tv CNN Tonight with Don Lemon CNN January 8, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PST
tonight sources saying several trump cabinet secretaries have informally discussed invoking the 25th amendment to forcibly remove the president less than two weeks before his term ends. but saying vice president mike pence is highly unlikely to pursue that path. and there are growing calls among democrats and some republicans to remove the president from office after he incited the deadly insurrection on capitol hill. tonight trump saying he condemns
the rioting even though he encourages his supports to
take action against lawmakers. and more breaking news to tell you about. the u.s. reporting a record high number of covid-19 deaths today, over 4,000, a stunning number. this country is facing a huge crisis, and we need real leadership right now. joining me now to discuss, cnn's white house correspondent john harwood and former obama adviser david axelrod. thank you, gentlemen. thank you for joining. john, we are learning betsy devos the latest to resign after trump inciting domestic terrorists to storm the capitol. if they're concerned, why not stay and do something about it? >> i think that's probably true for national security officials more narrowly since national security seems to be the greatest potential danger that trump would pose. i don't think he can do much damage at the vacant education secretary's position.
but i think that the effect of the resignations -- elaine chao as transportation secretary and betsy devos is of a piece with a discussion to the 25th amendment and the calls for trump's impeachment and removal from office. i don't think those things are going to happen, but i think the collective weight of all of that discussion, with all the resignations within the white house, within the cabinet, the clear escalation of the talk that he must be removed, that is obviously made an impression on him. donald trump was playing around with firecrackers that he recognizes that he blew a couple of his fingers off, and i think the fact that that happened has chastened him. he put out this video statement tonight conceding he's not going to be president after january 20th. that was a positive step, a step forward for the country. now, with 13 days -- or now 12 days left in his presidency, he's certainly capable of
switching gears and doing something whacky tomorrow, but i think as we end this day that is a positive step forward. >> and that video, as you mentioned, he's rewriting his response to the riots. especially when it caused -- calling the national guard, that is not true. he said he did it immediately. none of that is true. david, listen, cnn's gloria borger is reporting some individuals in the administration are trying to constrain the president without invoking the 25th amendment. so is he going to get a pass on this? he's a no consequences president? >> we'll see. there may be legal consequences and we'll see about that. but, you know, just as a practical matter, the invocation of the 25th amendment seems really remote as john suggested. and the more these cabinet members resign, i think the more remote it becomes. but apparently pence doesn't have an appetite for that.
and congress may -- i think there will be a big move
in congress. there will be a big sentiment to want to impeach the president. the idea that the senate will take it up and he is going to be convicted in the next 13 days is unlikely. and apparently biden doesn't have a great appetite for this either. i understand that, because it would be very inflammatory, and it would detract from what biden wants to be talking about, which is his transition, where he's going to lead the country, and so on. and he doesn't want to put another log on this fire. so, don, i understand the spirit of your question, but right now, the question is what's best for the country? and what's best for the country is to quiet donald trump down and pack him up and get him out of the white house and move on to the next administration. >> mm-hmm. so, john, trump's former chief of staff, general john kelly says the cabinet should consider removal. this is what he told jake earlier.
>> the behavior yesterday and the weeks and months before that has just been outrageous from the president and what happened on capitol hill yesterday was a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds. >> poisoning minds with lies -- the mother of a trump supporter who was killed during yesterday's insurrection tells cnn she was passionate to die for what she believed in. unfortunately, these were lies, john. >> absolutely they were lies. and a lot of people bear responsibility for the circulation of those lies, donald trump first among them. but also many of the voices in conservative media who have encouraged this, many of the voices you were talking about with scott jennings a few minutes ago within the congress who have been fuelling this.
more than 100 house members voting for these ridiculous objections, which are grounded in nothing. they were going nowhere. josh hawley and ted cruz in the senate advancing those and setting the stage for what happened when people rushed the capitol yesterday. it's quite clear that people like john kelly, jim mattis, john bolton, have said quietly or very loudly that they believe donald trump is unfit for office, but as john bolton's been saying over the last 24 hours the key question is now, how do you get out of this situation without making it worse? i think david said pack him up and get him out. that's a good way of putting it. john bolton said get him to a golf course and let him play golf for the next 12 days. get him out of a place where he could do harm to the country. i think if donald trump left the white house, went to mar-a-lago, played golf for 12 days and joe biden could come have a relatively peaceful
inauguration, take over with control of the house and senate, he would be delighted if that happened and nothing else. i think the maximum that's likely to happen from any of these other things like 25th amendment or in the meantime, impeachment is that you could see democrats in the house vote to impeach him. i don't think that's necessarily likely, but that could happen next week. he's not going to be convicted in the senate. you don't have enough time for that. you'd need unanimous consent, 100 senators to go along with an expedited schedule. that's simply not going to happen. i think a quiet and low profile is better than anything in the situation. >> david, trump still has the nuclear codes for the next 13 days, but general kelly says he can give all kinds of orders, all the orders he wants, but no one around trump is going break the law. are you that confident? >> i am, i think. i think everyone understands the situation here. they're trying to manage the president.
the military in particular and all of these defense secretaries speaking when they did was a very strong message. i think kelly and mattis speaking is a strong message. i think people do understand what the score is here. i want to go back to something john said at the beginning. it was really meaningful that the president -- he delivered that video tonight with all the sincerity of a hostage tape, but nonetheless, he did it, and he read the words that were written for him, which tells me that he does realize and all of these people quitting and all these people coming out and condemning him who he thought were friends and allies, or had been in the past, i think he recognizes -- and this threat of potential incitement charges, i think he knows he got out over his skis and he may have been shocked into at least some withdrawal from the jagged edge on which he was -- over which he was leaning here.
so i think that it's a situation that needs to be managed in the next 13 days, and i think that's what's going to happen. >> john, david, thank you very much. appreciate it. i want to bring in former nixon white house counsel john dean. john, good evening to you. federal prosecutors say they're looking into the role of president trump, the role that he played in inciting the rioters. should he face charges? >> well, i don't think he should get a pass. i don't know if he can be charged directly for inciting it. it's kind of vague. it was a -- he's very good and very clever with this sort of thing of giving orders that his followers and employees understand, but he is on the safe side with his language. now, i think some of the other people around him were much more blatant in trying to incite. looking at rudy and his sons,
they may be more defined in those statements that they gave the crowd than the president. >> every time i see this video i cannot believe these crazy people. john, "the new york times" is reporting that white house counsel pat cipollone warned the president that he could be at risk. he always seemed to be able to avoid accountability. you say you think he's safe with his language, but the question is, is he going to be able to avoid accountability this time? is this time different? >> well, i think that the house is going to take some action against him. i think they would like to impeach him again. and while it may not reach a trial in the senate, you got to remember, don, we're also into the new congress. we're into the 117th congress. so while the democrats don't control the senate yet -- they won't until the two races in georgia are certified, which will happen somewhere between january 15th and january 22nd -- there won't be a -- the house can move with considerable speed
on impeachment, and they may well -- i think they could do it. and might well do it, too. >> yeah. all right. thank you, john. i appreciate it. >> thank you, don. a lot of people pointing out what was clear to anyone who watched the riot yesterday. those trump supporters were treated very differently from black lives matter protesters. i'm going to talk to congressman connor lamb, who had this to say. >> they walk in the here free. a lot of them walked out free, and there wasn't a person watching at home who didn't know why that was, because of the way that they look. these folks, they don't have time to go to the post office
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so, in the wake of yesterday's siege on capitol hill, one thing became obviously clear -- the double standard in how law enforcement treated trump supporting domestic terrorist, and how we have seen black lives matter protesters treated. the difference was stark. it was even brought up on the house floor last night. >> let's be clear about what happened in this chamber today. invaders came in for the first time since the war of 1812. they desecrated these hauls and this chamber and and the ground with we work. for the most part they walk in here free. a lot of them walked out free. and there wasn't a person watching at home that didn't know why that was, because of the way they look.
>> that was congressman conor lamb, and he joins me now. congressman, thank you. really appreciate you joining us this evening. i know it is a very busy and i'm sure quite frightening time for you considering what happened yesterday. you say a lot of these domestic terrorists walked right out of the capitol building free yesterday because of the way they look. you think they would have been treated differently if they were black lives matter protesters. >> yes, i do. i think it's hard to draw any other conclusion based on the year that we have had and what we all watched this summer and how much different cities. and i want to be clear -- i don't know if the fault here is in the judgment of the officers at the moment or in the failure to plan and have a strategy ready for this type of crowd because of who they were and what they looked like and those are two different things that we're going to have to ask a lot of questions about in the days ahead, but we can't deny what even witnessed. >> absolutely.
you were extremely critical of your republican colleagues during your remarks. a shouting match broke out. a confrontation between congressman andy harris and collin allred had to be broken up. let's watch that moment, and then we'll talk about it. >> it hurts. it hurts them, hurts this country, hurts all of us. but the fact is the people made this country not work by not giving in. go ahead, shout it out. >> the gentleman is not in order! there will be order in the house. there will be order in the house. there will be order in the house. >> what was going through your head when that happened?
>> you know, not much. i was pretty focused on just maintaining the floor, continuing to speak, not being robbed of my time, which is really my constituents' time. to address the issues at hand. i'll say, being on the same side as collin allred felt pretty good and made me feel i didn't need to move an inch from where i was. he had that covered. >> there's talk of the 25th amendment or impeaching trump a second time for his role in stirring up this mob yesterday. how do you think he should be dealt with? >> i think every option needs to be on the table, and we have to plan for every single scenario. so i understand why the speaker and the leader are doing what they're doing. you know, we have to remember that in a time when i think americans are looking for us to be passionate and strong, they're also looking to us to be steady and sensible. so with each day, we have to
face also the practical realities, some of which you discussed on this show already. it's one thing to run the stuff through the house. it's another to get it through the senate, get the vice president on board. i think an important strength of what we did last night was that many, many republicans were on our side of that debate. you know, there are arguments might have sounded a little bit different. their tone could have been different, but last night was a bipartisan night in the house and senate, and it was a smaller subset of republicans who are the last holdouts for this just cavalcade of lies that they have been rolling along with. and we need to remember that and try to stick with that in the days ahead. >> no one has asked that i've seen -- i'm sure someone asked but i haven't seen it. let me restate that. but how are you guys doing -- how are you doing since yesterday? it's very traumatic. do you think that you're going to live with the consequences of yesterday? you're going remember that?
because it was extremely, an extremely traumatic event to live through. >> sure i'll always remember it. but i guess i would just say a lot of us signed up for this without really realizing it. we didn't know yesterday would take shape the way that it did. but we ran for congress in the donald trump presidency, knowing everything that that could possibly entail and doing it because we thought it was important to try to defend the institution and rebuild the institution, and a big part of that is reaching out toward and respecting our friends towards the aisle, which made last night a difficult night. but like i said, i was also proud of the ones that stupid for this country. it was a day for us all to think about the country and the symbol for our national capitol, which does not belong to any country and definitely does not belong to the people that invaded it with their false flags yesterday. you see a renewed commitment.
by a lot of folks yesterday to what we're doing there. and i think it will hopefully only make us better and more inspired going forward. >> congressman, thank you very much. we're glad you're safe. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> joining us is pernille joseph and mitch landrieu, the former mayor of new orleans. i'm so glad both of you are on this evening. mayor, i know you're fired up about this. we texted about it a little bit. i'm going to start with the professor, though, if you don't mine. i want to play something for you. this is law enforcement dealing with protests for police reform last summer. clearing space for trump's photo op. contrast this to how maga rioters were treated yesterday. is it racial bias? what do you think it is? >> don, i think what we all witnessed yesterday is really the culmination of a deep history of structural racism that runs through our institutions, especially our
criminal justice institution. so when we think about the history of policing in the united states, the history of policing is really rooted in after slavery trying to contain and punish and incarcerate and exploit black people who had just become free after the civil war. and we have the convict lease system, we have black people -- black women and men who are incarcerated, who help build up the infrastructure of this country, who last only about seven years under that system of convict lease. when we think about that convict lease system, when people today talk about defund the police, that's been used to smear blm protesters. it's been used to smear social justice activists as if they hate the police. they don't hate the police. they're saying they dislike unjust law enforcement that historically had been rooted in the racial marginalization of black people going back to the reconstruction. one last thing, don.
what we saw yesterday is very similar to what we saw in the late 19th century and early 20th century and the civil rights era. we saw it during reconstruction in places likes texas, my home state, and south carolina and mississippi and new orleans and memphis, tennessee, where white mobs attacked black people and at times attacked their white allies for exercising their right to vote. we saw it in the early 20th century in atlanta, chicago, in elaine, arkansas, and rosewood, florida, and of course tulsa, oklahoma, where over 300 african-americans were massacred by white mobs. then we saw it during the civil rights movement where white mobs tried to threaten african american school children trying to get into public schools in little rock central high school in north carolina, in other places. we have a history of this in the united states. and in every single instance, law enforcement, which should have been on the side of citizens who are being oppressed, instead colluded with
white mobs who are trying to prevent black people from having citizenship and dignity in this country. >> you should see the pictures that were running when you were up there. hangman's noose, confederate battle flag, camp auschwitz on someone's jacket. it's just repugnant. mayor, president-elect biden commenting on the inequal justice that was on display yesterday. watch this. >> not only did we see the failure to protect one of the three branches of our government, we also saw a clear failure to carry out equal justice. no one can tell me that if it had been a group of black lives matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently. than the mob of thugs that stormed the capitol. we all know that's true. and it is unacceptable.
totally unacceptable. >> as a former mayor, do you have a lot of experience dealing with law enforcement, how would you deal with the difference between how maga rioters were treated and how blm protesters were treated? >> yesterday it was clear that every american was stung by the tragedy when the assault on the sanctuary of democracy took place at the incitation of the president. there is no question about that. but african-americans yesterday felt a very special pain that cannot be overlooked. there's no question that the any mayor in america has that the treatment rendered yesterday by law enforcement would have been vastly different -- and as a matter of fact, you also have the proof. if you have the pictures of the president at the church and the black lives matter movement or you have the national guard standing and guarding the lincoln memorial when they thought african americans would be out there. and you look at what happened
yesterday and the lack of planning, you can't come to any other conclusion. i will say this. white americans have to confront this. they have to deal with it. they have to understand that it is going to be very difficult for us to have racial reconciliation in this country unless at fist there is an acknowledgment that there is disparate treatment of similarly situated team. that is what bias is all about. as we talk about the catastrophic fallout from yesterday, we cannot look away from the racial imp implication when we saw white nationalism running amok and trying to destroy democracy in america. >> listen, i have to run, but i do have to say, mayor, that there are folks who are making excuses for it, again, comparing it to what happened this summer. again, not making the distinction between rioters and peaceful protesters for black lives matter but trying to make an distinction between rioters and peaceful protesters for the insurrectionists who stormed the capitol yesterday, or for the trump supporters. so there is a disconnect and people are trying to make excuses.
trying to excuse what happened yesterday away by comparing it to what happened this summer. >> well, let me just say this -- conor lamb said -- i don't know if it was the capitol police or whether it was the planning. if there is implicit bias in planning, if you think the group that's copping to washington because they're white are going to be safer, then the groups who are coming to washington who are black because they're going to be more san diegans and the design of how you create protection for the protesters and the people in the capitol would be vastly different. and what happened yesterday, i can't imagine as a mayor who would plan security for an event like that that you wouldn't have been more ready for something that you knew was coming, something that they said was coming, something that they told you nay they were going to engage in, and you never did what was necessary just around the basic protection. it was a national security failure of epic proportions. and i think when congress does its investigation they're going find out there was some bias in that, and the african-american community sees that clearly. they want to white community to understand that.
they want us to see it, to know it, and they want us to do something about it and they're completely right. >> i heard two different people today say what you said. well, the trump supporters don't have a history of violence like that. which was again, that's implicit bias. but they do. they do have a history of violence, right. or that they didn't think that the groups who were coming to washington would display some sort of violence. >> that's exactly right. let me say this -- the fbi for years and many of us have been talking about the rise of white nationalism, white supremacy and the danger that continued to exist in this country and this administration looked the other way. the fbi itself has talked about this and it has not become a priority for this country. it needs to now, because they'll tear us apart and it's critically important for the future of democracy. >> i'm going to have both of you back. this is an important conversation. thank you both. i appreciate it.
i'll see you soon. >> thank you. >> great conversation. thank you. there's trump yesterday and then there's trump today. >> we love you. you're very special. >> to those who broke the law, you will pay. >> it's not just him. allies are changing their tune, trying to revise history, but we've got the tapes, the receipts. next. who takes care of yourself. so why wait to screen for colon cancer? because when caught in early stages, it's more treatable. i'm cologuard. i'm noninvasive and detect altered dna in your stool to find 92% of colon cancers even in early stages. tell me more. it's for people 45 plus at average risk for colon cancer, not high risk. false positive and negative results may occur. ask your prescriber or an online prescriber if cologuard is right for you.
some of the president's closest republican allies now trying to revise history about how they have aided and abetted his worst instincts. take senator lindsey graham. listen to what he said after the chaos at the capitol. >> they say there are 66,000 people in georgia under 18 voted. how many people believe that? i ask, give me ten. hadn't had one. they said 8,000 felons in prison in arizona voted.
give me ten. hadn't gotten one. >> hmm. so that is the same lindsey graham who allegedly called georgia's secretary of state to discuss how he could discard legally cast ballots. the same lindsey graham who repeatedly parroted the president's lies about election fraud. >> i want the computer systems in michigan that flipped votes from republicans to democrats to be looked at, and the software was used all over the country. there's a lot of shenanigans going on here. biden got more votes than obama in a few areas of the country. in only a few areas. how could that be? it's not unreasonable to ask the legislature to come back in and order an audit of the system to see if the system worked. what is unreasonable is to sit on your ass and do nothing when you have a chance to save the country. >> okay. charlie dent's here, former congressman.
cnn senior political analyst ron brown. i mean, it's put your finger in the wind, whatever, see which way the wind is blowing. it's crazy. charlie, hardly -- graham is hardly the one. senator ted cruz putting out -- he seems hardly the only one. senator ted cruz putting out a statement calling for a peaceful transition of power even though he's been one of trump's biggest enablers pushing lies about fraud. watch this. >> we've seen in the last two months unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, and that's produced a deep, deep distrust of our democratic process across the country. i think we in congress have an obligation to do something about that. >> is anyone buying this? >> no. i mean, this is so nakedly transparent. look, they were -- senators cruz and hawley were being very
demagogic. they were stoking the passions of people for a cause that they knew would be unsuccessful. they knew. they did it for political advantage. and then when things blew up yesterday so horribly, now they realized they made an enormous mistake, so now they've changed their tune. but i think most sensible people recognize who started the fire here, and they recognize who the firefighters were too. i don't can't be an arsonist and a firefighter, senator cruise. i don't think anybody is buying it. >> ron, eight senators and 139 house republicans supported at least one objection to the electoral votes. how is history going to remember them? >> that's the revealing thing. think about it. those 139 house members voted the overturn the results, subvert the results of election in states with the clear goal of making donald trump the president again for four more years even after what happened yesterday.
right? they were voting to throw out results in a kind of extended scheme to get him back into power and they continue to do so even after the riot he incited. to me that is just kind of the exclamation point on four years in which congressional republicans paved the road to this day. they abetted and enabled him at each step. each time they broke a window, they swept up the glass, and that convinced him that no matter how far he went in undermining democratic rules and norms, there would be no consequences. yesterday i thought was the ultimate proof that susan collins was right when he says he learned a big lesson from impeachment. the only lesson he learned was 245 he could get away no matter what he did, the republicans would not sanction him. when they finally did, it was after the capitol itself was ransacked. >> one of his biggest apologists was john kelly. right? he was chief of staff for a while. i'm grateful he's coming out.
i'm glad he has finally seen the light. but he had plenty of opportunities before to talk about what the president was doing, the separation of children and so on and so forth. it did not happen. what do you think of him now? quickly if you can, ron. i go to -- >> look, john kelly, like lindsey graham, like others are trying to take a very hard shower at 11:59. >> all right. >> they're up to their eyeballs in all of this. >> charlie? >> i think john kelly is a good man who was in a really bad spot. i'm glad he is speaking up. he knows about what happened. he was not a political guy. i'm sure he deals with enormous feelings of guilt having worked for this man. >> got it. thank you, very many. appreciate it. federal investigators are looking into trump's role of inciting the riots and he's trying to have his bases covered, looking into details next.
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last night after the deadly insurrection. >> our new leaders will try to silence them. what happened today will be used by the people taking power to justify stripping you of the rights you were born with as an american, your right to speak without being censored, your right to assemble, to not be spied upon, to make a living, to defend your family, most critically. we got to the sad chaotic day for a reason. it is not your fault, it is their fault. >> wow, your right to bust into the capitol, it's their fault. they're not adults. brian stelter. he joins me now. brian, for months now, right-wing media outlets have been feeding viewers lies and conspiracy theories about the election. was yesterday's riot an inevitable consequence of the disinformation that's been fed to supporters? >> when millions of people are told lies for weeks and months, at a time, you do experience a form of radicalization.
i know that word, the "r" word is usually applied in other countries. we think about radicals being terrorists, in the middle east. but radicalization is a concept that applies here, in america, today. some of our fellow americans have been radicalized. not everybody at the capitol, yesterday. but the people who committed crimes and looted the capitol. they have been radicalized. and you have to look at the people who are enabling, who are aiding and abetting, this behavior. people, that are stars of right-wing media that have been fanning these flames for months and for years, don. >> are they standing by the president, when you talk about stars of right-wing media, sean hannity, tucker carlson, rush limbaugh, to name a few. are they standing by the president after what we saw yesterday? >> they are making excuse, trying to minimize the behavior, minute nice the behavior of his supporters. i think what we're seeing is a slow return to normality in some quarters of the media. some acknowledge that biden will
be president in two weeks. but so much of this hate in the last two months could have been avoided if right wing media stars were more honest with their audience in november and december. pro-trump media is partly at fault here, and this media system is not going away. this media apparatus, although some viewers might tire of it, others actually go deeper down the rabbit hole. think of it as a form of quicksand, don, that people end up sinking deeper into. >> right-wing media and even some republicans, almost immediately, began making these baseless claims that pro-trump mob was actually antifa. they're still not reckoning with the real problem here. >> right. it's always an attempt to come up with an alternative story, an alternative reality. that is the story of the trump years, unfortunately, this war on truth. so that, if you are a trump supporter, you don't want to believe that some of your fellow patriots were actually up there destroying property. so instead, you tell yourself it was left-wing radicals. it was antifa. there is a lot of double-standard talk in right-wing radio and tv.
a lot of excuses being made, a lot of conspiracy theories being spread. what it is, don, is a big lie on top of all the big lies we have been hearing the last two months. big lies about trump winning, about voter fraud being rampant. now the new big lie is that actually this was all somebody else's fault. we don't know for sure but even sowing that kind of doubt the way tucker carlson is, laura ingram has done, it is deeply damaging because then people come away not knowing what to believe. >> yep. >> the question then becomes, who is going to drag people back to reality? we know it's not president trump. will it be the murdocks? the murdoch wall street editorial board tonight said it would be best for trump to resign. that's incredible to see from a murdoch paper. >> yeah, and go away quietly. but there is always a boogie man and there is a pattern. you know, acorn. it was the new black panthers. now, it's antifa. so, you know, it's -- it's a pattern. thank you, brian. i got to run. it's the end of the program. thank you so much. i will see you later. thanks for watching, everyone. our coverage continues.