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Attorney General Touts Tireless Work On Oath Keepers Case After Convictions; Talks Underway In Senate On Timing Of Vote On Rail Bill; House Democrats Make History, Elect Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) As Next Leader; Soon: Candlelight Vigils For Slain Idaho Students; Buckingham Palace Aide Resigns Over Alleged Racist Comments. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired November 30, 2022 - 18:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: The house overwhelmingly approving the bill today as a crucial deadline nears.

And House Democrats formally elect Hakeem Jeffries to succeed Nancy Pelosi as their leader in a historic moment for African-American in Congress.

Welcome to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking out about the most significant convictions yet in the Justice Department's January 6th investigation. CNN Senior National Correspondent Sara Sidner has been covering the Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy trial and the powerful guilty verdicts that have come down. Sara, what was the attorney general's message tonight.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, it is clear this is rarest of cases in American history. You do you not see this often. A jury has found two citizens guilty of seditious conspiracy, which is essentially forcibly trying to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power, that back on January 6, 2021 when the world watched the attack on the Capitol.

Mr. Garland went straight for the jugular. He wanted to make very clear that this is an important case and that if people are going to do something like this in the future, or planning on something like this in the future, they will face consequences.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Last evening, a jury of the defendants' peers found each of them guilty of serious felony offenses. As the verdict of this case makes clear, the department will work tirelessly to hold accountable those responsible for crimes related to the attack on our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: Now, to be clear, he was definitely doing a victory lap here, praising the prosecutors in this case, which went on for seven weeks of testimony, the jury coming back with a hodgepodge of decisions because this wasn't a clean sweep, to be clear, for the Department of Justice.

Three of the five defendants who were also charged with seditious conspiracy were acquitted on that charge. However, they were all convicted of several charges that could lead up to 20 years maximum in prison. There were up to ten charges that these defendants could have faced in this trial. No one got away scot-free. And for that, Attorney General Garland was very clear that justice has been served.

MARQUARDT: Yes, potentially huge sentences coming down. Sara, stay with us. We're going to bring in CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz and CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director. Thank you all for joining me this evening.

Andrew, I do want to start with you. We heard Attorney General Merrick Garland saying that he is going to hold others accountable for January 6th. Did he give any indication of the Justice Department's moves going forward? Did he telegraph anything?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, he clearly didn't say anything specifically but he is sending a very loud message here. And it's more than just taking credit for a terrific victory yesterday.

What he's saying is, first and foremost, to those cases that in their pipeline on their way, so the second Oath Keepers trial and the Proud Boys trial, he is sending a message to those defense attorneys, be careful we were successful in one, we could prove this against your client as well. You might want to think twice about whether you're going to go forward or try to cooperate.

And, secondly, he's sending a message to all those people who may be seen as potential planners, leaders, instigators of January 6th, everyone from the former president on down through all of his associates, that this is the charge, seditious conspiracy, that they can prove against the highest level most culpable planners.

MARQUARDT: And we did also hear Garland talking about the special counsel, Jack Smith, who's now in charge of these two investigations, both January 6th and the documents that went to Mar-A-Lago. Let's take a listen at a bit of what he had to say.


GARLAND: And in the course of deciding on Mr. Smith as special counsel, I did meet with him. He has been meeting with the members of his team to get up to speed. We already know he's already signed a pleading in the 11th Circuit. He promised to the American people, in his own statement, that there would be no pause or hiccup in his work. And I understand that that is exactly what's going on now.


MARQUARDT: So, Katelyn, a bit of an update there. Anything stand out to you?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think the thing that is so notable about how Merrick Garland talks about this investigation is how much it's like Jack Smith dropped in to an existing investigation and is just another person in middle management, essentially, at the Justice Department.

He will make significant decisions that will be brought to him of whether to charge cases but this isn't like a larger than life Robert Mueller special counsel-type of figure, where he's almost looked at as his own type of attorney general or former FBI director.


Smith, in this particular instance, he's meeting with Garland regularly, reviewing briefings, as Garland acknowledges there. And also there's a team already in place working on this, gathering evidence.

And so he's going to function essentially like any U.S. attorney would in the investigation. The team will bring him a case, he'll make a thumbs up, thumbs down decision on whether to charge it. And it will function as part of the Justice Department, its own special counsel's office, but, really, just like the rest of the Justice Department functions.

MARQUARDT: And that just --


MARQUARDT: Very impressive one. Gloria, the Justice Department and Merrick Garland clearly emboldened and confident here. How worried do you think Trump and those around him are or should be right now?

BORGER: Well, look, I think for a long time, they should have been really worried now that you've had this verdict in this case on seditious conspiracy. I think they should be extra worried. There's a special counsel now. There's a Georgia grand jury that he ought to be worried about.

On the political side of this, you've seen him time and time again though claim that he's the victim here. I think it's more difficult when a jury has decided that people, you have said you might pardon if you become president of the United States, are convicted by a peer group and they agreed on this.

And so I think it becomes a little bit more difficult to say, oh, this is just a bunch of Democrats, although it was decided in the District of Columbia, but it becomes more difficult for him to say, oh, you know, this is Nancy Pelosi or any Democratic leader. This is the system of justice in our country. Now, if he wants to campaign against that, go ahead. MCCABE: That's absolutely right. And let's remember that we'll get our first taste of how Jack Smith approaches his responsibilities and his decision-making with the Mar-A-Lago case, likely the one that will come first on his list -- on his to-do list, his decisions on whether or not to bring a case against the former president or anyone else on January 6th related charges would likely come after decisions in the Mar-A-Lago case. So, we'll get a foreshadowing of how he approaches that.

BORGER: Well, I was just going to say, I just get the sense to what Katelyn was saying, is that the Mar-A-Lago case, they kind of handed it to him and it's done. I mean, it's almost done, right?

MCCABE: Very close.

POLANTZ: And there's more transparency around the special counsel's office too on what happens at the end there if there are disagreements.

MARQUARDT: I want to get back to Sara Sidner. Sara, we've just seen this bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security just get re- upped, essentially. They are warning that threat actors could exploit upcoming events, including the anniversary of January 6th. You have reported quite a bit on these far-right extremist groups. Do you think that these convictions that came down yesterday do anything to deter those who might carry out acts like this?

SIDNER: It really depends on who you're talking about. Because in some cases, these people who have been convicted, who a jury of their peers convicted in this case with plenty of evidence to go off of, some will be looked at as martyrs, and we saw that in the court case as this case was going on. There are people there who stand with -- they call themselves the January 6th defenders who believe that they're being railroaded.

Now, in this case, there is no way to make that accusation because the jury came back with a very careful and hodgepodge decision, not everyone was guilty of everything, there were lots of acquittals, but everyone was guilty of something.

But you will see somebody like a leader like Stewart Rhodes has already -- while he was in jail awaiting this trial, he already made himself into, in his own mind, a martyr, talking and likening himself to Nelson Mandela, talking about a dictatorship, talking about how you have to fight for your rights even if that means you go to jail.

So, believe me when I say, these ideas, they're not gone. They may be pushed down a bit in this particular group but the ideas are still there and they are still dangerous.

MARQUARDT: Yes. Andrew, that concept of martyrdom is a powerful one. Do you think that these convictions yesterday are a dampener in any way?

MCCABE: So, they are in terms of the tactics and the networks that extremist groups will rely on for support. If you look historically at the impact of that early criminal prosecutions against affiliated groups with the Ku Klux Klan had back in the '70s and '80s going after the groups for doing this sort of organized training, things like that, it had a distinct impact on the organization. It caused them to become more diverse or diffused to avoid central leadership, things like that. You could see that same impact happening to these militia groups and the far-right over the next couple of years.

But either way there's a clear chilling message here that you will be held responsible if you engage in this kind of political violence in this country.


MARQUARDT: And, Katelyn, you have some new reporting about the DOJ's investigation into Donald Trump and that the circle is -- they're getting two people much closer to him, Stephen Miller.

POLANTZ: Right. So, this investigation, January 6th investigation into political circles, the one that Jack Smith, the special counsel, is inheriting, they have for some time now have been going to try and to get answers about what happened, what was being said right around the president, what Trump may have been saying himself on January 6th, leading up to that. And the latest was that we learned yesterday that Stephen Miller, this top adviser, was in with the grand jury for several hours speaking to them.

And we know from what is publically out there reporting from the House select committee, and what Miller has also said in the past, in some ways, is that he was the speechwriter for Trump. So, he was working with Donald Trump one-on-one about what was going to be said in that speech on The Ellipse to the Trump supporters right before they ran up to Capitol Hill. And the point of contention where they went back and forth, and Miller was involved in, was whether or not Trump should mention Mike Pence and put pressure on Pence.

And so that seems to be one of the things that a grand jury now, looking at people around Pence, talking to them, talking to the White House Counsel's Office, now talking to Miller, is likely to be asking about.

MARQUARDT: All right. Everyone stand by. There is a lot more to discuss. Sara Sidner you're also going to be back with us later this hour.

But up next, will the Justice Department get a criminal referral against former President Donald Trump from the January 6th select committee? We'll have the latest on that.

And we'll speak live with the lawyers for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes about his seditious conspiracy conviction. We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: We are back now with our experts breaking down Attorney General Merrick Garland's news conference this afternoon. He's underscoring the critical cooperation that he hopes to get from the January 6th select committee.

But a short while ago, the committee chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, responded, saying, the Justice Department will see the panel's interview transcripts when the public does.

Andrew, we heard Merrick Garland respond to a question about this earlier today. Let's take a listen to what he had to say.


GARLAND: We would like to have all the transcripts and all the other evidence collected by the committee so that we can use it in the ordinary course of their investigations.

REPORTER: Are you satisfied that you have had the access that you need or --

GARLAND: We are asking for access to all of the transcripts and that's really all I can say right now.


MARQUARDT: So, Andrew, do you think that it's a mistake for the committee to wait for DOJ to have everything until it's released publically?

MCCABE: Yes, fascinating exchange between the A.G. and Evan Perez. He essentially repeated the arguments that he is, no doubt, making to the committee without complaining about their lack of response. There's no question that the committee's hesitance in turning over this massive amount of material is making the DOJ's a lot job harder. They have to get that stuff eventually. They have to review not just to find witnesses but to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the witnesses they already have, possibly conflicting form or statements, things like that. It's absolutely essential to them.

So, they are clearly pressing as hard as they can and the committee is playing -- keeping their cards very close to their vest, likely to be, you know, they want to make the big reveal, they don't want to hand things to DOJ and have that stuff breakout.

POLANTZ: But it's not only the Justice Department only that wants access to these transcripts, there are defense lawyers that also want access to them. We saw this in the Proud Boys case previously. There were these public discussions in court, well, justice doesn't have them but we want them. We're going to go in trial. These groups are going to trial. There are people talking about them in these hearings and it's just not something they have in that room.

BORGER: They're going to hold on to it until the last minute. This is their work, it was their committee and it's going to be their report. And I think, you know, there's a certain amount of proprietary, this is my work, and they'll do that.

MCCABE: I think you're right. But the question is when does that desire bump up against the defendants' right to discovery?

BORGER: Exactly.

MARQUARDT: When it comes to the report, we know that the committee met today with their last witness. Do you think that they are on the same page when it comes to this report and that the all-important question about criminal referrals, which, at the end of the day, are symbolic.?

BORGER: Let me just say, from talking to people familiar with the committee, there are discussions going on about what they -- about what they ought to do and how they ought to do it. And, obviously, everyone is interested in the question about criminal referral for the former president but there are also issues of criminal referrals for other people who were involved in the attempted coup. And so I think they're going to meet on Friday and try and sort of work it through.

After all we've seen though, and after all that's been put out there, I think it would be very difficult for them not to issue a criminal referral at this point, even though it has absolutely no effect on anything the Justice Department would possibly do. And the argument against it is that it is not Congress' job to issue criminal referrals. Their job is oversight and their job is saying this is how we can make sure, revising the Electoral Count Act, for example, that this could never happen again.

So, there are different ways of looking at this, but don't forget they've been living inside this bubble for so long, and it would be hard for me to see that they wouldn't issue a criminal referral to someone. I don't know that it would be Donald Trump.

MCCABE: It's a resounding exclamation point at the end of their work. And I think also, if you think about it in the context of the Mueller report, one of the frustrations that people had with the Mueller report, one of the reasons it wasn't quite as impactful as it should have been, was there wasn't a criminal referral, a recommendation or even a reference to the fact that Donald Trump may have committed a crime.

It's hard for me to imagine the committee making that same sort of mistake. They have the opportunity here to finish their work with a definitive statement and I think that statement is a criminal referral.

BORGER: And don't forget he's not a sitting president.

MCCABE: That's right.

BORGER: And that's the big difference with the Mueller report, and that was the debate.


Could a sitting president be indicted? Could you offer a criminal referral? And you don't have that issue at this point.

MCCABE: That's right.

MARQUARDT: And speaking, you know, one of the things that the House has been trying to go after, Katelyn, of course, are his tax returns. This was a long fought battle that House Democrats were trying to get these tax returns, the fight went to all the way to the Supreme Court, you have got some new reporting. What's the latest there?

POLANTZ: Right. So, this is a really delicate dance because there's a lot of laws that govern how exactly Ways and Means can request tax returns. But the House Democrats are in power. Richard Neal, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, back in 2019, requested from the IRS Trump's tax returns. Basically, the Trump administration at the time blocked it and then they reversed course whenever Biden took over the presidency. Trump then tied things up in court and had essentially a blockade on those tax returns.

Now, we do have a statement from a treasury spokesperson saying that they complied with the court decision. So, the Supreme Court last week said it's not going to be in the courts anymore. This House has the power to make this request. And so our reporting now is that there are going to be briefings this House Ways and Means Committee is going to meet. They're going to talk about the legal ramifications of this standing request that they have had. And so, it does look like the House Ways and Means Committee is getting these tax returns.

BORGER: So, what are they going to do with them?

MARQUARDT: Yes, we still won't see them.

BORGER: Right? That's the question.

MARQUARDT: Alright. Folks, we have got to leave it there. Gloria, Andrew, Katelyn, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

Just ahead, House Democrats making a historic pick to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi after her two-decade reign atop the Democratic caucus, choosing the first African-American to lead a major party in Congress.

Plus, the Senate is hoping to get an agreement tonight to pass a bill to avert a railway strike. We'll get an update on the negotiations from Capitol Hill.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



MARQUARDT: House Democrats ushered in a new generation of leaders today while making a historic choice, electing New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries leader in the next Congress, making him the first African-American to head a major party in Congress.

Now, this comes as Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, he faces a growing uphill battle to get the speaker's gavel.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us live from Capitol Hill. Melanie, this really is a new era in Congress for Democrats.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: A new era indeed. Hakeem Jeffries is not only going to be the first black leader of any party, he's also going to be the youngest leader at age 52. And besides him, he is going to have Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar as his number two and number three respectively. This after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top deputies ruled the Democratic caucus for decades. So, with new leadership comes new ideas, new energy.

Take a listen to how Hakeem Jeffries says he's planning to approach the job.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We seek to find common ground whenever and wherever possible. And we hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as they temporarily inherit the majority in the next Congress, are willing to proceed with that same spirit of cooperation, fortitude and mission-centered focus to get things done for everyday Americans.


ZANONA: So, you hear that line about Republicans only temporarily inheriting the majority. That really captures how Jeffries views his mission the next few years. It's all about regaining the majority. And they likely only need to flip five seats in order to do so. There's going to be a number of high profile battles in between them over everything, from GOP-led investigations to battles over the debt ceiling.

And Jeffries has big shoes to fill. Pelosi was a prolific fundraiser, she was a master tactician, she was a master campaigner, but Democrats giving him a huge vote of confidence, unanimously electing him as their next leader and rallying around him as they prepare to enter into this new generation.

MARQUARDT: And, Melanie, among those Republicans who hope that this is not temporary, does Kevin McCarthy have the votes to become speaker? Where does that stand?

ZANONA: So, not yet. He can only likely afford to lose around four Republicans. And so far, at least five Republicans have vowed to oppose him on the floor in January. However, a few of them have signaled that they're open to negotiations, so that is where Kevin McCarthy is hoping to make some progress.

And he already began that process yesterday. He had a meeting with some members where they talked about potential rules changes, to give rank and file members more power, and he's also been making some public professions about what he would do as speaker.

Last week, he dangled the threat of impeachment on Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary. And just today he sent a letter to the January 6th select committee, asking them to preserve documents and vowing to hold hearings next year on the security failures that led to January 6th. That is a signal to me that he is planning to appease some of his right flank who has been eager to rewrite the narrative on January 6th. So, all of that is something to looking out for.

But I think in terms of what you should be looking for with McCarthy, everything he does between now and January should be viewed through the lens of the speakership race. Alex?

MARQUARDT: It is going to be unwieldy the Republican majority in Congress. Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

ZANONA: Thanks.

MARQUARDT: Now, tonight, Senate negotiations are under way to get an agreement on a bill to avert a crippling railroad strike after the House passed that bill today. The move comes after President Biden urged Congress to intervene in a labor dispute to prevent the blow to the economy just days before the holidays.


CNN Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us live. Phil, how hopeful is the White House that this bill can pass soon?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Alex, the president's senior adviser have been around this town long enough not to predict when or how the bill is going to get across the finish line but they have been unequivocal, both publicly and behind the scenes, to leave it on Capitol Hill. The president wants something done and on his desk by Saturday.

That's a process. It's been moving forward, one that they feel like is on a good track, one that took a very big step earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The joint resolution is passed.

MATTINGLY (voice over): A bipartisan vote that marked a critical step in a furious effort to prevent economic disaster.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Today, we are here to safeguard the financial security of America's families, to protect American economy as it continues to recover and avert a devastating nationwide rail shutdown.

MATTINGLY: For President Biden, a crucial win in the behind the scenes effort to avert rail worker strikes that could cripple U.S. commerce. The White House locking in 79 Republicans in support of the bill, a window into a complex problem cutting across political and ideological lines.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The middle class built America and unions built the middle class.

MATTINGLY: One that has pitted the White House and Democratic leaders against their close allies in the labor movement.

KARINE JEANNE-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Now, we're at a place where the president has been very clear that we have to avert a rail shutdown and he's asking Congress to act.

MATTINGLY: And major business groups lining up behind the administration in support.

The fear of economic collapse trumping longstanding allegiances after several unions rejected a deal the White House helped drive in September, primarily due to the agreement's omission of paid sick leave.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Now it's going to come here to the Senate.

MATTINGLY: White House officials now keenly aware their most acute challenge lies ahead.

SANDERS: Do we stand with workers in the rail industry and say, yes, you are right, working conditions are horrendous, we cannot continue a process by which you have zero paid sick leave?

MATTINGLY: The house voting to pass a separate bill to include paid sick leave, as Senator Bernie Sanders pledged his own effort in a fiery floor speech. Biden set to dispatch his top two cabinet officials, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, to meet behind closed doors with Senate Democrats on Thursday, a meeting White House officials say will focus on an agreement they say includes clear wins for union workers, including the largest pay increases in more than five decades.

Democratic sources say they're cautiously optimistic Biden will get the votes, putting the president on the precipice of another win driven by compromise even in the face of pressure from close allies.

BIDEN: All kidding aside, we're here to get work done.

MATTINGLY: Biden resolving a Democratic deadlock on cornerstone economic and climate legislation this summer, the same month he clinched a sweeping bipartisan manufacturer law that sits at the core of his economic strategy.

BIDEN: This will ensure tens of thousands of new construction jobs.

MATTINGLY: And his post-midterm election around the country with a stop in Michigan on Tuesday.

BIDEN: For the first time in a long time, we're investing in America and we're investing in ourselves.

MATTINGLY: Ahead of a scheduled visit to Arizona next week.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Alex, obviously, Michigan and Arizona are two states that are benefitting from legislations signed by the president but they're also two very critical battleground states, two battleground states where Democrats overperformed expectations in a major way in the midterm elections just a few weeks ago.

That comes as President Biden is still weighing whether or not to trigger a 2024 run. Aides are saying, don't read too much into it, but one Democratic official I talked to yesterday said nothing about what they're doing right now is random. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Everyone trying to read those tea leaves. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Now, Georgia is reporting two straight days of record-breaking early voting in the runoff between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, more than 300,000 voters hitting the polls again ahead of Tuesday's election.

CNN National Correspondent Dianne Gallagher joins us live now from Rome, Georgia, where Walker is holding a campaign rally. Dianne, it sounds like a very energetic rally there. Their early voting numbers, they're breaking records. What's the latest?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex. So, Herschel Walker is being called onto the stage right here behind me, so it's a bit loud in here. I hope that you can hear me.

Look, according to the secretary of state's office, they don't think that we're going to surpass those record-breaking numbers from Monday today but they're still looking at a truly robust turnout. Of course, on Monday, more than 303,000 voters cast their ballots on that first day of mandatory statewide early voting here in Georgia for the runoff election.

They're looking at these robust numbers, in part, Alex, of course, because, look, this is a condensed and abbreviated five-day mandatory statewide period.


So, people are trying to get their voting in when they can. We're seeing extremely long lines in certain parts, especially population- dense areas across the state.

But election officials say they also hope that it's a sign that there is still serious enthusiasm in a very election-fatigued state. Take a listen.


GABRIEL STERLING, COO, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: We're the only game in town. We're the bell of the ball. Every political dollar in America is coming here right now, both on the left and the right.


GALLAGHER: Yes. And, look, about 50 million of those dollars being spent on the airwaves here with ads just blanketing T.V. in the state of Georgia. Now, some of those ads, of course, featuring Governor Brian Kemp for Republican Herschel Walker, an extremely popular Republican who beat Walker by about 200,000 votes in the November 8th election. And then, of course, there is President Obama, the former president returning to Georgia tomorrow to campaign in-person for Senator Warnock.

MARQUARDT: A critical seat that would give Democrats a lot more power in the Senate. Dianne Gallagher in Rome, Georgia, thank you very much.

And just ahead, does Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes have any regrets about his actions after being convicted of seditious conspiracy? We'll be asking his lawyers, next.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, Attorney General Merrick Garland says the tireless work by his Justice Department helped secure the seditious conspiracy conviction against the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes. We have an exclusive interview right now with Rhodes' attorney, James Lee Bright and Phil Linder. CNN's Sara Sidner is also back with me to take part in this conversation. Thank you both for joining us this evening.

James I want to start with you. You have said this was a fair trial, that government prosecutors, quote, took us to task, which is quite honest. So, how significant do you think it is that Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, a rare conviction?

JAMES LEE BRIGHT, ATTORNEY FOR STEWART RHODES: It is a rare conviction. Thank you for having us. I appreciate it. I do overall believe that we got a fair trial. I think the jury stayed out three days. And as you had a guest previously this evening detail, they kind of came back with a very interesting selection of not guilty verdicts and guilty verdicts. I think that shows the attention to detail they had and the attention they gave to the verdicts and the trial itself.

The government did take us to task. This was a brutal trial for all parties, long, extensive, lots of evidence. And, you know, one person I want to compliment is Judge Meta, incredibly intelligent man and I loved his tone and demeanor in the courtroom and how he ran the courtroom.

In terms of Mr. Rhodes and his conviction for seditious conspiracy, you know, I would respectfully still state that while I respect the jury's return on that, based on the evidence that I feel was presented, and what was given to the jury, I actually disagree with their finding on that specifically.

MARQUARDT: Right after January 6th, Phillip, Rhodes said that he -- quote, his only regret he made in a recording that was later played by the government. Let's listen to that only regret.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART RHODES, FOUNDER, OATH KEEPERS: My only regret is they should have brought rifles. I'll tell you what, if President Trump is going to the right thing, then I agree that it was the wrong thing to do. If he's not going to the right thing, he should have just let himself be removed illegally, then we should have brought rifles. We could have fixed it right then and there.


MARQUARDT: He should have brought rifles. He regretted not bringing rifles. Phillip, does he have any regrets now?

PHILLIP LINDER, ATTORNEY FOR STEWART RHODES: Yes. Mr. Rhodes regrets that some of the Oath Keepers actually went into the building. They were not directed to go into the building. And the evidence came out at trial that those people who went in the building were off-mission at the time. And he regrets that officers that got hurt, they weren't hurt by his people but the officers in the building did get hurt by people in the crowd, and that is a regret of his. But as the evidence showed, he didn't direct anybody to go in. There was no a plan to go in. And the few that did, they did so on their own volition.

MARQUARDT: All right. I want to bring in my colleague, Sara Sidner. She has a question for you. Sara?

SIDNER: I do. James, I want to start with you. We all -- I sat in the trial you and two other attorneys took this very difficult case. There was, like you said, like a mountain of evidence. But Mr. Rhodes testified in his own defense standing by this baseless claim that the 2020 election was, in his words, unconstitutional and he wanted to testify. That seemed to be made very clear.

Can you tell us whether or not you tried to dissuade him or if you regret that he testified on his own behalf, which is also a very rare thing dealing with a very rare charge?

BRIGHT: Absolutely, Sara. Good to see you again. When Mr. Linder and I were first hired on this case, January 24th, and we went and met with Mr. Rhodes, he set out two preconditions for us to represent him. One, he would testify at his own trial, no matter what. Two, he would never accept a plea offer. That's been made clear in the case, made clear to the court. So, it's nothing we could have dissuaded him from doing to begin with.

He's a Yale-educated lawyer. He's very intelligent, whether an individual chooses to agree or disagree with his ethos and his belief systems.


And we did with that kind of client what was necessary. We admonished him thoroughly as to the pros and cons legally and strategy-wise regarding waiving the Fifth Amendment and testifying. So, in his case, it was never an option. It was nothing that we were going to be able to keep him from doing. In terms of the unconstitutional nature of the election, Mr. Rhodes has done an enormous amount of research and I point you to Article II of the Constitution that requires the legislatures of each of the 50 states to approve modifications of --

MARQUARDT: I think we may have --


Mr. Linder, we're hearing a little bit of the testimony that we heard from Stewart Rhodes at the time and I don't know if we still have Mr. Linder up -- you're back.

All right. I do have a question here because you have said that you are going to appeal. And this is for either you, Phillip, or you James.

You have said that you're going to appeal. On what grounds since you said that you felt like this was a fair trial and this jury came back with a verdict you didn't agree with, but it was fair?

PHILLIP LINDER, ATTORNEY FOR STEWART RHODES: I'll address this issue. We believe -- thank you, Sara, for the question. It's a great question. We feel that we spent a lot of time, over a week, selecting a jury, which we thought was a fair jury for the district. Based on their verdict you can see they individually went through each defendant and each count and rendered separate decisions for each, which is what they're supposed to do.

So, we feel -- and they spent a lot of time doing that, several days. We feel we got a fair trial in that respect. However, as you know, and as you watched, there were things that the government presented in evidence that we objected to, which we feel shouldn't have come into evidence. There were things that we wanted to present that judge, though I think he did a fabulous job, he prevented us from presenting to the jury.

So the jury didn't get everything they needed to get to weigh everything. They got a lot of evidence, they got tons. But there were things they were prevented from seeing from us, and witnesses we wanted to present that we were unable to. So, based on that, we don't think that part is fair.

MARQUARDT: Well, it was a remarkable trial. Thank you both for joining us tonight. Thank you for your honesty.

James Lee Bright, Phillip Linder, and, of course, my brilliant Sara Sidner.

SIDNER: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: We'll be right back.

LINDER: Thank you both.



MARQUARDT: Candlelight vigils will be starting soon in four cities to honor the four university students stabbed to death in their home in Moscow, Idaho.

CNN's Veronica Miracle is there.

Veronica, what's the latest?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, police say they are making substantial progress on this case. But it's not information that they can share with the public because they're afraid it could compromise the investigation. So, on one hand, that's good news.

On the other hand, it is bad news for this community that is reeling for answers. Police say they have received hundreds of tips and that's helping them create and paint a good picture of what exactly happened that night. And they hope to reveal that information to the public when the timing is right.

Now, here at the University of Idaho, it is the first time that these students are going to be coming together since that attack. A vigil is happening in about an hour here. Also at the other campuses happening at the same time. I spoke to a student who said that she wanted to be here tonight because she just wants to be around her classmates during this very difficult time.


MIRACLE: What are you hoping to experience tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just more of a feeling of comfort because the last couple weeks it's been pretty bad. And if it was up to my mom, I wouldn't have come back at all. But I didn't want to be at home when I could be here, especially because I have a friend who lives up here, and she had to come back. It's just the kind of thing where I want to be here for her.


MIRACLE: And, Alex, we are told that there's increased security here tonight. Like any event here, there's going to be metal detectors, a clear bag policy and a lot of patrol officers to make students feel just a little bit safer -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Veronica Miracle in Moscow, Idaho, thank you so much for that report.

Now, up next, the new prince and princess of Wales are in Boston tonight as controversy breaks out over alleged racist remarks made by an aide at Buckingham Palace.



MARQUART: The new prince and princess of Wales, William and Kate, are in Boston tonight for an initiative founded by William to help tackle environmental challenges. But this trip coming amid a controversy back in England over alleged racist comments made by a Buckingham palace aide to a guest.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is in Boston for us.

Max, how much is this overshadowing this royal visit?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has been the talk of the day really. We knew the prince and princess of Wales were coming, but they had to respond in an early briefing that they had this morning to this scandal really happening in Buckingham palace, this lady, a Black guest at a Buckingham Palace reception really grilled about her background which she kept on repeatedly saying she's British. But a royal aide saying where in Africa are you from, where are your people from.

It was a really distressing thing for a lot of people when the transcript was sent out this morning. And here's someone describing what she saw. She was a witness to the conversation.


MANDU REID, LEADER, WOMEN'S EQUALITY PARTY: It's something that felt to us a bit like an interrogation. There was a lot of questioning around Ngozi's nationality, around where her people come from, around where she's really from. And when every time Ngozi answered the questions, I was born in the U.K., I'm British, that wasn't enough. So the conversation persisted to a point where it actually became really uncomfortable.


FOSTER: I think everyone feels uncomfortable about it. That senior royal aide has had to step down. There's an investigation taking place.

Prince William arriving here. His spokesperson saying racism doesn't have a place in modern society. And it was right that she stepped down immediately. So they're trying to deal with this as best as they can.

But, again, allegations of racism are the heart of the British monarchy. It's really worrying. And hopefully it won't overshadow the rest of this trip, according to Kensington Palace.

MARQUARDT: All right. CNN's Max Foster in Boston, thank you very much.

I'm Alex Marquardt in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you so much for watching tonight.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.