Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the master minds and ring leaders get a free pass.
Yamiche Alcindor: the January 6 committee leases its long-awaited report and makes history by asking the Justice Department to criminally prosecute former President Trump.
Plus -- Joe Biden, U.S. President: Mr. President, you don't have to worry.
We are staying with Ukraine.
Yamiche Alcindor: -- Ukrainian President Zelenskyy makes a surprise visit to Washington to visit with America's commander-in-chief -- Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President: Your money is not charity.
It's an investment in the global security and democracy.
Yamiche Alcindor: -- and to make a direct appeal to Congress, next.
Announcer: Once again in Washington, Moderator Yamiche Alcindor.
Yamiche Alcindor: Good evening and welcome to Washington Week.
This week, the January 6 committee finally released its full 845-page report and a trove of interview transcripts from key witnesses.
Lawmakers revealed that the committee is sending four criminal referrals for former President Trump to the Justice Department for inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and obstruction of an official proceeding.
The committee also referred to the House Ethics Committee four Trump ally Republican lawmakers, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Representatives Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan and Scott Perry for, quote, failure to comply with subpoenas.
Here's January 6th committee member Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, explaining the actions.
Jamie Raskin: We understand the gravity of each and every referral we are making today, but we have gone where the facts and the law lead us, and, inescapably, they lead us here.
Yamiche Alcindor: the report also citizen one than, Donald Trump, is to blame for the Capitol attack and that Trump should be barred from ever holding elected office again.
In a statement, Trump lashed out at the committee and accused lawmakers of carrying out a, quote, witch hunt against him.
Joining me to discuss this historic week, Scott MacFarlane, Congressional Correspondent for CBS News, Ryan Reilly, Justice Reporter for NBC News, and joining me around the table, Seung Min Kim, White House Reporter for the Associated Press, and Mario Parker, he is a National Politics Editor at Bloomberg News.
So, Thank you all for being here.
Scott, let's dive into this week and into this report.
What's your biggest takeaway when you look at the report, you look at all the names, including not just former President Trump but so many others that lawmakers say were part of a plot that led up to January 6th?
Scott Macfarlane, Congressional Correspondent, CBS News: Near the back of the report, I keep staring at one of the recommendations from this panel.
After all 18 months of their investigation, the ten public hearings, the 1,000-plus interviews, the 1 million-plus records and one of the recommendations is Congress should move to use the protections of the 14th Amendment to prevent Donald Trump for running for high office again because of his ties to an insurrection.
No matter one's views from January 6th or the investigations that came from it or all the work that's been done, we were quite clearly in history book area when a Congressional panel is asking for Congress to utilize the 14th Amendment against a former president.
There was so much in there that felt like the written word version of the public hearings kind of the codified record of what we saw, but it's hard to escape two things.
First of all, that the compelling nature of a synchronized, choreographed congressional hearing, the likes of which we've never seen before, with tens of billions of viewers is likely more potent than a very long Christmas week report issued by this panel.
I mean, I'll tell you one thing, though, Yamiche, they were given a mandate to work until January 2, 2023.
They really squeezed every drop out of that timeframe, didn't they?
Yamiche Alcindor: They absolutely did.
I mean, here we were two days before Christmas, and we have to talk about this.
But, Scott, you talked about something, which is that this committee, it talked about barring former President Trump from holding office.
I want to come back to you, Scott, and just ask how realistic is that.
Do we think that Congress will ever get to that point, especially as we enter a new phase of divided government?
Scott Macfarlane: The 118th Congress, the one that comes up January 3rd, I have a better chance of winning the lottery and the NBA MVP award than that happening.
A Republican-controlled U.S. House has promises dissolving this January 6th committee.
It is going to investigate security failures from that day and they're going to investigate the operations of the January 6th committee itself.
If there are any number of Trump loyalists who compose this House Republican conference, this investigation is over from the congressional side next week.
Yamiche Alcindor: And, Ryan, even as this investigation is over, they're hoping this ends up on your beat.
They're hoping that the Department of Justice takes action here.
But these criminal referrals, they hold no legal weight.
So, explain, if at all, how this might influence the Department of Justice, or could this all end up being symbolic?
Ryan Reilly, Justice Reporter, NBC News: In some ways, potentially, as a lot of former federal prosecutors have said, this could potentially backfire, because the Justice Department doesn't like to look like it's being led around by the nose by the committee.
And I think that the committee turned over a lot of really valuable information and got information that I think that federal prosecutors would have had a really tough time bringing up because there wouldn't have been necessarily be a criminal element that they would be able to investigate.
You can't have criminal investigators in the Justice Department essentially just going around and figuring out what Donald Trump was doing on these certain times and getting into a lot of these details where there's no obvious crime that a federal grand jury, for example, would be able to look into.
So, they did really bring up a lot of interesting information.
I've been diving over, of course, all of those transcripts along with everyone else.
And I think that they did bring a lot of information to the forefront.
I think Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony especially in that dramatic television moment was really something that this committee will be remembered for in the long run.
But, remember, the Justice Department, in addition to that ongoing investigation into Trump is really still in only in the first half of this investigation in terms of just the number of defendants who went inside the Capitol.
There are about 900 people who have been charged thus far.
But that's only a fraction of the total number of people who a lot of all exclusive (ph) told me and identified have gone inside the building or who attacked law enforcement officers outside.
The total number you're looking at there is around 3,000.
So, they have a really long road ahead.
And another big news thing that came out of the Congress this week on the January 6th beat was that the Justice Department is getting a lot of money for those investigations.
That came through the omnibus bill and will ultimately keep this investigation going forward until that statute of limitations potentially expires five years out unless we see a massive change in the presidential administration.
Yamiche Alcindor: All important things to think about as we go forward.
Seung Min, I wanted to talk to you about the legacy of this committee.
Never before in his history has a committee referred a former president for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department.
Even if there's no legal weight to it, I wonder what you make of the political implications here.
Seung Min Kim, White House Reporter, The Associated Press: Well, I think what the January 6th committee was trying to do beyond their recommendations, beyond the criminal referrals, was to really create this document, this historical record, to really recount and really make their point about what exactly was responsible for January 6th.
Scott talked about how Republicans wanted to take -- want to investigate security failures next year.
The January 6th committee did look into that and they emphasized that while there were failures, the fault lies with one man that day, and that's Donald Trump, from his inactions, his stoking of these election conspiracies, these election lies heading up to the riot on that day.
So, I think that was really the mission of the committee and I also do think just the -- how they are able to convey this information will be a lasting legacy for them.
I think it was really -- you talk about a dense 800-page report versus these powerful, compelling hearings.
I think what made some of the testimonies so compelling for even Republicans is, in particular Republicans in the Senate, other Republicans on Capitol Hill, is that these were words coming from some people who were among Trump's closest allies.
We saw a footage this week of Hope Hicks, one of Trump's closest aides in the White House, talking about that day.
We saw footage from Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, all of these close senior White House aides talking about what he did or did not do on that day and leading up to that day.
And that was very powerful and I think that was a really compelling recollection for the public writ large.
Yamiche Alcindor: That was -- as you said, that was really all compelling.
I also wonder what you make of these ethics committee referrals.
Is there anything that's going to come from that when you think of the fact that this committee is taking this action right before January 3rd when the Republicans are going to take control?
Seung Min Kim: Well, the House Ethics Committee - - ethics committees on Capitol Hill are evenly divided to kind of avoid that partisanship when control shifts from one party to another.
But at the same time, I think what's going to come up in the argument and sort of the political discourse is that Republicans, when they take charge of the House in a matter of days, they're going to be pushing a lot of oversight, a lot of investigations on the Biden administration.
And I think Democrats, I wouldn't be surprised if they point to perhaps their lack of compliance that has referred them over to the ethics committee as reason as kind of a hypocrisy point here.
Yamiche Alcindor: And, Mario, it's really interesting when you think about sort of what happens next.
You have former Vice President Mike Pence, who we saw running through the Capitol, saying that he hopes the DOJ doesn't charge Trump.
Then you have Senator Mitch McConnell telling NBC News that he thinks that Trump's role in the party has been diminished.
What are you hearing from Republicans?
What are Republicans saying about all of the things that we're just talking about?
Mario Parker, National Politics Editor, Bloomberg News: Yes.
I think over the last month, six weeks or so, we've seen a culmination of just this - - what we're going to see over the next year, which is a warring within the Republican Party, a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, as well.
So, you saw the shot that Mitch McConnell took at former President Donald Trump this week, saying he's politically weakened.
Mike Pence, who just finished up book tour based off the calendar, that typically means that he may have presidential aspirations.
There's no road still to the White House without that, at least for the Republican nomination, without that 30 percent or so of the GOP base that is still kind of rock solid for former President Donald Trump.
So, right now, we're going to see, at least for the next -- I mean, the calendar mid 2023, we'll be looking at the 2024 presidential election and Republicans have a lot of soul searching to do, particularly after that disappointing midterm performance.
Yamiche Alcindor: And, Scott, what Mario is talking about is the fact that there is this sort of fight going on within if Republican Party.
You have Mitch McConnell saying, now, we're not going to have just Trump-backed candidates be the candidates that we go again, but you also have more than 150 incoming or people who will be in Congress next term, saying that they have denied or questioned the 2020 election results.
A lot of people who agree or at least say out loud that they agree with President Trump, so I wonder where this leaves the Republican Party when you think about sort of the fight that's going on here.
Scott Macfarlane: Yes.
More than 100 so-called election deniers won seats in the U.S. House.
11 days from now, they're the majority.
They control the committees.
They control the legislative agenda.
They control the purse strings of the U.S. government.
So, they're going to have quite a footprint.
What's more, over the next 11 days, Kevin McCarthy is having leverage exacted on him by that group as he seeks to be speaker of the House.
They are not going to be irrelevant here in Washington.
So, the Trump ardent supports in the U.S. House have a political forcefulness about them, which we're going to see, especially as this new Congress begins.
Yamiche Alcindor: And, Ryan, as these new powers -- I want to, in some ways, go back to the transcripts we're seeing.
You think about the fact that Cassidy Hutchinson, someone whose name has been mentioned here, there are some who say, when you look at what she's saying, which is that her lawyers was telling her not to say things or at least to say that she doesn't recall things when she believed that she recalled them, what does that tell you about sort of all the other people we saw in these transcripts say I do not recall?
Ryan Reilly: I mean, boy, first of all, I have to say, boy, was that cinematic, that if you read through that transcript, there's this moment where she's having the sort of crisis of conscious.
She's driving back to her parent's place in New Jersey and irresponsibly, as they probably start looking at Wikipedia while she's driving and comes upon a Watergate entry ends up ordering book, gets delivered to her parent's house.
She goes through this book over the weekend about a Watergate whistleblower and what he did.
It was written alongside Bob Woodward, and then ultimately decide to make this pivot and make this decision.
And it is really damning for the Trump team because there's this obvious effort, it seems, that she says to to forward -- essentially cover up for the president.
And I think that there's a lot of supporting evidence of that and she can point to all of this other evidence, the phone calls that she made and the Uber she ordered when she was leaving, that can support, I think, the underlying contention there, which is that this Trump world lawyer was trying to basically squash any of this public testimony and essentially stop the January 6th committee from getting the information it was seeking.
So, yes, I wouldn't want to be in his shoes today in terms of going forward with that potential investigation and to trying to stop the January 6th committee from getting the information that they were seeking.
Yamiche Alcindor: And, Ryan, you touched a bit on it, but I want to ask you specifically.
You had a new story out recently this week.
It says intel community escapes major criticism by January 6th committee for missing foreseeable Capitol violence.
Break down your story and your latest reporting.
Ryan Reilly: Yes.
I think while the January 6th committee did this great presentation on television, one of the real failures, I think, of this committee was evaluating these real, serious intelligence failures in the lead up to January 6th.
After September 11th, we had these evaluations and talking about the silos that we saw and all the missed warning signs that were there.
And a lot of this was just happening online and in broad view.
And there were a lot of stories written by journalists.
There were just a ton of red flags that were going up ahead of January 6th about how this could get violent.
And I don't think we have really a firm answer exactly about what went wrong in there.
We have gotten had bits and pieces of it here, including reporting in The Washington Post, reporting I've done myself, reporting that other people have done.
But we haven't really gotten this really thorough look at what exactly went wrong, and especially at a time when you're about to give an extra half billion dollars to the FBI annually.
You would think that Congress would really want to look and say, okay, how can we make sure that something like this doesn't happen in the first place.
And instead, I think the committee tried sort of awkwardly in a lot of spaces to pivot back to Donald Trump, even when there are obvious intelligence failures.
And two things can be true at the same time.
These things aren't mutually exclusive.
You can contend that Donald Trump did these things that were wrong and this was a horrible situation.
You can also say that there's a lot of evidence out there that should have made sure that the FBI and Capitol police, DHS were more prepared for violence on January 6th.
Yamiche Alcindor: Yes.
The other thing that I think when you look at this report and look at sort of all the recommendations that they're making Scott, the Electoral Count Act, it's being reformed now by Congress because of the omnibus bill.
Do you think that that's biggest legislative action that we're going to see?
Could we possibly see anything else come out?
Scott Macfarlane: It's one of the things that had bipartisan support almost from the jump.
Although, I'll note, the Senate prevailed in the battle between the House and Senate on this.
The baseline change that I think is most fundamental is that, on January 6th, 2021, you needed only wasn't member of the House and one member of the Senate to object stop the certification process and force a debate.
In this new legislation, which was passed by the Congress this week, it's got to be 20 percent of the House, and perhaps more of a threshold, 20 percent of the Senate, which makes it more difficult to gum up the works.
The House bill, which was championed by members by that January 6th committee saw for it to be 33 percent but the Senate, as is often the case in these disputes, prevailed on this one, but here it is, signed into law imminently nearly two years after the Capitol riot.
It's something that got done, but it may be biggest legislative effect from January 6th.
Yamiche Alcindor: And, Mario, before to Zelenskyy's visit, I have to pause and that the House Ways and Means Committee, apart from January 6th, they got something done too.
They are releasing the former president's tax returns, President Trump.
The New York Times say that the tax returns show that former President Trump paid $1.1 million during his presidency but zero dollars, that's right, zero dollars in 2020.
We covered Trump together.
What's your big takeaway from the tax returns finally getting released?
Mario Parker: Well, he fought tooth and nail, if you remember, for a long time on this.
He knew that it could be a damning subject.
If you go back to his debate with Hilary Clinton years ago, he said that not paying taxes makes him smart.
At the same time that juxtaposes against his patriotism, America First mantra that he takes up as well.
It's been a bad six to eight weeks for someone who is starting their 2024 presidential bid and the news keeps just getting worse and worse for former President Donald Trump.
Yamiche Alcindor: Yes.
Meanwhile this week, as we're talking about all the things that were going on here at home, defending democracy abroad was also front and center in the nation's capital.
On Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a wartime visit to Washington during at the White House.
President Biden pledged to supply Ukraine with the highly sophisticated Patriot missile system.
That evening, Zelenskyy also addressed a joint meeting of Congress.
So, Seung Min, you've have great new reporting out.
You went through all the details of how we ended up getting this meeting.
So, break down your reporting for us.
Why was Zelenskyy here now?
Did he achieve what he came to achieve?
Seung Min Kim: So, this idea had been tossed around for months both on Capitol Hill, among the congressional leaders.
Pelosi has talked with other members of the so-called big four about when the security situation is right, the idea of bringing President Zelenskyy to Congress, to address Congress.
And this is also an idea that administration officials had talked about for some time.
A U.S. official told me that Biden and Zelenskyy had talked about a meeting.
So, in that December 11th phone call between the two leaders, President Biden, feeling that the security situation was okay, asked him, if you still want to come, we would be happy to host you.
And that was when President Zelenskyy said, the time is now right, I want to come.
And once that December 11th phone call happened, this all proceeded very quickly.
It was confirmed about a week later in terms of being able to bring him to Washington.
And, of course, security was very paramount for President Zelenskyy and he had the cover, he had the protection of the U.S. government from the moment he left Ukraine and came to the U.S.
He was on a U.S. Air Force jet when he arrived at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.
He was accompanied by the U.S. ambassador.
He was traveling in a U.S. embassy vehicle as he went through Poland, which is where he got on the airplane and then came here to Washington and had all sorts of protection while he was here.
But he really delivered a powerful message when he was standing alongside Biden and when President Biden continued to pledge U.S. support for the efforts in Ukraine.
And I thought his remarks on Capitol Hill, while they were certainly to the broader Congress, it really did seem aimed at House Republicans at many parts during the speech.
We know that there is a growing faction of Republicans on Capitol Hill, mostly in the House, but in some in the Senate as well, who are getting more and more skeptical of this continued Ukraine aid.
And there was a line that we played earlier where he said your money is not charity.
It's basically an investment in global security and democracy.
It's being handled appropriately.
And that is him trying to make the case that what Congress is doing in terms of continuing to funnel aid really matters for the global community writ large.
Yamiche Alcindor: And what's been impact, do you think, of his visit both on President Biden, who's been reluctant at times to give him all the weapons he wants but also on those Republicans that you said are wondering whether or not they want to continue to give aide to Ukraine?
Seung Min Kim: For President Biden, it really closes out the calendar year, these past eight months, showing to the world that the country remains united alongside Zelenskyy and alongside Ukraine.
And it's a powerful image a powerful and signal that administration officials tell me they wanted to send particularly as the fighting gets more tough, as the winters comes.
And for Congress, I'm not sure that what Zelenskyy said, as powerful as it was, changed much minds.
Like you had House Republicans either who attended the joint session or who did not, come out and say, we still want more oversight of the money.
We want to see inspectors general.
We don't understand why we're spending U.S. taxpayer dollars abroad and my constituents don't understand that.
And I don't think that sentiment changes.
I will be looking to see how much that sentiment grows in the next year as this war persists, because we don't know how long this is going to last.
We don't know how long Russia is going to keep up with this invasion and how long Ukraine is going to need the U.S. support.
Yamiche Alcindor: Well, I'm so happy that you're here to break all that down, because we needed all of that broken down.
And, Scott, I want to come to you.
What are you hearing on Capitol Hill about the impact of Zelenskyy's visit?
Scott Macfarlane: I was really struck with what I heard in the U.S. House chamber today.
They were wrapping up the negotiations and debate on that $1.7 trillion spending bill to keep the government open and keep the lights on.
And as was just mentioned, a components of that is $45 billion in aid for Ukraine.
And they're on the floor today, as Chip Roy, Republican from Texas, who has an outsized presence on the House floor sometimes, who characterized President Zelenskyy's speech in the House chamber as theater and expressed some heartburn about spending northwestern taxpayer money on Ukraine and presumably channeling the voices of his constituents in the process.
Then we saw with our own eyes in the House chamber some members of the Republican conference not stand.
We saw them not applaud as President Zelenskyy spoke.
I don't know where the politics of this go in early 2023 but there seems to be a very reasonably sized faction of the House Republican conference that will not be interested in future aide for Ukraine.
And I'll reinforce what I think is a key point.
House Republicans control the purse strings next year.
This is going to be messy.
Yamiche Alcindor: Messy is definitely one way to put it.
And, Mario, in the minute we have left here, how much do you think this visit was also about reminding the American people, hey, Ukraine is happening, your tax dollars, they matter, here I am to remind you of that?
Mario Parker: I think that's exactly the message that Zelenskyy was trying to -- it was a pressure campaign on American public, it was a thank you note.
He thanked the American public several times throughout the speech.
And what line that was really interesting was that he said that they're using the money responsibly, right?
That was definitely toward the Republicans and some of those House Republican constituents who worry about some type of malfeasance with the money as well.
So, he's saying that he's a good steward of that money that he's getting from the American public.
He thanks them and also that it's an investment in democracy as well.
Yamiche Alcindor: And with all that's going on in the American public, you think about sort of inflation and all the stuff, it's also just a reminder you should care about us.
Mario Parker: Yes.
And you saw some of the rhetoric.
Well, he tried to tap in to some of that patriotic vein.
He mentioned the battle of the bulge, the battle of Saratoga, he quoted FDR as well.
So, he was really going for some of those emotional heartstrings of the American public also.
Yamiche Alcindor: Definitely, definitely leaning in and reminding the American people that we matter in Ukraine.
So, definitely a powerful message.
We'll have to leave it there for now.
Thank you so much to our panel for joining us and for sharing your reporting.
And be sure tune in to PBS News Weekend for a look at the controversial facial identification technology being used at some airports this holiday season.
And, finally, I would like to thank and wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.
I hope you can celebrate in your own ways across the country.
I definitely hope that everyone is healthy and getting rest.
Good night from Washington.