Clip: Jan. 6 committee hones in on Trump's inaction during Capitol attack

Jul. 22, 2022 AT 5:26 p.m. EDT

The Jan. 6 panel centered much of Thursday's public hearing on the 187 minutes it took former President Trump to tell his supporters to go home after a violent mob broke into the Capitol. According to the committee, Trump chose not to act as part of a deliberate plan to delay certifying the vote and only told the rioters to leave after it was clear to him that they failed to stop the proceedings.

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Alcindor : This was another busy week full of news. During a Thursday night public hearing, the January 6 Committee when in deep on 187 minutes. Lawmakers say that`s the time between when former President Donald Trump ended his speech on the Mall and when he told his supporters attacking the capital to go home.

According to the committee, Trump chose not to act as part of a deliberate plan to delay certifying the vote and lawmakers say he only told the rioters to go home after it was clear to him that they failed to stop the proceedings. During the event, there was also new video of outtakes -- that`s right -- outtakes of prerecorded speech given by former President Trump given after the attack. It showed his reluctance to condemn the mob and how his daughter Ivanka Trump coached him through the remarks.

Trump : But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results. I don`t want to say the election is over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results, without saying the election is over, okay?

Ivanka Trump, Former White House Senior Advisor : Now, Congress has certified.

Trump : Yeah, right. I didn`t say over. Let me see -- go to the paragraph before.

Alcindor : Committee also revealed that Secret Service agents at the Capitol thought they might be killed.

White House Security Official : The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. So, it was disturbing. There were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth.

Alcindor : Two former White House officials also testified about why they resigned on January 6.

This also comes, of course, as Steve Bannon, which is another big story, a former Trump advisor was found guilty of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the January 6 committee. He now faces up to two years in prison.

So, when I told you we had a busy week, we really meant a busy week.

So, joining us to discuss this and more, Hallie Jackson, senior Washington correspondent for NBC News and NBC News Now anchor, someone I spent a lot with in the last couple of weeks. We also have Dan Balz here in the studio, chief correspondent for "The Washington Post". And, of course, our dear friend, Nikole Killion, congressional correspondent for CBS News.

Thank you so much all of you for being here.

Nikole, I have to start with you. You are on the beat, that is sort of the central place or we are looking right now.

I wonder, when you think about sort of Thursday`s hearing in particular, with lawmakers trying to really dig in on what in the world president was doing during the Capitol attack, what sticks out most to you and when you think about just sort of what lawmakers are trying to telegraph?

Nikole Killion, C ongressional Correspondent, CBS News : Well, really, the committee has been building up to this moment from day one. I mean, since the committee has been formed, one of the key things from the outset they wanted to focus on were those 187 minutes. What was the president doing during that time?

We finally got to see minute by minute in their view some of the evidence they were able to uncover. I think one of the more remarkable things was that you showed at the top of show, some of those outtakes of the former president having to rework his script.

You know, I talked to Elaine Luria who led this panel and she talked about how, you know, the former president has always been so congenial. You know, TV is his thing. He was this big reality start and yet, you know, he couldn`t get the words out, right?

So, you know, her objective was to allow viewers at home to draw their own conclusions. But look, there was a lot that came out of this from the tapes were reheard for the first time about the danger that the former vice president detail based. We were aware of the chance to hang Mike Pence. And we`ve seen that evacuation video.

But, again, to hear the fact that some of these people were calling their families, I mean, it reminded you of 9/11 where people were calling home. So, from that standpoint, look, there were many new revelations and I think from here, the committee is simply looking to continue this investigation because they continue to get more evidence and more to come as they continue hearings in the fall.

Alcindor : Well, there`s a lot to discuss and you broke a lot of it down so well.

Hallie, of course, Nicole was talking about outtakes. It was the moment where a lot of my sources literally gasped, right? It was the moment where we saw the reality TV president that we all covered together, stumbling through not being able to say, not wanting to say that the election was over, not wanting to say that the people who broke in to the Capitol just a day before should be held responsible for what they were doing.

I wonder what you make of the significance of those outtakes and what it tells us about the former president`s frame of mind?

Hallie Jackson, NBC News Senior Washington Correspondent : I have to tell you, Yamiche, and we were sitting on set when this was happening, right? The committee was planned outtakes. It was a gasp-worthy moment. I think it`s objectively safe to say that.

That said, it wasn`t altogether shocking that former President Trump would still, given everything that we`ve seen in the many, many months that it happened that past this January 6 would be denying, right, the legitimate election results after. I think what the committee effectively was able to do here was by juxtaposing the violence at the Capitol, showing this footage of the rioters, showing the footage that we hadn`t seen before, the Secret Service radio calls that were happening, you could hear how frantic it sounded, how under duress they were and the testimony from the White House security official who was listening into these radio calls and suggesting that perhaps the vice president would have been compromised.

I mean, step back and think about that. Juxtaposing that to less than 20 four hours later, former President Trump being unable to get out the words was significant. For your sources, you said that was a key moment. Can I tell you what another key moment was for somebody that I talked to? And that`s something that`s not getting a ton of attention, but at the end of the hearing, when as Nikole mentioned, Congresswoman Elaine Luria who was leading part of the hearing that, she referenced the first responders who were defending the Capitol that day.

And I think it`s important to talk about that because, remember, there are people behind the video that we see and this footage that we see. And this huge, political and historic story that we`re covering here, there are people who died, there are people whose lives will never be the same, there are people who are suffering from trauma.

And when Congresswoman Luria said that, you saw shot of the officers sitting in the front row. One of them, Officer Harry Dunn, who I talk too late last night and he said the moment that stuck with him, the thing that he is still rattled by, was what you referenced, that Secret Service testimony from the White House official, the people were calling their families to say goodbye.

That shook Officer Dunn. And he had told me beforehand, too, he was really bracing for the emotional impact because it spoke to the intensity and the seriousness of this moment, Yamiche.

Alcindor : That`s -- I mean, that is really a great way to really think about this and such a smart thing to point out. That was such I think a chilling moment.

Dan, I want to come to you because there was another striking moment that stuck to you and it was about what President Trump was tweeting during the Capitol attack, that 2:24 tweet -- 2:24 p.m. tweet where literally former Vice President Mike Pence is running through the Capitol, being evacuated and Trump is criticizing him publicly. Why did that stick out to you? And what did you want to write about it this week?

Dan Balz, Chief Correspondent, The Washington Post : I tell you because we know this hearing was billed as what President Trump did not do for the 187 minutes. But what struck me and particularly with what tweet was what he did do. I mean, it wasn`t that he simply sat passively the entire time. He did things and that tweet is symbolic of the kind of belligerence that he had over what was going on.

Here`s a moment when everyone around him in the White House believes that he should walked down the briefing room and make a statement to the national audience and tell the people rioting on the Capitol grounds to go home. Instead, he sends a tweet attacking his own vice president, calling him a coward, in essence, putting gasoline on this fire that is already raging.

And it just was striking to me how indifferent he was to not just the safety of his vice president, but the threat that was underway at the Capitol.

Alcindor : It -- you know, it was absolutely striking. There is so much in this hearing. I want to focus back on to the Secret Service, these details about people calling their family. Hallie talked really deeply about them.

What are you hearing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill? Because you`re obviously walking the halls where these people were saying, I might have to call my family because I might never see them again.

Killion : Well, I mean, there`s that and there`s also this issue of these deleted text messages, right, that the committee is trying to get ahold of. And so, you know, that we continue to see more developments on that front, and I think many on the committee are very frustrated that they cannot get the information they need. There is a lot with respect to the Secret Service.

I mean, it`s not just this protection element, but it`s also, you know, that whole story we heard from Cassidy Hutchinson a few weeks back where there was an altercation with the former president and his detail. And so, we heard last night more about that from the retired police sergeant that was interesting in terms of them broadcasting some of his testimony.

And so, we know that some members of the detail may have retained private counsel. So, look, you know, there are lot of legs to this story, and that is why you heard the committee say last night we are not done, our work is continuing in August before we resume with these hearings in September.

Alcindor : Saying it has a lot of legs is definitely a good way to put it because, Hallie, we are continuing to see former President Trump attacking this committee. Just this week, we heard that he was calling Wisconsin officials trying to get them to overturn their election results.

All of this is happening as the hearing showed that Donald Trump was they say spent time calling senators, we`re not sure which senators, while Rudy Giuliani was leaving messages for senators saying, hey, you should try to slow down this process even more.

I wonder if you could connect those -- what was happening on January 6 to what we know is happening in real time?

Jackson : Such a great point made then by the way the investigation in Georgia that is happening also. There are so many parts that are disparate but connected. It has to be one would think the focus or part of what the committee or at least a part of what the committee is going to talk about come September, because think about what they`ve done, Yamiche, over the last couple of months here, right, since early June when these hearings started.

They very clearly laid an arc, right? They wanted to make sure and they have talked about this. Members talked about it with me. They talked about it with you and others, that they wanted to make sure they were crafting something that would be compelling to people as they lay down an accurate record of history, right?

There`s a lot of questions about the accountability factor, what happens with the Justice Department from here, but for these initially seven then eight hearings, it was a record of history, right? To come back in September and yes, Vice Chair Liz Cheney has said the dam has begun to break, there are more testimonies, active information coming in to them.

But for them to come back in September to hold more hearings, as they are going to do, you`ve got to think that there is a bar they want to try to hit, right, with the way that they have conducted these hearings so far. And I think that what you are talking about with these phone calls that former President Trump is continuing to make to, you know, people in Wisconsin, with the Fulton County district attorney is continuing to uncover, the testimony we expect to hear from Rudy Giuliani that these are going to be part and parcel of some of the threads that the January 6 will try to pull on, Yamiche.

And I will just say, too, you know, as we talk about this sort of big picture, Donald Trump is engaging in this, right? Donald Trump is watching this. We know he`s watching this. We know what channel he is watching this on because he was tweeting, you know, Truth Socializing I should say, calling (ph) about one of those channel`s anchors, calling, you know, Liz Cheney as sanctimonious loser.

So, he is in some degree engaging in this. There is a political component here, too, that is not going away, especially as we get closer to the midterms.

Alcindor : This political component is clearly not going away and we know that, Dan, because just today, we had a new development which is that Steve Bannon was found guilty of failing to comply with subpoena from Congress. I wonder what you make of the political significance of that, but also, of course, of these significance of that to the committee`s work because it`s clear they are taking this seriously.

Balz : They are taking it very seriously and they were quick to respond to that conviction to say that this is -- this is an indication of the seriousness with which we are approaching this job. This was in many ways an open and shut case. It was clear when the trial started that he was likely to be convicted, in part because of some of the choices the judge had made.

But it is significant. It says if you defy this committee, you run the risk of going to jail. I suspect we have not heard last of Steve Bannon from this committee as they continue to dig in and look at other aspects of it.

Alcindor : And if I could give you a follow up question here, there`s a lot of pressure being put on the DOJ because a lot of Democrats are looking that way and saying, okay, well, what`s the DOJ going to do now? What do you make of sort of the pressure that Merrick Garland, Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing in the sort of potential that criminal referrals could be handed down from the DOJ?

Balz : It seems to me that there are two major objectives of January 6 committee. One, is to ratchet up the pressure on Merrick Garland to look at this as seriously as possible. He`s got a very, very difficult decision and we don`t have to go into all of the details of that, but it is clear that this is a fraught decision for him, and whatever, whatever way he decides will touch off a firestorm.

So, but that`s one element of it. The case they have laid which is not necessarily a case that you would bring strictly in this way in a courtroom, they would face a different challenge, through the Justice Department if they do, in fact, indict the president.

But they have laid out so much evidence about the former president that it is forcing, I think, the Justice Department to think about whether they will take that in essence fateful step.

I think the other goal was from what Liz Cheney had to say last night. And that is, given the choices that this president made on January 6, should he ever again be allowed to hold a position of authority in the government. And that`s a political question, and almost no matter what happens with the Justice Department, that is a question that will go before the voters probably in 2024 if he runs.

Alcindor : Certainly.

And, Nikole, when we think about the political implications here, I -- we have to go back to something that Hallie mentioned which is that Liz Cheney said the dam has broken. There are going to be more hearings, plural -- for those at home, that`s with an S -- in September.

Talk a bit about what lawmakers think they want to learn, what we know about this new information, new witnesses coming forward, but the unanswered questions they want to get at.

Killion : Well, I do want to just piggyback off of Dan`s point real quick just because one of my colleagues at CBS, Jeff Pegues, did ask the attorney general this week about potentially prosecuting Trump and he replied, saying no one is above the law. Now, that doesn`t necessarily, you know, mean he`s going to act. But I do think --

Alcindor : It was notable when he said that. So, thanks for bringing that up.

Killion : Absolutely. But, you know, look, in terms of what`s next, we knew that the committee would likely hold more hearings. At minimum they have to complete a report, likely an interim report sometime in September so they want to use at least one hearing to try to focus on that in terms of outlining key findings and then they intend to put out a more comprehensive report perhaps later this year.

Chairman Bennie Thompson and others have indicated that they are not making the midterms a factor in terms of when they put that information out. But as we all us know in politics, you know, we`re very familiar with the October surprise.

So, who knows what the committee has up its sleeve. But, again, as they get more information, they have said that they could hold more hearings simply based on the new information they find. Already, we know with respect to the Secret Service, that`s not off the table in terms of a future hearing. So, again, we`ll have to see.

Alcindor : Yeah. When you said Secret Service and October surprise, my head started spinning.

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