Sep 26, 2022
Former January 6 committee technical adviser Denver Riggleman: The 60 Minutes Interview Transcript
Former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman says there is “irrefutable” proof of a plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Read the transcript here.
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Bill Whitaker: (00:01)
Tonight you’re going to hear from a former senior staffer inside the January 6th committee, which resumes public hearings on the Capital Siege Wednesday. Members of the committee aren’t happy that Denver Riggleman, an experienced military intelligence officer, and former Republican congressman is talking to 60 Minutes about the work he did for them. Nor are they thrilled he’s written a book about his time on the committee called The Breach. Riggleman has a history of swimming against the tide. Once a member of the Ultra Conservative House Freedom Caucus, he was endorsed twice by then President Trump. But after hearing what Denver Riggleman has to say tonight, it’s unlikely the former president will be buying his book.
Speaker 2: (00:47)
The story will continue in a moment.
Bill Whitaker: (00:53)
Did it hit you at one point that this is way bigger than it appeared in the beginning?
Denver Riggleman: (00:59)
Absolutely. You get a real ah-ha moment when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a riot’s phone while it’s happening? That’s a big, pretty big aha moment. You get a aha…
Bill Whitaker: (01:09)
Wait a minute. Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?
Denver Riggleman: (01:14)
On January 6th. Absolutely.
Bill Whitaker: (01:16)
And you know who both ends of that call.?
Denver Riggleman: (01:19)
I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is, the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.
Bill Whitaker: (01:29)
As senior technical advisor for the January 6th committee, Denver Riggleman, a former house Republican and ex-military intelligence officer, ran a data driven operation pursuing phone records, and other digital clues tied to the attack on the capital.
Denver Riggleman: (01:45)
From my perspective being in counterterrorism, if the White House, even if it’s a short call, and it’s a connected call, who is actually making that phone call?
Bill Whitaker: (01:54)
Is there a simple innocent explanation for that?
Denver Riggleman: (01:57)
Was it an accidental call from the White House that just happened to call numbers that somebody missed dialed a rider that day on January 6th? Probably not.
Bill Whitaker: (02:07)
Denver Riggleman told us he uncovered a lot of disquieting information for the committee.
Speaker 4: (02:13)
Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury…
Bill Whitaker: (02:16)
Republican Vice Chair Liz Chaney recommended the former conservative congressman for the staff. Partly for his political experience, but mostly for his technical expertise.
Denver Riggleman: (02:28)
I think Liz and some of the other people recognized he does know how Congress works. He knows how the political system works. He was in the Freedom Caucus, but he also has a background in data intelligence.
Bill Whitaker: (02:37)
For two decades, he served as an Air Force intelligence officer, a contractor for the Secretive National Security Agency, and ran his own data analysis firm.
Speaker 4: (02:47)
Bill Whitaker: (02:48)
When the January 6th committee came calling, he assembled a small squad of data miners, and analysts like he’d had in the military to comb through 20 million lines of data, emails, social media posts, phone records, texts, anything to learn who did what leading up to and on January 6th.
Denver Riggleman: (03:09)
We’re able to do things, I think, in a way that had never been done before with millions of lines of data, and to actually create a graph that shows how these groups actually intermingled.
Bill Whitaker: (03:20)
Now, you were able to identify, I believe, six centers of gravity?
Denver Riggleman: (03:24)
Yeah, there’s six pretty big centers of gravity or six groups that we looked at, and really it came down to Trump team, Trump family, rally goers, unaffiliated DOJ charge defendants, Proud Boys, and Oathkeepers, and others, which are state legislators, Altern Electors, things like that. So when you have those six groups of people, you can actually start looking at the connections between them.
Bill Whitaker: (03:45)
Once he started connecting the dots, this complex graph emerged, which he presented to the committee. Each thick line represents tens of thousands of calls, and contacts among and between the groups. Zoom in to see the details. These are calls, and texts from just one person of interest. Multiply that hundreds of times and you end up with this graph Riggleman calls the monster.
Denver Riggleman: (04:12)
We don’t have text content. What we do have is how long they talked, when they talked. That is very important and really does suggest that there was much more coordination than the American public can even imagine when it came to January 6th.
Bill Whitaker: (04:28)
For example, the data revealed five calls in the weeks before January 6th between the White House and this woman.
Bianca Gracia: (04:36)
We are the storm!
Bill Whitaker: (04:38)
A stop the steal activist named Bianca Gracia. The committee obtained this video from the evening of January 5th. Gracia was part of a clandestine meeting with the heads of the Proud Boys and Oathkeepers, the paramilitary groups that would breach the capital the next day.
Denver Riggleman: (04:56)
And when you have the White House switchboard and certain other cell phone numbers connected to Bianca Gracia, that is a link that needs to be investigated. The thread that needs to be pulled is identifying all the White House numbers and why we have certain specific people, why they were talking to the White House.
Bill Whitaker: (05:13)
Specific White House phone records are kept secret to protect every administration. But in his book, the Breach Riggleman wrote, he begged the committee to push harder to identify numbers that showed up on the monster.
Denver Riggleman: (05:27)
I was one of those individuals, sadly at the beginning where I was very, very aggressive about these link connections, getting those White House phone numbers.
Bill Whitaker: (05:35)
Did you express those concerns to the committee at the time?
Denver Riggleman: (05:38)
Bill Whitaker: (05:39)
What was the response?
Denver Riggleman: (05:40)
The response was go forth and just do the best you can with the resources that we have.
Bill Whitaker: (05:45)
Riggleman requested 3.2 million, but only received a fraction of that. His team burrowed into the data. The mother load dropped into their laps, not just phone records, but more than 2000 actual texts to and from Mark Meadows, former President Trump’s chief of staff. There were numbers but no names. So Riggleman told us his team made a giant spreadsheet painstakingly identifying the people behind each number, and when they did, they were privy to the real time thoughts of Trump family members, former cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, conspiracy mongers, even a Supreme Court justice’s wife. You’ve called the texts from President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the crown jewels. Why?
Denver Riggleman: (06:38)
It was a roadmap. It showed actually the evolution of the beginning arguments from Altern Electors all the way through rally planning, all the way to day of. It showed conspiracy theories. It showed the saturation of Qanon.
Bill Whitaker: (06:54)
How’d you get them?
Denver Riggleman: (06:55)
He gave up.
Bill Whitaker: (06:57)
Do you think it was a mistake?
Denver Riggleman: (06:59)
If you go back to the simplest explanation, I think he wanted to give up some of his text messages. By the way, I got to, this is a caveat. We don’t know if we got them all, but what we got is pretty valuable.
Bill Whitaker: (07:09)
You have said these texts provide irrefutable time stamped proof of a comprehensive plot at all levels of government to overturn the election. Irrefutable?
Denver Riggleman: (07:20)
Irrefutable. Early in the text messages, they were talking about Altern Electors, I think as soon as November 5th or November 6th.
Bill Whitaker: (07:26)
Right off the bat?
Denver Riggleman: (07:27)
Come on. Right off the bat.
Bill Whitaker: (07:29)
The first mention of January 6th was two days after the election. Donald Trump Jr. Wrote the White House chief of staff, “This is what we need to do.” And laid out a rambling scheme to seat alternate electors a plot the Department of Justice is investigating. “…we get Trump electors…”, he wrote in part. “…it gets kicked to Congress six January, 2021… Once again”, he concludes, “Trump wins…” Many other texts were of bizarre election conspiracies. Chinese plots to install President Biden, and treaties to seize voting machines as part of God’s plan. Even a call from Republican lawmakers for President Trump to declare Marshall Law, and stay in power. From the sheer number of texts it seems almost half the world had Mark Meadow’s phone number.
Denver Riggleman: (08:22)
The Meadow’s text messages show you an administration that was completely eaten up with a digital virus called QAnon, and conspiracy theories. And apocalyptic messianic buffoonery. You can look at the text messages as that roadmap, but it’s also a look into the psyche of the Republican party today.
Bill Whitaker: (08:43)
People in the Republican party would say, “You are an opponent. You’re the opposition, of course you’re going to say this.”
Denver Riggleman: (08:50)
I would tell them this. I’m not their enemy. I’m just a guy who’s trying to tell you that the data doesn’t support that the election was stolen. When we first started here…
Bill Whitaker: (09:01)
Denver Riggleman the Third is a proud son of Virginia. He told us his family never questioned going to church or voting Republican.
Denver Riggleman: (09:09)
I’m an Appalachian boy, man.
Bill Whitaker: (09:12)
In 2013, he settled here on 50 green acres in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia outside Charlottesville, where he helped his wife, Christine, pursue her dream of opening a distillery. It smells delicious.
Denver Riggleman: (09:27)
Oh, you want to eat the air.
Bill Whitaker: (09:29)
It was Christine’s bourbon that got him into politics. Frustrated with high liquor taxes and government red tape, he made an unsuccessful run for governor in 2017. Soon a seat opened up in Virginia’s conservative fifth congressional district. He ran, and to his surprise, he won. And in 2018, found himself in the seat once held by James Madison.
Denver Riggleman: (09:56)
The accidental congressman, I called myself.
Bill Whitaker: (09:59)
A Republican with a libertarian bent. He joined the Freedom Caucus, the most conservative wing of the party. He voted with President Trump 92% of the time. But says his loyalty was questioned because he’d sometimes reach across the aisle to work with Democrats. Christine told us the beginning of the end was when Denver decided to officiate the wedding of two gay campaign workers. So you’re this staunch conservative, and you officiate at a same sex wedding?
Denver Riggleman: (10:30)
Yeah. Christine is driving there, she goes, “You know, honey, you might have the shortest political career in the history of Virginia.” I said, “It’ll blow over in two weeks.”
Bill Whitaker: (10:39)
It didn’t blow over.
Denver Riggleman: (10:42)
No, it was brutal.
Bill Whitaker: (10:43)
What did you think of how he reacted to the criticism?
I think he stood his ground and he doesn’t regret doing it.
Bill Whitaker: (10:52)
He told us he also doesn’t regret calling white supremacists, cultural parasites after they marched on Charlottesville.
Denver Riggleman: (11:00)
QAnon and the conspiracy theories it promotes are a danger…
Bill Whitaker: (11:03)
Or denouncing QAnon from the floor of Congress.
Denver Riggleman: (11:07)
They were spreading this rumor that because of the gay wedding that I was trying to change the sexual orientation of children. That really is a QAnon on based conspiracy theory.
Bill Whitaker: (11:18)
But his independence riled the Republican base. He lost his seed in 2020 to a Republican further to his right. Do you consider yourself a Republican today?
Denver Riggleman: (11:29)
No. No. I left the Republican party. I’m independent and I don’t even want to call it independent. I’m unaffiliated. I’m just me.
Bill Whitaker: (11:38)
And this now unaffiliated ex-congressman had a skillset that caught the attention of the January 6th committee. He joined the staff in August of last year. Riggleman’s data team was first to identify a telephone number in Meadows text belonging to Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas texted links tied to QAnon on including this one saying the “Biden crime family, and ballot fraud co-conspirators are being arrested and detained and will be living in barges off Guantanamo Bay to face military tribunals for sedition.” She added, “I hope this is true.” What did you think of those Ginny Thomas texts?
Denver Riggleman: (12:25)
Actually, as far as academically, it was hellaciously insightful.
Bill Whitaker: (12:29)
Insightful in what way?
Denver Riggleman: (12:30)
Insightful about how the conspiracy theories and sort of this digital virus had really metastasized in the GOP.
Bill Whitaker: (12:39)
You make it sound like an infection.
Denver Riggleman: (12:41)
It is an infection. But Ginni Thomas specifically to see somebody like that who has that type of access to the president and married to a Supreme Court justice, pushing that type of nonsense to the chief of staff to the president, That should be an eye opener for everybody.
Bill Whitaker: (12:59)
Riggleman left the committee last April. He told us one reason they wouldn’t subpoena Ginni Thomas. The committee provided 60 Minutes a statement that reads, in part, “Mr. Riggleman had limited knowledge of the committee’s investigation. He departed prior to our most important investigative work. The committee has run down all the leads that arose from his work.” Last week Ginni Thomas agreed to be interviewed.
Denver Riggleman: (13:30)
Yeah, it was road map to an attempted coup.
Speaker 8: (13:32)
What Denver Riggleman said he learned from text provided by Mark Meadows at 60minutesovertime.com sponsored by Pfizer.