Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on the Jan. 6 hearings and a framework for gun legislation

NPR’s Tamara Keith and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including the high-profile congressional investigation over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the bipartisan framework to address gun violence in America.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The high-profile congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and how to address gun violence in America are two of the issues taking center stage in this midterm election year.

    To discuss the political stakes, I'm joined by Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Hello to both of you. Welcome to the program on this Monday.

    Let's pick up with the story we have just been hearing from William and Lisa's reporting on this framework for a deal.

    Tam, you have been watching this as its unfolded the last few weeks. Does this look like it has a chance to become law, pass the Senate, and then be agreed on and signed by the president?

  • Tamara Keith, National Public Radio:

    There is a magical number, and that number is 10 Republicans. And there are 10 Republicans who are signed on to this.

    So, in that respect, it has a much better chance than anything that's been discussed over the last several years. What's interesting is who those Republicans are. They are Republicans who are not up until 2026. They are several who are retiring. And then there's Mitt Romney, who has nothing to lose and has proven his independence in a number of ways on a number of matters.

    The — this does not go nearly as far as President Biden has been calling for, as he did in his prime-time address, as Democrats have wanted, but it goes further than Democrats have feared that they might have to accept.

    And so the rush from President Biden, from Speaker Pelosi to come out and say right away, great, we will take that, it's something, it's a step..

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Tamara Keith:

    … indicates that there is motivation.

    Of course, they are now working out the fine details of what's in the legislation, in the legislative language. They are hurrying to do that. But the fine details can get into trouble. Also, the NRA and others can sort of rally while those details are being worked out.

  • Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And the more days we get away from that shooting, the more — the less maybe this pressure is felt.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right. That's right.

    Yes, I think there are a couple of ways to look at this. There can be the cynical way or the not cynical way. I don't know where you want me to start. But the not cynical way is, guess what? There actually is a center-left in the United States Congress. It doesn't look like it very often. It looks like the two sides are never going to come together even on the most obvious, tremendous problems.

    But here we find 10 Republicans willing to go along with Democrats on legislation that — Tam is right — nobody's going to be totally happy with this. But it's significant, in the same way we saw a center for the infrastructure bill, right? So things can get done in Congress.

    The cynical side goes to what Tam brought up as well is, everybody who is part of this center is — not everybody, but either is not up for reelection or they are not coming back in 2023.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, those — but you need 10 votes.

  • Amy Walter:

    You do. That's right. That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    If all the Democrats are on board, and you have got 10 Republicans…

  • Amy Walter:

    You have got it done.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … you have got 60 votes.

  • Amy Walter:

    But that's the…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    If that holds, if that group — this could actually happen.

  • Amy Walter:

    This actually — this gets to the president's desk.

  • Tamara Keith:

    This is the math that we talk about almost every week.

    This math works, as long as it doesn't fall apart when they get into the fine details.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Big, big if.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, let's talk about the other big thing that we have been watching over the last few days, certainly the two of you, seasoned Washington observers, have been watching these hearings this morning and then last Thursday night.

    Tam, what is — what are you taking away from this? I mean, we are — the committee is presenting an organized story, narrative.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What are you taking away from it?

  • Tamara Keith:

    A lot of this is not new to those of us who've been following it very closely. But most people have not been following it very closely.

    And a lot of this reflects reporting that I did in those months, between the election and January 6, then immediately following it. But my sources were unnamed sources. They were people who would not go on the record. And now you have people on the record, in depositions, on video saying these things that they were saying behind closed doors, like the campaign manager talking about being part of the normal — team normal vs. team Rudy.

    All of that is stuff that was being discussed on background and unwilling to say it publicly. And now, with a subpoena, they have said it publicly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes. Yes, and not to mention the former attorney general of the United States, who's been very blunt.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Right.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right. That's right.

    And I think that Ben Ginsberg laid this out pretty well earlier in the show, which is, these aren't Democrats that are coming and sitting in front of the committee and saying Donald Trump was misleading people willingly, or he was told these things, and he refused to believe them, or we laid out scenario after scenario which he refused to abide by.

    This is his attorney general. These are the people who are closest to him, in his orbit, his campaign manager. They were telling him this all along, and they knew that this was an issue all along.

    But what we also know is, there were many people, as Tam points out, who knew all along who were in Congress or who are Republican operatives that this also was not true. And they were willing to continue to go along with it, because it was more dangerous for them and still more dangerous for them to speak out against the president and call out what is true than it is to be quiet and hold on to your seat in Congress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But how do you — I'm going to ask you the same questions that I was asking Ben Ginsberg and Cynthia Miller-Idriss, in a way

    And that is, how do you — how long do they continue to say what isn't true was true, is true? It mean, how do you — how long does that last?

  • Tamara Keith:

    I think that the concern here is that whether this committee proves that Donald Trump should have ever returned to the Oval Office or not, or whatever the committee aims to prove, the president — the former president has made it OK to not concede.

    The former president has created a norm where you can be a candidate who denies reality to the bitter end, and will have people follow along and believe you and produce documentaries to prove — or "documentaries" in quotes — to prove that it's right.

    And our system relies on people accepting the results of the elections.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And now there is a norm that is being established by the former president and his acolytes who are running for office right now that it's OK to just not like the result and refuse to accept it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And my question is, is that going to be — is that a norm that's going to survive?

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Amy Walter:

    I think we're going to see.

    It works until it doesn't, Judy. And that's really the answer mostly in politics, right? Politicians are looking at what is working at this moment. And, right now, at this moment, there is no repercussion to saying this election was irregular, was stolen, that there are integrity issues, whatever it is. There is absolutely no penalty for saying that, especially since most of the people running for election are running in districts that are overwhelmingly Republican.

    What we will find out is whether the people can go and make these claims and still win election. And we're going to have very good opportunities to see whether this works or not when it's not Donald Trump making these claims, but when it's others who are parroting his claims and saying that they're going to do similar things, the governor — potential gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, the gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania.

    So, it will work until it doesn't work.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we will see whether the committee, Tam, is able to call into question enough of what president, former President Trump has said to in any way diminish the credibility that he has with his followers.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Right.

    And that first night, at least, 20 million people watched. I don't know what share of them were persuaded. And there were more watching on C-SPAN that aren't part of that number.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That's right.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

    And, remember, when we're talking about 2024, how people feel about Donald Trump when we get all of these hearings distilled into campaign ad after campaign after campaign ad that go over and over again, that also could be a — it could be a very different response than even what we're seeing today from voters.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will be watching.

  • Amy Walter:

    We will.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I know the two of you will be watching.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

  • Amy Walter:

    Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

  • Amy Walter:

    You're welcome.

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