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Transcript: The ReidOut, 6/23/22

Guests: Elie Mystal, Matthew Miller, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Adam Schiff, Alex Holder

Summary

Documentary filmmaker Alex Holder discusses his documentary footage of Donald Trump. The January 6 Committee public hearing focuses on Donald Trump`s aggressive pressure against the Justice Department to support his false claim of a rigged election. Congressman Adam Schiff discusses the January 6 Committee hearings. How many Republican members of Congress asked for pardons from Donald Trump?

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on THE REIDOUT:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said: "Good" (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

Excuse me. Sorry.

"Effing a-hole. Congratulations. You just admitted a first step or act you take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating Rule 6(e). You`re clearly the right candidate for this job."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Gripping testimony today about Jeffrey Clark, who was fully committed to corrupting the DOJ on Trump`s behalf.

And if not for a handful of sane lawyers, Trump might have gotten away with the theft of the 2020 election.

Plus, documentary filmmaker Alex Holder joins me after his meeting today with the January 6 Committee. He`s turned over more than 11 hours of footage of Donald Trump and his family before and after the 2020 election. And we have an exclusive new clip from his Trump docuseries.

But, first, today`s explosive fifth January 6 Committee hearing and the former president`s plot to strong-arm Justice Department leadership into keeping him in power.

Today, the committee drilled down on the former president`s effort to find a malleable attorney general to legitimize his lies about the election, namely, DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark, and his attempts to take over the entire Justice Department to advance a coup on the president`s behalf.

Today, we learned more about a January 3 meeting where Clark made a case to the president to fire then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and to appoint him as attorney general.

Here, in the words of Justice Department officials, who all threatened to resign if the scheme went ahead and warned of even worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY GENERAL ATTORNEY: I said: "Mr. President, within 24, 48, 72 hours, you could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department because of your actions. What`s that going to say about you?"

STEVEN ENGEL, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL: "All anyone is going to sort of think about when they see this, no one is going to read this letter. All anyone is going to think is that you went through two attorneys general in two weeks until you found the environmental guy to sign this thing. And so the story is not going to be that the Department of Justice has found massive corruption that would have changed results of the election. It`s going to be the disaster of Jeff Clark."

And I think, at that point, Pat Cipollone said: "Yes, this is a murder- suicide pact," this letter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That letter was drafted by Clark to send to Georgia and other states claiming that the Justice Department had found election irregularities that would affect the result, even though there were none, saying the legislatures could then call a special session.

And deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said he rejected it immediately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONOGHUE: There were -- in my response, I explained a number of reasons this is not the department`s role to suggest or dictate to state legislatures how they should select their electors.

But, more importantly, this was not based on fact. This was actually contrary to the facts as developed by department investigations over the last several weeks and months. So, I responded to that. And for the department to insert itself into the political process this way, I think would have had grave consequences for the country.

It may very well have spiraled us into a constitutional crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The committee also divulged for the first time the names of members of Congress who actively sought or discussed presidential pardons related to their efforts surrounding January 6.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.

QUESTION: Did they all contact you?

HUTCHINSON: Not all of them, but several of them did.

QUESTION: So you mentioned Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Brooks.

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Biggs did. Mr. Jordan talked about congressional pardons, but he never asked me for one. Mr. Gohmert asked for one as well.

(CROSSTALK)

Mr. Perry asked for a pardon too. I`m sorry.

QUESTION: Mr. Perry? Did he talk to you directly?

HUTCHINSON: Yes, he did.

QUESTION: Did Marjorie Taylor Greene contact you?

HUTCHINSON: No, she`d didn`t contact me about it. I heard that she had asked White House Counsel`s Office for a pardon from Mr. Philbin. But I didn`t frequently communicate with Ms. Greene.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The members named participated in a December 21 strategy session with Trump. And several have been sent requests for information by the committee.

For his part, Jeffrey Clark, whose home was searched Wednesday by federal agents, pleaded the Fifth more than 100 times when questioned by the committee and added this when asked about his fake fraud claims letter:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Did you discuss this draft letter to Georgia officials with the president of the United States?

JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER ACTING U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE CIVIL DIVISION: Fifth and the executive privilege, again, just restated for the abundance of caution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:05:02]

REID: I`m joined now by Lawrence O`Donnell, host of "THE LAST WORD" here on MSNBC and my wonderful co-pilot here for this sort of early reaction to what we heard today.

I was struck, Lawrence, by the relentlessness of Jeffrey Clark, I mean, just relentlessness, just coming back and back and back, trying to get ahold of the Department of Justice to use it for this, but also of Mr. Perry. I mean, these were people who were relentless in putting this together. What struck you today?

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Well, Jeffrey Clark is the character at the center of this whole story today.

And I think the whole plot, the Jeffrey Clark plot failed, because of Jeffrey Clark himself, because of who Donald Trump`s saw in that room...

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: ... on January 3, when the real people from the Justice Department showed up.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And Jeffrey Clark had to take his position in relation to them. And they sat there personally insulting Jeffrey Clark to his face.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And the big tough guy, this fake tough guy at the desk in the Oval Office is watching this.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And, for him, what he`s seeing in character terms is, this whip is being banged around this room by these other guys.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And, oh, by the way, these guys are telling you, after we all quit, after 150 of us walk out the door on day one...

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: ... everyone else in the building is going to treat this guy the way we are treating this guy in this room.

REID: Yes. Yes.

O`DONNELL: And Trump`s looking at that guy saying, can he be my guy?

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: Can he be my guy to carry out the rest of this plot? And he sat there and decided, based on that goofy TV show version of life of his, he`s looking at this guy and he`s going, this guy can`t do it.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: This guy can`t be my "Apprentice" attorney general.

REID: The thing that is so striking, the idea of Donoghue in his dirty jeans and T-shirt. He says, no, no, you come sit right here.

He had this sort of Star Chamber of people judging Jeffrey Clark in front of him. It really was sort of like "The Apprentice." And he said -- there is one point at which I think it was Donoghue who says: Do you think if this guy goes marching down to Chris Wray`s office in the FBI that anyone at the FBI is going to take him seriously, when he`s going to take command of 150,000 staff and suddenly direct the whole ship of state to investigate this B.S.?

And after a while Trump is like, you know what? No.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: And on that point, beginning with, does he know how to find it?

REID: Right. Can he find the office?

O`DONNELL: Does he know how to find FBI director`s office? It was all this very personally insulting thing.

In other words, it`s the kind of stuff that Trump understands.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Trump understands the kid in the classroom who`s just being dumped on by everybody else.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And he doesn`t want to be around that person.

REID: Let me play very -- really quickly. This is Jeffrey Rosen describing -- he starts by saying: I wouldn`t mind being replaced by the guy on my left or the guy on my right. Like, those guys can replace me, but not this guy.

Here is -- this is cut five for my producers, describing how he was asked to stay on as this inadequate man`s assistant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Because he thought it would be appropriate, in light of what was happening, to at least offer me that I could stay on as his deputy.

I thought that was preposterous, told them that was nonsensical, and that I -- there`s no universe where I was going to do that, to stay on and support someone else doing things that were not consistent with what I thought should be done. So I didn`t accept that offer, if I can put it in that way.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: It`s the disrespect. It`s the disrespect, for me.

OK, let`s bring in Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He`s member the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

Thank you for being here.

I want to play another clip for you, Congressman. This is Richard Donoghue again, and he`s describing how he tried to walk Donald Trump through point by point the ways in which his fraud claims were wrong. Take a look.

This is cut two for my producers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONOGHUE: We went through a series of others, the truck driver who claimed to have moved an entire tractor-trailer of ballots from New York to Pennsylvania.

He wanted to talk a great deal about Georgia, the State Farm Arena video which he believed, for various reasons, was, as he said, fraud staring you right in the face.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Were any of the allegations he brought up found credible? Did you find any of them credible?

DONOGHUE: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Congressman Schiff, Donald Trump`s best defense here is that he genuinely believed that he had won the election and that it had been stolen and that there was massive fraud.

Are you convinced, after listening to Mr. Donoghue and others describe how they walked him through it and how William Barr walked him through it and how basically every credible person told him it wasn`t real, are you convinced that Donald Trump was genuinely convinced that he had lost the election?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, I think he understood that he lost the election.

And we see the same pattern today that we saw with the Justice Department with the state legislators and with others, where they go through these different allegations of fraud, and he`s told over and over again, there`s no there there. That`s false. That`s false. That`s absurd.

[19:10:00]

And kind of at the end of the conversation, he retreats to, well, just say there`s fraud and let me take care of the rest, me and the Republican congressmen.

That`s basically the message. And you could hear, for example, in a call with the secretary of state from Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, he goes through all the same drill. What about this allegation? What about that allegation? All of them are shot down. And at the very end, it`s like, come on, fellows, I just need 11,000 votes.

REID: Yes.

SCHIFF: So, yes, he knows exactly what he`s doing. And he`s trying to browbeat people into -- into doing what he wants. He finds the one guy at the Justice Department, this environmental lawyer, who apparently has no scruple and will do whatever he needs to do to get that job.

And I think, as you`re pointing out, Lawrence, he looks at the rest of the room, and he`s like, OK, I can`t do this.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIFF: And I spent almost six years in the department. These are serious people at the Department of Justice. They were not about to go along with this.

And thank goodness they didn`t, because, if they hadn`t stood up, if there hadn`t been a threat of mass resignations, Trump would have gone through this.

REID: Absolutely.

Lawrence.

I`m going to throw it to Lawrence for a question.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, you -- the committee released a list of about a half-a-dozen members of the House, Republican members of the House, who requested pardons from the president, from someone in the White House.

Do you -- does the committee believe that is the full list? Is it possible that there are people who requested pardons that the committee does not yet know about?

SCHIFF: Our investigation goes on.

And we continue to get new documents and new information and talk to new witnesses. So I`m not sure that we know the complete universe of those involved in any elements of the plot.

It`s why we would like more of these witnesses to come in. You heard our vice chair`s appeal to Pat Cipollone, which was basically along the lines of, hey, look, we have got these principled people who are coming and testifying. They`re not hiding. You shouldn`t hide either.

And if they do come forward, we will know more. And so I can`t say that it`s the whole universe. But it`s already a pretty big universe of members of Congress. I don`t know of any other situation -- and I have been here over 20 years -- where you have had members of Congress going to the White House, saying, can you keep me in mind for a pardon?

That`s pretty shocking stuff.

REID: Let me ask you this question, because -- and this comes up a lot. And people that I know that are watching these hearings ask me this question, so I`m going to pass that question onto you.

But before I ask, I want to play a gentleman named Russ Vought. He`s a former Office of Management Budget director and head of something called the Center for Renewing America. He reacted to the FBI search of Mr. Clark`s home, saying: "The new era" -- I`m just going to read it to you.

"The new era of criminalizing politics is worsening in the U.S. Yesterday, more than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark`s house in a predawn raid, put him in the streets in his pajamas and took his electronic devices, all because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud. This is not America, folks."

Right. So, I mean, he wasn`t investigating voter fraud. He was essentially trying to strong-arm states with this letter that was proved to be bogus. But the fact that his house was searched by the FBI, that takes us one step closer to Donald Trump, because everything he was doing -- there`s no ambiguity here. Everything he was doing was for the president of the United States.

If there was a conspiracy to steal the election, it didn`t originate from Jeffrey Clark. It had to logically have come from the president of the United States.

So, I will ask you, Congressman, in your view, must the Department of Justice, if it`s going to act on Donald Trump, do so before the election, so that Americans are clear about where this Trump -- this plot originated, where this coup attempt originated and landed in the seat of President Donald Trump, former President Donald Trump, before the November elections?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, in terms of that claim, attacking the Justice Department for investigating these issues, what Jeffrey Clark was proposing wasn`t to investigate fraud. It was to really perpetrate a fraud.

Because he`d been told over and over again, there`s no there there, and you`re asking us to suggest to the state of Georgia that there`s something there that isn`t and embroil the department in this election campaign. We`re not going to do it.

In terms of what the Justice Department should do and when they should do it vis-a-vis the former president, I agree with Judge Carter in California. I think there is already sufficient evidence to investigate the former president`s role in this. It doesn`t mean that they`re going to conclude, at the end of the day, there`s proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime.

But there`s certainly evidence to investigate. Now, when they do it, frankly, we`re a year-and-a-half after these events. That`s a long time. And I think there is sense of urgency quite independent of any political calendar.

[19:15:03]

Indeed, the closer you get to the midterms, then Justice Department policy is against doing things. So I think they need to proceed with a sense of urgency as to all of these matters, irrespective of any political consideration or calendar. They should follow the evidence, as the attorney general has said he would do, follow the evidence to wherever it leads, including if it leads to the former president.

No one is above the law.

REID: I`m going to let Lawrence have a follow-up.

But, really quickly, I have a quick follow-up before that. The reason I talk about the calendar is that the Congress could change hands after November, and this committee hearing has been pushed back. The date of its conclusion keeps getting pushed back because you guys are getting more information.

And so the way that this committee works, it could keep going. And if Congress changes hands, there`s a possibility of obstruction from some of the very people who are asking for pardons, as Lawrence just mentioned, could then begin to obstruct any progress in this hearing -- in this investigation.

So do you see a deadline as being the election?

SCHIFF: Well, I don`t.

First of all, as you, I`m sure, will appreciate, we`re doing everything we can to make sure that the majority of the Congress is never given to someone like Kevin McCarthy, who tried to scuttle this investigation from the start.

But, more than that, regardless of what happens in the Congress, the Justice Department will not change hands, and the Justice Department can continue to pursue any allegations of criminal activity on the part of the former president or anyone else.

So I don`t expect that to change what the department does. What frightens me about the prospect of Republican leadership in the House is, Kevin McCarthy tried to overturn the last election. He was a part of that plot, because that plotline ran right through the House of Representatives.

And if he should have that position again, and Trump run again, and loose again, he will overturn the election in the House. And that`s why someone like that can never be given that kind of responsibility.

REID: Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, we saw something fascinating in the White House call logs today, where Jeffrey Clark was actually referred to as the acting attorney general before that meeting in which Donald Trump was possibly pretending to decide whether he should be acting attorney general.

Is it conceivable that Donald Trump had already made the decision that Jeffrey Clark is going to be the acting attorney general, and then when Rosen asked for this meeting, in that meeting, Trump was pretending that this was the decision meeting, and, in fact, what actually happened in that meeting is, Trump reversed the decision he`d made earlier in that same day?

SCHIFF: Yes, I think that the testimony, if I`m remembering it correctly, was Clark basically conveyed that to Rosen, that the president was essentially offering this to him.

And this was why Rosen -- was making that absurd suggestion that Rosen in come on as his deputy. But those logs are really interesting, Lawrence, because, obviously, the person who created that log believed this was already a done deal. And so there`s got to be a backstory about that.

And -- but it certainly seems like this was what the president fully intended to do, and it took that meeting, that intervention, and the threat of mass resignations at the leadership department and all over the country to stop that plot. And thank goodness they did.

REID: A potential Sunday night massacre self-created by those in the DOJ avoided what could have been the complete corruption of that agency.

Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you, sir. I really appreciate you being here tonight.

Lawrence is staying with me.

And when we come back, much more on today`s testimony from the three Trump officials who stood their ground, vowing to quit if Trump went forward with his plot to use the DOJ to steal the election.

Plus, we have more on the Republican members of Congress -- and there are several of them -- who thought they needed pardons.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:23:24]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: The issue really wasn`t about me. But the issue was the use of the Justice Department.

And it`s just so important that the Justice Department adhere to the facts and the law. And so, if the Justice Department gets out of the role that it`s supposed to play, that`s really bad for our country. And I don`t know of a simpler way to say that.

And when you damage our fundamental institutions, it`s not easy to repair them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Back with me is my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell.

And joining us now, Betsy Woodruff Swan, national correspondent for Politico, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and Matthew Miller, former special adviser to the National Security Council, and former chief spokesman for the Department of Justice.

I am going to still go back to you, Lawrence, because the institutionalists saved the day, right? And so there is this sense that the institutions will hold if people of integrity are in place there.

I think the concern for a lot of folks is that we`re seeing people who held, not the current world, in which, outside of the Justice Department, you have now got all these secretaries of state candidates, you have got all of these legislators running for office who are committed themselves to the big lie.

Can we count on institutionalism to save us from the next coup?

O`DONNELL: Well, what you can generally count on is lawyers not committing crimes.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: It`s -- look, it`s not easy to get an honest person to commit a crime.

REID: Yes. Yes.

O`DONNELL: It`s a little extra difficult to get a lawyer to commit a crime.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Yes. Fair.

O`DONNELL: Because they kind of understand the dimensions of what you`re talking about.

REID: Unless it`s Giuliani or Clark.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Then they -- and they have got that law license they can lose along the way...

REID: Sure.

[19:25:00]

O`DONNELL: ... to getting convicted of a crime, which seems to be the road Rudy Giuliani is on now...

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: ... is losing his law license first.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And so what you really saw was lawyers who understood where the line was, and they couldn`t do it. They just couldn`t bring themselves to do it.

And -- but the danger is, we do know that there were plenty of lawyers around Trump, who didn`t make it into this space. But all those nuts who were around him outside of government employ...

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: ... what if he had gotten two or three of them into the Justice Department earlier, a year earlier, or three years earlier?

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: What if Sidney Powell was sitting there in the Justice Department when these decisions were made?

REID: Yes.

It`s shock -- it`s like scary to even think about it.

Matt Miller, I`m going to ask you that, because, I mean, at one point, you did have this prospect of Sidney Powell becoming a special counsel. That was offered to her, at least according to her testimony.

Just from having been inside the DOJ yourself, what did you make of what you heard today and all of the scary prospects that were avoided?

MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CHIEF SPOKESMAN: Well, it was really, I think, the worst assault on DOJ`s independence really in the country`s history, worse than anything Nixon did during Watergate, worse than the multiple politicization scandals during the Bush administration.

And I think the thing that I found so appalling about it and shocking was just how relentless Trump was, how he kept coming back with different ideas. He wants the department to appoint a special counsel, and he has an idea of who it ought to be, a complete loon, as you mentioned. He wants the department to file a brief in the -- with the Supreme Court. He wants the department to hold a press conference and declare that corruption happened.

He kept coming again and again with ideas for them to do and claims of fraud that we know were false that he wanted them to investigate. And it ultimately only failed not because Trump backed down because he found out that it was the wrong thing to do, but as was illustrated, I think, pretty clearly today, he figured out that it was going to fail, that this letter, if it was sent by Jeff Clark, then the attorney general, would have been immediately discredited by the waves of resignations.

And I do think it is -- for all that I disagreed with all three of the witnesses who were there today -- and I can point to things all three of them did in their tenure at DOJ that I greatly disagree with and I thought compromised, to some extent, the integrity that department -- they did the right thing when it mattered in this instance, and they all deserve credit for that.

REID: That`s a really good point, Elie, because this was the same Justice Department that was actually willing to investigate potential voter fraud during the course of the election before certification, which is highly unusual, that launched other investigations at Trump`s behest.

This is not like a Justice Department that was perfectly clean going in.

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Yes, I`m not a -- I`m not as huge of a fan of the deathbed confession as other people are, right?

Like, they had many opportunities to do the right thing. And doing the right thing right at the very end with 17 days left doesn`t exactly impress me. I think it goes back to the point Lawrence just made.

What I heard today were a bunch of lawyers who knew very well that they did not want to personally go to jail. I heard a bunch of lawyers who were doing everything they could to keep themselves out of trouble. I did not hear a bunch of lawyers who understood the gravity of the situation and said in real time to the American people what is happening, what needs to happen.

Remember, if we`re thinking now that Jeffrey Clark is in deep criminal trouble -- and he is in deep criminal trouble -- the DOJ could have prosecuted -- started that prosecution with 17 days. Donoghue got all the information that he needed to know that Jeffrey Clark was in the process of attempting to commit a crime.

But he didn`t say nothing with 17 days left. No, no, no, no, he just tried to keep his head down and keep himself out of jail and keep his people out of jail, but not do the harder thing. And I`m not saying it was easy. I`m not saying it would have been easy. I`m saying that, if you want the medal, then you stand up in real time, not 18 months later.

REID: Let me really quickly play -- this is Eric Herschmann and Richard Donoghue describing what it would have meant for Jeff Clark to replace Jeff Rosen as A.G.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERSCHMANN: Jeff Clark was proposing that Jeff Rosen be replaced by Jeff Clark. And I thought the proposal was asinine.

QUESTION: What were Clark`s purported bases for why it was in the president`s interests for him to step in? What would he do? What would -- how would things change, according to Mr. Clark in the meeting?

DONOGHUE: He repeatedly said to the president that, if he was put in the seat, he would conduct real investigations that would, in his view, uncover widespread fraud, he would send out the letter that he had drafted, and that this was a last opportunity to sort of set things straight with this defective election, and that he could do it, and he had the intelligence and the will and the desire to pursue these matters in the way that the president thought most appropriate.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

[19:30:15]

REID: Betsy, is there any evidence on the record that any of these people thought about coming forward in real time, thought about maybe going ahead and doing the resignation, doing something dramatic that would alert the American people to this plot ahead of time?

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICO: What we know is that the news about this meeting that happened in the White House leaked out fairly quickly.

While none of the participants said anything publicly on the record or put their names behind it, as this was happening, the American people were becoming increasingly aware that, frankly, it wasn`t hyperbole to use the word coup to describe the efforts that were under way.

One thing that`s important to note about this, of course, in the context of institutionalism, is that, in Jeff Clark`s case, he very much was not a newcomer to the Justice Department at that point. He was in the Justice Department since sessions was the attorney general.

What made him such a significant character in all this was not that he was installed there, but that he was discovered, and then that he was introduced to the White House, sort of carried in as somebody who, hey, had been sort of laying around in -- at Justice Department for quite some time, not being famous, not having a profile, but then, overnight, on a very short timeline, got the attention of the president of the United States.

And what we know thus far, of course, is that Congressman Scott Perry played an instrumental, key role in facilitating that, in making that happen. And that`s why the increasing information that we`re gathering regarding testimony about Perry trying to seek a pardon is so important, because it just fleshes out the cast of characters here.

REID: Very quickly. I know we`re out of time, but, Lawrence, I have to ask you this question.

In the sweepstakes for who gets flipped, who`d be more valuable to flip, Perry or Clark?

O`DONNELL: Oh, Clark as of now, because Clark`s in direct communication with the president. And, also, he`s facing the most serious jeopardy.

And he had an experience today that moves most people a little bit closer to flipping.

REID: Yes. And does Perry...

O`DONNELL: When you`re in your pajamas...

(LAUGHTER)

REID: On the lawn.

O`DONNELL: ... and the FBI is running through your house...

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: ... you really start focusing on your future.

REID: Yes.

And we talked about this in the break really quickly, but these Congress -- members of Congress who wanted pardons should not feel comfortable that the FBI could not do the same to them. They might end up in their pajamas too, yes.

O`DONNELL: Oh, sure, yes.

REID: It`s happened.

OK. Hope they don`t have $119,000 in the freezer when they get there.

Lawrence O`Donnell, thank you very much. We will see you tonight in special coverage and, of course, on "THE LAST WORD."

My other guests are sticking around. We`re back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:37:20]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KINZINGER: You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump -- quote -- "DOJ can`t and won`t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election."

How did the president respond to that, sir?

DONOGHUE: He responded very quickly and said, essentially: "That`s not what I`m asking you to do. What I`m just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Back with me, Politico`s Betsy Woodruff Swan, "The Nation"`s Elie Mystal and former DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Let me play the members of Congress who were going after the DOJ in tandem with Donald Trump at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): Again, I join my colleagues in calling on Attorney General Barr to immediately let us know what he`s doing.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): We`re already working on challenging the certified electors. And what about the courts? How pathetic are the courts?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Democracy is left undefended if we accept the results of a stolen election, without fighting with every bit of vigor we can muster!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Now, we know there`s a First Amendment that exists, Elie.

I`m going to go down the middle here.

Because they can say whatever they want. People can try to push the Justice Department around and bully them. What, in -- just use your lurid imagination. What might be done in addition to that, if they`re asking for pardons? I mean, we know they met with the president, per the testimony today, and that they gave those kinds of speeches.

What were some of those? Why might some of those people be wanting pardons?

MYSTAL: Attempted election fraud.

Look, I enjoyed today`s hearing about Jeffrey Clark, because I have not -- I cannot think of a person who was as hated by their colleagues as Clark was since like Rasputin, all right?

(LAUGHTER)

MYSTAL: So, like, that was fun.

But let`s never lose sight of what`s really going on here. What -- the reason why Clark is important is because he shows Donald Trump`s criminal intent to defraud the country, right? When you are pushing a two-bit environmental lawyer, and only using his theories, against the entire rest of your Justice Department, what you are seeing is criminal intent to defraud.

And that is the same intent Paul Gosar had, perhaps, Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks. It`s the same criminal intent. If they were only getting information from a guy like John Eastman or a guy like Jeff Clark, and not listening to all of the rest of the lawyers in the world, that also shows their corrupt intent to defraud the American people.

And when that fraud doesn`t work, right, because, remember, when coups don`t work, it`s reasonable to expect some retribution. That`s why they went in the ran and asked for pardons, because, once they realized that Trump wasn`t going to be reinstalled illegally as the president, they realized that some people might ask questions about their role in the coup.

[19:40:18]

REID: And, Betsy, we know that -- from all the testimony, that Clark was brought to the attention of these legitimate DOJ leaders by Congressman Perry.

So, I`m wondering, just inside of House GOP world, House Republican well, even House-Senate world, since Ron Johnson apparently was the courier, he was the bag man to take the fake electors and hand them to Mike Pence, how is -- is there nervousness inside of the caucus now that there might be criminal exposure here for some members?

WOODRUFF SWAN: There`s clearly jitters within the House Republican Conference, and particularly the Freedom Caucus, in regards to the direction that this committee probe is moving.

And we`re seeing that, frankly, in real time on Twitter, as these folks try to push back against testimony that was presented today, particularly Scott Perry doubling down, saying he never asked for a pardon. Of course, if he wanted to go under oath and say that in a way that had legal weight, the committee would be delighted to welcome him in to do that. There`s no indication that he`s done that yet.

But looking at the groups in particular that are probably the most stressed right now, the December 21 meeting that came up today is really important. This was a meeting where a host of House Republicans, including Louie Gohmert, congressperson-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, Scott Perry, and a number of others were at the White House with Rudy Giuliani, and also meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and some of his staff.

Our understanding is that Trump himself came in toward the end of that meeting. And a key focus of this meeting was for this House Republican brain trust to try to get Pence on board with the John Eastman plan of using January 6 to reverse the outcome of the election.

It wasn`t just a meeting. In some ways, it was part of a pressure campaign that Pence was on the receiving end of. And we now know, thanks to this hearing today and additional testimony, that there were conversations about potentially all the Republican members of Congress in that meeting needing pardons.

It kind of tells you what you need to know about the stress levels.

REID: It definitely does.

And, Matt, I wonder if you could just sort of give us sort of an inside sort of take on how much pressure the career folks at Justice must feel, given the fact that their entity, the Department of Justice, is intimately involved and was a target of the plot, in addition to the vice president, the Capitol.

They were a target too, all the way up to the top, to the acting attorney general and his deputies.

MILLER: Yes.

REID: How much pressure does the DOJ, do you think, feel that they must act, not just to protect the Constitution and the country, but their -- but themselves, the Department of Justice as an independent entity that doesn`t get involved in elections?

Can you imagine them standing down and saying, we`re not going to investigate the president for this?

MILLER: I think the department is under extraordinary pressure, not so much the career staff, who go about their duties and bring their cases, but really the political leadership, who are going to bear the brunt of the political pressure from the Hill, and, of course, no one more so than the attorney general himself.

And I think they have been very careful and very deliberate, some would say very slow, in conducting this investigation. But we have seen signs over the last few days that this investigation has ramped up.

And I think the most significant sign is the search warrant executed on Jeffrey Clark`s house, someone inside the administration, so not just the people who were outside the administration assembling these fake electors, but someone who was part of the campaign, close to the Trump White House, talking to the president himself, talking to other allies of the president.

I -- one thing I can tell you, though, I think the thing that they`re looking at most of all is not just whether they can indict a case and whether they can win a conviction, because I think the evidence is there. I think you can write an indictment and win a conviction.

But you have to win a conviction that will ultimately sustain scrutiny from a Supreme Court that has been very deferential to executive power and very hostile to using criminal law to police political behavior.

So I think trying to check all those boxes is why the department is moving so, so carefully.

REID: That is a great point.

And I didn`t even get to play my favorite sound bite, which is, "You don`t follow -- clearly, you don`t follow the Internet the way I do," which might be the quote that has to go on one day Donald Trump`s obituary, because that`s a hell of a quote.

Betsy Woodruff Swan, Elie Mystal, Matthew Miller, thank you all.

And next, up filmmaker Alex Holder joins me with an exclusive new clip from his all-access Trump docuseries "Unprecedented."

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:49:32]

REID: Just hours before the January 6 Select Committee held their fifth hearing today, members of the committee sat down with Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who was granted access to the former president, his family and advisers in the weeks ahead of and days after January 6.

Roughly 11 hours of his footage was subpoenaed by the committee. And Holder is fully cooperating. Holder`s docuseries will be released on Discovery+ later this summer.

And joining me now is Eric Holder -- Alex Holder -- sorry -- documentary filmmaker and director of "Unprecedented."

There`s another famous Holder out in the world, but you are not he.

[19:50:02]

Thank you for being here.

ALEX HOLDER, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Pleasure.

REID: Let`s talk about this.

Cheers.

You interviewed Trump and his family. Now, this was intended to be a series about the family, about their relationship, right, not about the election, just to be clear?

HOLDER: Well, I mean, I think it was always going to be about the election, in that we started during the midst of the campaign. So, the election was always going to be part of the story.

I don`t think it was ever meant to be part of -- I mean, what happened during the election campaign wasn`t necessarily anticipated.

REID: And you first interviewed Donald Trump himself in December. You interviewed him again in March and May.

Characterize him. This is after he had lost the election, but while he was still engaged in what we now know was a plot to change that. What was his demeanor? And did you get the sense that he genuinely believed, because this is important to his motives here, that he had really won?

HOLDER: So, I mean, he definitely believed that he had won.

And, in fact, I actually had a debate with Michael, our director of photography, about whether or not he truly believed in his own sort of rhetoric, I guess. And I was of the opinion that he didn`t and, actually, it was all part of a -- sort of, I guess, a game, in a sense.

But after my first interview with him in the White House, I was sort of astonished, in that I was totally wrong and that he absolutely does believe that he won the election, which was extraordinary.

REID: And you have -- we have seen his daughter Ivanka Trump testify that she actually believed the opposite, that she believed the then-attorney general when he said that Trump had not won.

Did you get the sense that his family were encouraging him to continue to believe conspiracy theories, rather than the truth?

HOLDER: I`m not sure about whether or not his family encouraged him.

I certainly believe that his -- at least the family members that I met and interviewed certainly echoed the sort of similar views, if not very -- almost identical views to their father, to him, so -- which wasn`t surprising, really.

REID: Let me play a clip. This is a new clip. This is one about the Georgia election from your film. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can`t have elections that are meaningless.

You can`t have elections that, if somebody controls the state of Georgia, because we have a governor that the poor guy doesn`t know what the hell`s happening, and he`s lost control of the state. It`s run by Stacey Abrams. And it`s very sad to see it.

And his secretary of state, this guy`s like a hardheaded rock. He can`t move. All I want to do is signature verification. Signature verification, and it`s a total win. They don`t want to do it. And they`re Republicans.

Now, what`s their problem? They`re stupid, OK? They`re stupid people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Did you get the sense in speaking with Donald Trump that there was anything, any limit to what he would do in order to remain president, including was he willing to see violence done in order to remain president?

HOLDER: Well, I`m not sure whether or not he sort of intended there to be violence, but he certainly said things which were quite extraordinary for a president of the United States to say.

I mean, that clip just now illustrates sort of a moment which is, I mean, just astonishing. There I am sitting in the White House. I`m a British filmmaker. I don`t really have any skin in the game politically.

And he`s sort of looking in the eye. This is the Diplomatic Reception Room, and he`s a sitting president of the United States, and he`s telling me that the election officials in Georgia are stupid people.

So, it was certainly -- the realms of possibility as to what could happen were certainly evident, for sure.

REID: And they were all Republicans, we should note, many of them up for reelection now.

But let me play another clip. This is the clip of Mike Pence receiving the information that there is a House vote recommending the 25th Amendment be used to remove Trump from power, an extraordinary thing to propose.

Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 7:48.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s when I received it. But the House members got it a while back.

PENCE: Yes, excellent.

Tell Zack (ph) to print me off a hardcopy for the trip home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Sure.

PENCE: Great.

I`m always hopeful about America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: It goes right to: "I`m always hopeful about America."

Did Trump have -- did Pence have any further reaction in front of your camera crew to that suggestion that the 25th Amendment be used?

HOLDER: No, no. I mean, I think it was just that specific moment, which was pretty extraordinary to sort of capture.

REID: Yes.

HOLDER: And I think his -- his reaction was -- I mean, I think viewers will come to their own conclusion as to what he may be saying or what it implies, but it certainly was an extraordinary moment, for sure, to capture.

REID: And...

HOLDER: And it also -- that took place six days after January 6 as well.

So, it was a historic date in its own right.

REID: You also -- I mean, you interviewed Trump twice after the January 6 insurrection had taken place.

[19:55:03]

Did he express any remorse about the violence that took place, including the threat to lynch the man we just saw, Vice -- former Vice President Mike Pence?

HOLDER: At least to me, he did not, no. No.

REID: Did you get a sense that he had any reaction, sort of normal human reaction, to the fact that that violence had taken place?

HOLDER: In my sort of interaction with him about January 6, he sort of doubled down on the position that it was sort of almost an expected result, because he believed that the election was stolen, and so those that were going into the Capitol were essentially, using his words, smart.

REID: Wow. Cannot wait to watch this.

Alex Holder, thank you very much.

HOLDER: Thank you.

REID: Really appreciate you being here. Thank you.

And this indeed was a very busy news day. And we didn`t get to everything. So, be sure to join us tomorrow night on THE REIDOUT, when we will discuss today`s disturbing Supreme Court rulings, including the one expanding the rights of gun owners. We will talk about that.

But don`t go anywhere.

I will be back in just a moment with my colleagues Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Lawrence O`Donnell, Ari Melber. The whole gang will be back again for a recap of today`s dramatic January 6 hearing.

Stay there.