Cipollone says Pence "did the right thing" on Jan. 6, suggests he deserves Presidential Medal of Freedom
CNN's Clare Foran and Katelyn Polantz
Former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone praised former Vice President Mike Pence for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and for resisting the pressure campaign by Trump allies seeking to enlist him in their effort to overturn the election results.
In one video clip shown by the committee, Cipollone said, "I think the vice president did the right thing. I think he did the courageous thing. I have a great deal of respect for Vice President Pence."
In a separate video clip, Cipollone said that, in his view, Pence "didn't have the legal authority to do anything except what he did," during the joint session of Congress convened to count and confirm the electoral votes.
Cipollone even went so far as to say that he believed the vice president deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"I think he did a great service to this country. And I think I suggested to somebody that he should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions," Cipollone told the committee.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a civilian can receive, for special contributions to the culture or security of the United States or world peace.
5:44 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Trump allies Flynn and Stone worked with far-right extremist group leaders ahead of Jan. 6 riot, Raskin says
Allies of former President Donald Trump, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, worked and communicated with leaders of far-right extremist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said during Tuesday's hearing.
"In the weeks leading up to the attack, leaders in both The Proud Boys and The Oath Keepers worked with Trump allies. One such ally was Lt. General Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, and one of the participants in the unhinged meeting at the White House on Dec. 18," Raskin said.
Raskin noted that Flynn had connections to the Oath Keepers, and showed a Dec. 12, 2020 picture of Flynn with fellow Trump ally and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne being guarded by indicted Oath Keeper Roberto Minuta. "Another view of this scene shows Oath Keepers' leader Stewart Rhodes in the picture as well," he said.
Raskin also zeroed in on Stone’s connections to the far-right organizations.
"Another central figure with ties to this network of extremist groups was Roger Stone, a political consultant and longtime confidant of President Trump," he said.
According to the committee, Stone also used encrypted chats to communicate with the leaders of both groups.
In a chat highlighted by the committee, entitled “Friends of Stone,” Stone communicated with Rhodes, Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander about various pro-Trump rallies. Two of the rallies discussed in the “Friends of Stone” chat – on Dec. 12 and Jan. 6 – broke out in violence at the hands of extremists.
Both Flynn and Stone were pardoned by Trump in the weeks between the election on Nov. 3, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, Raskin added.
An attorney for Stone insisted that the Trump political adviser never participated in the group chat with Rhodes, Tarrio and Alexander.
“Mr. Stone was included in the group chat by whoever established it at the time,” said Grant Smith, an attorney for Stone. “Mr. Stone did not participate in any discussions in the chat and has no recollection of ever posting anything in the chat. If there had been postings by Mr. Stone, the Committee would have included them in the evidence presented. Mr. Stone engaged in only legally protected, First Amendment activities.”
Stone has insisted he did nothing wrong in the run-up to Jan. 6. However, when he was subpoenaed by the House select committee, he repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Oath Keepers counsel Kellye SoRelle, who was also a volunteer lawyer for the Trump campaign, told the Jan. 6 committee that Stone, Alexander and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones brought extremists "of different stripes and views together" as they tried to organize "stop the steal" rallies.
"Those are the ones that became the center point for everything," she said.
CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.
3:08 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Pierson told committee she flagged Meadows about "very suspect" groups going to Capitol
From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Adrienne Vogt
On Jan. 2, 2021, Katrina Pierson, former spokesperson for Trump's 2016 campaign who helped organize the rally on Jan. 6, texted former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the upcoming rally, telling him that "things have gotten crazy."
Meadows called her back a few minutes later, and Pierson told the Jan. 6 House select committee that she told him "there were a bunch of entities coming in," adding "some were very suspect."
When asked what she meant specifically by "suspect," she said:
"I did briefly go over some of the concerns that I had raised to everybody with Alex Jones or Ali Alexander and some of the rhetoric that they were doing" at other events, she said.
Pierson, who helped organize the rally on Jan. 6, told another organizer that Trump “likes the crazies” as she expressed concerns about potential speakers, according to text messages obtained by the House select committee.
Pierson, who sent the text on Dec. 30, 2020, confirmed to the committee in a deposition that she was talking about Trump.
“Yes, I was talking about President Trump. He loved people who viciously defended him in public,” Pierson said, according to the video deposition played during Tuesday’s hearing.
3:10 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Phone logs show Bannon spoke to Trump before Jan. 5 statement that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow"
From CNN's Tierney Sneed
Before recording a Jan. 5 podcast in which he predicted that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon spoke to Trump, according to White House phone logs obtained by the Jan. 6 committee. The logs also show that Bannon and Trump spoke again that evening.
The first Jan. 5 call started at 8:57 a.m. from Bannon’s cell phone and lasted 11 minutes, according to the committee’s presentation.
Bannon also told his podcast listeners that day that it was “all converging” on a “point of attack tomorrow.”
After recording the evening episode, Bannon had a six-minute phone call with Trump that started at 9:46 p.m., according to the phone logs featured at Tuesday’s hearing.
3:02 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Trump was planning for days before Jan. 6 to ask his supporters to march to the Capitol
From CNN's Katelyn Polantz
Then-President Donald Trump planned days ahead of Jan. 6, 2021, to tell his supporters to march to the US Capitol from his rally on the National Mall, according to an unsent tweet intended for Trump's account.
"I will be making a Big Speech at 10AM on January 6th at the Ellipse (South of the White House). Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!!" the draft tweet says.
The document recording the draft tweet, obtained by the House Select Committee via the National Archives, which inherited Trump White House documents, includes a stamp saying: "President has seen."
The committee on Tuesday used the tweet's existence to show how Trump and his advisers were interested in sending crowds to Capitol Hill. Lawyers for Trump since the January 6 attack have tried to argue his encouraging supporters to walk to the Capitol was political speech, and that he was not in control of the crowd nor responsible for the riot at the Capitol.
"The evidence confirms that this was not a spontaneous call to action, but rather was a deliberate strategy decided upon in advance by the President," Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a House Select committee member, said at the hearing Tuesday.
A text message from a rally organizer also appears to confirm Trump planned days in advance about his rally moving to Capitol Hill. The message, from Kylie Jane Kremer to right-wing figure and businessman Mike Lindell, outlines that the President would have his rally march to another stage outside the Supreme Court building, which is behind the Capitol.
"It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it 'unexpectedly,'" Kremer wrote, the House committee showed on Tuesday.
Another organizer, Ali Alexander, also indicated on Jan. 5 that he expected Trump to "order" his supporters to march.
2:43 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Violent groups started aligning because of Trump tweet ahead of Jan. 6, DC homeland security official says
Former President Trump's Dec. 19, 2020, tweet calling his supporters to the capital on Jan. 6 united violent groups, according to Donell Harvin, the former chief of homeland security for Washington, DC.
"These nonaligned groups were aligning," he told the Jan. 6 House select committee.
"All the red flags went up at that point. When you have armed militia collaborating with white supremacy groups collaborating with conspiracy theory groups online, all towards the common goal, you started seeing what we call in terrorism a blended ideology," Harvin said.
"And that's a very, very bad sign," he added.
2:33 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
The Jan. 6 committee hearing is back from break
From CNN staff
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is back after taking a short break.
Here's who is expected to testify:
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson and self-described "propagandist" for the Oath Keepers
Stephen Ayres, one of the many people who descended on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 and was later accused and pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally
2:37 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Here are the key moments from the hearing so far
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, laid out the foundation for the panel's seventh public hearing, saying evidence will show how former President Donald Trump "summoned a mob" in a "last-ditch effort" to overturn the 2020 election.
Thompson said by Dec. 14, 2020, Joe Biden had been elected President but, "by that point, many of Donald Trump supporters were already convinced that the election had been stolen because that's what Donald Trump had been telling them."
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone's testimony to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol "met our expectations," said Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee.
Clips from Cipollone's testimony last week have been played during the hearing.
If you're just reading in, here are some of the key moments from the hearing so far:
Cheney: Trump is "not an impressionable child," he is responsible for his actions: Rep. Cheney said that the new strategy of Trump's allies in defending him appears to be that Trump was "manipulated by others outside the administration" like attorneys John Eastman or Sidney Powell or Rep. Scott Perry. "The strategy is to blame people his advisers called, quote, the crazies, for what Donald Trump did. This, of course, is nonsense," Cheney said, adding that Trump is a 76-year-old man and "not an impressionable child." She added: "Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.
Trump tweet was a "call to action" to his supporters: Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a member of the Jan. 6 select committee, said that one of former President Trump's tweets in the lead-up to the Capitol attack was a "call to action and in some cases, as a call to arms for many of President Trump's most loyal supporters." On Dec. 19, 2020, Trump tweeted encouragement for his supporters to travel to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021. "Be there, will be wild," it read, according to Murphy.
White House meeting with Trump and advisers described as "unhinged": Rep. Jamie Raskin referenced a meeting that took place on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at the White House that he says has been called "unhinged," "not normal," and "the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency." Raskin said that a team of outside advisers to Trump visited him in the White House on that date. "The outside lawyers who had been involved in dozens of failed lawsuits had lots of theories supporting the big lie, but no evidence to support it."
Former White House counsel told committee Trump should've conceded election: Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, in the first aired footage of the 8-hour interview he had with members of the Jan. 6 select committee, said he agreed with other Trump officials that there was not sufficient evidence of election fraud. Cipollone specifically testified that he believed Trump should've conceded the election. "I was the White House counsel. Some of those decisions were political. ... If your questions is did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time? Yes I did,” he said in video footage shown in the hearing.
Giuliani's legal team knew there wasn't evidence to support election fraud claims: Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin cited emails from Rudy Giuliani's legal team, which shows that they did not have sufficient evidence of widespread voter fraud ahead of Jan. 6, 2021. "Even Rudy Giuliani's own legal team admitted that they did not have any real evidence of fraud sufficient to change the election results," Raskin said. Several officials, including those who were working on the Trump campaign, said they never saw evidence that backed up Rudy Giuliani's claims that there was election fraud.
Former attorney general said Trump asked to seize voting machines: A clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr's testimony played today by the committee revealed Trump asked Barr to seize voting machines after the 2020 election. "My recollection is the President said something like, well, some people say we could get, you know, to the bottom of this if the department sees the machines. It was a typical way of raising a point," Barr said. The former AG said he responded, "Absolutely not, there is no probable cause and I'm not going to seize any machines."
2:32 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022
Former Twitter employee recalls concern about Trump talking directly to extremists on platform
A former Twitter employee who worked on the team responsible for platform and content moderation policies throughout 2020 and 2021 said they were concerned that former President Trump seemed to be talking directly to extremist organizations on Twitter and "giving them directives."
They testified that they were worried Trump would use the platform to incite violence.
"If the former president Donald Trump or any other user on Twitter, he would've been permanently suspended a very long time ago," the former employee said, speaking anonymously.
Despite concerns, the employee said Trump remained on Twitter unchecked.
"It felt as if a mob was being organized and they were gathering together their weaponry and their logic and their reasoning behind why they were prepared to fight," they said.
On Dec. 19, the former President tweeted encouragement for his supporters to travel to Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021. This tweet marked a turning point in the chatter, the former Twitter employee said.
Before the Dec. 19 tweet, the organization among extremist groups was "nonspecific but very clear," but after, the former employee said it became clear that people were willing to fight for the cause.
"It became clear not only with these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in this cause and fighting for this cause in DC on Jan. 6 as well," the employee said.
They also said they were "shocked" by the responses to Trump's tweets.
"I very much believe that Donald Trump posted his tweet on December 19 was essentially staking a flag in DC on Jan. 6 for his supporters to come and rally," adding they were concerned about this gathering becoming violent.