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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Twitter Warns of Future Unrest, another Capitol Attack; Interview with Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT); 13 People Face Federal Charges Stemming From U.S. Capitol Riot; Twitter Warns Of Possible Second Attack On U.S. Capitol Grounds On January 17th; U.S. Reports 272,772 New COVID Cases, 3,477 New Deaths; COVID Hits Small California Town With A Vengeance. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 8, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): This is a massive door that's probably been on that office for, you know, a hundred plus years. Who knows when it was -- maybe it is the original door?
It's in the old -- it's in the old section of the Capitol before the wings were added, and those hinges were just ripped from the side of the door and so they were -- they were -- I think what they were doing was taking the cases that you saw piled up like desks broken in the hallway.
My office is right across from that, and I think they were just smashing -- my suspicion is, they were smashing that into the door until it gave away. But there it is.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Wow, that's actually a very powerful image. Thank you very much, Senator, and I appreciate your time.
MERKLEY: Thank you.
BURNETT: Thanks to all of you. Anderson is next.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. The first President since Andrew Johnson to skip his successor's inauguration is now on his way to becoming the first President ever to be impeached twice.
House Democrats are drafting Articles of Impeachment, including one covering, quote, "incitement of insurrection." The plan is to introduce them on Monday leading up to a vote later next week.
Twitter late today permanently suspended the President's account raising the question, will the social media platform in the end bring more accountability to this President than any sanction provided for in the Constitution? That would be -- well, something.
Late today, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski became the first Republican senator to call on the President to resign over Wednesday's insurrection. She is however not in the mainstream from members of her party, many of whom even among the G.O.P. leadership are now trying to sweep this all down the memory hole. People like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted today,
"Impeaching the President with just 12 days left will only divide our country more." Or Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, he tweeted, "As President @realDonaldTrump stated last night it is time to heal and move on," adding, "It is up to President- elect Biden to step in and allow the nation to heal."
Late today, the White House Deputy Press Secretary weighed in quoting from his statement now, "As President Trump said yesterday, this is a time for healing and unity as one nation. Politically motivated impeachment against the President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country." Which sort of misses the point, doesn't it?
What happened this week couldn't be more serious. There needs to be consequences for people involved. The mob trying to locate House Speaker Pelosi didn't really want to pose for selfies with her or some video of them which was posted on YouTube by Jayden X.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell Pelosi we're coming for that [bleep]. Tell [bleep] Pelosi we're coming for her. [Bleep] traitor [bleep]. We're coming for her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Gray-haired lady shouting tell effing Pelosi we're coming for her, among other obscenities. It wasn't just Nancy Pelosi rioters wanted, they also wanted Vice President Pence.
A Reuters' editor reports he heard quote, "At least three different rioters at the Capitol said they hope to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging from Capitol Hill tree," unquote.
Some carried police restraints, zip ties like this guy dressed in paramilitary gear inside the Senate chamber; and among the people arrested today was an Alabama man who police say had a number of firearms in his vehicle as well as 11 Molotov cocktails.
Now one of the protesters as you know was shot dead as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door. A Capitol Police officer was beaten reportedly with a fire extinguisher.
And what was the President doing as this insurrection was just getting started? Listen to Republican Senator Ben Sasse describe it to conservative talk radio host, Hugh Hewitt.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren't as excited as he was, as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.
HUGH HEWITT, TALK RADIO HOST: That said ... SASSE: As that was happening, he was delighted.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Where anyone with a functioning soul would be revolted and disgusted or simply dismayed that his words unleashed such mayhem, Senator Sasse, a Republican says the President was delighted. And according to a spokesman for Utah Senator Mike Lee, both the President and the husk of a human once known as Rudy Giuliani were also working the phones trying to call newly elected Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville, so they could press him to delay certification of the electoral votes.
Think about that, as the mob was descending on the Capitol making death threats to lawmakers there, the President was at the very same moment calling senators trying to pressure them into keeping up his election con.
Now we know this because the calls mistakenly went to Senator Lee's cell phone as he and others were sheltering in a temporary holding area. He then handed the phone according to reports to Senator Tuberville.
That's where the President's thoughts were as lawmakers and staffers tried just to survive the moment, because -- well, because of course, because no matter how many words he reads off the teleprompter about healing and unity and love, there's no room inside him for any of that.
To him, those are all loser words, along with responsibility and accountability.
More now in all this from our Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta and CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Jim, has the White House reacted to the President's Twitter ban? Is there anything -- any expectation of when he next communicates -- you know, how does he communicate? Are his spokespeople actually going to have to start, you know, speaking?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that would be something Anderson or, I mean, it shutters the mind to think about this, maybe the President might actually come into the Briefing Room and take questions. But at this point, no.
What I'm told by a White House official is that there are internal deliberations going on right now as to what to do about all of this. Keep in mind, we were hearing from our sources earlier this evening that the President was going to put out some sort of video statement, yet another video statement.
We don't know what the contents of that statement was going to be, but they were planning on tweeting that out on the President's Twitter account, and in the words of this White House official, the way this White House official was explaining it, they don't know what to do now, and now they're exploring other alternatives.
But Anderson, I mean, it needs to be said that, you know, one of the reasons why Twitter did this is because of this potential for the President to incite further violence, the kind of violence you were just laying out at the beginning of the show and that is something that Twitter says in its statement that it was very worried about, that they were worried about plans for a future armed protest that have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, regarding some sort of planning for potentially a secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 17th of this year, right before the inauguration.
And so they took action, according to Twitter, because they were worried about what might be coming next. And, you know, the White House can try to work around that. But that is just a damning statement, a damning set of events that this White House is having to deal with this evening.
COOPER: Yes. Also a reminder just how much advance notice there was about the attack on the Capitol and the plans, or at least the desire to have insurrection on January 6th was on social media, well, it's a reminder of that.
Dana, the last tweet from the President before his account was shut down was him saying he will not be attending the inauguration on January 20th. What is his next -- what do you think the next move is for him?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know. And I mean, how ironic that the man who got the nomination in the first place snatched it from, you know, 16 other Republicans by using his social media is now completely hamstrung, sitting in the most -- one of the most powerful buildings in the world, holding the most powerful office in the world because he can't use that medium anymore, or other, you know, social media.
It's kind of crazy. He's got the biggest megaphone, and he doesn't know how to use it. It boggles the mind.
And so that's the first thing that they need to do. And it's not as if the Trump orbit didn't know that Twitter was eventually, you know, he obviously had gotten flagged on tweet after tweet after tweet, especially over the past couple of months. But I'm told that even earlier this year towards the beginning of the campaign year, last year, I should say, 2020, there were discussions about whether they should move the President's tweeting to a separate platform because it wasn't a question of if, Twitter and other more mainstream social media platforms were going to ban him, but when.
And now, it has happened as clearly it should be given what Jim was just reporting.
COOPER: Jim, do we know what the President's days are like? I mean, what is he doing? Because I mean, it could -- you know, you said they are meeting about what to do about him on Twitter, and clearly he is not meeting about you know, what to do about Americans dying every few seconds in this country from coronavirus. ACOSTA: Well, up until January 6th, Anderson, he was plotting a
procedural coup and he was strong arming the Vice President in trying to get senators to go along with some sort of procedural coup on January 6th when they were tabulating the electoral votes, certifying Joe Biden's election.
But in terms of what he has been doing over the last couple of days, I will tell you, this White House has been in crisis management mode. They have been reaching out to outside lawyers about the potential for impeachment, about the potential for the Vice President and the Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment. We don't think that's going to happen at this point.
And so I've been told there have been many meetings with the President, according to multiple sources that I've been in touch with, he is just not dealing with reality. He has been unstable, ranting and raving, and so on.
And in terms of being taken off of Twitter, I mean, it makes you wonder what he is going to do next. This, in a way will be seen by the President as a provocative act. He has been emasculated to some extent by Twitter this evening because if you think about it, and Dana was alluding to this, you think about of all the toys Donald Trump likes to play with, it is his Twitter account that he prizes most of all.
And to take that away from him, I think is an emasculating moment. It's like when Air Force One and the Beast are taken away from him on January 20th. His toys are being taken away from him, and it's not going to sit well with this President, obviously.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dana, beyond the Twitter ban, the most likely consequence the President could face looks to be a second impeachment. Is it clear? I mean, is there enough time for something like that?
BASH: Yes. For the house to impeach him, there certainly is. The House Democrats are planning on moving in warp speed, Anderson. I mean, I was talking to a top House Democrat earlier who said, you know, likely, it could happen as early as early next week.
It's kind of remarkable when you think about what normally happens and not as if an impeachment is normal, certainly, not to do it twice. But because, you know, our Hill team got the draft of the article, the same singular Article of Impeachment that they're working on. It's pretty clear cut, and it's not as if they need to do investigating, or, you know, hold lengthy hearings about what happened, as Members of Congress has said to me and others, they experienced it, and we saw it.
We saw it with our eyes, it is not as if, you know, it was a transcript of a call. The President went to this rally and incited with his words this group of protesters to become a mob and to become rioters and ransacked one of the most important buildings, you know, in the world while they were doing the business of their constitutional duty, actually written in the Constitution to certify the Electoral College.
So it could happen very quickly. The open question, which maybe isn't even much of a question is, what happens after that? How the Senate is going to deal with it, whether Mitch McConnell, in his waning days as Majority Leader is just going to run out the clock and try to avoid having a trial. You know, that is probably the most likely scenario, but we are in real unchartered territory here.
COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash and Jim Acosta, thanks.
Joining us now a central figure in the last impeachment hearing, Connecticut Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. Congressman, your reaction to the President being banned from Twitter. And frankly, do you think this week's insurrection could have been avoided if Twitter had maybe taken the step before?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): I have a very mixed reaction to the President being removed from Twitter. Anderson, it's not being talked about enough, but in addition to accountability for what the President has done, there is a lot of thought being put into how -- is there any way to remove him from the Oval Office?
You know, this is a man who incited a situation where the presidential line of succession, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the Speaker Pro Tem of the Senate were at risk. There appears to have been -- we don't know the whole story -- but a break in the military chain of command with respect to the deployment of the National Guard.
The issues don't get more serious than that, Anderson. And so, there's a lot of thought not exactly about accountability. That's a whole other conversation that will extend for the year.
But to answer your question, when I heard that the President's Twitter account had been revoked, you know, I thought, well, that's good. That's one means of not inciting violence. But as your guests were pointing out on the show, how is he psychologically going to react to that?
Again, I'm very focused on the fact that this is a man who still is in charge of American nuclear forces. He is still the most powerful man in the planet. And guess what? I bet he is more than a little grumpy right now. So I don't quite know how to think about that.
But I do think that it doubles down the importance of thinking about those ways that, you know, low probability that they may be that could separate this man from the ability to launch a nuclear strike, amongst other things.
COOPER: Well, I mean, it doesn't seem like the 25th Amendment would require Vice President Pence taking action with a majority of the Cabinet, I guess, in secret so that the President can fire them first. And then the President would have a chance to essentially, you know, say that he is completely capable of continuing on, then they would have to kind of counter that. That does -- that just seems highly unlikely, correct? HIMES: Well, it's all highly unlikely. And, yes, of course. And
that's, of course, what makes this a very nervous, very nervous moment.
Look, when you wake up to the news and hear that the Speaker of the House -- the Speaker of the House, who is not in the military chain of command is talking to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about safeguards on our nuclear assets. That's just not -- this is not a conversation that I ever imagined that we would be having.
So yes, there's no indication that Vice President Pence is going to agree to this. Two Cabinet secretaries and remember, you need a majority of the Cabinet in order to exert the authorities under the 25th Amendment, or by the way, you can also have a commission.
But you know the word, commission, though it may take the Cabinet out of the calculation, Cabinet members like Mike Pompeo almost inconceivable to imagine that that happens.
The very word commission of course, makes you think time and bureaucracy. So you're right, it is a low probability thing, but these stakes are so high that that's where an awful lot of attention is this evening.
COOPER: And if President Trump were to be impeached, again in the House, it would of course, then head to the Senate where the prospects would be uncertain. There's frankly no reason to believe there are enough Republican votes there to convict him. Is that -- should that be part of the calculus? Should that be about whether or not the House does it?
HIMES: Well, again, I think you're right, in terms of that as a mechanism for removing the President, I keep coming back to this notion of you know, okay, his Twitter has been taken away. But yes, what about the nuclear trigger?
You're right, the probability is low. Look, you know, it would take some time in the House as Dana Bash pointed out, even moving at warp speed. And there's no reason to believe that Mitch McConnell would even reconvene the Senate for a trial prior to the 20th of January.
So, you know, when you talk about impeachment, I think you're really at least again, coming back to this question about can he be taken out of the Oval Office. You're really talking about accountability, which is essential and important. Our country will never get back to normal until people are held to account for their seditious and their violent actions.
But you're also talking -- and this is my, I guess, second observation on how a discussion of impeachment is valuable. You know, we haven't talked yet about the possibility that he might be persuaded to resign. That actually is, that's low probability, but it may be higher probability than these other things.
And of course, if a second impeachment is on the table, maybe that conversation is a little bit more probable.
COOPER: Congressman Jim Himes, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
HIMES: Thank you.
COOPER: Joining us now, conservative attorney, George Conway, cofounder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project. Mr. Conway, it's good to have you back on the program. You see the action by Twitter against the President. What do you make of impeachment?
GEORGE CONWAY, COFOUNDER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Well, I think it's important. It's important to do because at a minimum, it sets the historical record straight. It sets its accountability.
I think that there's also another reason why it could be important. A Senate trial can be held after an official who was impeached leaves office, whether by resignation, or by the end of his term, and one of the sanctions for a judgment of conviction in the Senate on an impeachment charge can be permanent disbarment from holding Federal public office again. And that would be something -- would be significant here.
I think the Republicans would do themselves a favor by signing on to that. So I think impeachment is something that should definitely be on the table, if only because, you know, you cannot have -- this cannot be left standing.
You cannot have a President of the United States trying to subvert an election, not only by lying to the American people about what happened in the election, and not only by strong arming election officials in various states like Georgia, but by fomenting what was essentially an insurrection.
COOPER: Do you think him being removed from Twitter, being impeached a second time does that -- you know, there's some who are arguing well, that gives him gives fuel to his grievance politics and helps him launch, you know, the next -- assuming it doesn't go through the Senate and the Senate doesn't prevent him from ever running again.
That it kind of fuels his supporters and fuels him to run on a kind of a grievance platform of everybody's against me, Big Tech is against me, et cetera.
CONWAY: Well, two answers to that. First is, these people don't need -- they are plenty aggrieved as it is. They are -- you know, you saw those people chasing -- I think on your air, we've seen them chasing Senator Graham down the airport corridor, we've seen what they did on Capitol Hill. They're going to do what they're going to do anyway. They are aggrieved as it is.
One thing though they like in President Trump is his perceived strength, even though he's really just a whiny and weak President, and taking him down by taking him off these platforms and not giving him -- he is showing that he is powerless to do anything about it and then ultimately sending him back to Mar-a-Lago is going to diminish his appeal for these people who really seek some kind of, you know, an authoritarian leader.
COOPER: You know, Congressman Himes was just raising the idea that he might -- you know, though probably limited probability of it, might resign, that seems highly unlikely.
CONWAY: It's just not -- he will never do that. It's just something that he will never do. He will die in the bunker first.
He's not going to do that. But what -- I think the 25th Amendment should unfortunately, because I don't think Vice President Pence has any kind of a moral backbone, he won't do it. But that would be actually the perfect solution alongside impeachment because the way the 25th Amendment works is that if the Vice President and a majority of the principal executive officials, the Cabinet say that he is -- that Trump is unable to carry out his duties, and he is mentally -- he is clearly mentally unfit and unable to carry out his duties -- he hasn't been carrying out his duties at all. That takes the President out of commission and makes Vice President Pence acting President for four days.
Now, during those four days, if Trump says no, no, I'm okay, I'm okay. I can resume my duties at the end of the four days. If the Cabinet then says no, no, no, no, we're sticking with our original decision, then it goes to Congress and Congress has 21 days in which it is supposed to vote by two-thirds majority to affirm or reject the decision of the Cabinet.
CONWAY: Well, if you add up that time, the clock runs out on Donald Trump's term. It's an actually perfect and easy way to keep the country safe during the next 12 days. That said, I do think that, you know, the ideal situation would be to trigger the 25th Amendment and impeach Trump because I think the sanction of barring him from holding Federal office ever again is actually an important one.
COOPER: You know, you mentioned what happened to Lindsey Graham, I just want to play that for our viewers in case they haven't seen him walking through National Airport getting heckled by Trump supporters. Let's just play some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lindsey Graham, you are a traitor to the country. You know it was rigged. You know it was rigged. You know it was rigged. Garbage human being. It's going to be like this forever wherever you go for the rest of your life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, I'm not a fan of, you know, people full of self- righteous indignation on any side of the political aisle, heckling people in restaurants and stuff like that.
But I mean, it's just pathetic looking at that, if you're acknowledging the reality of an honest and fair election, that you then now are publicly heckled by a mob of people. And that, you know, he has security, but there's a lot of folks who don't.
CONWAY: Yes, and it's completely insane. I mean, we have a psychopathic -- a sociopathic President and he is triggering all of this aberrant behavior with many people.
And it just shows -- it goes back to the point I just made, which is, you know, even if you don't remove him, these people are still out there spun up because Donald Trump spun them up.
So why not just do and do the right thing? I mean, the answer should always be just do the right thing, and the right thing here is, this man is unfit for office, he should be removed because he is unable to carry out his duties under the 25th Amendment and he violated his oath of office.
He basically fomented an insurrection against the United States and that violated his oath of office, and that's impeachable, and he should be gone. And if he's not, it's too late to do that, then just make sure he never holds Federal office again because the Constitution allows us to do that to.
COOPER: You're a student of history and politics, and obviously, the law. I mean, is there -- I mean, the U.S. history, but I mean, is there -- is there something that anywhere in the world that has happened like this? I mean, this just seems such a weird confluence, surreal at times -- I mean, what do you compare it to?
CONWAY: Well, I mean, you can compare it to any number of nations where fascistic movements managed to achieve some degree of power. Fortunately, we have, you know, it wasn't perfect and it was allowed to go on for far too long.
We have a much stronger constitutional system with the Federalist aspect to it, which allowed states to conduct elections free of federal interference. And we have -- you know, we have an independent judiciary and we have a separate branch of Congress that isn't fully controlled by the person controlling the executive authority.
And we -- you know, we've managed to survive. The problem is there is over the next 12 days, there is this danger of having a psychopath who is completely deranged and completely off his rocker and completely desperate. Frankly, he is desperate because he knows he faces the potential for criminal liability going forward. He has control of thousands of nuclear weapons and he has control of the Armed Forces.
I don't think that people will obey his orders, but it's a scary proposition that there is even a remote chance that he could do something completely insane.
COOPER: George Conway, I really appreciate talking to you. Thank you.
CONWAY: Thank you. Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next. CNN's Jim Acosta is reporting more on the possibility that what we saw on Wednesday was only Act One. Later, with the country having recorded a 4,000 fatality day -- 4,000
people dying, a look at what it's like inside one hospital on the COVID frontline.
COOPER: As we reported at the top, we started seeing arrests today of some of the insurrectionists who not only stormed the Capitol but had themselves photographed or filmed doing it.
People like Richard Burnett seen here in Speaker Pelosi his office. Here is a more current photo of him. It's a mug shot.
He is now charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, theft to public money, property or records.
Also arrested today, West Virginia state lawmaker Derrick Evans who posted and later deleted a video of himself and others forcing their way into the Capitol. It was not the only video taken which is -- we know that others have been reporting reveals the incident for what it was and not just some harmless protest.
This next clip posted on YouTube by Jayden X captures the chaos in the seconds before one of the rioters was shot and killed. It takes place as the mob tries to break through a barricaded door. A tactical team has just been called, but for the moment it's just three officers on that door and several more behind it.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
Just a few seconds later, rioter Ashli Babbitt were shot dead and seconds after that the tactical team arrives. You saw those officers there who were in front of the door, you saw them move away allowing the protester and protesters around the attackers to then better -- attempt to batter down the door. It's unclear whether they did that because they were persuaded by the man you just heard they're saying we had your back or whether they were just getting out of the tactical teams way or whether they just felt they couldn't hold that position any longer. We don't know. We don't have a definitive answer to that. Nor do we know in a larger sense precisely why authorities didn't see and hear the warning signs that were all over the internet.
CNN's Drew Griffin went looking for answers online.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But flat footed federal and local officials insist they had no idea the siege would happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no intelligence that suggests there would be a breach of the U.S. Capitol.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): But that seems hardly believable. In the days and weeks before the insurrection the warning signs were clear, violent and threatening online posts and online call to arms operation occupied the capital one viral post cold it. Go to Washington January 6 and help storm the capital. We will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents and demand a recount. Trump or war today. That simple. Another user posted.
JOEL FINKELSTEIN, DIRECTOR, NETWORK CONTAGION RESEARCH INSTITUTE: The writing was on the wall months ago, this could turn into something extremely violent.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Researchers who track, hate, violent speech and extremist groups say what happened at the Capitol shows what some dismiss says just online boasting was actually a plan of action. And some of those who siege the Capitol were prepared.
JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, CITIZEN LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MUNK SCHOOL: They were men on the Senate floor wearing tactical equipment carrying zip tie restraints of the kinds that police used to handcuff people. I somehow doubt that they just brought those to a protest.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The violent rhetoric had wide reached the nonprofit advanced democracy track 1,480 violence related QAnon Twitter posts just since January 1st on Tik Tok, videos promoting violence were viewed 279,000 times.
SCOTT RAILTON: If you look at the work of anybody who has been tracking violent extremism in the United States, you will find that they have been issuing warnings regularly about these groups and the language that they're using.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): One of the main stops the steel rally organizers, Ali Alexander told followers on Periscope he and three congressmen were planning something big.
ALI ALEXANDER, PROTEST ORGANIZER: We force schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud war from outside.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): He told followers bring tents, sleeping bags and other supplies and added this, if D.C. escalates, so do we. A follower responded to the post bring a gun. Investigators at the Anti- Defamation League say they were sharing the violent posts and concerns about January 6th with law enforcement right up until this week.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONA DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: We've been in touch with law enforcement on a very regular basis.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Fearing the warnings were being ignored. The ADL went public.
GREENBLATT: Our level of concern rose so dramatically that on Monday, we actually published a blog to put it out on the public record about our degree of alarm. We weren't surprised by the intensity of what happened.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): What's next? January 20th. Researchers are worried about the increasing chatter about violence at the inauguration.
FINKELSTEIN: I think it's very plausible that we are just the beginning of this.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Round two on January 20th, one poster writes on the online forum, The Donald, I don't even care about keeping Trump in power. I care about war. Please take urgent action to save our country. On January 20th, says another post. It's our last chance.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Again, those threats are about January 20th Inauguration Day. Tonight, we're learning there might be a threat three days earlier on the 17th as part of its announcement banning the President Twitter said quote, the risk of further incitement of violence. Further notes and I'm quoting again, plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and State Capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.
Joining us is now CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter and CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He also happens to be the District of Columbia's former police chief.
Chief Ramsey the warning from Twitter about attacks on January 17th, as well as calls online for round two on January 20th. It doesn't seem to get more serious than that, does it?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, it doesn't. And I'm aware of both. The one on January 17th targets not only the U.S. Capitol, but also Capitol buildings and all 50 states, especially the swing states. It's going under the guise of being some kind of Second Amendment rally. So, that would indicate that they're going to be armed if they do in fact show up.
One of the problems that we have right now is the fact that in light of Wednesday, the sixth of January, the Capitol Police Chief has resigned, the sergeant-in-arms of the Capitol and Senate and the House have all resigned. We're two weeks away from an inauguration and we don't have leaders in place to really make sure that everything stays where it ought to be in terms of security plans in preparation for the inauguration on the 20th.
Now, there are going to be some changes in the inauguration, but that was all pre, the sixth of January, it was due to COVID. I imagine there'll be even more changes in light of what happened Wednesday. But you don't have a police chief over there now and you've got two assistant chiefs that are just recently crowded. So that's got to be addressed and addressed pretty quick.
COOPER: Brian, I mean, this going beyond just President Trump being banned from Twitter, the tech industry as a whole seems to be kind of waking up and taking some action.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Google has banned parlor, which is that a newer social network like a far right Twitter that attracts a lot of extremists that happened in the past hour. We have seen YouTube banning a Steve Bannon podcast channel in the past hour. We're seeing action all over social media companies. It reminds me Anderson of those days back in March when the pandemic was really up ending life in America and corporate America took action before the federal government. It's a little bit of a similarity right now. Technology companies taking action against the President while the House and the Senate. Just think about what they might consider doing.
This is about -- this week is about online radicalization having real life consequences. People that were brainwashed with lies on the internet showing up to commit crimes in D.C. These technology companies know that they are partially responsible. And that's why they're taking action.
COOPER: Chief Ramsey in a situation where I mean the city of Washington, D.C. knew obviously this rally was take place in January 6th, you know, we had reported on some of the threats, we've reported on the rhetoric surrounding it, the chief of police there now it says, you know, we didn't know of any specific plans to attack the Capitol. It does seem like there was just this assumption that, oh, well, these are, you know, these are patriots and they're not going to attack us like we were afraid Black Lives Matter protesters would attack and prepare it for. Is there a double standard?
RAMSEY: I wouldn't say it's a double standard. But I would say this that was a D.C. police chief that said that that Intel would have come first into the U.S. Capitol because that was the target that was being discussed in the threat. Everyone in D.C. should have known about it, all the law enforcement anyway.
COOPER: Right. I'm just wondering, why would -- why are there wait for Black Lives Matter protests this summer? You know, heavily armed? Right, your police ready or surrounding around the Capitol? And this time there weren't?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, it's inexcusable. I think it's pretty obvious. Obviously, they underestimated this particular crowd versus the other day.
COOPER: How is that not a double standard?
RAMSEY: I mean, it is a double standard. It is a double standard. And there's no question about that. I'm certainly not arguing that. They should have been equally prepared as they were during the summer for the demonstrations that took place. There was no excuse for them not to be. So yes, it wasn't double standard, clearly, and it should never happen.
COOPER: Brian, I just gotten word that minutes ago. Apparently President Trump tried to tweet from the POTUS Twitter account. And correct me if I'm wrong. The Twitter, immediately took it down. I mean --
STELTER: Yes, the whole rule this ban is if Trump tries to go on anybody else's account, and post, this ban applies to any of those accounts. Now, these are the POTUS account, the White House account, these are U.S. government accounts. Twitter does not want to suspend these accounts, because in about what 10, 11, 12 days, they're going to be transferred to Joe Biden, these accounts are going to be transferred to Biden. So, Twitter is being very careful now watching to see if Trump tries to post somewhere else.
COOPER: Like the President of United States is now trying to trick Twitter and posting, like, as if it's so important that he use Twitter somehow, as opposed to just making a statement. I mean, I guess, and then he would have to be open to, you know, being confronted and talked to by reporters. And we lost. Brian.
Chief Ramsey, as you heard earlier, the D.C. Chief of Police said that there was no intelligence that there'd be a breach in the Capitol. What can be done -- what should be done differently for January 17th or January 20th?
RAMSEY: Well, obviously a lot has to happen when these intelligence agencies in groups, both local and as well as federal needs to talk to one another and share intelligence information. I don't know if that was the case or not for the sixth of January, but when I was chief for DC, we always shared information. I mean, it didn't matter if the target was the Capitol, or maybe one of the monuments in the Park Police were involved. We all knew what was going on. So we could gear up and be prepared.
So I don't know how that's happening. It's inexcusable, that it happened. But they got to get their act together now, because the 17th is on the horizon just about a week away. And the 20th, which is the inauguration, and I'm very concerned about both those days --
STELTER: White privilege.
RAMSEY: -- in light of what --
STELTER: White privilege.
STELTER: White privilege is how it happened, white privilege, we know why it happened, right? Because these are white people who are perceived to be friendly with the police. And there's been a fear in this country of taking on far right terrorism for more than a decade. There's been a fear of addressing that there is a form of domestic terrorism in this country that involves radical right leaning individuals. And I hope that that fear goes away. I hope no one's afraid anymore to take on this threat here at home.
COOPER: Former police Chief Charles Ramsay, Brian Stelter, appreciate it.
The U.S. Capitol attacked exposing major security concerns weeks before presidential inauguration that Trump has told his supporters is illegal, which is most certainly is not.
So, a lot to take in. I'm joined by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, it is good to have you here in these very difficult days. I just want to get your reaction, just as you know, things played out on Wednesday, what we all saw. How do you see this from -- but how can you put it in perspective?
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, I try to think about what it's going to be like when people 100 years from now, look at that event on January 6th. And I think first of all, whatever is written about it, it will start with the election. And the election that President Trump did not concede was not willing to accept was real and then fabricated to millions of people, the idea that it was stolen, created the atmosphere that allowed those people to come to Washington under his incitement and attack the capital. So -- and in the meantime, I think 100 years from now, people will be saying, we were suffering one of the worst crises we'd ever been through with the virus and the economic catastrophe, and almost not a word was said about it. And this was what we were talking about, and this is what he fostered upon us.
I hope that people 100 years from now will be stunned that this happened. And it won't be something that they're going to see happening again and again, they'll think how in the world did this happen to us at this time in history,
COOPER: The idea that the President of United States is right now like running around trying to Bogart other people's Twitter accounts, so that he can tweet is just ridiculous. I mean, he hasn't, you know, he's not doing anything about coronavirus, but he's just, you know, trying to find Twitter accounts that he can ghost. Is there anything that compares to this in the history of the nation? You would reference the famous cane attack that took place prior to the civil war in the halls of Congress. Can you explain what happened and why you think it resonates today?
GOODWIN: Yes, I think there really is a sense of looking at that attack now and figuring out what happened and thinking about what we can do now to make that not happen --
COOPER: Was Charles Sumner who dies (INAUDIBLE).
GOODWIN: Charles Sumner who's an anti-slavery senator in Massachusetts is seated at his desk in the Senate chamber. A representative from South Carolina, Preston Brooks comes into the Senate chamber, and he takes his cane and he hits Sumner on the head so hard as Sumner is trying to get up that he falls into unconsciousness he's bleeding, he has to be carried out. He cannot even get back to the Senate for three years. So badly was he injured. But that attack finally mobilized even more people in the north to mass rallies, it's partly responsible for creating the dawn of the Republican Party, which had already been formed. But moderates and conservatives began to form into the Republican Party.
But meanwhile, the really scary thing is that in the south, just as Sumner was a hero in the north, Preston Brooks becomes a hero in the south. And the governor presents him of South Carolina with a golden or silver Goblin, and a cane, all sorts of people are sporting canes and wanting to go after other people. So, I think the real lesson for us and then that's one of the incidents that leads to the Civil War, is it seems inevitable to us now that that Civil War took place. Right now, we worry about what is going to be the end of our story. But it doesn't have to end this way. And maybe there's some hope in the idea that Republicans, even if they were in the dawn of their party back then are now at a point of changing their party of separating themselves from Trump and creating a new form of the Republican Party. We've seen massive numbers of people voting in South Carolina, voting in the November election. If people can take hold of this and realize this is our story. We have to tell it, so it doesn't end up the way it did in the Civil War, then something we'll learn. That's what history does, it gives us solace and hope if we look back at the past, and we make a difference in the present.
COOPER: There is this strain throughout American history, though, of you know, a violence and, you know, upheaval and, you know, it's not something we like to think about. It's not something we like to view as part of, of our history
GOODWIN: And it's very important that we understand that strain, because I think that's part of the problem sometimes. And that's what our educational system is getting better at right now is to make us understand how we had to go through various times, very difficult times to come out looking better. I mean, I keep going back in a positive way, when you think about how public consciousness was shifted with the Selma demonstration there, you had a strain of bad violence, look at what those Alabama State Troopers did to the peaceful protesters on that bridge of Pettus Bridge. And yet, somehow, when people saw that, just as people have now seen this attack in the Senate, just as they saw Charles Sumner, there's something about visual imagery like that, or something so dramatic, it shifted public consciousness, and that Voting Rights Act was passed.
So, I think we just have to hope that somehow public sentiment can change through this. That's what old Abe Lincoln said, you know, with public sentiment, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible. And it doesn't mean just public opinion. He meant when you suddenly get the country to realize something is against the ideals that we allow ourselves to believe are us, and then they have to change something and make a difference. And hopefully, we're that at that turning point now that's the only way we can go forward is for people to realize something has to change from where we've been in these last four years.
COOPER: Yes. Doris Kearns Goodwin, it's always a pleasure to talk to you and especially in a difficult time to get some perspective. Thank you.
GOODWIN: You're very welcome. So glad to be with you.
COOPER: You took care. Last night, we pointed out some in Congress and former White House staffers who are now distancing themselves from the President that they'd enabled cabinet members suddenly jumping from the sinking ship. While we're doing that over on fox news last night, Tucker Carlson and then Sean Hannity, were downplaying the severity of the attack on the Capitol saying essentially wasn't insurrection. Just a peaceful protest got out of hand. They also both devoted segments to what they would like you to believe is the real outrage about the attack on the Capitol? Me. And they're twisting something I said about the people who perpetrated the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: According to Anderson, the real horror from yesterday's chaos is that some of the pro-Trump protesters will go back and celebrate at an Olive Garden and spend the night at a Holiday Inn. Oh, the thought.
Anderson Cooper thinks that accusing someone of eating at an Olive Garden are staying at a Holiday Inn is a low insult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now look, I know they're in a jam. Those guys are back the President more than anyone. And it is multi million dollar media empire of TV and radio and books is all based on the support of Trump supporters. So I get that they need to play down what we all witnessed at the Capitol. They get it, they need to change the subject, they need to divert attention. And I guess I gave them an easy opening to twist my words. I should have been more clear with something I said in the immediate moments have to be attacked as people who'd broken into the Capitol, or simply being allowed to leave seem to just walk away. Celebrating on fact, the criminal act that they had taken part in.
I was trying to remark about the seeming casualness of the behavior that we were all witnessing at that moment after the attack, the high fiving, the laughing, the celebratory atmosphere as if they'd actually accomplished something other than just disgraceful mayhem. I said they should be ashamed of what they did. And I believe that, and I was trying to say perhaps didn't do a good job of it that they were just going to go back to their lives that day as though they were patriots, they're going to go back to hotels and have a drink, have some dinner. I named the two hotels that I could think of in the Capitol Hill in that moment. In the mall area, I named the Olive Garden is a restaurant they might eat at normal places as if this was just a normal day. I was actually thinking of another restaurant that area with the name Olive in it. But the moment my brain froze, I couldn't remember the exact name. I said the Olive Garden turns out the nearest one is in Maryland. Anyway, now Hannity and Carlson are trying to rile up their viewers and distract them by pretending I was somehow dissing Olive Garden or those hotels, implying I'm too fancy for those establishments. Because my mom's last name, I somehow look down on those establishments. And it genuinely makes me sad to think people would believe that, and I've been kind of sad about it all day. That is not what I was doing. I wasn't dissing a restaurant. Well, I was dissing criminality, and the ability of some who took part to just go back to their routines, seemingly without any sense of shame. And being allowed to just walk away from a crime scene, a shocking crime was committed. An assault on our democracy and assault. Many otherwise law abiding citizens had actually been fooled into taking part in by our president, who lied to them about widespread election fraud that did not occur. And those lies were amplified by Fox News and yes, by Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.
And now they're trying to minimize it and divert attention away from it. The Washington Post's quotes, post quotes Hannity is saying, I'd like to know who the agitators were. The biggest agitator is your buddy, the President. You probably have his number on your on your cell phone. Tucker Carlson said, we may never know the truth here. I keep seeing all these kinds of accounts of who they were and what their motives might have been. That's like people saying, well, I keep seeing all these reports about election fraud. So we got to act on it and have this commission and really investigated.
What happened to the Capitol should be a moment for all of us to reflect. On our own words and our actions, myself included, and how we can all do better to bring this country back together. This will be really want to be.
I hope the folks at Fox might do some reflecting as well, instead of just the usual games of diversion and division. Just for the record, I like the Olive Garden. I like the artichoke dip, even though it has spinach in it, which I hate. Yes, I know. It's an appetizer with breadsticks. It's like a whole meal. And my New Year's Eve broadcast a few years ago, even broadcast repeatedly from the Olive Garden, and I repeatedly praised the restaurant. Over the years. I've also publicly praised Orange Chicken and Panda Express turkey with stuffing a Boston Market and McDonald's Big Macs. I'm sure the folks at Fox will continue to spin this.
But this is just a diversion from a crime that was committed a crime in which people died. A police officer died. This is not a time for stupid cable news fights. It's a time for mourning the loss of life. And let's hope it's time for a new morning in America.
We more important news ahead, the daily death toll due to the coronavirus reach a new high last night with 4,112 number that could be surpassed tonight. Nowhere right now is the virus hitting harder than in California. But it looks like inside one hospital there that's completely overwhelmed but is desperately trying to save lives.
We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: As the threat of another impeachment looms against President Trump, the pandemic his administration has failed to contain shows no signs of slowing down. Tonight, more than 272,000 new cases, the more than 3,400 more people have died. Two deaths recorded. And as we reported more than 4,000 people have died yesterday alone. Among the hardest hit states has been California as, you know, Los Angeles County reporting 318 deaths there most in a single day statewide 50,000 new cases today alone. I'll take a look at this a temporary morgue has been set up near the LA County Coroner's office to help store human bodies. You can see workers loading some of them into temporary storage freezer containers to people's loved ones.
Miles away from Los Angeles in a rural town in a high desert of the state. COVID cases are also running rampant. CNN's Sara Sidner is there.
LINDSAY PACKARD, ICU MANAGER & NURSE, ST. MARY MEDICAL CENTER: We've never seen the ER like this before and our whole time being here.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what COVID-19 looks like in California in 2021, a hellscape.
PACKARD: That death toll has been out of this world.
SIDNER (voice-over): On the edge of the Mojave Desert at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley. You can see the crisis even before you walk in. Patients arrived constantly, some by ambulance, some on foot. A California National Guard strike team of medics and nurses arrives daily.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an area of great need. And we're glad to be here. You know, when I first got in it, it felt like maybe a bandaid on an arterial bleed.
SIDNER (voice-over): A gush of patients that just won't stop.
PACKARD: I'd say about 80% of our patients are COVID.
SIDNER (voice-over): Temporary plastic walls erected all over this hospital, create a maze of COVID pods, patients with other emergencies line the halls.
(on-camera): The hospital is so full here that some of the patients that you're seeing here in the hallways will have to wait seven to 10 days possibly just to get a room. They need to be admitted to the hospital. But they're being cared for in the hallways for now.
(voice-over): Upstairs in the 20 bed ICU.
PACKARD: In ICU, we see death and dying on a daily basis but never to this scale.
SIDNER (voice-over): Every Intensive Care Unit bed is full. Every staff member busy saving patients.
PACKARD: We have over 50 ICU patients in the hospital right now. And we only have the staff to care for about 20 of them. So, we are being stretched, the nurses are being pushed to their absolute breaking points and then a little further every day.
SIDNER (voice-over): The soundtrack here a never-ending series of beeping codes and rapid response calls alerting staff when someone's heart has stopped or breathing has stalled. That's what's happening behind this curtain inside a newly created COVID unit. A COVID-19 patient in pain, can't catch her breath. Nurses and doctors can't either working every day to exhaustion.
ARTUR GRIGORIYAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE, ST. MARY MEDICAL CENTER: The physical toll of course, there's also an emotional toll and it's very hard to deal with patients die. You know, mortality is very has been very, very high.
SIDNER (on-camera): How do you deal with this? Are you OK?
GRIGORIYAN: I guess I'm still standing but, you know, we'll see. Give it a few months.
SIDNER (voice-over): But right now, a patient needs him. He's on life support. COVID pneumonia is on the attack. His lung has collapsed. There's a scramble to insert a chest tube, the difference between life and death, razor thin.
PACKARD: People don't take it seriously until they're here with us or until they're on the other line of that phone call talking to their family member for the last time. It is real, it is serious and most of what we're seeing is preventable.
SIDNER (voice-over): The hospital is making space in every nook and cranny, but the crush of patients threatens to overwhelm the space and the staff every single day. Everyone here expects this to get worse before coronavirus takes its last breath.
Sara Sidner CNN, Apple Valley California.
COOPER: The least we can do is wear a mask. The least we can do. I mean you can't look at that and hear that person gasping trying to breathe? I mean, what are we doing?