Clip: Justice Department investigates Trump as part of a criminal probe

Jul. 29, 2022 AT 5:21 p.m. EDT

The Jan. 6 committee's public hearings may be on hiatus but new details about their investigation continue to emerge. On Monday, video of unseen testimony from former President Trump's inner circle revealed more about his actions in the days around the Capitol attack. This came as Trump continued perpetuating the lie that the 2020 election was stolen amid a Justice Department probe.

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Alcindor : The January 6 Committee's public hearings may be on hiatus. But that hasn't stopped its members from sharing new details about their investigation. On Monday, Representative Elaine Luria of unseen testimony from Ivanka Trump talking about her father editing the script of a speech his staff had prepared. The former president refused to include language that he thought was too critical of the Capitol Hill rioters.

President Biden condemned former President Trump's failure to act.

Biden : For three hours, the defeated former president of the United States watched it all happen. While he was doing that, brave law enforcement officers subject to the medieval hell, face-to-face with crazed mob that believed the lies of the defeated president.

Alcindor : On Tuesday, former President Trump also made his first trip back to D.C. since leaving office. In a speech, he continued to spread lies about the 2020 election.

Donald Trump, Former President : I always say I ran the first time and I won. Then I ran a second time and I did much better. We got millions and millions more votes. And you know what? That's going to be the story for a long time, what a disgrace it was.

Alcindor : And an interesting split screen moment, his former vice president, Mike Pence, also spoke in Washington on the same day to a different group. Now, Pence who we should remind people came close to being assaulted on January 6, argued that the GOP needs to be focused on the future and not the past.

So, Jonathan, I want to come to you. You have this book out and you talk about the big lie. Tell us a bit about sort of what you make of President Trump's speech continuing -- former President Trump's speech continuing to spread lies and the split screen that we just showed there.

Lemire : Well, first of all, pretty good viral marketing for my book. So thank you, Mr. President, for that.

No. It shows, though, that the big lie did not go away on January 6. And in fact, Donald Trump is still fully embracing it. He refuses to look forward. He only wants to look forward and relitigate 2020, much to the chagrin of many others in the Republican Party who do feel that they have a pretty good political environment this fall. And they don't want to be talking about 2020. They frankly don't want to be talking about Donald Trump.

But he refuses to let it go and the lying just continues. And it's also shaping the Republican Party. So many Republicans have gone along with it. And even if they privately disagree they don't dare publicly break with his erroneous claims of election fraud.

We know it's a litmus test for a lot of the candidates that he supported this year, a number of whom won their primaries but not all. The split screen with Pence was interesting, because Pence represents that wing of Republicans who, of course, largely support most of what Trump has done but won't go so far as to back him on what happened January 6.

Now, the January 6 Committee hearings seem to have taken a bit of a toll on former president Trump's poll numbers and slipped slightly among Republicans but only slightly. He is still by far the most powerful figure in the party. He’s rapturously received in his speech in D.C. the other day. He is certainly the favorite to be the Republican nominee in 2024 were he to choose to run. And he's threatening to do so and announced that candidacy before the midterms which would be a disaster, many Republicans say, because it would certainly change the political conversation. But his -- his adherence to the big lie showing no signs of evading.

Alcindor : And, Ayesha, Jonathan talking about the developments on the January 6 front we saw in play for people that we got that information that former President Trump didn't want to say that the people who broke into the Capitol weren't part of his movement.

What do you make of these new developments when you think about the fact that the president that we covered together continues to lie?

Rascoe : Well, I mean, I think that as we -- at the end of the day, this is what Trump does. He's not going to let go of 2020. This idea of moving on and looking at the future is just not what Trump does. Trump never let go of 2016. And he won in 2016.

So he's not going to let go of 2020 when he lost. And so that's what you're seeing. And I think -- with Pence having this kind of -- trying to show that he was a little bit separate and by saying, look, we should look to the future, but the problem is these little slight kind of head nods to like little bit of a different direction that's not going to work with Trump. He doesn't do subtlety and he's like either with him or you're against him.

And right now, much of the Republican Party is with him.

Alcindor : And, Ayesha, you talk about him like someone who covered him for years. Who knows exactly what happens and also want to talk to you because here it is, the DOJ is investigating former President Trump's actions as part of a criminal probe into efforts related to overturning the 2020 election.

As you see this, this information, what comes to mind when you think about what the DOJ's work is at this point and we know about their investigation?

Rascoe : Well, I think, you know, the fact that they are saying this reporting is coming out is important, especially for those Democrats and others who are frustrated because they feel like these January 6 hearings are going on, and in their mind, they're hearing that this was the former president that they believed could be illegal, that he should not be treated as if he is above the law. And that they want to know what's being done about it.

Like people who are -- who are not fans of former president Trump want to know what is going to be done? Is all this information going to come out and then nothing is going to happen?

So I think it's important that, you know, that you hear that there's going to be an investigation. But the thing is we don't know where that investigation will lead. And there have been a lot of investigations about Trump, and -- as we both know. And they haven't really you know amounted to much.

Like he has been able to come out, you know, on the other side of all of them so far. And so we have to, you know, be clear with viewers that we don't know what's going to happen with this investigation from the DOJ.

Alcindor : We certainly don't know what's going to happen.

And, John, as we think about this investigation there's another mystery after mystery opening up. This time it's the Department of Homeland Security that's lost some text messages. I want to say that Representative Jamie Raskin said, I don’t know -- I don't just know why everyone's texts and emails are suddenly disappearing all at once, and I assume not a technological problem.

So, that’s a congressman saying this might be nefarious. What are you hearing and what do you think?

Bresnahan : Yeah, I was talking to Raskin about this. I mean, the January 6 Committee, they’re convinced privately, they cautiously doesn’t say in public, there was -- the cover-up is, you know, is being whispered about, because you have this -- you have DHS on top of the Secret Service, and that's not a coincidence, and as far as they're concerned. I think they're going to keep pushing on this hard.

And the other part is this didn't come out until we had the Cassidy Hutchinson testimony, when that’s -- when the Secret Service, there were officials in the Secret Service pushing back on that. But then this -- this issue of the deleted text messages and everything they came out as a result of that. They -- you know, Hutchinson's veracity was challenged. Her -- you know, Trump attacked her and the Republicans attacked her.

And now we have what -- what appears to be a really troubling incident. And the IG's at both DHS and --

Alcindor : Secret Service.

Bresnahan : Yeah. They knew about this for months.

Alcindor : It's incredible to think about it.

And, Jonathan, I want to come to you and we have about a minute left here. You have written this book. You understand the origins of the lies of the Trump election and what he's been talking about. And I wonder if you could talk just a little bit about what you learned in reporting that book and as we've seen Trump world starting to go into the grand jury with the DOJ and starting to cooperate even more with the January 6 committee?

Lemire : Yeah, Trump throughout his presidency had a remarkable ability to bend others to his will. He really hijacked the Republican Party and conservative media to help amplify his lies big or small and certainly the biggest one of all about this election. And we're seeing here how people in the government would be willing to shatter norms, break regulations in order to help him hang on to power. That he had abused the power of the presidency to try to stay in office and those around him were willing to help.

And now it seems like, as John said, real talk of a cover-up to hide what they did.

So, the impact and the residence of the big lie continues and will through this election and next. It's going to be a defining issue whether Trump is on the ballot or not.

Alcindor : And, Ayesha, 10 seconds. Trump also talked about transphobic and it animated the group. It’s the culture wars.

We only a couple of seconds left. Tell me a little bit about your thoughts there as we end this conversation.

Rascoe : Well, a lot of people are seeing this fight against the LGBTQ community as a way to make people seem like the other in a way to rally their base against a changing society. And you see people like Donald Trump using that message of really --

Alcindor : Certainly.

Rascoe : -- to go against the LGBTQ community.

Alcindor : An important point.

Thank you all for being here. Thanks to our panelists for joining us and for sharing your reporting.


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