“He could and probably will try to do it again”: Jake Tapper takes Republicans’ warnings about Trump seriously
CNN anchor Jake tapper throws his hat into the crowded circle of deep journalistic dives on January 6 and the 2020 election. In recent weeks, Bob woodward and Robert costa took out their book, Danger, which brought to light the now infamous John eastman note; The Washington Postthe massive Jan. 6 investigation further revealed the failure of the FBI to respond to threats about the Capitol Riot; and HBO Four hours at the Capitol the documentary replayed the events of 1/6 viscerally and on the ground. But Tapper’s retrospective, which airs Friday at 9 p.m. on CNN, takes a unique approach by detailing Donald trumpof the plot to steal the election from the perspective of Republicans who worked to defeat them.
Thursday I spoke with Tapper about Outrage over democracy: an American coup and the State of the Union the host fears Trump’s campaign platform last year will succeed if he tries it again.
Vanity Fair: What motivated you to make this special?
Jake Tapper: One of the reasons was that there was obviously a lot of attention on January 6, and the violence and the attempted insurgency, but I thought it would be important to show how it was a campaign of many. month led by Donald Trump and his associates to undermine the election which only ended up where he ended up because all previous attempts to overthrow the election had failed. People need to understand that he could and probably will try to do it again, and that it won’t necessarily be violent. Next time it may be without violence, but with more success. The second reason is that I have just been really struck in my conversations with Republicans who fear this will happen again, and that it will be the end of American democracy. And these aren’t Never Trump histrionic Republicans, they’re people who supported Trump, who campaigned for him, who voted for him. Very conservative Republicans in many cases. I wanted to make sure people understood that … [and heard] of these Republican representatives Anthony Gonzales, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Alyssa Farah, former communications director of Trump White House. I felt it was important to say, Hey, don’t take my word for it. Hear what these conservative Republicans are saying.
It was one aspect of your promotions that stands out from other recent election retrospectives – you’ve spoken almost exclusively with lawmakers and Republican officials. What was the thought process behind this editorial decision?
That’s what I wanted to do at the very beginning â because it’s not partisan politics. This is about democracyâ¦ I wanted the voices to be conservative Republicans, because listen, Democrats have been criticizing Donald Trump since he came down the escalator in 2015. I wanted to cut through what could be easily dismissed as a supporter. I thought that would be the best way to do it.
Do you think some of the Republicans who expose Trump’s election lies are now doing so for selfish PR purposes – as a way to rename and eliminate the stench of Trump, now that he’s out of power?
I don’t, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, Donald Trump may not be in power but he is still in power. Second, you just have to look at the career of someone like Liz Cheney, or Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan in Georgia, or one of those other people and say, “What’s the easiest thing to do?” do for them? What better way to guarantee their future in American politics? And the answer is to shut up or support Trump’s lies. This is where the money is. This is where the power is. You don’t need to approve of Liz Cheney’s politics or her views on foreign policy toâ¦ see that she is doing this at enormous professional cost and even at personal risk to her. It would have been a lot easier for her to do what Kevin McCarthy did and does, or what Steve Scalise did and does. Or she could at least shut up like most Republican officials do. And she is not. So in fact, I mean, the evidence is all to the contrary, that the future of the Republican Party right now is to double the lie. And if you’re not going to double the bet, at least don’t criticize him, or maybe play with him. But there are very few benefits other than being able to sleep at night, other than being able to make eye contact with your children.
Watching your show for the past 10 months, I’ve noticed that you’ve made a seemingly intentional effort not to give airtime to the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election. How long are you going to keep lawmakers like Steve Scalise off your show? And what do you think of competing programs that give airtime to members of Congress who lied or are still lying about the 2020 election results?
I had hoped others would have seen the logic in my approach in this regard. But I admit it’s pretty lonely terrain, so I don’t know how long I will be able to do it. I’m willing to offer a space for someone to come and say that they were wrong, that they shouldn’t have signed the deranged Texas Attorney General’s lawsuit, or that they shouldn’t have voted for no. not count the votes of Pennsylvania or Arizona. I’m ready to hear an apology and move on. These are, in my opinion, serious actions that are part of the attempt to undermine American democracy. And, second, if you’re willing to lie about something like the election, what else are you willing to lie about? But you’re right, I don’t know how long I can keep doing this. I really don’t, just because mid-term is approaching. The presidential election is approaching in 2024. I’m sure some of the electoral liars will run for president.