JOHN BERMAN (CO-ANCHOR): Joining us now, CNN anchor and chief national affairs analyst Kasie Hunt, and former Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah who we should note, left largely because of the election lie that people in the administration were spewing at the time. Kasie, I want to start with you. It's important what Drew laid out, not just as a matter of history, to understand what happened and how close this country came to imminent disaster but also because it's not over, because there's a California recall election today and people are already – Donald Trump and Larry Elder and others are already saying it's rigged before the results are in. It matters now because there's a protest planned for Saturday at the Capitol in defense of the January 6th insurrectionists. It's still happening.
KASIE HUNT (CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST): Our entire system of government is quite literally predicated on all of us, on all sides of the aisle with a variety of political beliefs, buying into the idea that we can have a system where we elect people. And we all agree afterward that those chosen people are the ones who actually are in charge and who have power. And former President Trump started doing this sort of thing immediately as he got into office, raising questions about reporting about him on a variety of fronts. And it is really stunning to see it all laid out that way. It was just laid out. And I just have to say, those local election officials, they are heroes, quite frankly, for being willing to stand up and say absolutely not. Are you going to mess with something that I know is credible, that I know is true? And Alyssa, I know her boss was in the Capitol or former boss was in the Capitol during that insurrection. And the former president was so committed to this lie that he was willing to literally jeopardize the safety and security of Mike Pence, his vice president. And that, I think, is something that the Republican Party is obviously still grappling with, that they're still in the throes of it. And we're going to see it, I think more of it starting tonight when we start covering these recall returns coming in.
BRIANNA KEILAR (CO-ANCHOR): And so what is the answer to looking at what happened to the election being undermined? The logical answer, what members of Congress should have done on both sides of the aisle was to see the danger that that posed. But that's not what you see happening. This continues to be perpetuated. You see, you mentioned the local election officials. Some of them have been neutered by these voting laws. Right. So the lesson was exactly the reverse. It seemed to be for Republicans that actually, hey, this may work for us. And when you ask Republicans in the most recent SSRS poll, how important is believing Trump won in 2020 to being a Republican? Very important or somewhat important. Fifty-nine percent. So six in 10, as Berman often says, this is now foundational to the GOP. How problematic is that?
ALYSSA FARAH: Oh, it's extremely problematic. And I think we can assume going into both 2022 and 2024, it's more or less going to be a litmus test. And you see some of the folks who are running, they're already the president, former president I should say, is endorsing against people who voted for impeachment or who did not uphold the myth. So he's endorsing against Fred Upton, for example, in Michigan, in favor of somebody who wants to carry on this lie. So I hate to put it in politically crass terms, but for the 2022 majority, which we think is going to go to Republicans, that's what the political calculus shows.
KEILAR: In the House.
FARAH: In the House, I should say. You have to say, Republicans, what do you want that majority to look like? Because you're going to be electing a lot of people if we go with these Trump endorsees who are supporting this big lie. And that's I mean, I've been trying to ring the alarm over this for quite some time, that now is the time to speak up. Let's put this behind us. Let's acknowledge the election was lost and not carry on this myth. But you're seeing it with Larry Elder. And we didn't even mention this past week, President Trump said that the election might still be decertified. That's a terrifying reality. And there's you can almost follow statements like that followed by actions that happen. And I'm concerned about September 8th. I'm glad the Capitol is taking precautions. And hopefully, that won't be anything like January 6th. But it's scary.
BERMAN: What's it like? We were all watching together Drew's piece here, piecing together what happened. And you were there for part of it, not all of it, because you left. I mean, you had enough. But what's it like for you to see that now?
FARAH: Well, listen, it's – it's odd. I've worked in politics for a long time, losing as part of politics. Winning is part of politics. And to Kasie's point, it's foundational to our democracy that we just accept it when we lose. We came up short. We knew that we didn't win. So to kind of see this last-minute scramble, most of which was after I left, is I mean, it's beneath who we are as a country. It's – and it's going to have repercussions. I think that we can expect that going forward. It's not just going to be Donald Trump. It's going to be whoever the next iteration of him is that's going to say that they, you know, they didn't lose it. It was stolen. It was rigged. And people believe it. That's the scary point, right?
HUNT: Right. I mean, and that's the challenge. And Adam Kinzinger is one of two Congress, members of Congress, Republicans who are still willing to speak out, the other being Liz Cheney. And his the point that he makes over and over again is that leaders have to stand up and lead. And what has happened is that Republicans, and this poll shows this very clearly are consuming information that's being driven, misinformation, disinformation by former President Donald Trump and Republicans. This number, this 59 percent who believe Trump won in 2020 is why Republicans are so afraid that they cannot win a primary if they don't buy into this. But they're not willing to stand up and say, no, this isn't true. They're not willing to go in there and actually do it day in and day out. They're not willing to lead. And Kinzinger will go home and his district's going to be eliminated. It's a swing district. There are a lot of Democrats there. It's a different kind of landscape than some other Republicans face. But he says, look, my colleagues are not willing to do this. They're not willing to actually do what it takes to step up and to lead. And if we don't have Republicans doing that, then all they're left with is this mis and disinformation that's being driven by the former president.
KEILAR: I was speaking with one member of Congress who raised concerns with a colleague who he considered to be a trustworthy Republican partner, but who is buying into the big lie, at least publicly. And that member of Congress said, do you want someone besides me? This is what I was told. Do you want someone besides me? Do you want someone who actually really believes the big lie, who is essentially just trumpeting it?
KEILAR: What does that say to you?
HUNT: I mean, it's – it is – it feels cowardly on the one hand. On the other hand, there's some potentially some truth to it, because of the way that these districts are drawn, if there is someone who is in a more moderate lineup, Fred Upton, for example, in Michigan, who decides that they're going to actually take this stand and then their own voters throw them out, the Republican nominee is someone else. Now, that's a swing district. The Democrat might, in fact, win there. But there are other places where that's simply not the case, where it's always going to be held by a Republican, and that potentially pushes it off the edge. But, you know, I mean, there is, I think, a certain level of cowardice associated with doing it that way. I mean, it's essentially choosing winning over principle. And you saw some Republicans during the Trump administration step up in the middle and try to criticize him, and they fell one by one. Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, the list kind of goes on. And, you know, we're left here. And, you know, I think, too, for me watching all of this. The question was always like, our system is going to hold. It's going to be fine. It's not – we're listening to this entertainer who's out there essentially entertaining America. And then I was at the Capitol on January 6th. Yeah. And it all became extraordinarily real. And I think the more we learn about that, the luckier we realize we are. It could have been so much worse than it actually was. And here we are facing another potential incident like this on Saturday as a man is arrested with white supremacist symbols and weapons in a truck outside the Democratic National Committee down the street from the Capitol. I mean, when you line all those facts up, it's astonishing that this is America today.
KEILAR: Trump rewrote the game. And we don't know how it's going to end. I think that's really the fact.
BERMAN: It's not history. It's now. It's today with the California recall. It's Saturday. It's happening before our eyes.
HUNT: It's 2022. It's 2024. It is very difficult to see how we get out of this and navigate it successfully.
FARAH: And looking to 2024, I can expect that on a debate stage. If anyone decides to challenge President Trump, I think we can all agree is probably running again. I could imagine this is a raise your hand moment. Was Biden elected? And I guarantee you that a lot of the folks running are not going to be willing to admit it. So that's going to be what I'm watching for. Who are the Republicans who actually have courage to say, of course, we lost the election, let's try to win legitimately this time
HUNT: Maybe Chris Christie, we were talking about that earlier, did – was willing to say that a little bit this week.
BERMAN: Except not say Trump's name. Say my name!
KEILAR: Also don't do debate prep with him. But nonetheless, Alyssa and Kasie thank you so much to both of you.