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Pelosi: Congress Will Impeach if 25th Amendment Not Invoked; Interview with BLM Co-Founder, Patrisse Cullors; Pelosi Calls on Capitol Police Chief to Resign; Trump & GOP Enablers Fuel Capitol Coup Attempt, Insurrection. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 7, 2021 - 14:30   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What everybody those before was the House could bring articles of impeachment, but it would be DOA, dead on arrival, when it reached somebody like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Now the tide has changed, and the balance of power has shifted. What otherwise might have been a pipe dream might now be expeditiously executed.

The problem with this, of course, is, one, the idea of the tolerance of the American electorate, which Pelosi will always be keenly aware of.

And the idea of what this does in terms of those members of her caucus who might be looking forward to the transition of power to President- Elect Joe Biden and Harris, and not want to give all of this air.

But at the end of the day, you have the idea, look what happened, from the amount of time the president made a statement to confront what he called "weak Republicans," it took all of marching down Pennsylvania Avenue for there to be an insurrection.

Well, 13 days suddenly becomes an extraordinary amount of time, given what the president can still do in power.

It will be very interesting to see how, now that people are starting to change their minds about even to object last night in the wee small hours of the morning about the Electoral College, will this shift tides.

Will Mitt Romney still remain alone, if, in fact, articles of impeachment are drafted?

Frankly, there's even less of blurred lines here than there was perhaps thinking about the whole quid pro quo.

You have a straight line from the president of the United States to insurrection. And it's called Pennsylvania Avenue.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: What, I wonder, Carl, what is Trump's legacy? CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Trump's legacy is going to

be as an autocratic president of the United States who was mentally unstable.

And that instability has demonstrable through much, if not all of his presidency, who undermined our most basic democratic institutions, who was willing to do things that no president has ever done to corrupt our system of government for his own ends.

The question politically, he still is powerful, in the sense his movement still exists, that he has a cult. That cult is huge.

Whether or not the cult and the so-called alt-right will maintain a kind of viability in our political culture, we don't know yet. But it will be identified with him.

His presidency is a shameful episode in our national life and history of this country, such as nothing as we have experienced in our history.

And I would be pretty confident that it is going to be in the history books as a dark, dark stain, unlike any presidency in the history of the United States.

KEILAR: Dana, what do you think?


I mean, I was talking to a Republican ally of the president on Capitol Hill, who has taken a lot of, you know, probably well-deserved arrows for standing up for the president.

Who, kind of in a fit of rage on the phone, said to me that the president will probably go down as the worst president of the United States of America, and rightly so, for a lot of reasons, but especially the capstone event of yesterday.

There's just -- just so much rage.

Maybe this is just stating the obvious, but, you know, part of the issue is that there has been so much that has gone on that these lawmakers have been silent about.

It took something that was unthinkable -- but not just to generically unthinkable. It happened to them. It happened in the people's house where they serve. It was a traumatic human event for them.

So that is unfortunately what it took for a lot of these Republicans, who -- to quote, I think former Congressman Mike Rogers, "under the political spell of Donald Trump, for that spell to be broken."

It's unfortunate it took something that dramatic and traumatic for it to happen.

KEILAR: I want to bring Brian Stelter into our conversation here.

Brian, you make a very good point. Here we are on this pivotal day, and we have not heard from the president or vice president once today.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Partly that's because the president's megaphones are being taken away.

Big technology companies do not trust the president to use their platforms in a responsible way. They fear he will incite violence.

Facebook has banned him for the remainder of his presidency. The Twitter suspension may be over at this point. We don't actually know. But the president has not tweeted, not said a word since that statement.


It's 2:30 in the afternoon. Where is the vice president? It's been almost 12 hours since we've seen the vice president.

A member of the cabinet has resigned. Where are the other cabinet members?

They all have our numbers, by the way. Brianna, you know this. The president could call into FOX News or CNN at any time. It will be interesting about what he would say and how he would say it.

But it's striking we have not heard from the Trump administration today.

President-Elect Biden is acting as president already. I think rhetorically his address 30 minutes ago, he is assuming the role already, because he has to fill the leadership void -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Brian, if you could stand by for us.

We heard Joe Biden mention -- he said this was a clear failure to carry out equal justice.

He was recounting a story from one of his grandkids, who said, if these rioters had been black, they thought the situation would be different. He clearly agreed with that assessment.

I'm joined by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Cullors.

Patrisse, I wonder what you thought of Joe Biden's comments, which is something that I heard reiterated what so many people have pointed out, this very different reaction for people coming into the capitol versus the response when it came to protests this summer, especially in D.C.

PATRISSE CULLORS, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK LIVES MATTER: Thank you so much for having me.

I think hearing President-Elect Joe Biden really speak to the dire situation that happened yesterday and clarify that Black Lives Matter protesters have been and continue to be treated differently than white supremacist terrorist was huge. He's speaking not just to the country but he's speaking on a global


KEILAR: And, you know, one of the things I thought of yesterday watching this was that the comments we heard, even, you know -- we saw a lot of protests and also some violence during the protests. We saw some looting.

There were comments the president had made about, you know, looting and shooting. Part of me thought, as I watched, I thought this isn't a department store or a shoe store. This is the capitol, right, where the vice president is.


KEILAR: I wonder what you think about some of the comparisons, this sort of false equivalence that we have heard about these two things.

CULLORS: I mean, what we know is that black leaders, black organizers, black protesters are treated completely different.

We spent an entire summer last summer fighting for people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and we are met with rubber bullets.

People in Louisville, Kentucky, were met with riot gear. Here in Los Angeles, we were met with tear gas and brutalized by a militarized police force.

What was probably most shocking for me yesterday was watching law enforcement either run away or open the gates for white supremacist terrorists to damage the nation's capital. That was disturbing.

KEILAR: What did you think about -- you spoke to it a bit there. But as you watched this reaction, how surprised were you that they were not prepared more, that law enforcement was not prepared more to have a perimeter enforced and rioters got this close and into the capitol?

CULLORS: I was very surprised. We all know there's white privilege, and we all know that, on large part, white supremacy and white supremacist terrorists, in particular, domestic terrorists, have been able to do anything they want with very little accountability.

But I think it was so surprising that for weeks the police knew -- the Secret Service knew that there was going to be a protest.

They also know that many of these white supremacists have been violent in their own cities and towns. They're definitely violent on social media.

I've been the subject of that violence as have so many other black leaders.

So, to have no or very little security yesterday was disgusting.

KEILAR: You were clearly surprised by the lack of security, but you weren't surprised by the sentiment behind it that appeared to be motivating people who broke into the capitol?

CULLORS: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Because Black Lives Matter leadership, and so many of our organizers, have experienced death threats by many of the people who are just like the people who stormed the capitol yesterday.


KEILAR: Patrisse, I want to thank you so much for being with us. Patrisse Cullors, who is the founder of Black Lives Matter. We certainly appreciate your voice on this.

CULLORS: Thank you.

KEILAR: I want to talk now with Alex Marquardt. He's joining us from Capitol Hill.

Alex, the speaker just called for the resignation of the capitol police chief.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. And that really speaks to what many people, including the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have called a massive failure in terms of security.

So, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has called for the resignation of the chief of the capitol police, Steven Sund. And the sergeant-at-arms has also submitted his resignation.

We had heard from the chief of the capitol police earlier defending his officers for yesterday's breech. He said they responded valiantly to this incredible aggression on behalf of the rioters.

He said they had never seen anything like this in the 30 years he worked in law enforcement.

But, Brianna, if you read between the lines of the statement, essentially, it said they were overwhelmed.

That's really the question. Why is it that, what should be one of the most protected landmarks, why were the officers overwhelmed, when we knew this event was going to take place?

It was weeks in the making. The president himself had talked about it. Why was it those officers inside were overwhelmed?

We've just been asked to be moved back by the Metropolitan Police. This is the D.C. police right here.

And that really does speak, Brianna, to the level of security that there is around the capitol today, one day after this insurrection.

You can see right around the edge of the capitol campus is a new eight-foot-high fence that is going to be built or has been built around the entire capital complex. It's the same fencing we traditionally see during inaugurations, but

that we have also seen around the White House, most notably since the protests at Lafayette Park.

Brianna, the protesters were not pushed back last night. Those rioters were not pushed back away from the capitol until the capitol police got reinforcement from these officers right here, from Metropolitan Police, from FBI, and from the D.C. National Guard.

Now the entire D.C. National Guard has been called up. And there's six other states that also will be spending troops to reinforce them. So more than 6,000 National Guard are going to be arriving and active here in Washington, D.C.

A lot of people, Brianna, are asking about arrests. We have gotten some numbers. The D.C. police say that overnight there were some 68 arrests related to yesterday's activities. The capitol police said that there were 14 more.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., as so many are, are laying everything that we are seeing at the feet of President Donald Trump, saying that he is responsible for inflaming these crowds and for getting them to do what they did.

Brianna, this is exactly where the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden will be happening in just 13 days' time.

Given what we have seen in the past 24 hours, the big question is, what will the security posture of the city, of the federal agencies look like to defend that inauguration in just under two weeks -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Alex, such a good point.

Thank you so much. Alex Marquardt, live for us, from Capitol Hill.

I want to bring in Drew Griffin who has new information on the search for suspects.

What can you tell us, Drew?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you that police put out a list of people that they are interested in finding.

We've already found them overnight on the Internet and have identified many of the instigators that are now infamous for their own postings.

Take a look at this rogues' gallery, Brianna. These are members of QAnon groups, Proud Boys. They come from all over the country. These are people that police are interested in talking to.

I'm going to single out two in particular. One, Jake Angeli. He is the person all over the Internet yesterday in those buffalo horns and shirtless. He is known as the QAnon shaman from Arizona, one of the conspiratorial believers in that there's some kind of cult that runs Washington, D.C.

We also have him pictured with Rudy Giuliani, one of his selfies on his post.

Also, this man, Richard Barnett. He's from Arkansas, 60 years old. He's a gun rights advocate.

He is the person who broke into Speaker Pelosi's office, put his feet on her desk and later bragged and showed about how he stole an envelope from her office and was bragging about that. He's one of the people police are looking for.


What is very interesting to us is the amount of off-guarded-ness that capitol police and Homeland Security have, even though there was so much warning about this, Brianna, on the Internet, prior to this happening.

One of the groups we use to monitor hate and violence on the Internet, Advance Democracy, said there was some 1,480 QAnon posts on Twitter prior to January 6th, that contained messages of violence, TikTok videos, 279,000 views promoting violence, one actually advocating bringing guns to D.C. for this protest.

It is just very hard to understand why the FBI, why Homeland Security, and eventually why Capitol Hill police weren't prepared for this when so much of the advanced preplanning by these rioters was going on in plain sight on the Internet -- Brianna?

KEILAR: So important. And those questions should be answered soon.

Drew Griffin, thank you so much, tracking information on suspects for us.

I want to have all of my colleagues stand by.

For the last several weeks, and years for that matter, many in the Republican establishment here in Washington fed and nurtured a monster that was growing in their midst.

Conspiracy theories, white supremacy, nationalism, violent political rhetoric, and the bastardization of the Constitution.

They tried to harness the power of this monster, insisting it wasn't a monster at all, as if our eyes were deceiving us, even as the monster grew out of control in clear view.

Yesterday, that monster overcame Republicans. Trump supporters stormed the capitol. They injured several police officers.

They threatened the safety of the vice president and the entire Senate, and the entire House, as well as the thousands of staffers and journalists who work there while Congress was certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College win.

Four people died. The capitol police say an officer shot one woman as protesters were seen on video attempting to break a door down inside the building. Police are investigating that.

Now many Republicans are trying to rewrite history to cover their asses.

Like Senator Josh Hawley, one of the ring leaders of this coup attempt. Missouri's junior Senator became the first to object to Joe Biden's win. His basis for doing so. Lies and conspiracy theories.

Shortly before the attack, he appeared for a photo-op for his expected 2024 run for president, raising a fist outside the capitol to Trump supporters there. There he is.

The same Senator Hawley, who the night before, appeared on FOX, to say how furious he was that liberal protesters showed up outside his home with bullhorns.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): This Antifa group now says, oh, it was a candlelight vigil, we are singing songs.


HAWLEY: Like it's a church choir or something.

With bullhorns? Screaming at my wife, demanding, come out, come out. Pounding on our door.

This is unbelievable. The bottom line is, Laura, nobody should have this happen to them. Look, if it can happen to my family, it can happen to any family in America.


KEILAR: He tweeted that, quote, "We're not going to sit back and take it."

You can imagine how upsetting it would be to have protesters show up at your house, right? He said he wasn't home, but his wife was with their newborn and she was shaken.

During the siege on the capital, Hawley blasted out a fundraising appeal to supporters.

After the attack, he continued his attempt to overturn a democratic election, going on his merry way, like an attack on the capitol that made the protest at his house look quaint didn't just happen.


HAWLEY: This is the place where those objections are to be hard and dealt with, debated, and finally resolved, in this lawful means, peacefully, without violence, without attacks, without bullets.

So, Mr. President, let me say briefly, in lieu of speaking about it later, a word about Pennsylvania --


KEILAR: Senator Ted Cruz, another architect of the coup attempt, he stood before a crowd in Georgia over the weekend and said this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I am inspired. Each of you look around, the men and women who are gathered here, you are patriots just like the patriots gathered at Bunker Hill, just like the patriots gathered at Valley Forge. Just like the patriots who forged this nation.

The men and women gathered here to cross the state of Georgia are fighting for the United States of America.


KEILAR: Bunker Hill? Valley Forge? Fighting for the fate of the United States of America?

When domestic terrorists were inspired to storm the capitol like a scene off "Braveheart," here's how they explained it to CNN's Donie O'Sullivan and Elle Reeve.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm excited that, from 1776, we-the-people movement is moving forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One man I talked to had pushed through the barricade and described the police mazing him and him fighting back.

And I was like, what's the point. And he said, what's the point? Like, this is our only choice. This is the only option we have. The Supreme Court doesn't have our backs. This is 1776.


KEILAR: Now where would they have gotten that idea? Maybe from Ted "Who me, couldn't be" Cruz, who made a fundraising pitch during the attack that his office later blamed on an outside firm.

Ted Cruz, who said this, after the attack.


CRUZ: But I would urge to both sides perhaps a bit less certitude and a bit more recognition that we are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis.

Recent polling shows that 39 percent of Americans believe the election that just occurred, quote, "was rigged."


KEILAR: No duh! Because leaders like Cruz are spoon-feeding them lies that the election was rigged and urging them to fight the result by comparing the rejection of Joe Biden's win in the year 2020 to opposing British rule during the American Revolutionary War.

Then there's outgoing Senator Kelly Loeffler, who, just the night before, lost her runoff election against Senator-Elect Raphael Warnock.

She, too, was objecting to Joe Biden's win, planning to challenge it on the Senate floor. But after the attack, she backed off.


SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA): I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors.


KEILAR: But 24 hours earlier, when she still had a political future, she fueled the opposition to Biden's win.


LOEFFLER: On January 6th, I will object to the Electoral College vote!



KEILAR: And then there's Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the president's most famous apologists and enablers.

Here he is speaking on the floor after the attack.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): From my point of view, he's been a consequential president. But today, first thing you'll see. All I can say is, uh, count me out. Enough is enough. I've tried to be helpful.


KEILAR: He's out, huh? Thirteen days to go in the Trump administration and now enough is enough? When the monster that he helped create threatened his life.

The holdup, wait a minute, because as Lindsey Graham came to Jesus on the extent to which he would endure this non-presidential behavior from the president yesterday, he also tried to rewrite history, lambasting voter fraud claims from the Trump campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRAHAM: They say there are 66,000 people in Georgia under 18 voted. How many people believe that? I ask, give me 10! Haven't had one! They said 8,000 felons in prison in Arizona voted. Give me 10. I haven't gotten one!


KEILAR: That would be commendable from a Senator who had not allegedly called up Georgia's Republican secretary of state to pressure him to find ways to exclude or invalidate legally cast absentee ballots in an attempt to reverse Trump's loss in Georgia.

Now, that claim from the state's Republican secretary of state sparked an ethics complaint. But Graham says the claim is ridiculous and he just wanted to know more about signature verification.

And then there's the conspiracy theory that is out there right now in right-wing circles that it wasn't actually Trump supporter who perpetrated this attack.

Yes, that is what is being talked about in right-wing media right now.

And they're getting an assist from some of the most powerful Republican lawmakers in Washington, as they try to blame liberal extremists for the failed coup at the capitol.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): People came here to do some damage. I don't know who they were with, but they came here to do some damage.

INGRAHAM: We knew this big crowd was coming, right? We knew they were coming. We knew -- whether Antifa was in there or not, we'll find out more.


KEILAR: That was the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, breathing life into the conspiracy theory that this was a false-flag operation, leftists pretending to be Trump supporters storming the capitol.

Even though it was the president who summoned these crowds to D.C., who spoke at their rally, who offered to walk them over to the capitol, and then defended them after the attack.

Many of the people shown in video entering the capitol were Trump supporters who appear publicly a lot, which makes them easily identifiable.

The guy with the horns and the hat with the fur who got to the Senate floor? That is a known QAnon conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter.


Capitol police released his photo. They say he's a person of interest that they want to talk to as part of their probe. Then this guy, in Nancy Pelosi's office with his feet up on her desk,

is a Trump supporter, who leads a gun rights group in Arkansas. And there are so many others.

One of the most well-known conservative activists, who is critical of Antifa, told the right-leaning "Washington Examiner" that the perpetrators did not look like Antifa. And he didn't think Antifa was capable of organizing on that scale.

And that there had been no chatter about Antifa's involvement, which there would be if they were involved.

But, sure, Leader McCarthy and FOX, Antifa.

Next, there's Senator James Lankford. He's a Trump loyalist among the Senators who were planning to object. In fact, he was on the floor, speaking when the Senate was evacuated.

But after the siege, he backpedaled, saying this.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): In Oklahoma, we would say something like, why in god's name would someone think attacking law enforcement and occupying the United States capitol is the best way to show that you're right? Why would you do that?


KEILAR: Why, Senator, would they do that?

If you weren't paying attention to what was happening in Washington yesterday morning, if you were willfully ignorant of what was going on just down Pennsylvania Avenue, of the huge gatherings that were making travel to and from the capitol, where Senator Lankford was, difficult, it might be a decent question.

Not far from the Hill, the president's lawyer was saying this to the angry crowd just before their attack.


RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT RUMP: And if we're wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail!


GIULIANI: So, let's have trial by combat.


KEILAR: This morning, Giuliani tried acting like he is stunned by what happened. Called the riot shameful, criminal. And he tried to play what-aboutism with liberals. His logic melting as quickly as sprayed on hair on a warm day in Philadelphia. But his client, the president, was, of course, the chief instigator

here. He called them to Washington to demonstrate. He spoke at the rally, knowing that he was appearing before a crowd that included a large contingent of white supremacists and extremists.

He had lied to his supporters for years. And as he told them to move on the capitol, he told them another lie, that he would be going with them.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And after this, we're going to walk down -- and I'll be there with you.


TRUMP: We're going to walk down, we're going to walk down, anyone you want, but I think right here, we're going to walk down to the capitol.


TRUMP: And we're going to cheer on our brave Senators and congressmen and women.

And we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.


KEILAR: He said, quote, "I will be there with you." He said those words in front of a bulletproof piece of glass. He told his supporters to, quote, "fight like hell," to overturn an election.

And then, as Trump's army of supporters marched to Capitol Hill to confront his enemies, Trump got back in his hermetically sealed armored limousine and he drove literally in the opposite direction, returning to the safety of the White House, where he watched it all go down on TV.

White House staffers, who probably thought that they had seen it all by this point, were visibly shaken by President Trump's response, according to CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

Trump was, quote, "borderline enthusiastic" over the siege of the capitol. And he didn't want to condemn the perpetrators, according to multiple sources.

Trump's Republican enablers, they have blood on their hands. And they want to pretend they had no idea this could happen.

They seem baffled that the monster they nurtured and stroked turned on them. They've sold their souls. For what? For ambition.

And they act like they don't know that, when you sell your soul, at some point, there is a debt to settle. Our special coverage will continue now with Jake Tapper.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The deadly domestic terrorist attack on the United States capitol, incited by President Trump and members of the Republican Party, has caused at least four deaths.

And is now prompting a bipartisan push to remove Trump from office as soon as possible, even though his presidency only has 13 days left.


Moments ago, Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, in saying that the 25th Amendment to the Constitution should be invoked by the cabinet to remove the president.

Pelosi saying, if not, Congress may decide to impeach the president.