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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA); Interview With Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); Interview With Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI); Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 18, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Closing argument. The January 6 Committee is wrapping up its investigation and set to urge charges against Donald Trump.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The country is going to have the evidence.
JAKE TAPPER: Does the committee believe the former president committed insurrection? Democratic committee member Adam Schiff joins me exclusively.
And, ticktock, TikTok. an incoming Republican House chairman looks to ban a popular app over national security concerns and blunt China's influence. But how much are GOP efforts being stymied by a messy fight for speaker.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Are you spending time with my conference?
JAKE TAPPER: I will speak exclusively to the incoming House chairman of the Select Committee on China, Mike Gallagher, next.
Plus: Turning the page? Pennsylvania's Republican senator prepares to leave Congress. What's his final message to his party as Washington prepares for divided government? Retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey joins me exclusively ahead.
I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is thinking about whose stockings might deserve coal from Santa this season. While many Americans are focusing on last-minute shopping and holiday gatherings, legislators are actually facing one of the busiest weeks in recent memory
Tomorrow, the January 6 Committee is expected to publicly vote to refer criminal charges against Donald Trump to the Justice Department. On Wednesday, the Trump era immigration policy known as Title 42 will expire, which will certainly bring even more asylum seekers to and across the Southern border, exacerbating an already horrific humanitarian crisis there that too few in Washington are prepared to tackle.
And, by Friday, Congress needs to pass a massive funding bill to keep the government from shutting down, with so many important priorities, from helping Afghan allies, to protecting consumers from big tech monopolies hanging in the balance, this busy lame-duck holiday season, just over two weeks before a power shift in Washington, as House Republicans make preparations to take over.
Among their new priorities, taking on the threat from the Chinese government with a new House select committee chaired by Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher, a Marine with a national security background, who has already introduced bipartisan legislation to counter China's influence legislation that is gaining steam in Washington.
And Congressman Mike Gallagher joins us now.
Congressman, or, should I say -- well, I guess it's early to say Mr. Chairman, so I will just call you Congressman for now.
You're the incoming chair of this new Select Committee on China. You say we're in the early stages of a new Cold War with China. Do you view China as an enemy of the United States? And what is your biggest priority for this new committee on day one of the new Congress?
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): I view the Chinese Communist Party as an enemy of the United States.
But it's important that we don't conflate the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people. I think that's absolutely critical to our long-term competition with China.
And I view the CCP in some ways as an enemy of its own people. Look at the way in which Xi Jinping has repressed the nationwide protests surrounding his failed COVID zero policies. Look at the way in which they have used some of the tools of techno-totalitarian surveillance they're perfecting in Xinjiang province in a modern-day concentration camp, and exported that around the country to control the rest of their citizens.
So, it's important that we make that distinction constantly. And the most important thing we want to do as -- with this new select committee is make this a bipartisan effort. Speaker-elect McCarthy wants the Democrats to participate in this. He wants us to be serious.
And, to the extent possible, we want to identify where Congress can speak with one voice when it comes to the policy that best positions us to win this long-term competition with the CCP.
TAPPER: So, the U.S. Senate just voted unanimously to ban TikTok from government phones. TikTok is a popular app that is from China. You have a bill to ban TikTok completely nationally over its ties to China and because of national security risks.
[09:05:04] For the 100 million TikTok users in the U.S., including two-thirds of teenagers, including two teenagers I know very well, what information could the Chinese government be collecting about them? And should they delete that app?
GALLAGHER: They should.
And I recognize, particularly as a younger member of Congress, this will make me very unpopular with your teenagers and many others. But the fundamental problem is this, Jake. TikTok is owned by ByteDance. And ByteDance is effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The editor in chief of ByteDance, for example, is the CCP secretary and has talked about making sure all product lines, all business lines follow appropriate political control. So, the question we have to ask is whether we want to give the CCP the ability to track our location, track what Web sites we visit, even when we're not using the TikTok app itself and, increasingly, since a large percentage of young Americans use TikTok to get their news, whether we want them to have the ability to selectively edit that news.
It's as if, in 1958, given that TikTok is on the cusp of becoming the most powerful media company in America, we would have allowed the KGB and Pravda to buy "The New York Times," "The Chicago Tribune," "The Washington Post" all combined.
I think this is a bad idea. And I'm proud to say that my bill is now bipartisan. I have a Democrat, Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is joining me in introducing it. We have heard Senator Mark Warner voice concerns in the Senate.
So my hope is that we make that bipartisan case. And now every member of the Senate is on record saying that TikTok is a national security concern, and that it should be banned from government phones. So we're making the case. We have a long way to go legislatively.
TAPPER: So, I had the top Republican commissioner from the Federal Communications Commission, Brendan Carr, on my show a few days ago, and I asked him about TikTok.
He told me that American kids using TikTok are bombarded with addictive content pushing self-harm, pushing eating disorders, while the Chinese version of the app in China is pushing educational material and a mandatory time limit, so Chinese kids can't be on that app too long.
Do you think China is doing that purposefully, trying to use TikTok to harm American children?
GALLAGHER: The short answer is, we don't know.
But Brendan Carr has called it digital fentanyl. And I think that comparison is apt for two reasons. One, as he points out, it's highly addictive, highly destructive. It's increasing the loneliness, isolation and rising rates of suicide and depression we're seeing among America's youth.
And also, like actual fentanyl, ultimately, you can trace it back to China. The precursor chemicals for fentanyl come from China, of course. So I think it's a very good comparison by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. And that's one of the many reasons why we need to take bipartisan action to ban it.
And, as I said before, the ability to edit the news, I just think is a massive tool and weapon that we don't want to give the CCP. The other thing is this. Whether or not they're doing it intentionally, there's another asymmetry in our relationship.
Chinese propagandists, Chinese wolf warrior diplomats are all over our social media companies, Twitter, Facebook, spreading dangerous lies about the United States, attacking us, while, at the same time, they deny their own citizens in China access to those very same technology platforms.
That doesn't make sense. That's not a reciprocal relationship. So, one thing I have encouraged Twitter executives to do is to apply a standard that says, if you deny your citizens access, we won't allow you access to our platform to spread dangerous lies.
There's all sorts of ways we can get at the information competition, the ideological competition. That's an essential part of winning this new Cold War.
TAPPER: I have to ask you.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy still as of right now does not seem to have the 218 votes he needs to become speaker. It looks as though this delay is going to muck up committees such as yours getting up and running.
"The Wall Street Journal" editorial board, usually pretty friendly with Republicans, said -- quote -- "Too many House Republicans are too dim-witted to understand the use of -- uses of power and how to wield it. They'd rather rage against the machine to no useful effect" -- unquote.
Is this internal fight hurting your party's ability to govern even before you take over?
GALLAGHER: Well, I think we will get there. And I'm not budging off my support of Speaker McCarthy.
But you're right to suggest that there's no time to waste here. We can't spend all of January just with -- mired in this internal battle. We need to populate various committees. There's all sorts of work that needs to be done in terms of basic oversight of the executive branch, as well as articulating policies and finding areas where we can pass productive bipartisan legislation.
So my hope is that we get past this. Kevin McCarthy has done a great job over the last month in terms of reaching out to his detractors and saying, OK, what rules changes do you want to see? How do we fix this institution?
It's not going to be perfect. Obviously, we only have control of one chamber of government, but there's a lot of things we can do., it might take multiple vote series, but I believe we are going to get there.
And the fact that Speaker McCarthy wants to do things like create a Select Committee on China, wants to make it bipartisan, I think is a testament to his prioritization in leading this next Congress.
TAPPER: All right, soon-to-be Chairman Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin, good to have you. Thank you so much for joining us today.
And merry Christmas.
GALLAGHER: Merry Christmas.
TAPPER: The January 6 Committee makes its final report. Congressman Adam Schiff on what to expect tomorrow, that's next.
And a retiring Republican senator who voted to remove former President Trump from office because of January 6 is here to discuss whether he thinks his party is ready to move on.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
On Monday, the House January 6 Select Committee will meet for one last time.
And a source tells CNN members are set to vote on referring at least three criminal charges to the Justice Department against Donald Trump, including insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.
Joining us now, a member of the January 6 Committee, the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.
Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.
So, you're a former federal prosecutor before you became a member of Congress. Do you think the evidence is there that Donald Trump committed any of the crimes I just mentioned and that the cases are prosecutable, that you could get a conviction?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, I think that the evidence is there that Donald Trump committed criminal offenses in connection with his efforts to overturn the election.
And viewing it as a former prosecutor, I think there's sufficient evidence to charge the president. I don't...
TAPPER: To get a conviction, though?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't know what the Justice Department has. I do know what's in the public record. The evidence seems pretty plain to me.
But I would want to see the full body of evidence, if I were in the prosecutor's shoes, to make a decision. But this is someone who in multiple ways tried to pressure state officials to find votes that didn't exist. This is someone who tried to interfere with a joint session, even inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.
If that's not criminal, then -- then I don't know what it is.
TAPPER: So, you're going to vote yes on insurrection -- on referring insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government, all three?
SCHIFF: I can't comment on what referrals we're going to make. We will have a vote on referrals, as well as approving our overall report.
But I can tell you that our process has been to look meticulously at the evidence and compare it to various statutes. Is there sufficient evidence as to each element of a particular crime? We are not referring, or at least won't be voting to refer, everyone we think there may be evidence, because we want to focus on those for which we believe there's the strongest evidence.
TAPPER: So, I know you can't speak for the whole committee, but I'm talking about how you personally are going to vote. You're still not going to...
SCHIFF: Well, let me just say I'm happy to share my personal views, which is...
TAPPER: But do you think he committed insurrection, obstruction of official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government?
SCHIFF: You know, I don't want to telegraph too much what we're considering.
SCHIFF: But I will say that I think the president has violated multiple criminal laws. And I think you have to be treated like any other American who breaks the law, and that is, you have to be prosecuted.
TAPPER: The insurrection charge is interesting. It's a specific federal statute. No one has been charged with insurrection related to January 6, not even the Oath Keepers who were charged with seditious conspiracy, which is a pretty serious charge.
Can you explain the charge, the crime of insurrection?
Well, there are actually three provisions, three processes for dealing with insurrection by a president. There's the criminal statute that you mentioned, there's the 14th Amendment, which makes commission of insurrection a bar to holding office, and then there's the impeachment process.
And, in terms of the criminal statute, if you can prove that someone incited an insurrection, that is, they incited violence against the government, or they gave aid and comfort to those who did, that violates that law. And if you look at Donald Trump's acts, and you match them up against the statute, it's a pretty good match.
I realize that statute hasn't been used in a long time. But, then, when we had a president essentially incite an attack on his own government?
TAPPER: There's some talk also of your committee referring to the House Ethics Committee some members of the House of Representatives who may have participated in the insurrection in some way and refused to comply with the investigation.
Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry comes to mind. He referred Jeffrey Clark, who was this kind of obscure lawyer, tried to -- he was, I guess, part of this conspiracy to get him -- in some way to get him, Jeffrey Clark, to become head of the Justice Department, so he would weaponize the Justice Department.
Is that also on the docket tomorrow, voting to refer for House Ethics investigation your fellow members of Congress, some of them?
SCHIFF: We will also be considering, what's the appropriate remedy for members of Congress who ignore a congressional subpoena, as well as the evidence that was so pertinent to our investigation and why we wanted to bring them in.
So that will be something we will be considering tomorrow. We have weighed, what is the remedy for members of Congress? Is it a criminal referral to another branch of government, or is it better that the Congress police its own?
SCHIFF: Well, censure was something that we have considered. Ethics referrals is something we have considered. And we will be disclosing tomorrow what our decision is.
TAPPER: Former President Trump is under other investigations. You alluded to the one in Georgia from the district attorney of the county there.
A Georgia grand jury is winding down its investigation into Trump's role in trying to get the secretary of state to find enough votes to flip the state. There's the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation moving forward after a federal judge removed the special master. There's also the special counsel that's been appointed. Do you think
that Donald Trump is going to face some kind of criminal charges in the coming months independent from your investigation?
SCHIFF: The short answer is, I don't know.
I think that he should. I think he should face the same remedy, force of law that anyone else would. But I do worry that it may take until he is no longer politically relevant for justice to be served. That's not the way it should be in this country. But there seems to be an added evidentiary burden with someone who has a large enough following.
And that simply should not be the case. But I find it hard, otherwise, to explain why, almost two years from the events of January 6, and with the evidence that's already in the public domain, why the Justice Department hasn't moved more quickly than it has.
TAPPER: I want to turn to another topic, because, right now, as you know, it's the end of the year, and there are all these efforts to bring legislation that has not been brought to the floor of the Senate or the House for a vote and put it in the omnibus bill or the spending bill.
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley are pushing to include antitrust legislation in the omnibus to rein in the monopolistic behaviors of companies, big tech, Apple, Google, Amazon, that hurt smaller companies.
It seems, from the reporting I have been able to do, that some of the obstacles to this happening, even a vote on it in the Senate, are Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and a bunch of House Democrats from your home state of California. They're not you, but other California Democrats.
And I have to say, I'm surprised. I know that these big tech companies give a lot of campaign cash. But isn't the Democratic Party supposed to stand for this, fundamental fairness, anti-monopolistic behavior, competition?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. And we do.
Now, I don't know the particulars of what they're proposing to include in the omnibus. And that may be the problem. I mean, these are not simple issues. I'm particularly concerned, though, about the practice some of the large tech companies have of, whenever there is a budding, promising new entrant into the market, they buy them out, because they don't necessarily want to develop that product line themself, but they don't want the competition.
And we should absolutely take aim at that and other anti-competitive actions of big tech. And I think we have got a big problem right now with social media companies and their failure to moderate content and the explosion of hate on Twitter, the banning of journalists on Twitter.
I don't think these companies should enjoy an immunity from liability when they behave this way. We can't tell them what to say or not say, but we -- we gave them immunity. We said, if you will be responsible moderators of content, we will give you immunity.
They haven't been, so why should they continue to enjoy that immunity from responsibility and liability?
TAPPER: Are you talking about getting rid of Section 230, is it? Is that what you're...
SCHIFF: I am.
I think Section 230 either should be much more narrowly drawn, so that companies have to have a clear policy, what their community standards are, and transparency and accountability in how they implement it. They shouldn't be using algorithms to accentuate fear and hate and loathing. And, if they do, they shouldn't have any kind of safe harbor.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much. Happy Hanukkah.
SCHIFF: Thank you. You too.
TAPPER: Good to see you.
And you can watch the final January 6 meeting right here on CNN. Our special coverage is going to start at noon Eastern tomorrow.
My next guest has a message for his party as he prepares to leave Congress. Republican Senator Pat Toomey joins me next.
TAPPER: And welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
When the U.S. Senate reconvenes after the holidays, five current Republican senators will not be back.
My next guest was elected to the Senate during the Tea Party wave of 2010. In his time in the Senate, he reached across the aisle, most notably on gun regulations. And now he's leaving a much different Republican Party than the one he joined.
Joining us now is outgoing Republican Senator of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Pat Toomey.
Senator Toomey, thanks so much for joining us for this exit interview, as it were.
You're kind of a unique figure in your party. You are a staunch conservative elected during the Tea Party wave, and yet you also were willing to work across the aisle. You kept a laser-like focus on economic policy.
You voted for Trump twice. You played a key role in passing his tax cuts, but you were also one of the few Republicans willing to break with him after January 6?
I guess this is kind of a tough question for somebody to answer. But what do you think your legacy as a legislator will be?
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): Well, thanks for having me, Jake.
I can tell you this. The vast majority of my time and effort was focused on two things, one, defending the interests of my state, this great, big, beautiful commonwealth that you know well and I may know even better than you...
TOOMEY: ... and also defending and trying to expand freedom, especially economic freedom, because I think economic freedom is an integral part of human freedom.
And economically free societies are also the most prosperous and successful societies with a higher standard of living. That's what I spent the vast majority of my time on. I think some of my biggest accomplishments in the Senate were in that space. So, I'd like to think that'd be part of -- if I'm remembered at all, it would be for some of those things.
But I acknowledge that, when you kind of go against the grain, so to speak, and when you separate yourself from the consensus of your party, that tends to get more attention than anything else. So, there was certainly more media coverage of my work on background checks with Joe Manchin and my vote to convict Donald Trump.
That's just the -- I guess that's the nature of politics and the coverage of politics.
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, you were elected on a less taxes, less regulation platform. That was kind of your thing as -- on the Tea...
TOOMEY: Less government, yes.
TAPPER: Yes, less government, as the Tea Party wave. So that wasn't a surprise.
And, obviously, that was where your passion was.
TOOMEY: Right. Right.
TAPPER: In your closing address on the Senate floor, you had this message for your party:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOOMEY: For my Republican colleagues, let me just say, our party can't be about or beholden to any one man. We're much bigger than that. Our party is much bigger than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's not hard to figure out what one man you're talking about there.
Do you think Republicans are increasingly receptive to that message? Do you think Donald Trump's hold on your party is finally slipping?
TOOMEY: Absolutely, I do.
First, I think his influence was waning, not as quickly as I had hoped it would, but I think it was waning. But the election outcome from last month, I think, dramatically accelerates the waning. And, frankly, his unbelievably terrible rollout of his reelection -- well, his election campaign is also not helping him.
So, yes, I mean, I think you see it manifested in a number of ways. One obvious way was quite an impressive turnout of prominent Republicans who have been going to events like the RJC meeting in Las Vegas, openly talking about themselves as candidates, after Donald Trump had already made it clear he was running.
So that tells you that they perceive the Republican electorate to be much more open. And in my travels since the election around Pennsylvania, I have heard from many, many formerly very pro-Trump voters that they think it's time for our party to move on.
So, yes, I think that process is under way. It doesn't -- it's not a flip of a switch. It doesn't happen overnight. He still has a significant following. That's for sure. But I do think his influence is waning.
TAPPER: Let's talk about the Republican Party, writ large.
Take a look at this "New York Times" headlines from when you were first elected in 2010: "Toomey at Helm of a Republican Wave in Pennsylvania."
When you first came here to Washington, you were seen as one of the most conservative voices in the U.S. Senate. Flash forward 12 years, and now some in the GOP -- and it's preposterous, don't get me wrong, but some in the GOP now call you a RINO...
TAPPER: ... because you spoke out against Trump's election lies and you were willing to criticize Donald Trump.
You are far more conservative than Donald Trump, by any stretch.
TOOMEY: Right. TAPPER: But, still, people are calling you a RINO.
What happened to the Republican Party?
Oh, you know, I -- first of all, I think this kind of -- this warping of the language will also subside. There is a tendency -- and this happens on both sides of the aisle -- there's a tendency to rally around the guy who's being attacked by the other side.
Nobody was ever attacked more than Donald Trump was, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. And he fought back aggressively. And so when Republicans had criticisms of him -- I certainly think mine were valid -- that doesn't always sit well with folks who see him as carrying the fight to the other side.
So, some of that tribalism is built into political systems anywhere. Again, I think, as his influence wanes, the sort of conventional understanding of what words mean kind of gets restored over time. I'm not -- I'm not too worried about that.
TAPPER: You're going to be turning over your seat to a Pennsylvanian that is probably more different from you than almost anyone in politics in Pennsylvania that I can think of, John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor.
TAPPER: He's going to be the next senator.
I know you disagree with him on policy. But, beyond that, because I know you want him to be a good steward and a good senator for Pennsylvania, what advice might you offer him?
TOOMEY: Well, there's the obvious things, but they're really important, which is to listen to your constituents.
I mean, one of the things that's great about Pennsylvania, the proximity to Washington meant that, for 12 years, I got a lot of visits, aside from the COVID period. People could come down and make their case. And so I had innumerable in-person meetings with every kind of group of Pennsylvanian for every kind of reason.
You learn an awful lot when you sit down and you meet with your constituents. You may learn that some of your -- your own assumptions were not entirely valid. So, that's a really important thing.
The other thing I would -- I would urge and I did urge my Democratic colleagues -- and I would extend this to senator-elect Fetterman -- don't blow up the Senate by destroying the filibuster. That would be a terrible thing for America, for our government, for the Senate, certainly. It would lead to a radical increase in polarization, volatility in policy. It would be a really bad idea. So I hope he reconsiders that.
TAPPER: I do want to ask you about one breaking news story.
Roughly two dozen retired top military leaders last night sent a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, which will offer a legal pathway to permanent us residency to thousands of Afghans who helped the United States during the war.
These top leaders, people like McChrystal and Dunford, they call passing the legislation a moral imperative. Veterans groups, Gold Star families, a lot of them back this legislation.
Do you support including the Afghan Adjustment Act in this must-pass government funding bill?
TOOMEY: So, one of the problems we deal with here, Jake, is really important and challenging issues get, like, airdropped out of the clear blue sky onto a negotiation that is extremely opaque. This is part of the problem with the lack of normal functioning of the Senate.
Look, I have been very outspoken. I think we need to have a clear path to citizenship for the Afghans who helped us, at great risk to themselves and their families. That legislation exists. My understanding -- and I'm not an expert in this space, but my understanding is, there is nevertheless quite a backlog.
Honestly, I'd sitting here right now. I can't tell you whether or not this particular bill is the best solution for that backlog. And it's the kind of thing that needs to be carefully vetted, because, let's face it, there could be some really bad actors trying to get that citizenship also. We need to be able to distinguish between the truly deserving and those who are not.
So, not the kind of thing that really ought to be just dropped in, in the last minute in a back room. This is something that ought to be scrutinized.
TAPPER: Yes, I would just respectfully ask that you take a look at this legislation, given the fact that three joint chair -- three former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...
TOOMEY: Yes. Yes.
TAPPER: ... a former NATO supreme allied commander, a lot of people who head -- were in charge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan are calling for this legislation. I would just respectfully ask that you take a look at it.
TOOMEY: Yes, look, their opinions should matter. Those are obviously very, very well-informed and thoughtful people. So, their opinions do matter.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Toomey, your last time as a senator on this show. Maybe you will come back. TOOMEY: Yes.
TAPPER: I hope to see you again.
And I really appreciate it and all the time you have spent on this show talking to us, talking to the American people.
TAPPER: And merry Christmas to you, sir.
TOOMEY: Thanks very much. And merry Christmas to you.
TAPPER: "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board is calling Republicans the gang that couldn't shoot straight, except at one another.
We're going to talk about that with my panel next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It's absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was unlawful. They did it anyway.
SCHIFF: I think the facts support a potential charge against the former president.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think he's guilty of a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Two Republicans, one Democrat on the January 6 select House Committee.
Their last meeting is tomorrow. They wrap up their 18-month investigation, and they're expected to refer multiple criminal charges against Donald Trump to the Justice Department, including insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.
Our panel is here with us.
Congresswoman Dean, you were there on January 6. You helped lead the second impeachment of Donald Trump for what he did on January 6. What do you think's going to happen tomorrow? And do you think the referrals, if they're made, will actually lead to any sort of prosecution?
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Well, I think tomorrow will be very much about whether or not they make referrals. But, really, I look at -- look at the entirety of their work, the
extraordinary work over the last 17 months of the January 6 Committee in a bipartisan way, as you know, Democrats and Republicans together doing extraordinary investigation and bringing forward witnesses, remember, most of them Republicans who wanted nothing more than for Donald Trump to succeed as president.
TAPPER: Yes, not just Republicans, MAGA Republicans, Trump-supporting Trump Republicans, yes.
So, the entire body of their work, as they reveal their report and put forward referrals, is going to be extraordinarily important for all of history.
TAPPER: What do you think about all this, Scott?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not surprised this is where it's going to wind up. I mean, A, we all saw what happened on January 6 with our own two eyes. I mean, there's no mystery here. And there never has been any mystery about what happened and who caused it.
Number two, I am a little concerned for the Justice Department that, if this committee makes referrals, that it's going to have the effect of politicizing it a little bit. I think the Justice Department needs to be given the space to operate independently and without the idea that politics pressured them into whatever it is they wind up doing. So that concerns me a little bit.
But, given everything we learned over the last year and everything we saw with our own two eyes, if this winds up in criminal charges against people, who would be surprised?
TAPPER: Yes, you heard Democrat Adam Schiff on the show. He thinks the Justice Department's not doing enough. He thinks that they're not moving fast enough.
So, the Justice Department is in a thankless position right now.
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's clear that the committee has more information than the Justice Department has at this point, it appears.
TAPPER: Although it should be the opposite.
ALLISON: It should be the opposite.
But I do appreciate, to Scott's point, that they are taking a slow and deliberate approach to this, and not letting politics, an election cycle or who's serving on the committee to expedite the investigation.
We know litigation takes a very long time. I'd rather them do it with a deliberate intent, rather than with a political. And I do think the bipartisan nature -- there was an opportunity for more Republicans to be on the committee, and they chose not to. And so you do have people that are Republicans on the committee that take some of that politicized nature of that referral out.
JENNINGS: The political impacts of this -- and I wanted to bring this up...
JENNINGS: ... because I wanted to hear your comment on this, Kristen.
I heard tell this week of a survey in a state in the Deep South where they actually had -- Trump country, where they actually had Trump underwater with the state's general election profile there. And if you combine that anecdotal thing with the national surveys we have seen, all the legal piece aside, it does strike me this has taken a massive toll on him over the last year.
TAPPER: Has it? You're a pollster, and you do focus groups.
There's been a lot of talk about, oh, this -- the American people don't care about this, et cetera, et cetera. On Election Day, we saw a lot of people, at least enough in key states, who did care about democracy and what that meant vote Democratic.
Does this matter? Has it moved the needle, these hearings?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certainly, I think Trump is politically wounded, including perhaps especially with Republicans, these days.
When you ask, do you think that -- if he's good or bad for the Republican Party, Republicans are less likely today than they were a few months ago to say he's been a good influence on the party.
I do wonder, though, is there the potential for this to have -- to backfire politically? And that shouldn't be a concern. If you're talking about a legal matter, whether someone legally should or shouldn't be charged should not be following the polls.
Nevertheless, I wonder, if Trump is wounded at this moment, and all of a sudden it feels like he's now under siege from people that Republicans like even less, does he get another one of those circling the wagon effects, like we saw a little bit during the raid on Mar-a- Lago? Does this actually help him sort of stanch the bleeding with Republicans?
TAPPER: So that's Monday.
On Wednesday, the Trump era border rule is going to expire, making it more difficult to send back asylum seekers.
I want you to take a listen to the Democratic mayor of El Paso this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSCAR LEESER (D), MAYOR OF EL PASO, TEXAS: We know that the influx on Wednesday will be incredible. It will be huge.
Talking to some of our federal partners, they really believe that, on Wednesday, our numbers go will go from 2,500 before, 5,000 or maybe 6,000. And when I ask them, I said, do you believe that you guys can handle it today, the answer was no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You visited the border during the Trump years. It's now worse, for whatever reason.
How worried are you about what's going to happen after Wednesday? And how worried are you right now about the humanitarian conditions in Texas?
DEAN: I'm worried right now and have been worried. And I think Republicans and Democrats recognize that we want a secure border.
But we also have to have an orderly path to legal immigration. We are not talking about, as some Republicans would have it, an invasion of illegals. We are talking about people who are seeking refuge in this country. I spoke last night with my friend and colleague Veronica Escobar from El Paso, and I have visited her district.
She's extraordinarily worried. What we have to do -- and, this week, we're about to do it -- is budget like our values are reflected. So, we have to budget for this crisis at the border. We have to make sure we have the resources. The administration has asked for $3.5 billion for the border, resources for judges, resources to nonprofits, resources to the people who are coming, so that we treat them humanely and reflect our American values, instead of demonizing them.
JENNINGS: I mean, every single person who comes here is not a legitimate refugee. That's the Republican position.
And the idea that we can fix this by just processing them more quickly, Governor Ducey in Arizona, in a novel idea, took a bunch of shipping containers and tried to build a makeshift wall there, like -- what they call the Yuma Gap. And the Justice Department, Joe Biden Justice Department sued him to try to stop him from doing that.
I think Republican governors and Republican lawmakers are very concerned that the Biden administration doesn't view this as a crisis. They think the Biden administration prefers this outcome, where everybody comes here and gets processed as quickly as possible.
DEAN: But, really, the conversation has not been honest with Republicans, at least in my committee on Judiciary, for example.
There hasn't been an honest conversation about, what do we do with immigrants who are seeking refuge here? Thousands are coming. We see it every single day. Instead, they have tried to do everything to otherize them, instead of saying, wait a second, we are America. We should reflect our values, offer the resources not just to process people, but to have a process to find out who is legal and who is not.
ALLISON: I agree. I think that we are often think, oh, there's one solution to this problem.
This is, first, what's the root cause. Why? They were coming in the Trump administration. They were coming in the Obama administration. And now they're still coming in the Biden administration, because there are some root causes that are actually requiring people to flee for safety.
Asylum is a part of our country's laws. People should be able to come and be protected. We should treat them with dignity. We should process them. But then, once they are here, how do we actually let them either thrive or send them...
DEAN: Help them grow our economy.
ALLISON: Economy, exactly.
ALLISON: And they do.
And I don't think we should just do one-liners that, like, are clickbaits to say, like, oh, we're flooding the zone. No, people are in danger. And that's why they're coming to our country.
TAPPER: Thanks to one and all for being here. Really appreciate it. Merry Christmas to all of you.
Coming up next, remembering an ordinary man who lived a beautiful life.
TAPPER: I'd like to take a moment, with your permission, to mark the passing of an American who was not necessarily the kind of person who would merit an obituary on international news.
And, in that, he was just like so many of us, but he also happens to be my wife's father, my father-in-law, Thomas Hugh (ph) Brown, who died Tuesday at the age of 75.
Born in Chicago, these photos of him, a seemingly happy kid notwithstanding, Tom's early life was difficult. He eventually ended up on his own in his teens. He joined the Air Force during that period. And U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tom Brown served in Vietnam from October 1968 until October 1969. That was a tough period for that war that included the Tet Offensive.
Tom last served with the 12th Security Police Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay. Tom didn't talk much about his time in Vietnam.
He went from managing a supermarket, to owning a supermarket, to owning a dollar store in Kansas. And, most notably, despite his adversities growing up, Tom became an incredible success as a husband and as a father.
He and his wife, Linda, raised my wife, Jennifer, and her brother, Bob, with joyous adoration. And, when needed, they steered their kids to become their best selves.
Tom became a loving grandpa to my children, called "Bumpa" (ph) by my son, and he was a kindred spirit with our dog Winston.
In Tom's later years, he focused on his grandkids and fishing. He loved the conservative blog Power Line. He loved the art of making pens. After the movie based on my book about Afghanistan came out in 2020, Tom made special pens commemorating the day of that battle, and the pens contained dirt from the ground of both the real Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan and from the site of the movie set in Bulgaria. And Tom gave those pens to the filmmakers and to the soldiers who served there and their loved ones.
But, by then, Tom had started developing frontal lobe dementia, which is a cruel and unforgiving disease.
This photo, this is the last time we saw him earlier this year in Texas.
We're richer for Tom Brown having been here on this earth, and we are all now poorer for him having been taken from us.
Goodbye, Tom. We will always love you, and we will all always miss you.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.