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Rioters Storm Capitol Building; Interview With Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT); Interview With Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Interview With Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired January 6, 2021 - 15:00   ET



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But these people clearly are emboldened. They don't feel any urgency to move.

And the real question here, Jake, is, when is law enforcement going to show up in force to try to get these people out? We do know that the mayor has instituted a curfew for 6:00 p.m. But that's a few hours from now. The question is, when are they going to show up to try to move some of these people out?

They may be trying to address the situation inside the Capitol first, before they move on these people, because we did see some Washington Metropolitan Police show up, about 20 of them, a short time ago. And they moved around to the side of the building, seemingly to try to go inside.

So, they may be inside dealing with a situation inside before they move outside and deal with this. But these people don't show any inclination at all to move. And, right now, they're not being forced to move at all -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: For months, the president and his supporters on Capitol Hill and MAGA media have been lying to the American people, lying to Trump supporters about election fraud that did not happen.

Court after court ruled that there was no evidence of it. The states have certified the election. The electors met. The Electoral College met. The election is over. Joe Biden won. Donald Trump lost. And yet this is what he has unleashed.

You cannot put the genie back in the bottle when you unleash it, especially one that is fueled and motivated by lies and unhinged conspiracy theories -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: you know, it's a really sad, Jake, that, just a little while ago, when the president was speaking over at that rally on the Ellipse, not far from the White House, he uttered these words.

He said: "We're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you will never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength. And you have to be strong," as he encouraged these protesters to walk down to the U.S. Capitol.

And now we see what's going on, something totally unprecedented here in the United States Capitol, protesters not only taking over the outside of Capitol Hill, but inside as well. And they're endangering right now a lot of people.

Kaitlan Collins is covering all of this at the White House.

Kaitlan, what else is going on? Where is the president of the United States?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Wolf, we are told he is sitting in the Oval Office. Of course, he has only sent one tweet on the matter that we are seeing unfold on Capitol Hill right now, with his own supporters wearing his sweatshirts and waving his flags.

He has not called on them to leave the buildings that they have breached, given what we are seeing going on, these reports of armed standoffs, breaking windows, going into the chambers, where, of course, restrictions are in place and they have breached security.

The president is sitting in the Oval Office right now and has not instructed his own supporters to get out of the buildings. He only tweeted one tweet out respecting Capitol Hill police. Clearly, these people are not doing that, Wolf, given they have breached these barricades.

And even his recently departed communications director, Wolf, is calling on him to more. Alyssa Farah just tweeted a few moments ago, said: "Condemn this now, Donald Trump. You're the only one they will listen to for our country."

The president has declined to do so, Wolf. We should note, of course, before all this happened, the vice president was there on the Senate floor. We are told he's been evacuated, but his office has declined to say where he is. And we have not seen him return to the White House yet.

And just to put a final note on this, the Capitol is on lockdown. We are told the White House is in an elevated security posture. That means you can still come and go, but there are armed division officers with assault rifles patrolling the grounds at this moment, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's hard to believe. People around the world are watching what's happening in the United States right now. And they're seeing these protesters, not only endanger a lot of folks outside of the U.S. Congress, but inside as well.

John King, I have just been reading this statement that Mayor -- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser put out, in ordering a 6:00 p.m. curfew, three hours from now, here in the nation's capital. Hard to believe this is going on.

And, among other things, the office of the mayor says this: "During the hours of the curfew, no person, other than persons designated by the mayor, shall walk, bike, run, loiter, stand, or motor by car or other mode of transport upon any street, alley, park or other public place within the district."

John, you and I have been in Washington for a long time. This is unprecedented. It is dangerous. And it is so, so embarrassing for the United States of America.


And you watch these hundreds of people, many of them -- let's be clear, many of them staying back, but still supporting what's happening on the steps of the Capitol and inside the Capitol Building.


And Chief Ramsey, former D.C. police chief, was on a bit earlier. Look, normally the D.C. agencies work very well together, the Capitol Police, with the Park Police, with the Secret Service, with the Metropolitan Police, who are who are the D.C. city police.

Clearly, something was missed here, because this demonstration was planned. The mayor had already asked for National Guard activation to protect areas of the city. This is federal land. This is under the jurisdiction of the United States Congress and the Capitol Police.

And they often share resources. Clearly, the Capitol Police did not expect this to happen, because they were not prepared to keep them off the steps, to keep them beyond the security barriers. There are a lot of Trump supporters on Twitter saying: This is our property. This is our federal property.

Yes, it is. But there are security rules in place here for all Americans, Democrats, Republicans, visitors from overseas. And so now you have this dangerous scene playing out. And it just reminds me, Wolf, over the years of the different security changes we have seen.

Remember, back in 1998, a gunman stormed through those doors and killed two Capitol Police officers.After 9/11, there were additional security changes, but, clearly, the Capitol Police caught off-guard here today.

BLITZER: Certainly.

Manu Raju, you're up on Capitol Hill. You're inside. There's a total lockdown. And there's a really dramatic picture, something I never thought I would see. But I want you to describe what is going on inside the U.S. Capitol right now.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely stunning. Wolf, a protester breaching the Senate floor, where the members of the Senate were gathering, where they were debating, and actually in the Senate floor.

And, Wolf, there's a picture that you're showing right now, a picture of the House floor, where there is an armed standoff on the House floor, where you can see the Capitol Police with their arms drawn, and members of Congress ducking under their chairs there as that armed standoff was occurring.

Where that was happening, that's right where the House members were debating, where they were discussing whether to certify Joe Biden's electoral votes and -- for Arizona. And a protester, apparently, an armed protester, with scores of other protesters just feet from where the leadership was -- the U.S. House were gathered, where the members, rank-and-file members were debating, and caused this armed standoff.

A member, a Capitol -- you see multiple Capitol Police officers drawing their firearms, concerned about a violent, potentially deadly situation, and trying to de-escalate the situation.

This -- we were told some time ago this armed standoff occurred. It's unclear what exactly is happening in the House chamber right now. There was also another picture that we saw of a -- sort of one of these protesters in the Senate chamber himself sitting actually at the chair that Mike Pence, who's the president of the Senate, the vice president of the United States, was sitting, a protester sitting in the chair of the presiding officer who sits during the floor debate.

So, you're seeing protesters breach, actually get onto the Senate floor, and, on the House side of the Capitol, members ducking, taking cover, wearing gas masks, as an individual outside the House chamber with multiple police officers and their firearms drawn right -- just moments ago.

Hopefully, the situation resolves itself in a peaceful manner. But you can see, Wolf, how scary the situation is right now, and the fact that members of Congress are being evacuated and wearing gas masks. Uncertain where this all leads.

BLITZER: Yes, it's -- this is the United States Congress. And you see these law enforcement officers with their weapons pointing toward that window. It looks like it was smashed.

Pamela Brown, you're getting more information from inside as well.


A law enforcement source tells me, Wolf, that there was an MPD officer inside the Capitol Building who called in, in distress, saying officer in distress inside the Capitol Building. This was around 15 minutes ago or so.

And that officer is asking for additional assets to be deployed to him inside the Capitol Building. This is an MPD officer inside, as we're seeing this play out in these Getty images right here, in distress, asking for more help, saying, hey, we're getting overrun here by people coming in, anarchists.

We need some more help. I spoke to this law enforcement source who said: "We are stretched very thin trying to hold back. We don't have enough people." That is a direct quote, "We're stretched very thin."

Of course, I asked, wasn't the police prepared for this possibility? And what I'm told from this local law enforcement source is that they are just outnumbered, that there are higher numbers than they had prepared for at this moment.

But right now, as we speak, they are working on getting additional law enforcement there inside the building as well to help -- Wolf.


BLITZER: So, this is Metropolitan Police Department, working with Capitol Police, Park Police.

Where -- based on your reporting, Pamela, where's the U.S. -- the National Guard, the D.C. National Guard, which had been activated by the mayor yesterday?

BROWN: Right.

That's the question, as we look at these pictures outside the Capitol Building. Where is the National Guard? What we don't know is whether DOD had given that approval. I think our report, our last reporting at last check, Wolf, was that Nancy Pelosi, other lawmakers had asked for them to come help.

I don't have the direct answer for you right now in terms of where that request stands for DOD -- from DOD. But that is certainly a question. This is no surprise, in a sense, Wolf, that we're seeing, these crowds at the Capitol Building today.

The president had essentially been calling on his supporters to do just this. Of course, the way this is playing out is surprising, in large part because it is so out of control, because law enforcement is essentially overwhelmed by the protesters there, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we were bracing for this yesterday, the day before. All over downtown Washington, K Street, everyplace else, all these buildings were being boarded up big time out of fear that these protesters would get violent.

And there was enormous concern expressed by the mayor, Muriel Bowser, and others: Get ready.

This is awful. But who would have thought that this was going on? You see these protesters. We don't know if they're armed or not armed. They're actually engaging in breaching the U.S. Capitol. And they're inside.

BROWN: Absolutely.

I mean, this -- we are seeing a coup attempt playing out as we speak. It's a remarkable scene, Wolf. And it's also remarkable that, given what we have known was potentially going to happen, that, basically, the Capitol Police and other law enforcement, they have had to scramble in this last hour or so to try to get help.

They needed more help. And it certainly raises questions as to why that wasn't there and readily available. But, as I told you, my one law enforcement source I spoke to said, we are stretched thin. We do not have enough people. BLITZER: Yes.

And I want to show our viewers that picture, that -- what's going on in the well of the Senate. Look at this. Look at this, John King. You and I have covered Capitol Hill for a long time. A protester is sitting there on the Senate floor, where, normally, the president of the Senate, though it happened to be the vice president, just a little while ago -- a protester is sitting there in the well of the U.S. Senate.

John, who would have ever believed we would see anything like this?

KING: And there are, sadly, Wolf, some people who will find this funny, or they will say it's just a prank, or they will say, look at this picture, nobody in this picture is getting hurt. And that's all true.

But it is part of something that is bigger and that is dangerous and that simply -- forgive me -- we are a nation of laws. That is what the Republican Party says that we are, a nation of laws, a nation of rules.

And I -- this gentleman has every right to his anger, if he's mad at the results of the election. He does not have the right to break the rules and to violate security protocols and to storm into the United States Senate, at a time when the vice president, the vice president- elect and the other elected members of that body and their staff, by the way -- we don't give them enough credit, the people who work in these environments, who don't get enough credit for the risks they take and for the public service they give us.

And so those -- there are people who look at this who will say, this is funny, this is a prank. Look at that. How did you get there?

It's not funny. It is part of our -- you can call it sedition. You can call it a protest well beyond the line. It's illegal. It's illegal, is what it is. And it'll be interesting to find out what happened after this photo was taken.


And just a little while ago, senators were there. They were debating the motions to try to do away with a democratically held election here in the United States, debating in the House, debating in the Senate.

And all of a sudden, John, we're told all -- there's not only a lockdown inside the U.S. Capitol, but all these senators, including the vice president of the United States, has been -- they have been evacuated out of safety concerns.

KING: And so we are seeing in the final days, the final two weeks of the Trump presidency, more of disruption. Disruption has been a trademark of the Trump campaign and then the Trump presidency from day one.

In the end, Wolf, Joe Biden will be inaugurated two weeks from today as president of the United States. I suspect, once they calm this down, they will try to come back today to make a point.

I know the speaker of the House very much wants to do that, come back today to make the point that they will not be disrupted. That will depend on how quickly you can get enough security in there to make it safe. But if they have to wait until tomorrow, imagine that.

The Constitution and then the U.S. code lays out that it will happen today. U.S. -- federal law lays out it will happen today. It's part of our ritual, the celebration of American democracy.

And, yes, these Trump supporters, at the president's encouragement, have disrupted it. And I'm sure many of them are quite happy with themselves for doing that.

In the end, it's a disruption. It's a criminal act. Joe Biden will be inaugurated, and they will get back to it as soon as they can.


BLITZER: And, Jake, let's not forget what the president said just a couple hours ago at that rally out on the Ellipse here in Washington. He told all these individuals who had gathered, these supporters of his: "You will never take back our country with a weakness. You have to show strength. And you have to be strong," as he encouraged them to march toward the U.S. Capitol.

That's exactly what they have done. They have not only marched, but they're inside, and they're endangering a lot of people right now.

TAPPER: That's right.

And, in fact, we have on the phone right now Congressman Mike Gallagher. He's a Republican from Wisconsin, a Trump supporter who has said that it is the duty of members of Congress to count the electoral votes.

Congressman Gallagher, also a veteran, thanks so much for joining us.

First of all, are you OK? Are you safe? Where are you?

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): Yes, we're hunkered down in our offices here. I'm not in the Capitol.

But, I mean, this is insane. I mean, I have not seen anything like this since I deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. I mean, this is America. And this is what's happening right now. We need -- the president needs to call it all. Like, call it off. Call it off. It's over.

The election is over. And the objectors need to stop meddling with the primal forces of our democracy here. They need to stop it. Like, there is a cost. They think they're just having a protest debate, and they can get away with it because it's not actually going to overturn the election.

Well, now we're seeing the cost of that play out in real time. And if we don't think other countries around the world are watching this happen right now, we don't think the Chinese Communist Party is sitting back and laughing, then we're deluding ourselves.

So, call it off, Mr. President. We need you to call this off.

TAPPER: And let me just remind and reinforce to our viewers, you are a loyal conservative Republican. You represent a district in Wisconsin that Trump won. And you're a supporter of his, but you're just acknowledging the reality that he lost.

What do you want him to do? Because he has not -- he could go to Twitter right now and say, please go to the Mall, or please protest peacefully, please get out of the Capitol, but he's not doing it.

What would you want him to do, Congressman?

GALLAGHER: Yes, this will be the first time in the last four years I'm encouraging him to tweet.

But go to Twitter and say, it's over. Please go home. Thank you for your support. I support the peaceful transition of power.

TAPPER: Congressman, you went to Iraq, as you note, to help that country, to try to bring democracy to that country.

What goes through your mind when you see these images here of people actually, Americans, some of your colleagues in the House who also served, by the way, actually trying to stop democracy?

GALLAGHER: I don't understand it. I really -- I think -- I think it's easy to get lost in a maze of constitutional abstract arguments, when common sense suggests that what we're doing here has no constitutional basis.

And, also, think how messed up it is to give thousands of people false hope that you can somehow change the result of an election. And, right now, we're seeing the consequence of that.

And someone said earlier -- I was listening to your program -- that Republicans are fond of saying, we're a nation of laws, not men. Well, that's true in part, but we are a nation of free people. And free people need to govern themselves long before they encounter any law.

It's that that holds the country together more than any law. And so there may not be any law against what the objectors are trying to do. But there are serious consequences every time we break an unwritten rule, a norm in this country. It is harder to repair than any statute or any statue.

There are costs to what is happening right now.

TAPPER: I want to bring in one of your colleagues, a fellow Midwestern Republican and a federal veteran, Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Congressman, where are you? Are you OK? Are you safe? REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Yes, I'm good. I won't give my specific

location. I'm good.

And this is disgusting. And I second everything that Mike just said. He's right on.

TAPPER: The fact is -- and you have been making this point very vocally, Congressman Kinzinger -- the fact is that President Trump unleashed this.

KINZINGER: Yes. Yes, that's true.

I mean, look all you had to do -- and I know you look at Twitter too to see what's going on. And you see these people that now start calling this thing equivalent to 1776. I mean, I was seeing this for weeks. That's why I for weeks have warned that there was going to be violence on January 6.

You give people false hope. You have leaders that are un -- that do not have the courage to tell people the truth, which is that Congress cannot just come in and, on its own whim, make a happy wish of who's president.


And when you don't have the courage as a leader to tell people the truth, you end up getting people that believe the conspiracies and the false truths, and you get a Capitol stormed like today.

This is absolutely, utterly despicable. And every single Republican leader has got to call this out forcefully and be held accountable.

TAPPER: Congressman Kinzinger, your fellow veteran and fellow Midwestern Republican Congressman Gallagher said that he hasn't seen anything like this since he was in Iraq. What about you?

KINZINGER: Yes, same thing.

I mean, this is something that you guys would be covering right now if it was happening maybe in Belarus or anywhere else around the globe. Anywhere else around the globe, we would call this a coup attempt. That's what I think it is.

And -- but have no fear. The guardrails of democracy and the Constitution will hold. And we will succeed. And I think, when this is over, we will look back and realize where this cancer has come from, and go after it.

TAPPER: Congressman, President Trump tweeted -- quote -- "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence. Remember, we are the party of law and order. Respect the law and our great men and women in blue. Thank you" -- unquote.

Is that enough, Congressman Kinzinger?

KINZINGER: No. I mean, that's cowardice. Cowardice is trying to just say, oh, we want you to be peaceful.

He needs to stand up and say: I lost the election. Let the count go ahead. The conspiracies I have been spewing out are false, period. And this is not 1776.

And the Pentagon needs to do everything that is requested in terms of the deployment of the National Guard, et cetera, to restore order to the people's house, because that is what makes us different than so many failed countries that we look at all around the globe.


And, Congressman Himes, I know you, like the colleagues that Jake was just talking to, you're sheltering in place in the U.S. Capitol. Set the scene for us. What is happening right now?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Very scary moment 20 minutes ago, when we were on the House floor, and it was very clear that protesters had breached and had gotten right around the floor, so they barricaded doors.

I was just talking with some of my colleagues about the fact that we spent an awful lot of money on security, but they were rolling file cabinets and coat racks in front of -- in front of the doors.

They evacuated us from the chamber. It was a tense moment, because lots of weapons drawn. Gas masks were out. And we were ordered to get gas masks and be prepared to put them on, because, apparently, gas had been used in the Rotunda.

But now they have evacuated all of us that were in the chamber to a location that we have been instructed not to talk about. But you have obviously got very -- a lot of anxiety here.

BASH: Which is understandable.

We have seen photos of the House floor, presumably after you left. You talked about coat racks and tables moved in front of doors. We saw a photo, which was just unbelievable that that is happening in the U.S., never mind the U.S. Capitol, what looked like law enforcement with their arms drawn.

We're actually looking at video right now of these anarchists' insurrection -- these people who are involved in this insurrection. They broke the glass in the United States Capitol, and now they are climbing through the window. This happened moments ago on the grounds of the United States Capitol.

This is likely what you're hearing inside. And this is the reason you said that you were told to shelter in place, move to an undisclosed location.

How much of this can you hear and even see, or at least could you when you were still on the House floor?

HIMES: Well, when we left the House floor, we were taken out through a door where they had tactical teams keeping protesters on their bellies literally outside the House doors.

So people had gotten to the doors of the chamber. Windows had been broken. And, as I said, when we left, there were officers with their guns drawn and pointed at the doors, and obviously indicating that they thought there was a threat about to come through.

Anyway, my colleagues and I right now are a little shell-shocked. You might imagine emotions are running pretty high right now. This is something that didn't need to happen. And it's something that shouldn't have happened. There's a lot to take stock of here in terms of how we got to this place, what President Trump said and did to set this off, and, quite frankly, how the Capitol could be so vulnerable.

I have been working in this building for a while now. And I have always assumed that, when things got ugly, they could push a button and doors would be sealed and everything would be fine. That obviously turns out not to be the case.


It doesn't feel like we're through it yet, but we have got a lot to learn from what happened today.

BASH: Well, stay safe. Let us know if you see and hear anything more. And we appreciate you giving us an update -- Jake.

TAPPER: Congressman Himes, Congressman Gallagher, Congressman Kinzinger, thank you so much for your time. Stay safe for you and your staffs.

I want to bring in Pamela Brown right now, because, Pamela, we're only seeing some of the violence on the outside of the Capitol Building. You have more information about what's going on inside in this armed insurrection in this attempted coup by President Trump and his supporters.

Tell us more.

BROWN: Well, to tell you just how out of control this has gotten, Jake, a woman is now in critical condition after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds. This is according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The sources couldn't provide any further details on the circumstances of the shooting. But sources I have spoken to and to my colleague Noah Gray are telling us that there were shots fired there on the Capitol grounds. And they additionally add that a woman is now in critical condition after being shot in the chest on Capitol grounds.

Again, we don't know the circumstances surrounding that. But that just tells you right there how much this has escalated, how quickly it's escalated, and how out of control this has gotten.

I'm told up from a local source on the ground, a law enforcement source, that police from surrounding areas, from Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George's County, Maryland, Virginia State Police, have all been called in by MPD to help them with these overwhelming crowds, the chaos and the anarchy that's taking place right now.

TAPPER: Horrible, horrible news, blood now spilled. We don't know any more details about it.

But, again, this is violence that has been inspired by President Trump, by President Trump's supporters, by Senator Cruz, by Senator Hawley, by the more than 100 members of the House who were objecting to the constitutional responsibilities, the fact that Joe Biden was elected.

It is an absolutely disgraceful moment in American history. And there are specific villains who are responsible for it.

I want to go to Manu Raju right now.

Manu, tell us more about what you're seeing on Capitol Hill.

RAJU: Yes.

Well, possible good news on the Senate side of the Capitol. Our colleague Ted Barrett has been told by police officers on the Senate side that it has been cleared of rioters, of protesters, of demonstrators. The Senate floor -- there's debris on the Senate floor because that was breached by protesters.

But there's no more protesters, demonstrators, rioters. They're not in the Senate floor. They're not on the Senate wing of the Capitol. These demonstrators have been pushed into the Capitol Rotunda area.

Now, that Rotunda is the dome of the Capitol. That is in between the House and the Senate. There are many protesters that are there. At the moment, the police are escorting out these rioters outside of the Capitol.

They have been on the east and west front steps of the Capitol. They have been -- they're being escorted out one by one from that side.

Now, it is uncertain what's happening on the House side of the Capitol. What we do know is that the House members have been evacuated. They have been -- they have been told to go into their offices. They're now leaving their offices. It's similar on the Senate side.

But we do know that there was that armed standoff that occurred on the House floor. Don't know what the latest is on that situation, because everybody has been told to clear from that area, including the pool reporters who are in the gallery that witnessed that armed standoff.

Uncertain what's going on with that. But there are still many rioters, demonstrators who have breached the security perimeters, have come into the building. They are now cleared from the Senate side of the Capitol. They are in the Capitol Rotunda. And the police are trying to get them out one by one.

As the situation unfolds, uncertain, again, what's happening in the House, as we saw that video of individuals breaking a window, entering the building. That appeared to be on the House side of the Capitol. So, there are many, many of these rioters still in the building.

But, at the moment, the members are staying away from this. They're locked down, and the Senate side appears clear at the moment.

TAPPER: It is an embarrassing, dangerous, frightening spectacle that we are witnessing.

Let's go to Alex Marquardt, who's also on Capitol Hill.

Alex, we hope that you are staying safe out there. What are you seeing?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we are seeing a number of local police officers from Montgomery County, Maryland, who have arrived in the past 20 minutes en masse.

It feels like the cavalry has arrived, more than a dozen vehicles with all sorts of officers piling out of those vehicles, and suiting up in riot gear, a number of them putting on their gas masks. Obviously, that would assume that some tear gas will get fired at some point.

But in terms of the protesters -- and, in fact, we should call them rioters, because that's exactly what they are -- not many have moved. We can still see them outside the Capitol Building, after storming through those police barricades.

It's a very aggressive crowd, a very violent crowd. And I have to say, Jake, they figured out who our team was.