Justice that their lawyer gave to the committee and we`re just going to leave it at that.
But, clearly, we always back up what we say. I think we have a history of that. And I look forward to next week`s hearing.
BLITZER: Your committee chair, Congressman Bennie Thompson, said just a little while ago he didn`t know which witness actually received the call from Trump. So, who on the committee does know the identity?
AGUILAR: All of the committee members know the identity but this is -- more importantly, this is about making sure that witnesses are free to come speak before us. If they want to come talk to us, we have a tip line. We`ve taken testimony from individuals, over 1,000 people had been interviewed. We want to protect that ability for people to come forward and that`s exactly where we`re at.
BLITZER: So, I just want to be clear, Congressman. You personally, you do know the identity of this potential witness who received this phone call from Trump?
AGUILAR: The members of the committee have been read in. But, more importantly, the topic of this issue is something that we feel is incredibly important and we want to make sure that everybody knows we`re not going to stand by and let witnesses be intimidated.
BLITZER: Sol, you do know the name of the identity of this person? Is that what I`m hearing?
AGUILAR: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: All right. We also heard directly from a rioter today saying he only marched to the U.S. Capitol after Trump urged all of them to do so. But besides the former president`s public comments, can you really say he was giving specific directives to these people?
AGUILAR: Well, that`s what the testimony indicated. And as we`ve done throughout this entire process, we`re just going to let the facts go where they take us. And that`s exactly what Mr. Ayres told the committee and told the country, is that he was disappointed and that this has ruined his life.
And I thought it was incredibly powerful testimony, Wolf. This is someone who came down, had been monitoring social media, felt that he owed it to the president to come to the rally, and only went to the Capitol after the president pointed at the Capitol and talked about marching down to the Capitol. And as a result following the president`s advice this individual`s life has been forever changed. And we appreciate his powerful testimony.
BLITZER: It was indeed very powerful. Your fellow committee member, Jamie Raskin, says, and I`m quoting him now, we have only shown what he calls a small fraction of what we have found. What exactly can we expect from next week`s hearings and any potential hearings beyond that?
AGUILAR: Well, the plan is to have this hearing next week. We look forward to sharing the next piece of the information that we have learned. This hearing will likely focus on that time period, what was going on in and around the White House during this time.
This hearing, we talked about domestic violent extremism in the period between the election certification on December 14th and January 6th. How did we get here? So, that was another one of our mandates. But, specifically, this next hearing, we`re going to summarize what we found and talk specifically about what was going on that day at the White House.
BLITZER: I`m sure that will be significant. We`ll be watching every step of the way. Congressman Pete Aguilar of the January 6th select committee, thanks so much for joining us.
AGUILAR: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, they played central and dangerous roles in the January 6th insurrection. We`ll take an in-depth look at the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and where their violent aims and extremist ideologies intersect.
Stay with us. You`re in THE SITUATION ROOM. We`re live tonight from Jerusalem.
BLITZER: Today`s January 6th Select Committee hearing shedding new light on ties between key Trump allies and extremist groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and how tweets by former President Trump galvanized and bonded these groups.
CNN`s Brian Todd is working this story for us.
Brian, I know you`ve been digging into the backgrounds of these extremist groups. What are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. We`ve been digging into the ideologies of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, their tactics and the still unanswered questions of whether they coalesced in any meaningful way on January 6th.
TODD (voice-over): The House Committee investigating the January 6th attack gets harrowing insight into the oath keepers from a former spokesperson for the group.
JASON VAN TATENHOVE, FORMER OATH KEEPERS SPOKESPERSON: They may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are. They`re a violent militia.
TODD: The hearings have focused new attention on the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, two groups which shared the narrative of what they believed was a 2020 election stolen from Donald Trump. Both groups had members who allegedly entered the Capitol on January 6th.
Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boys associate from upstate New York, was videotaped breaking a window with a stolen police shield.
As for the Oath Keepers that day --
PROF. SAM JACKSON, AUTHOR, "OATH KEEPERS": They were part of that military-style stack. The line of individuals walking up the stairs of the Capitol with their hands on each other`s shoulders to make sure that they stayed together. And they were also among those who actually entered the Capitol.
TODD: Several members of both organizations have been charged with seditious conspiracy related to January 6th, to which most have pleaded not guilty. The extent of coordination between the groups is unclear.
But video shows the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys leaders meeting 24 hours before the January 6 attack.
And the committee said members of the two groups exchanged 100 messages about strategic and tactical planning before January 6/
Despite having similar goals that day, experts say the Oath Keepers and Cowboys had different founding missions for the oath keepers were founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes.
JACKSON: It really animated and organized around this idea that the government -- certainly the federal government, possibly the state governments, as well, are already tyrannical and that those the group sees as good, patriotic Americans and should be ready to resist that tyranny, possibly even with the use of violence.
TODD: Experts say the Oath Keepers are known to recruit former service members and police into the ranks.
OREN SEGAL, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Oath Keepers are known as the technical training and some of the weapons training that they do.
TODD: On the other hand, Proud Boys were created in 2016, experts say, as a chauvinist white male culture, with more freewheeling tactics than the Oath Keepers.
JON LEWIS, PROGRAM ON EXTREMISM, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Really serving as the fighting game was meant to go into the streets to fight against perceived out groups, Antifa, BLM, and others -- other leftist. I think -- it`s not specifically a white nationalist organization. But many of its members are anti-Semitic and many instances, fascist.
TODD (on camera): Now, experts say that both groups, especially the Oath Keepers, seem to have lost power since January 6. And with the prosecutions of their leaders, what they say they both remain threatening their ideologies can still inspire lone actors to commit violence and experts say the Proud Boys have started to push their ideology in more mainstream ways, with some of their associates running for positions on school boards and other local officers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: CNN`s Brian Todd reporting from Capitol Hill. Thank you very, very much.
We will have much more ahead on the truly dramatic revelations in the latest House January 6th hearing today. We will have a closer look to President Biden`s arrival in Israel, his controversial visit this week to Saudi Arabia.
Stay with us. We`re live tonight from Jerusalem. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We are coming to you live from Jerusalem, just ahead of President Biden`s trip to the Middle East where he`ll try to shore up a key alliance with Israel and navigated a rather testy relationship right now with Saudi Arabia.
For now on that, I`m joined by CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond. He`s with me in Jerusalem. And CNN`s Hadas Gold, our Jerusalem correspondent.
Jeremy, this is President Biden`s first trip since taking office to the Middle East. What is he hoping to accomplish?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Biden administration officials have told us that deeper integration of Israel into this region is a top item on President Biden`s agenda here. We have seen that happen over the last several weeks. Biden administration officials working to deepen the cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
And what`s notable about that, of course, is that in that way, President Biden is building on a key legacy of his predecessor. That is not something we have seen from President Biden on his foreign trip. Usually, he`s focused on unwinding policy of his predecessors on these trips. But in this way, he`s trying to pursue these Abraham Accords which brought normalization between Israel, United Arab Emirates, as well as the kingdom of Bahrain.
And so, they are going to continue to try and work on that. One of the key items is to try to get to normalization with Saudi Arabia. Biden officials say that`s not going to happen on the shore. They are trying to take some small strip in that direction.
Now, on the Palestinian front, we see Biden administration officials have been trying to restore relations with the Palestinians, turning back on the faucet of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians that have been cut off by the Trump administration. But what you`re not going to see is a broad effort to try to mediate peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Biden officials have told they made a decision not to do a high level effort on that front. The reason why, they don`t believe it will work they said if they were to try to bring parties to the table, there would be nobody there.
BLITZER: All right. Standby.
Hadas, when President Biden lands in Israel tomorrow, he will be greeted by the interim prime minister of Israel. What does he expect out of this visit?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid who only took over less than two weeks ago. But for Israel, a lot of this will be about showing that no matter who
is in charge, the relationship with the United States as their most important relationship in the world. Official, Saudi Arabia, it will be the crown jewel in the Israeli-Arab normalization crown. Now, as Jeremy said, they don`t expect normalization agreement to be announced on this trip. But they do expect small steps towards that goal, things like allowing any flights to or from Israel to fly over Saudi Arabian air space.
That also note that the direct flight that Biden is taking from Tel Aviv to Jeddah is a symbol, as Biden said, of this budding relationship. Then, of course, it will Iran. As it seems as negotiations around a possibility of the nuclear deal, they are trying to push the United States against any sort of return to the nuclear deal and will be trying to push the U.S. on a coherent strategy to any sort of plan B on how they can come against a nuclear Iran.
One thing that will be announced, is this a Jerusalem declaration? This will be an agreement that Biden and Lapid will sign -- that will have an American -- Iran will never be able to obtain nuclear weapons and acknowledging that Israel will defend itself by itself as needed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Jeremy, as you know, the president heads to Saudi Arabia later this week. You and I will be traveling with him to Saudi Arabia. It will be a lot trickier there because the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship right now is not necessarily smoothly
DIAMOND: They are in the process to rebuild that relationship and the argument that Biden administration officials have been making is that President Biden wanted to reorient but not entirely rupture the U.S./Saudi relationship. That being said, President Biden on the campaign trail that he wanted to make Saudi Arabia a pariah because of the murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. So, it is going to be a controversial visit, one that will be tricky and very delicate to navigate for the president this week, Wolf.
BLITZER: We`ll see how that unfolds.
OK, guys, thanks very much. Jeremy Diamond, Hadas Gold, appreciate it very much.
And I`ll see you tomorrow, from Jerusalem, as President Biden makes his trip here to the Middle East.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.