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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Biden: From the Outset, Trump Unleashed an All-Out Assault On Institutions Of Democracy; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Resigns, Citing Trump's Response To Capitol Riot; Feds Looking At Trump's Role In Inciting Insurrection. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 7, 2021 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In our view it crosses a constitutional line that Mr. Trump hasn't previously crossed. It is impeachable."

Later they write, "If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and then resign."

That, from the conservative "Wall Street Journal" that the Editorial, that, has just, come out, today, suggesting, the President should resign, lest he be impeached, saying that there is a case for impeachment. That is something obviously a lot of Democrats are looking at.

There are reports that Nancy Pelosi had been trying to reach Vice President Pence that he was not returning her call, knowing that it would be about the 25th Amendment. So, we continue to follow up tomorrow to see whether or not impeachment is something that the Democrats are going to be pursuing.

Obviously, that would be something that would have to be done extraordinarily quickly. There's 13 days in the administration left. Unclear exactly how the President is going to behave, over these next 13 days.

The video that was released a short time ago, obviously a very different tone, from this President, than we have heard. Of course, it was written by somebody else. It was spoken from a teleprompter and is certainly not reflective of what the President has been saying up until now.

We'll continue to see what tone he takes, and what other words he speaks tomorrow.

The news continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thanks for buying me some time. Appreciate it, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME. Everything's kind of happening in the moment, right, even me and my tie, why? Because everything's changing every second, and we have to focus on where we are and where we need to be.

Here's where things stand. That Trump mob that attacked the citadel of our democracy, our Capitol, they're being rounded up and charged. It's happening. We're learning more about who they are. They're not getting a pass, at least not yet.

As for who started it, Feds say they're looking into Trump himself. Now, as a matter of fact, this is obvious. Trump whipped up these special people that he loves with lie after lie, about the election being stolen, and that they must resist, they must show strength, and that he would lead them to the Capitol to stop them. He incited riot.

(VIDEO - U.S. CAPITOL RIOTS)

CUOMO: You see this. It was started with bad intentions. And then, a group of them, not all of them, but enough, went out and did exactly what Trump laid out for them to do.

And afterwards, in a moment where he had a chance, to condemn everything he says he opposes, everything they say they oppose, he told them he love them, and he gave them, a pass, the people who desecrated our sacred space.

Nobody has ever done anything like this. Have bad things come out of good intentions before, legitimate protests? Yes. And that's when they become crimes and riots. But anybody trying to excuse this as just more of the same is as bad as the people in that Capitol. And many people fall into that category.

Trump didn't do this alone. He put the message out there, but he didn't start this fire. He blew on it. And too many Re-Trump-licans, who are still in office, who will remain, have to answer for that. They listened. They looked on. And they did nothing. What you ignore you empower.

And then there's the echo chamber, people who pose as media but they're not. They're operatives. They're Re-Trump-licans. They're toxic partisans.

They're fringe actors magnified on social media and, in fact, inflated by lazy mainstream media, made relevant. They wanted this. Now they're trying to excuse it. They're trying to attack the people who do the job legitimately, as if we're the problem, after they attacked the Capitol.

So now, now is a critical point, why, because, now, Trump has people threatening to resign, Congress thinking about impeachment. So, what happens?

Not for you, not for the common good, but to obviously save his own skin, he goes bad, on the people he says he loved, right, and now, says the obvious thing.

[21:05:00]

Punishment for lawlessness, the need to reunite, you know, unite, respect the new administration, never mentions Biden by name, never congratulates him, never wishes him well, and puts it all together in a new video.

I'm not showing it to you. You can see it online. He's reading what someone else wrote for him. And, by the way, people will say "Oh, you see, he said the right thing. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't," no, no. He's damned for what he did.

And the statement that he just put out would have been fine a month ago, after the litigation was over in December. You can have due process. But now you're going to get your due, because what you have done to us has taken us to a low point.

And frankly, I don't know how we get out of it. It's easy to break. It's hard to fix. Democracy's fragile. We slept on that reality. We're all too complacent.

Too many people stood by and said he's just noise. Tell that to the people who were hiding for their lives in that Capitol, Republican and Democrat, by the way, belly-down, scared out of their wits, one of the lowest moments of my lifetime.

And yet, on the same day, we saw our potential. Those people got up, Right and Left, and decided to do something really reasonable, hold it there, and went back into that building, and did their job.

I don't even know that that was safe. But maybe it was worth the risk. Because if it had been stalled the way they wanted it to, if they had won, if they had gotten what they wanted, what Trump wanted, what Trump asked for, remember this, he wasn't the one in the Capitol destroying it, but that was what he wanted done. He asked for it.

What else do you need? How do you stand by someone like that? And if you are one of the people, who went in there, and think you did it for him, he just threw you under the bus too, just like Mike Pence. Why? Because, it's about him and, he has forsaken the rest of us.

But those people, in the ugliest moment, they showed America at her best. Now, look, it didn't hold. They went back in there and you had Re-Trump-licans, literally after an insurrection, people coming for their ass, continue to lie about a fraud just for gain. It's not perfect. Nothing is.

But here's the real deal. He was pushing people for the moment that was made yesterday for weeks. And it was obvious. And it was obviously ignored by Re-Trump-licans.

But it was clear to the man who will take over, the President-elect. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish we could say we couldn't see it coming. But that isn't true. We could see it coming.

The past four years, we've had a president, who has made his contempt for, our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset. And yesterday was what the culmination of that unrelenting attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The President-elect is right. And hopefully, there's a lesson in this, even for him, to understand the power of words, maybe better than he did before, and also for him to understand how big the task is that he has in front of him.

This is going to be hard. Saying unite doesn't make people unite. This is going to be tricky because so many people have been lied to and convinced to invest in an anger that's not going to be easy to quell.

So, let's try to just not focus on just Trump, Trump, Trump, and what's going to happen to Trump. I don't think anything's going happen to Trump, all right? We'll discuss it tonight. But I think it's about what remains.

Now you see people around him, some are resigning, saying it's because of this. CNN just learned that Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary, is resigning. I don't know about you, but my feeling is "So what?" It's not just too little too late.

But you don't get to look good after you've stood by for so much bad, especially DeVos. You went in there and basically tried to do the opposite of the mandate, of the agency that you were running. You tried to make educating kids harder, not easier. Why? You're going to have to ask her.

I can tell you what's obvious from the outside. That Trump has been about us and them and dividing people in his own country around the long - the wrong lines. So, she's out. Other ones are going to resign. So what?

I actually think it's the wrong thing to do. I think you should stay. Why? Because at least you'd have the decency to try to give the new administration the best running start it can have. This has been delayed too long as it is.

[21:10:00]

It's going to be hard to come into these agencies, you know, the Head leaves, DeVos leaves, I'm sure, a lot of her staff are going to go too. So, who's going to help people figure out how things work in that agency when they're new?

Why don't you have the decency to stay? The statement means nothing. You have no high ground. Why don't you just stay and help the next people? That's really the best gesture you could do. But you make up your mind on that for yourself. But here's what I will say. DeVos can leave. The other ones, they can leave. That doesn't mean they should disappear. This matters beyond Trump. He didn't do this alone, and he shouldn't be under fire alone.

Our democracy almost collapsed yesterday. That's not hyperbole. What if they had gone in there with weapons? God forbid! God forbid! We should not leave it up to grace to get ourselves out of situations of our own making.

Lawmakers, God forbid, the Vice - but look, I don't want to say it, but you have to say it. We could have lost people. A female rioter is dead, a veteran, three others. The threat remains.

The bad feelings, the bad practices don't go away because Trump will soon be gone. These crazy fringe groups remain rabid, and so do the Re-Trump-licans, who torched old glory, and pledged allegiance to the MAGA flag.

Remember, even after the insurrection, yes, they went back into the building, but they lied again. And you must know who they are, and you must not let them try to pretend to be anything else ever.

Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, astute legal minds, trying to think that you are stupid enough to believe that something happened that they can't show any proof of. That's where we need to be focused. Not on Trump. He's gone.

And now, I'm going to bring in Senator Amy Klobuchar, she was there, Minnesota. She was involved in a really powerful moment, early in the morning that we got to see, and you may have missed, because it was really early in the morning. But we watched it.

But Senator, I appreciate what you did last night. I really - I don't like what happened once you guys got back in there.

But the decision to go back into the Capitol, when I don't even know that we had any reasonable assurances that it was safe, I mean, we were finding out about explosive devices, when you guys had already decided to go back in.

Why did it matter so much to you guys to go back in last night, after what had happened?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Because we could not let the domestic terrorists win. We could not let an angry, violent mob run our government, walk in there, and think they could just stop everything in its tracks.

And I know, especially Senator Schumer felt so strongly about this, as the incoming Majority Leader of the United States Senate, as did really all the leaders. And it was a unified belief that we must go back in there.

So, we pushed, really pushed the envelope, so we could get back in there, so the American public could see, despite the horrific day we'd been through that we were in there doing our jobs. And it's really two things. It's one you that go back in there and take your rightful place. But secondly, we had to finish the job of declaring to the country that in fact Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won that election.

And there were people, as you point out, I was the one that took on, Ted Cruz, right before the Capitol security had been breached. And he was actually boasting about the fact in his argument that 30 percent, 40 percent of the public actually didn't trust the election.

And I took it directly on, and said "Why do you think they don't trust the election?" It was the exact Chris Cuomo argument. The argument you've been making for months that you haven't been putting your head down and ignoring this and saying nothing can happen. We saw what happened. And it's because of the rhetoric. And they know better.

And those were my words, right before this started, including it's a Republican - "It's a Republic, if we can keep it," quoting some words that were, at one point, attributed to Benjamin Franklin. And it turned out to be a very good indicator of what was going to happen later in the night.

CUOMO: Yes. "Monarchy or a Republic?" "A Republic, if you can keep it," Dr. Franklin said.

So, you were at opposite ends of the spectrum last night. At the end, in the early morning, do we have the moment with the Senator, and the Vice President?

KLOBUCHAR: Oh!

CUOMO: OK. So, Senator, obviously you know it because you lived it.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

CUOMO: But at the end of the proceedings, I want people to see what transpired between you and the Vice President Mike Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

(VIDEO - SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR FIST-BUMPS VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: There's Senator Klobuchar. There's Mike Pence. They're talking right now. And now, Klobuchar tries to punch him in the face, and misses, and winds up hitting him in the fist - no.

[21:15:00]

You fist-bumped Vice President Mike Pence, why? And what did that mean to you?

KLOBUCHAR: Look, what I was saying, I disagree with so many things he'd done, including, as you were saying, standing with this President.

But the point is, at this moment, he was willing to read the results, and declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were the President and Vice President of the United States, starting January 20th.

I thought that was significant, because, as you know, we have a huge part of the country, thanks to Donald Trump, and his enablers, who don't actually believe that this has happened. They don't believe that they won the election.

So I thought the fact that Pence stood up as well as, could I say, my Republican colleagues, who voted with us, 93 senators rejected these scurrilous claims, and baseless objections, together, and spent the whole day together, including, by the way, the moment when Joe Biden gave remarks.

And this hasn't been widely reported. And we were all shoved together in a room. And the minute Joe Biden came on, silence, came over the room, the entire Senate watched his speech, with respect, and clapped at the end. That happened, Chris.

So, to me, these were moments that I will never forget, including at 3:30 in the morning, when the only senators left were Senator Blunt, and myself, as the Head of the Rules Committee, and then the Vice President.

And we walked over with those remaining ballot boxes, after Josh Hawley's ridiculous objection on Pennsylvania had been outvoted, and we walked over to the House, and were greeted by Speaker Pelosi, and we then finished the reading of the roll call, did our job, and declared the winner of the 2020 election.

So, as horrible as the day was, that moment was the moment you cherish for our democracy. Democracy prevailed.

CUOMO: Well, look, you took an amazing risk. And I think the reward is there. Because if you had not done it, if it had been deemed not safe, or whatever, it would have really been an incentive to the wrong kinds of people.

One other thing, and then I'm going to let you go, Senator. And again, you have my thanks as a citizen, all of you, for going back into that room. I don't know that I would have had the bravery to do it, after something like that. So, I thank you. But--

KLOBUCHAR: But Chris, could I - could I just also mention--

CUOMO: Please?

KLOBUCHAR: --there was staff--

CUOMO: Yes.

KLOBUCHAR: --who had the presence of mind to save the ballot boxes.

CUOMO: Yes. KLOBUCHAR: They would have been destroyed, the boxes that contained the actual ballots, the electors from each state, would have been destroyed, by those criminals that came into the - the staff saved them.

And the line police officers, despite all the investigation we're going to have to undertake, on the lack of preparation, everything went wrong, there were police officers. That was the only reason we were able to go back there--

CUOMO: Yes.

KLOBUCHAR: --is because of people putting their lives at risk, and some of them severely injured, as you know.

CUOMO: A fair point. In everything that happened yesterday, you can't put everybody in the same bucket in any regard.

But just one more thing. Trump is gone. He leaves. And now, it looks like he was scared enough into submission. Good. But it's what remains.

Hawley and Cruz, after the insurrection, stood by an indefensible position that was done out of pure animus and self-interest. And it's dangerous, and they know it. And you have over 130 people, just like them, in the House.

This isn't civil disagreement. This isn't a policy disagreement. These are people who willingly stood up and lied, on the record, after an insurrection. How do you work with people like that?

KLOBUCHAR: There's going to be a reckoning. And I will tell you that there were a whole lot of Republicans that cannot stand what these guys did, including Conservative Republicans.

They know that what they did here, they did it for their own short- term destiny, is what I called it last night. I talked about the fact that people aren't going to remember who we were 100 years from now. They're not going to remember who we were maybe 50 years from now. But they're going to remember what we did last night.

And our job, as U.S. Senators, is to not put our own short-term destiny out front. It's to put democracy's destiny out front. And basically, people answered the call, made by many leaders in Congress, and they literally rebuked them in front of the country.

No matter how many fists Josh Hawley put up in the air to those insurrectionists, that will not be forgotten now because the nation has seen what happens when you not just enable Donald Trump, but you decide to use it for your own personal gain.

I think they're going to have to have a major problem. They will have major problems, in their own Party, and they're also going to have issues in their own states.

CUOMO: I will never forget. And I hope the country learns a lesson from it, and things are insisted upon to change.

But Senator Klobuchar, you have my thanks, for what you--

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

CUOMO: --and all the others and the staff, and the people who kept you safe, thank you for putting us first.

KLOBUCHAR: Agree. Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: God bless and be well.

[21:20:00]

So, what is this reckoning? What is the accountability? Trump incited a riot. He applauded it afterwards. He told the people, who performed in it that he loved them. Does he get charged for insurrection that he inspired. Is it seditious conspiracy? The Feds aren't ruling it out.

Let's walk through the possibilities, on the legal side, but also a flavor of the political practicality. Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe knows the law cold, and he understands the dynamic as well, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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CUOMO: We have a lot of information under the category of "What happens next?" Inside the White House, the dam has finally broken. Trump apparently has finally gone too far. They're running for the exits in the White House tonight.

We told you a moment ago that CNN has learned that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos just quit, supposedly over Trump's response to the attempted coup at the Capitol.

[21:25:00]

Just moments ago, CNN confirmed that the Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services just resigned. Her name is Elinore McCance- Katz. She says that she had planned to stay. But now, she says, "I cannot support language that results in incitement of violence and risks our very existence."

So now we're at two cabinet members gone, along with several White House staffers, including Stephanie Graham. Now, there is - sorry, Stephanie Grisham.

Now, there is no question that this matter. They show the level of disrepair around Trump. They show what he has wrought. They show why he may be remembered as the worst.

Why do I say "May" and not "Must" or "Will?" Because it's up to you, it's up to history. It's up to those who make up a reckoning about it. But they're absolutely evidence of that.

My point is there's also a "So what?" factor to this. I do not believe that these people receive a grace for what they're doing now. I don't think it's high ground.

I really believe the more responsible thing, with everything you stayed for, everything you stayed for, this was too much, because it was too dangerous, really? But the kids in cages? No? No? The demonizing people because they're different? No? No?

The mocking the integrity of all our institutions, on a regular basis, the unmitigated gall to lie about everything, that wasn't enough, then you had some sense of higher duty. Then it was mitigated? Then it was about the media? But now it's too much!

With weeks to go in, your absence will actually create a vacuum of responsibility that will actually hinder the new administration. I do not think these people should be applauded.

I do think that it is a reflection of the destruction that Trump creates. He is a Inverse Midas. Everything he touches turns to something far less valuable than gold. Will there be legal consequences for him, once again, and maybe more severely than ever?

Andrew McCabe is with us.

Thank you, brother, and thank you for the patience. But these are days where we must be on record about why things matter, and why they don't, because it will be remembered. We have never been here before.

And a question that you have never been asked before, inciting riot, seditious conspiracy, as opposed to sedition, because it gets complicated legally, to deal with sedition all on its own, what is the exposure of this President, for what he absolutely encouraged and helped direct yesterday?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Chris, we're going to find out, the answer to that question.

So first, of course, we need a full-scope, intensive, well-resourced investigation into this President's conduct. Now, I said that, four years ago. I made the decision to go forward with that. We all know what happened with that one. This needs to happen again.

I am not the prognosticator. I'm the investigator. And I can tell you it's time to start investigating. Once that takes place, and I'm talking about sitting down with -

dragging every single person in the White House, who heard what he said yesterday, who observed his reactions to what he saw, as he watched it, from the comfort of the Oval Office, all day long, pull every one of those people into the grand jury, and force them to provide testimony and evidence against the President of the United States.

Collect the record of all of his tweets, and his comments on social media, exhorting people to come to D.C., for this purpose, and then, of course, his speech, in front of that crowd, before they left, promising them that he would go with them to the Capitol.

You put that package all together, and you deliver it to an Attorney General. Not just any Attorney General, a smart, fair, politically independent Attorney General, which we have not had lately, but we will have, in the new administration, with Merrick Garland.

And you let the Attorney General decide it. If there's a case there to be brought, the Attorney General should bring that case.

CUOMO: But there's another step. And we've heard President-elect Joe Biden say, "I don't think that Trump should be investigated after this." Why? Well, the obvious political exigency is get him gone.

And it's not easy to get a sitting president for anything. We saw that. You saw it all too well. And this is no easy case either. As obvious as it is, the context matters. And bringing a prosecution does have a discretionary element as well.

What about that pushback that "Is it worth it? You may not get him. And if it comes to a vote in Congress, it's not going to happen. So, what is the value?"

MCCABE: We've had a really vigorous debate about that up until this point. I've had it with you, right here, on this show, and Preet, and other people.

And it's been interesting, right? There is that argument that says you let the professional prosecutors decide, and if there's a case that needs to be brought, you let them bring it.

[21:30:00]

And, on the other hand, the political reality of what the new president will face, as you say, well, maybe President-elect Biden wants to turn the page on this period, wants to put it all behind us, and bring the country back together.

Those are both compelling arguments. That was before yesterday. Now, we have a sitting president, who, very likely, may have participated in a conspiracy, a seditious conspiracy, have exhorted and directed an attack on our government, an attack on the Capitol, in which lives were lost, and the Capitol was ransacked.

I think that changes the terms of this debate considerably. I think it has to be investigated. And if there is a case to be brought, and the Attorney General makes that decision, it should go forward.

CUOMO: Does the tape that he put out today, saying "There should be punishment, if you broke the law, you don't represent the country," does that mitigate his exposure?

MCCABE: No. No. It's such an obviously self-serving and false statement on his behalf.

He makes all kinds of claims in there about things that didn't actually happen, about his immediate deployment of the National Guard, which we know didn't happen. So, I don't think that helps him at all.

It certainly doesn't undo all of the other statements, the social media posts, the speech to the crowd that morning. You can't unring that bell.

CUOMO: Andrew McCabe, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

So, how do you look at exposure? Now, before you start tearing me up, about not seeing the obvious exposure, for the President, it's about the interest of justice, and what about the people's interest in more exposure to Trump, toxifying our culture, in the middle of a pandemic, any longer than necessary?

That's got to be part of the discretion here also, for prosecutors, if it even comes to that. We'll watch it. I promise you that.

Now, who else? Trump lieutenants Hawley and Cruz, don't they have blood on their hands for this insurrection? Certainly, Senator Hawley's hometown paper thought so, said so in an editorial.

And what does it mean for that party, the Grand Old Party? What does it do with Trump now? We're going to take it to a Capitol Hill veteran, warning his Party to stand up, or be destroyed by Trump.

Former Senator Jeff Flake, next.

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[21:35:00]

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CUOMO: Trump inspired the siege on our Capitol. Period!

But he did not cause this trouble alone. 147 Re-Trump-licans still went on to object to Biden's electoral vote on no good-faith basis. They chose to lie and do exactly what foment the attack that preceded their decision to do that.

So, where was the courage when it counted? Former Republican Senator Jeff Flake joins me now.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME. Good to see you, Senator.

JEFF FLAKE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to see you.

CUOMO: So, what is the message to your Party about what remains? Trump will be gone. He seems to have been scared into submission. But Hawley, Flake, legal experts, standing up - not Flake, Cruz. You're like, "What did I do?"

FLAKE: Thank you.

CUOMO: Cruz and Hawley, standing up, and making an argument, they knew has no substance to it, right after people broke into the Capitol, fomented by exactly that kind of talk, what happens to them? What do you say to them?

FLAKE: Well, part of being a leader, part of being an elected representative is to - obviously you have to follow your constituents, in order to be elected, to be where they are. But being a leader is to when your constituents are wrong to tell them they're wrong.

And to amplify, and to forward what the President's misinformation about widespread voter fraud, for example, and then claim that they had to introduce these measures on Capitol Hill, because the voters believed something was wrong, fulfilling their own prophecy, that's just wrong.

And I don't think it will be - I don't think it will hold up well, particularly after what happened yesterday. Whatever good the President may have done on taxes, or regulation, I think, will be forgotten a lot sooner than what happened yesterday.

CUOMO: How do you think Trump should be remembered?

FLAKE: Well, as one who, I think, aspired to be an authoritarian, frankly.

I mean, when you look at the last month, if nothing else, frankly, for me, it started long before that, with Helsinki, and agreeing with Putin, over his own Intelligence agencies.

But boy, this last month, basically saying that he would not accept an election that he did not win, that's not the language of a small-d democrat. And so, I think that he won't be remembered well.

And, I think, yesterday, was an awful coda on this entire administration and this last four years.

CUOMO: Isn't yesterday what it's all about? Wasn't that inevitable? And, in fairness to you, you were out front on this, and paid a price for it, politically and personally. Wasn't it inevitable that if you ignore and empower someone, who's constantly stoking animus, eventually it blows up?

FLAKE: Yes. Well, obviously, this - yesterday did not have to happen.

But the President, when he brings the mob together and basically says to march on the Capitol, and identifies the Vice President, as the enemy, basically here, and then to feign surprise later, when the Capitol is sacked, that just doesn't wash.

So, I think that none of this is inevitable. But boy, the President sure stoked the fire, and he can't escape blame now.

CUOMO: What is more in the interest of the country, investigating and perhaps trying to prosecute the President, politically or legally, or is it more in the interest of the country to just have him fade away?

FLAKE: I'd rather see him fade away. And, as for the next 13 days, I'm with, frankly, with President-elect Biden, and Colin Powell, Mitt Romney, and others, who have said they hope that it just goes quietly.

[21:40:00]

I would rather see the Congress, the Senate, has the role here, to hold hearings on the President-elect's nominees for his cabinet, so that they can see them up, so that this new administration can hit the ground running.

That would be more valuable and, I think, more appropriate than trying to go in and invoke the 25th Amendment or impeachment.

I think sufficient guardrails are around the President. I don't believe anyone is going to accept an unlawful order from the President. And gratefully, a few individuals, I think, are staying around to ensure that he doesn't do anything more untoward.

CUOMO: Former Senator Jeff Flake, your perspective is going to be invaluable, in the weeks and months to come, as we try to understand the path forward, not just for your Party, but for us as a people. Welcome and thank you.

FLAKE: Thank you, Andrew.

CUOMO: All right, it's unbelievable that some - everybody calls me Andrew. Don't worry about it. My mother says the same thing.

It is unbelievable that some Re-Trump-licans and people on State TV are trying to pin blame, for the insurrection, on Leftist fringe groups. You saw it with your own eyes. It's not about the facts. It's about how you should feel, about the people, who are lying to you, about it.

Let's talk proof, OK? And then we'll talk penalties. We're going to show you exactly who some of these terrorists - may have started as a protester, demonstrator, then turned into a rioter, then turned into a terrorist, because the FBI needs your help identifying a lot of others, and you may be able to do just that. Next.

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CUOMO: Now, here's the fact. We can talk about them again, OK, because we don't have someone, who's at the top of the food chain, actively trying to lie about what is real and what is fake.

What we witnessed at the Capitol was exactly what it looked like. The same Re-Trump-licans, who hid, as the monster, they created, the Frankenstein, ran wild, now straight-up lie to your face.

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REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): There is some indication that fascist Antifa elements were involved.

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CUOMO: Once again, we only know what you show. I know it's great to demonize the Brown people. But show proof or shut up.

We know and are learning more about exactly who these people are. Take a look.

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CUOMO: Derrick Evans, just elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates. Yes. That's him.

The rest don't deserve their names to be recognized, but their allegiance is clear.

The guy you've seen sitting behind Nancy Pelosi's desk, he leads a pro-gun rights group in Arkansas. He was so sure he wouldn't get in trouble he did an interview with "The New York Times."

The shirtless fool in the horns isn't some Antifa operative. He's a dude from Arizona, who's basically a groupie at Trump's MAGA rallies. We're told charges are coming for the rest. The FBI is putting names

to faces. And luckily, they were brazen enough, they feel entitled enough to put themselves on social media.

This is not a surprise. These people traveled to D.C. and told the world they were going to do this. And more importantly, the world was told that they should.

What does the treatment of the pro-Trump mostly-White mob tell us about where we really are about systemic entrenched inequality in America? We'll take it up with Van Jones, next.

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CUOMO: Trump tonight in what kind of looked like a hostage video, said the things that you're supposed to say, if you're decent. He told the rioters, whom yesterday, he told he loved, after they broke into the Capitol that those who broke the law will pay.

So, why the about-face? Well, it could be that people are fleeing high posts, all around him, in disgust, or that the Feds are looking at potentially charging him, or maybe it's calls for impeachment, again, or the 25th Amendment, with less than two weeks to go.

Regardless, nothing can undo his original expression of love, his inciting of this animus, directed at the Capitol, by his own instruction, OK? Let's discuss with Van Jones.

What is your takeaway from what happened yesterday?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, first, I just think we need to acknowledge there's just a lot of people who are just really traumatized across the country.

And I don't just mean the people who are inside the Capitol, who, I'm so glad that most people were able to get out, and we didn't have any mass shooting event. But you just have regular folk trying to go to work, their heads are cloudy. They just don't know what's going on.

This hurt a lot of people to see the nation's capital attacked, and especially people from other countries, who came here, trying to get away from this stuff, to then see an armed group, try to essentially take power, prevent a Joint Session of Congress, from bringing into power the next president.

To see that happen shook a lot of people. And I just think people are walking around here, hurt, more than anything else. I mean, look, the puzzles will work itself out, but people are hurt.

CUOMO: Now, Trump didn't do it alone. He's got who I call the Re- Trump-licans, the people in office, who ignore and empower. And what you ignore, you do empower, and you own.

But also, there are the fringe sites that pose as media, but they're just operatives. And I wasn't surprised that they didn't miss a beat in saying "Well this is no different than what BLM does."

What was surprising to me was how many people of color came out to me, and said, "Imagine, if these were Brown people, imagine if these were Black people"--

JONES: Yes.

CUOMO: --"how they would have been treated."

And we know what the answer is, in all likelihood, no disrespect to law enforcement, but just based on what we've seen. There would have been a degree of harshness that is frightening to think about, or am I wrong?

JONES: No, you're 100 percent right. And you've now taught a whole generation a very, very tough lesson.

Because you have young people, especially young people of color, but don't forget, most young people now, even if they've White, they got friends who are kids of color. We've got the most diverse generation in the history of the world coming up behind us now.

And they have seen African-Americans literally murdered, killed, shot down on their cell phones, over and over again, because they resisted arrest, they didn't follow this order, you know, they were told to do something, and then they got killed.

And then to see, I don't know, 10,000, mostly White people, pushing past cops, some of these cops seemed to be happy, taking selfies with people, escorting people in and out, and none of them followed anybody's rules or instructions, and nobody got shot.

So apparently, police can deescalate, apparently police can figure out ways to deal with situations, without shooting people. And yet, it wasn't - it's not done, on a normal basis, for people.

So, it is in fact the case that when Black Lives Matter came, this summer, to D.C., they had military out there. It looked like Ninja squads and all kind of stuff for a peaceful protest. And then nobody for this? There needs to be an investigation.

[21:55:00] And there's a concern that I have. Were there White Nationalist elements, in law enforcement, and in that crowd, cooperating? Why are people saying that some of the protesters, rioters, insurrectionists, were flashing police badges and then being allowed in?

So, there's got to be a real investigation here. There's a double standard, but there also could be some double-dealing going on, in terms of a much bigger conspiracy, and we need answers.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Those are the right questions. They should be answered. Van Jones, thank you very much. We'll be right back.

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CUOMO: Thank you for watching, my brothers and sisters. It is time for the big show, "CNN TONIGHT" with its big star D. Lemon, right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Never, never, never before, in the history of this country, have we ever seen, I believe, at least, in modern history, anything like this.

And a lot of people are going to have to pay the price. They're going to have to face consequences for it, including the President of the United States, especially the President.

CUOMO: No. It won't happen. And I think that's part of the problem.

You can already - I think people are going to get charged. I think they're going to get identified. I think they're going to be punished.