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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 13, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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what happened a week ago? because this was a major law enforcement failure and also there are serious questions about who was organizing this and how much they were talking to people on the trump team or republicans in congress, wolf. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room" on this truly historical day. donald j. trump has been condemned like no other president before him, impeached for a second time in his final days in office. just a short while ago, the house of representatives formally charged the 45th president of the united states with inciting the deadly insurrection at the u.s. capitol in an extraordinary bipartisan vote. 10 republicans breaking ranks, siding with the democratic majority to proclaim the president is a threat to
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national security, democracy and the u.s. constitution. we're standing by for remarks by the house speaker, nancy pelosi. we're also getting new information about what's ahead as the president faces trial in the u.s. senate and as the nation is on high alert right now for the possibility of new attacks leading up to president-elect joe biden's inauguration one week from today. let's go to phil mattingly up on capitol hill, monitoring these truly historic be developments. set the seen for us. tell us what we're about to see. >> reporter: think of it this way. one week ago at this very moment capitol police were still under siege, trying to push a mob outside of the united states senate, the united states house. today the u.s. house, seven days later, has impeached president trump for inciting an insurrection. ten republicans joining 222 democrats, leading to that impeachment. an historic second impeachment.
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the first time that's ever occurred in the country's history for a president and what that will set forth over the course of the seven days will be the opportunity for the united states senate to rule on how they view what the president's actions were one week ago today. what we'll see over the next 30 minutes or so, as you noted, speaker pelosi will hold an engrossment of the article of impeachment. we still don't know when that article will be walked over to the united states senate. there is precedent for the house managers to walk the article over. that does not mean, however, a senate trial will be starting any time soon. in fact, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell will only be majority leader for a week. he made it clear no trial will be started before joe biden is president of the united states. mcconnell did not rule out voting to convict president trump. the leader, according to sources familiar with his thinking, believes the president did, in fact, commit impeachable
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offenses. in fact, i'm told by multiple sources that mcconnell has been furious, furious that before the attack occurred that republicans were lining up with the president, trying to overturn election results, even angrier in the wake of the attack. not just because of the attack itself, but the lack of contrition from president trump. so where mcconnell lands on this, still very much an open question. it is incredibly noteworthy that mcconnell is not rejecting this out of hand. keep in mind, in 2020 after impeachment articles were sent over to the senate, mitch mcconnell was one of the president's most vocal and forceful defenders. not this time around. that has left senate republicans trying to figure out where this is all going to land. in fact, mcconnell hadn't sent words to republicans on where he stood on things until a couple of hours ago and many republicans i talked to say their bosses trying to figure out where this leaves them. completely unnerved, unsettled and outraged by what occurred a week ago, many of them placing
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the blame directly on president trump. whether that means at least 17 of them will join with all 50 democrats to convict the president, that is still an open question. we did get some sense of where the republican party stands today. it is in the middle of a rupture. 10 republicans joined with democrats, the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of the united states. 197 republicans, even though they were in the house chamber or in the house complex when the attack occurred on january 6th voted not to impeach president trump. many of them saying it was a waste of time. many of them calling it divisive as well. the republican party is far from unified on this and there are major, major questions about where will this left-hand when it gets to the united states senate. one thing we do know, in fact, president trump has been impeached for the second time, the first president in the history of the united states.
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>> john, one article of impeachment. significant article. among other things, 232 members of the house of representatives, including 10 republicans, voted in favor of this sentence president trump gravely endangered the security of the united states and its institutions of government. that's a powerful indictment of a sitting president, even though he only has seven days left in office. >> it is stunning, just as we were stunned when we were in this studio one week ago, watching people wearing maga hats, carrying trump banners storming into that capitol. breaking windows. nancy pelosi is going to speak moments from now, standing at the podium we saw one of those rioters trying to steal. it's the very same podium. she's doing it for a reason, to send a signal here. on this defining day, the president of the united states has been impeached and the charge is that he essentially cooperated, orchestrated, organized an attack on his own government. think about that.
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think about that. we get caught up in this. there's so much happening. there's so many moving parts. this historic vote just happened. the president of the united states was impeached for inciting an attack on his government, on one of its monuments, the united states capitol. he will fight this. he will protest this because of the timing of the senate trial, his attorneys, whoever they end up being, will argue that you can't to it, that he's already gone, that it's moot. judges have been impeached in the past even after they resigned and left. there's some precedent for that. we have another chapter of the second trump impeachment to play out the senate trial. phil makes a point that everybody needs to consider and consider carefully. the door is wide open for senate republicans now. it was not when he was impeached the first time. it was very clear senate republicans were not going to go along and only mitt romney stood up and voted yes on one of the two counts. mitch mcconnell saying he is open minded, essentially guarantees there will be republican yes votes.
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maybe not his but essentially guarantees there will be republican yes votes. how many? can they get to 17, can they convict? it's not for actions. trump will be gone by then. do they include prohibiting him from ever seeking office again? that's a big deal. mitch mcconnell would like that, as a threat of force to be gone from american politics. how does it complicate the biden presidency, what happens to the house republicans now that they are so divided? we wait for the senate chapter. we still don't know. will this diminish trump in the post-presidency? republican voting for it in the house and thinking about voting for it in the senate are thinking about. they want a dimminished, shrunken trump on the sidelines. he doesn't have social meimmedie
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at his disposal. >> you need a two-thirds majority in the senate to convict, 67 senators. so you need 17 republicans. let's go to kaitlan collins at the white house. president trump threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperiled a co-equal branch of government. lot of strong words in that historic resolution. >> yeah, wolf. and even the republicans, who were defending the president today were pointing to a lot of his past actions, what they were saying were accomplishments of his time in office and not necessarily focusing on the words he used a week ago, as phil was talking about. that's not how the president has been viewing things. he has said his speech was totally appropriate. he has expressed no regret over that. so we have not really heard from the president today, beyond one statement that jim jordan read on the house floor. but other than that, he has remained behind closed doors. he did partake in a metal of
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arts ceremony with the singer toby keith. other than that, unlike the last impeachment for donald trump, he can't respond in real time on twitter, like he is comfortable doing so, especially given seeing people like kevin mccarthy, chip roy, two republicans come out and condemn the president's actions, say he does bear responsibility for those attacks that happened last week. we're now learning from sources that the president is expected to release a video tonight, addressing what happened today. it's not clear exactly what the president is going to say. it's not even clear how the white house is going to release it, given that he does not have access to twitter or social media platforms because of the words he used and how outraged the response has been in response to all of this. we should note as john was saying, we're looking ahead to what the senate trial will look like. there's no clear legal strategy developed for the president yet. mitch mcconnell said he will
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wait to hear the legal arguments. it's not clear if he has a legal team put together. he has been telling people call alan dershowitz. we expect rudy giuliani to be involved. that's remarkably different than the last time the president was impeached. the president has been increasingly isolated from his top aides. still remains to be seen. >> we'll see if we get a statement from the president of the united states. he has lost twitter, instagram and facebook. we'll see how he releases that videotape. this is the first time we pointed out in american history the president has now been impeached twice. the second time around, this time, there was bipartisan support for impeachment. ten republicans voted in favor of impeaching the president. and that is significant. >> yeah. it's not just bipartisan. it is the most bipartisan impeachment in american history,
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far exceeding the number of people in the opposing party who voted to impeach clinton or johnson. so i do think it is significant. on the other hand, wolf, it is still a vast minority of the house republican caucus, most of whom are still devoted to president trump. most of whom are in a state of denial about the fact that he incited this riot, this terrorist attack on the capitol that put their own lives at risk, which is stunning in and of itself. you know, i know a number of people, and i know there are a lot of americans out there who have seen, are friends with or married to or related to people who have drunk the trump kool-aid, who have become radicalized by this president, who believe all of his lies, despite the evidence in front of their faces. and, dana, it's just -- it's a
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shocking thing to behold when you know people like this. and it's also shocking like -- i don't know about you but there are republican members of congress i know who clearly have lost their minds, who just will not accept reality when it comes to the facts about donald trump. >> and that's kind of what i was trying to refer to earlier when i said they know better. and it's because so many of these republicans, they understand how the elections worked. they understand what is really going on. and for the most part, they are saying what they're saying not because they are true believers, but it's because they're scared of their base. they are scared of the president's retribution. and that's why they know better and they're doing this. one of the things that this
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whole last week has really showed us is that there's a question of what it means to be a leader. and we have seen people like liz cheney and mitch mcconnell try to show the people who respect them where to go and lead them there. and then there are so many others who are following the pack. even though the pack is going in the wrong direction. the pack is following the lies. >> like kevin mccarthy. >> and that is a huge dichotomy that we're seeing. it matters for so many reasons, not the least of which is where is this republican part going to go? and how is it going to be post-trump in one week? >> are they going to let the marjorie taylor greens of the qanon caucus run the show and determine what the agenda is and determine what the language is and have these stand-offs over
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walking through a metal detector on capitol hill a week after the hill was stormed by violent protesters? i mean, this is the kind of thing that i think -- it's a frustration, a quiet frustration among establishment republicans about where the party is headed. they foal they've lost control of that situation and they can't get back to the basics of what this party used to be about. you know, i think that the problem, though, is that there's not any -- to your point, dana, leadership and people saying enough is enough. no one is willing to do that except for a few. people like liz cheney horngs been relentlessly attacked by this president, willing to say there's a right thing and a wrong thing. i'm going to do the right thing, regardless of the political consequences of it. and even mitch mcconnell, i think in many ways, has an opportunity right now. he doesn't need donald trump at this point. donald trump just lost him two senate seats and the senate
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majority. he could come out and make a more forceful statement about what's right and what's wrong. and maybe he will. maybe we will hear that from him next week. this is an opportunity for the leaders in the party, the house and in the senate to say where they want their own party to go. otherwise, it's going to be overtaken by the loudest voices. we saw so many of them speaking on the floor today. these are people, even like matt gates, congressman from florida, who went out there and basically said president trump was right when he claimed there was widespread fraud in this election. that is completely false. that is a conspiracy theory. and people like that are speaking for the republican party. >> marjorie taylor green, crazy congresswoman from georgia, anti-semitic, supports qanon and says the plane didn't hit the pentagon on 9/11, she tweeted during this, a week after the terrorist attack that democrats are the enemy of the people. i think it's -- i don't know if there's such a job as a politic
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political exorcist, but they need to get these people out. what happens to donald trump, jamie gangel? there has never been a president this disgraced before in the history of this republic, not nixon, not johnson, andrew johnson. what now? >> there's one thing we know. the winning is over. the legacy is over. there is no debate about this presidency by any sane person. look, we've had cabinet members re resign. we've had staff resign or slip away. and there's another issue for donald trump here, and that is that the brand is gone.
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the things he cares about, his businesses, golf courses, making money. he is a pariah. we have seen donors, big companies, they have written him off. i think just to circle back to the republican party, they're going to have to figure out what that means for them. do they want to be pariahs too? >> yeah. and you have the grown children of president trump, who are going to have to deal with this albatross around their necks because they've been part of this indecency as well, jamie. let's go back to wolf blitzer. >> thanks, jake. i want to go to manu raju on capitol hill. manu, the minority leader in the senate, chuck schumer, about to become the minority leader in the senate, has issued a statement. >> reporter: he's making it very clear, there will absolutely be a trial in the united states
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senate and says if they're successful in prosecuting their case, donald trump will never hold office again. he says he needs to be a trial immediately but otherwise he expects it to happen when joe biden is president. i'll read you a small part of it here. he says that a senate trial can begin immediately if they have an agreement with mitch mcconnell but absent that, he said it will begin after january 19th, january 19th being the day the senate is currently scheduled to come back into session. make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the united states senate. there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again. that is a key question. also the question, how exactly does this trial take shape? what does it look like? do democrats demand more witnesses in do they demand documents? is it going to take weeks to play out? if it passes prolog, these trials do take some time to take
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place. here is a different story. we're seeing an historically fast impeachment process in the house. the trial will happen after donald trump leaves office. how long will democrats want to pursue this in the new biden administration as the new president is trying to fill out his cabinet, get senate confirmation hearings, votes on the books that will require republican support to schedule quick votes on his cabinet nominees. those are key questions going forward for the democrats about how they plan to prosecute their case but it's very clear now that mitch mcconnell, while he's not ruling out convicting the president, and there's speculation that he could even provide key votes to convict donald trump, he is making it cheer that this is going to wait until the new president is sworn in and chuck schumer here, making it clear when the new president is sworn in, they'll move forward on this trial and if schumer gets his way, donald trump will be convicted and won't hold office again. >> manu, one of the advantages of actually having a trial and potentially convicting the
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president of impeachment is that there will be a clause in there that he could never run for any federal office again. >> yeah. absolutely right. can't hold office. he's done. and we know that donald trump has indicated that he could potentially run again in 2024. he has said that privately to his associates. but that was, of course, before last week's deadly riot that he incited here in the u.s. capitol. the likes of mitch mcconnell, other republicans, would be happy to get rid of donald trump. can they do that by convicting him, joining forces with the democrats? it will be a difficult decision for a number of these republican senators, particularly ones who are up for re-election in 2022, may be concerned about facing a primary challenge if they were to cross donald trump and get backlash from trump's supporters. there are a lot of questions. if mitch mcconnell is a yes in the trial, a lot of republicans can go his way and the expectation is they could get to 67 votes needed for conviction.
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>> we'll go back to capitol hill momentarily. we're expecting the house speaker nancy pelosi to have a news conference. you can see where she will be sitting at that news conference with the american flag behind her. gloria borger, give us some perspective right now on what we've seen today and what we're about to see. >> well, wolf, we have been talking about this all day. what we have seen is stunning, although in many ways, given the history of donald trump over these past four years, it is not completely surprising. this has been a president who has little regard for the norms of governance, and it seems after we saw what transpired last week that he has little regard for the norms of democracy and would be very happy to undermine democracy, which is what occurred. and i thought to myself, as i was listening to republican after republican call him essentially a victim of all of this, saying that the democrats
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just want to get rid of him and read all the wonderful things donald trump has done for the country, i made a list about all the things donald trump has dn for the republican party. he has lost the senate. he lost the house in 2018. he lost the presidency in 2020. he has now had two impeachments and he has split the party right down the middle. and he has incited an insurrection against the united states capitol. that's quite a record. >> yeah. david axelrod, as you're watching what's going on, give us your thoughts. >> well, look, let me just level set this conversation about the republicans for a second. gloria is absolutely right about what she just said. but it's also true that there was a poll this week that showed that 71% of republicans still approve of the president. a majority of the republicans don't think that he did anything wrong.
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that is why you saw what you saw on the floor. years ago, john f. kennedy wrote a book called "profiles in courage," it was about people willing to risk their political careers to do something of conscience for the country. that was a relatively thin volume, wolf, because it's not the norm for politicians to risk their careers. and we may say and we may believe, and i certainly do, that should be your obligation as a public official, but that is not the way of politics, not in washington and not anywhere else for that matter. and so the ten who stood up, they deserve to be in that volume. and they deserve our respect for what they did. but we should understand, the republican party is not split right down the middle. right now, the republican party is still a donald trump party. maybe that will change in the wake of this. what mitch mcconnell, it seems to me, is trying to do is figure out how to lose -- he lived with trump. he tried to harness what trump
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had to offer over the last four years to help him retain power. now trump has become an albatross and is looking for a way to get rid of trump. it may be through the conviction process and the disbarment from public service, but as long as trump is hanging around, unless his numbers change because of this, he's still a potent force in the republican party. and he sows a lot of fear among republican politicians. >> he certainly does. norm eizen is here, an expert in this area. walk us through about an impeachment trial in the senate. not for a current, sitting president, but for a former president, as the chief justice of the u.s. supreme court. does the u.s. chief justice still preside? >> wolf, i had the privilege of spending weeks on the floor of the senate as counsel to the house managers, so i've lived with those senators who are
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about to be presented with this choice. the constitution provides that for the president, the chief justice shall preside. we haven't had an impeach trial of an ex-president. so the first order of business is going to be for the house, the senate, the parliamentarian to figure out if that means that the chief justice also provides for an -- presides for an ex-president. the next question will be if not, who does preside? in that case, the vice president, the president of the senate. you can see the conflict with having her preside. the most senior member of the majority party, that will be the democrats. i believe their most senior member is senator leahy, who i often talked to, reflected on the history of the previous impeachment trial. he may end up presiding. it's unresolved question.
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this much is clear. twice before the senate has had an impeachment trial for an ex-officer, an ex-senator and an ex-secretary of war. clearly, the president can be impeached. as john adams wrote, he can be impeached to his last dying day. so we will see a trial of ex-president donald trump. >> you can see -- our viewers can see live pictures of st statuary hall. national fward troops are in statuary hall you. they've been all over washington as we get ready, a week from today, for joe biden's inauguration. 20,000 troops have been mobilized. there are more u.s. military troops activated and many of them, as i personally saw earlier today, armed. more troops here in washington,
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three times as many u.s. troops in the nation's capitol right now, fully mobilized and armed, as opposed to how many u.s. troops are still in iraq, afghanistan and syria. a lot more military personnel here in washington right now, and that speaks volumes about the security concerns under way right now here in washington, d.c. not just on capitol hill, but all over washington, the monuments. if you drive around washington as i did earlier today, you see police, law enforcement, military personnel armed once again all over the place. right on regular street corners, which you don't normally see. you see it if you go, as i said earlier, in the olden days to baghdad or mosul or fallujah, you see u.s. military personnel on every corner. you don't necessarily expect to see that here in washington, d.c. eli hoenig, our analyst, is with
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us as well. everyone is bracing that he's about to issue a whole bunch more pardons, maybe even a pardon for himself. i'm curious what you think. >> yeah, wolf, that absolutely could happen. traditionally, abuse of the pardon power is meant to be remedied by the impeachment power. what we are seeing here is exactly why the constitution creates the impeachment power in the first place. here we have a president who already, regardless of what he may do in the next week, has already attacked our democratic process, attacked the trmp of power, has attacked another branch of the u.s. government, has undermined our national security. there's only one tool in our constitutional and legal system that is up to the task of addressing that. that is impeachment. wolf, when they study this 50 years from now, 100 years from now in law schools, the way they will study this, they'll say this is is exactly what impeachment is intended for. >> as we look at what's going on
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right now, and you and i have been in this business for a while. it's extraordinary. it's amazing to think about having an impeachment trial in the u.s. senate not for a sitting president, like bill clinton or the first time trump was impeached a year or so ago, or for andrew johnson, back a long time ago, but for a former president of the united states, precisely because they want to punish him. they want to show what he did was awful and they want to make sure he could never run for president again. >> i think eli makes an interesting point. we are all dizzy in this moment. we had a fiercely fought election, followed by two months of the president lying about it, followed by an attack on our u.s. government one week ago today, followed by an historic impeachment vote today. donald trump impeached in and of itself historic. now the only president to be impeached twice. a permanent stain on his legacy. what will people think in 50 to 100 years? i don't know the answer to that
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question. i do know right now this town is stunned. one interesting part of the debate, republicans arguing this is is no way to heal the country at this divided moment, no matter what you think about what happened last week or about the president's conduct in the last two months or the last four years, repeated lies and conspiracy theories. republicans saying it's time to heal. democrats say no, the way you heal is justice and accountability. without justice and accountability, you can't have healing. one of the things that makes this debate distinctive is that for those republicans who were willing, since the election, to say the president is wrong. it was fair, joe biden is the next president of the united states. we should remember what they said today. we should go back and look at what they said today and respect what they said today. even if you disagree with them, they deserve to be listened to. the challenge is if you're kevin mccarthy, the leader of house republican, steve scalise, the number two, nearly 140 of the house republicans stood with the president for two months in his
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lies, including after the riots. the problem for the republican party is do these lawmakers have credibility? do they have standing? when they're standing up for justice and healing and truth and law and order when, for two months, they participated in the climate that the president stoked one week ago tonight, one week ago today that led to this moment. it's a defining moment for the president. it's a defining stain, indelible for the president. we're nearing the end of his term and will have a trial after his term ends and will determine what his future is. this is the party of lincoln, the party of reagan, which is still the party of trump. many people are trying to escape from that. they put themselves in a box because they enabled him the last two months. many have enabled him the last four years. they've ignored the facts, the truth. they've attacked us and institutions. and the reward for that was the united states government, the building they serve in, being
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attacked a week ago. we need a two-party system. we need a good debate about all the big issues before us. but many of those republicans simply don't have the standing or credibility right now because of the box they've put themselves in. >> an awful box, indeed. gloria, there's clearly a very heightened state of alert here in washington right now. >> yeah. >> enormous security concerns. there always are for every inauguration. hundreds of thousands want to witness history. because of the coronavirus that's not going to happen this time. originally there may be 5,000, 10,000. there's been an announcement that 20,000 national guard troops, mostly armed, are already being deployed here in washington, d.c. right now. many of them were actually sleeping inside the u.s. capitol yesterday, getting ready for their new assignments. we applaud all of them for what doing, protecting us.
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these fences that have been built around the entire area. normally tourists can walk around, see the u.s. capitol. i can assure you, that's not happening right now. this heightened state of alert, national security concerns, is legi legitimate, gloria. explain a little bit why. >> well, it's legitimate because of what we have just gone through. what occurred a week ago on january 6th, which was an armed insurrection against the united states capitol. and the more distance we get from that insurrection, the more we really understand how much worse it could have been, wolf. we understand there was a potential here for a hostage taking, for a massacre. and members of congress that i've spoken to, in a way, feel lucky that things did not get worse. so what we do is we react to what happened last week. we have a celebration for those who voted for joe biden coming in to town next week, and it's very difficult to try and figure
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out how you have a celebration without allowing celebrants, the way we normally see them along a parade route when there's a new president. it's going to be very different this time. very, very different this time. i see those pictures of the national guard inside the united states capitol and around the capitol. and, of course, as you said, we have to thank them for their service and what they are doing to protect people who want to be here and to protect people who are trying to do their work at the capitol. but the country is on edge because of what we saw last week and with good reason. >> very good reason. basically a week ago, what we saw here at the nation's capitol, who could have believed that kind of destruction that was going on? >> and the fbi, the fbi is telling us that there are, you know, more demonstrations, riots, whatever you want, planned or talked about in all
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of 50 states. so now all states have to be on guard. all stays have to do in their state capitals what you see going on in the united states capitol. >> so sad indeed. let's bring in evan -- i'm getting mixed instruction over here. john king, let's talk a little bit about this national security threat that's under way here in washington right now. we're watching it unfold very, very seriously. enormous amount of concern. the mayor of washington, mayor muriel bowser has basically told everyone now, there's seven days to go. this is not a good time to visit washington, d.c. >> think about the many times during our careers and our times in washington where we've seen this escalated, right? this time it's because of an attack on the united states capitol by american citizens. that's what makes it so depressing and sad, even as it is urgent. if you read the words of the fbi
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bulletins, if you talk to secret service, capitol police, park police, people now sharing information. they think it is urgent. they believe they have seen chatter. some of it is just chart, yes. last week taught us, some of it is is not. some of these people are willing to break into the u.s. capitol, some are willing to bring zip ties, what you ooh use to take hostages. now we have fortress washington. that's a shame. you could drive past the white house when i moved to washington. even before 9/11 that changed and since 9/11 that has changed significantly. those are mostly responses to foreign terrorism. timothy mcveigh, that was a domestic event and security around places was fortified because of that. we are lisk now, as the point was made earlier, by one of our anchors earlier on the air today, i believe it was jake, there are more troops in
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washington, d.c. right now than there are in afghanistan. that is a sad moment in a democracy, whether you're a democrat, republican, an independent, whether you're not sure, whether you're watching from around the world. but it is necessary. the biden inauguration was already going to be significantly scaled back because of covid. but after a horrific 2020, when we had the pandemic concerns, and now we have an anxious 2021, we are still -- the pandemic is still rising. i was going to say we're at the peak of the pandemic. i wish i could say that. the pandemic is still going. there are those concerns anyway, huge concerns. now these security concerns, the picture our producer sent of the national guard, these men and women, sleeping on the floors in the office buildings, around the u.s. capitol, getting some sleep before they go to work. it's stunning. it knocks you back on your heels. again, we are here. we would not be here. those pictures would not exist if the president of the united states had respected the will of
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the people, respected the election and listened when he asked for recounts and the answer was, you lost. when he asked for recounts again and the answer was you lost. when he went to court and judge after judge after judge, including judges he appointed, said you have no evidence. if the president of the united states had respected that, meaning the system, the rules, facts and law, we wouldn't be here. >> breaking news coming into "the situation room" right now, investigation into the deadly insurrection at the u.s. capitol a week ago, and new evidence that it was planned. senior justice correspondent evan perez is joining us right now. you're working the story, evan. what are you learning? >> wolf, one of the big questions for investigators has been whether or not -- whether the people who attacked the capitol, whether this was just a mob that just got out of control or whether there was planning. and we're learning from people we're talking to familiar with
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the investigation that they're getting indications, some evidence they're seeing that indicates that there was some level of planning. they've noticed from looking at surveillance cameras, from looking at some of the weaponry that showed up that there were people who were at the ellipse where there was a trump rally, people left the scene of that rally early and apparently had gone to retrieve weapons that then turned up at the scene of the riot, at the capitol. that that's leading prosecutors and investigators at the fbi to figure out what the level of coordination and planning was. now, there is, at this point, nothing determined for sure, right? investigators still believe there's a lot of work to be done to try to unearth all the evidence that could be here. they're looking at travel records. they're looking at communications. they're looking at money. they're trying to figure out whether these groups were coordinating with each other
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whether they were disparate groups that were at work essentially. they're looking at the weapons we see on some of those videos. sledge hammers, ropes. clearly, people brought weapons. they stored them some place. and then they used them to try to attack the capitol. and that's why they were able to breach the entrances on multiple sides. and so that's one of the things that you see counterterrorism and public corruption investigators now focusing on, wolf. >> it's clear now, and based on everything the fbi has learned, it was not some sort of spontaneous decision by a bunch of, quote, protesters to go up to capitol hill and storm capitol hill. this was all planned out. and all of these people, we heard yesterday from the fbi and the department of justice, the acting u.s. attorney, they're going after them. there are going to be a lot more arrests, not just in the coming
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days and weeks but months. this is a huge, huge operation. >> right. and the sedition part of this is what they're focusing on. you have a strike team of prosecutors on all sides focusing on this big question, will you can make a big sedition case. this will take weeks to do. >> if not months. stand by. jake, you have a special guest. >> that's right, former fbi director james comey, author of the new book "saving justice: truth, transparency and trust." i want to talk about what investigators are looking into. how much of this was a spontaneous attack on the capitol? obviously to a degree, some of the people in the capitol were there, incited by what they heard at the mall. how much of it was planned? how much of this was strategized ahead of time? as i know you're not in the fbi
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anymore, but you have such experience, when you look at what happened, what do you see? >> well, what evan described makes good sense to me. that the fbi would be doing two things simultaneously. first, going immediately to find the bad actors all over the country that they can lay hands on and charging them, but also exploring this question about conspiracy. there's no doubt that at least some conspiracy theorists, people walking around exercising their first amendment rights don't bring ropes, sledge hammers to a spontaneous event. this was a planned event, as if going after a castle. who funded it, who knew about it, who supported it, who funded it are questions that will need to be answered. i'm sure they feel tremendous pressure to move quickly because of the ongoing threat. >> the incitement that people accuse president trump of did not just occur at the rally that morning. it's been going on for months,
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as he talked about, the election being stolen, which obviously did not happen. so the question is, of the people who stormed the capitol, how many were incited that morning and how many were incited in the previous weeks, right? i mean, is that how you would look at that? >> sure. what was their motivation? who recruited them to the event? how did they travel to the event? who paid for the supplies? look at what radicalized them is going to be important. it goes back farther, as you mentioned. the michigan state house, and that was about the coronavirus. that will be part of the investigation. >> it's very -- there's a high bar for the prosecution for incitement. there's a supreme court case that one of the president's defenders cited today on the house floor involving a klansman in ohio. interesting company. as a prosecutor, is that something that you would bring forward, that you would try to
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prosecute trump, trump jr., rudy giuliani, mo brooks, any people who incited that morning or in the previous weeks and months? >> if i were the u.s. attorney, i would want to take a very close look at it. for good reason. that's a very high bar. it requires you to prove something more than words of exaltation. the speaker has to be almost directing them to go into this attack mode. it's hard to prove that, especially when you're talking about a public official, but it has to be looked at. when rudy giuliani is talking about trial by combat, are there reasonable understandings of those words that are innocent or not involved in an actual urging of people to violence? you would want to stare at that very closely. >> we should point out for clarence brandenburg, the klansman in ohio, there was no
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direct connection to violence thaties hes words were connected to. for president trump, there is. if you were advising the biden justice department, would you say go look at this? it doesn't matter where it leads. we theed to get to the bottom of it. there needs to be accountability, even if that means former president trump? >> if i were still there, i would want the justice department and the fbi to take a complete look at all the actors on the mall and the capitol and connected that day. whether to pursue a prosecution of former president trump is a really hard question. you want to have an understanding of the facts and then make a thoughtful decision about that. >> in terms of the plotting and planning, mikie sherrill, a navy veteran, says she wants an investigation into allegations that other members of congress were giving what she called -- what congresswoman sherrill calls reconnaissance tours before the attack. keep in mind because of covid there's not tours of the capitol
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going on, and there were members of congress touring and showing all these people who were in town for the swran 6th rally, showing them around the capitol. majority whip clyburn and others have raised questions about whether capitol police officers might have been complicit. what do you think? how concerned are you about these reports that, you know, as abby said, quoting the movie, "he knows you're alone," the calls are coming from inside the house. >> it's a very concerning notion that might have had help from inside. obviously, incredibly concerning if members of congress were part of it or police officers. you would want to look at that as the fbi. you would want to gather information on everybody who was in the capitol in the days leading up to it and try to understand why they were there and what their motivation was. so all of that will fall within the scope of the investigation and i bet they are on it already. >> somebody who was a congressional reporter for years, that is a very, very confusing complex. it is not easy to find your way
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around. and a lot of these folks seemed to find their way around with a little bit of ease. what concerns do you have about the inauguration next week, given last week's violence and the threats we're seeing, and the suspicions that democratic members of congress have about some of their republican colleagues? >> well, you have the secret service, which will be in charge of this special national security event. you want to take the threat very, very seriously and make sure you're bringing to bear overwhelming resources to lock it all down. the whole area. all the people. you have to understand it and control it completely. now there's a very serious threat. and i am concerned about it. at the same time i've been involved in two inaugurations and the security operation. we have the capability, the resources and the expertise to lock it down in a good way. you don't want to have false comfort. take the threat seriously. it can be done in a way that
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keeps everybody safe. >> james comey, "saving justice: truth, transparency and trust." thank you for joining us this afternoon. wolf? >> thank you very much. important interview, indeed. we're waiting for nancy pelosi to show up. she's about to have what's called an engrossment ceremony, signing the one article of impeachment. we don't know when it will actually be sent over to the senate. you can see that lectern there. it's very significant. that's the lectern that was actually stolen by one of the rioters who came in. we all saw that picture of that individual walking around with that truly historic lectern. it has been put there deliberately by the speaker. you see that picture of that organizer of the insurrection, and you can see that lectern is back in place, doing what it's supposed to do, not being picked
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up and man handled by that individual, john. that was one of the most shocking -- we saw so many. the video, pictures. and we were told yesterday by the fbi, they have so much more of that closed circuit video. there are little cameras all over the place up on capitol hill, and they're going to be using it to prosecute these individuals. >> the man you just saw there holding that has already been charged. i believe he's released on bail but is facing charges, including trying to steal federal property, government property. the bigger charge is breaking into the building to begin with. >> a felony. >> this is an attack on the united states government. i said this a week ago. activism, protests is one of the greatest traditions in american life and every american, even if krur wrong, has a right to protest it. you do not have a right to break into government office buildings or any office buildings. you do not have a right and the fact that in this day and age including most of those
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protesters outside you could see the pictures, they were taking selfies of themselves, they were posting images of themselves. dana bash reported earlier, some of them flocked to -- when the president released one of his videos to see what is he asking us to do. in this smartphone high security age that they did not think there would be hundreds if not thousands of photos of them, and i read an account from one of our reporters this morning that the fbi has received more than 100,000 digital tips. all of these people were photographed committing their crimes, and now justice will come. >> and nancy pelosi's about to walk in, into this room, to that lectern. she'll be joined by the majority leader steny hoyer, the majority whip james clyburn, the assistant speaker katherine clark. the impeachment managers from the house who will make the case before the senate once there's a trial shall sign the documents over there. this is the rayburn room in the u.s. capitol in washington, d.c. people have gathered already. gloria, this is a ceremony, if you will, but it's very, very significant, coming very soon
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after the vote in the house of representatives impeaching this president for the second time. >> it's very significant, and it's a very somber ceremony. i think the mood there today was very somber. there is no escaping that this is the second impeachment of this president. i think the managers of impeachment in the house have a lot of decisions to make right now. they have to decide what they're going to do when this goes to the united states senate, how many witnesses they're going to have, how long a trial they're going to have. i spoke with somebody in senate leadership the other day on the democratic side. they're trying to figure out whether, for example, they could hold impeachment hearings in the morning and do business in the afternoon, how that would work. what story will they tell the american people? and lots of us watched it on television along with each other.
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we've seen the pictures. as john is saying, how much cell phone video have we seen. how many stories are they going to tell? and also what's so different about this trial is that the judges in the senate were the witnesses to what occurred because their lives were endangered. they were attacked. and so will members of the congress become witnesses in the trial to convict donald trump? >> yeah. and i just want to set the scene once again. in this rayburn room in the u.s. capitol where the ceremony is about to take place, the speaker will be at that lectern. the article of impeachment, which is entitled "incitement of insurrection," already there on the table. that will be signed and eventually sent over to the senate for a trial. david axelrod, it's ceremonial but it's so, so significant. >> yeah, it really is. and you know, we've talked about people want justice. but this is beyond justice.
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this is about accountability. if we don't have accountability in our system, then the system doesn't work. and so you can't let donald trump run out the clock and escape any sort of penalty for what he's done. and for a president of the united states that penalty is impeachment. it's beyond pardon. you can't touch him that way. so this is very, very important. this is the start of a process that is really significant to our democracy. >> you know, they're meeting right now, we're told, the house impeachment managers meeting with nancy pelosi to go through the whole process. jamie raskin, the congressman from maryland, he's the lead impeachment manager right now. so they're working out a lot of the details of how this is going to unfold. but clearly, there's not going to be a trial in the senate. the earliest there could be, maybe january 19th, the day before the inauguration, but almost certainly after the new
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administration takes office, after trump leaves office and becomes a former president of the united states. presumably there still will be this trial. >> which is inconvenient for joe biden but necessary for the accountability i spoke of. he obviously wants to get out of the gate fast with his cabinet and wants to tackle the emergencies that we face in terms of the virus and the economy. but this has to be done. they're talking about bifurcating the day over in the senate according to senator schumer and tackling this half the day and tackling their other business the other half of the day. but the interesting thing is what senator mcconnell will do. we've been talking about this all day. you know, it is very, very clear that iron kind of barrier the president had set up in the senate during his first impeachment is no longer going to be there for him. his defense team has basically left him. he's got -- the legal team that represented him. and it's very clear that mitch
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mcconnell is not going to be the guy who stands up and defends him in front of the united states senate and tries to control the process in the way he certainly can as the minority leader. so what happens there will be very, very interesting. the house will proceed as the house has. they are going to be very well organized. not clear what kind of defense the president, or the former president, is going to be able to mount for himself. >> i want to bring norm eisen into this conversation. norm, in this article of impeachment that was passed by the house of representatives, 232 in favor, including 10 republicans, 197 opposed, one sentence jumps out at me, that they're going to have to try to prove in a formal trial in the u.s. senate. they say that the president betrayed his trust as president to the manifest injury of the people of the united states. so they're going to have to bring witnesses before the trial in the senate to make that case.
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walk us through that process, how you think it's going to unfold. >> the best witness, wolf, to the president's betrayal of trust against the people of the united states is donald trump himself. the two most important pieces of evidence that we have are his speech to the insurrectionists when he incited them, he used language of we have to fight and if you don't fight your country will be taken away from you. let's march down pennsylvania avenue. we saw the results. and then, wolf, the other most important piece of evidence is the tape, the audiotape of his shocking conversation with brad raffensperger, the secretary of state of georgia. can you find 11,000-plus votes, 11,780 votes, one more than necessary to flip georgia for me.
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that's important because that insurrection speech that we saw on january 6th wasn't a one-time epi episode. the president had been stoking the flames, building up the anger in his followers. he lied to them. he deceived them. but you can understand, they heard that their democracy was being stolen. for months, even before the election had started. if i lose the election is rigged. so those pooh-twtwo pieces of e will be the most important. i think it's very important, having been there for the trial of one of these cases on the floor of the senate as counsel to house managers, i do not think this is a complicated or a hard case. i've explained why the evidence is straightforward and the law is straightforward, wolf. of course it's a high crime and misdemeanor for a president to incite insurrection against his own government. not just the congress, not just a coordinate branch of the government, but his own vice president was put in peril by his words and by that long
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pattern of conduct that preceded those words on january 6th. so the law is clear and the facts are clear. what's not clear, david talked about this before, will the members of the senate have the courage to do the right thing? they know. i talked to them behind the scenes during the last trial. they know donald trump is not fit to run again for president or to spend another minute as president. they'll be confronted with the question of disqualification. and all it takes once he's convicted by 67 votes, just 51 to disqualify him. if ever a president should be disqualified from running again it's donald trump. >> but you've already heard the one legal argument that the president's legal experts are making, norm, that the constitution speaks about impeaching a president. it doesn't -- and convicting a president. it doesn't speak about convicting a former president.
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he will be a former president at the time of the trial. and they say as a result that whole trial is unconstitutional. >> wolf, these legal arguments we've heard are flimflam. they were bad in the first trial and they were terrible tied, what we heard on the floor of the senate. there are two precedents for ex-high-ranking officials being tried in impeachment after they were out of office. there's the blount case from the 18th century and the belmap case from the 19th century. while they weren't presidents it's the same legal principle. as john adams wrote, a founder and a framer, if anyone would know this he would. to my last dying day i could be impeached. so the fact, just like these bogus first amendment arguments and these garbage due process arguments we heard today, these
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are not real legal arguments, wolf. it's like the president's phony legal and factual arguments that were thrown out by over 60 courts across the country that the election was stolen. these are not serious legal arguments. >> all right, norm, stand by. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." we're standing by for statements by the house speaker nancy pelosi and the house impeachment managers after the house delivered an unprecedented bipartisan rebuke of president donald trump. he now stands impeached for a second time. a double stain on his legacy that no other u.s. president has ever faced that will stay with him forever. john king, once again, we're standing by for this formal ceremony. it's called an engrossment ceremony. the speaker will actually sign the article of impeachment. we'll hear from her, presumably others, and then they will go forward. she will have to


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