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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Sources: Mitch McConnell Believes Impeaching Trump Will Help Rid Him From The Party; Trump On Speech That Incited Deadly Insurrection: "Totally Appropriate"; House On Verge Of Impeaching President Trump A Second Time. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 12, 2021 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This is the Alabama Congressman, the morning of January 6th, in Washington D.C.
A few days later, he told an Alabama news service, "I make no apology for doing my absolute best to inspire patriotic Americans to not give up on our country and to fight back against anti-Christian socialists."
Former Congressman Charlie Dent says the actions of his former colleagues show it's time for a serious reckoning with the Republican Party.
CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN: We have to rid ourselves of these radical elements. I would recommend to every one of my Republican colleagues, sometimes you have to risk your job in order to save it. Well, this is the time.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: That was Drew Griffin reporting.
News continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson.
I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.
Tonight, there is reason for hope. Things are very much in flux. But we have never heard what we've heard tonight. Republicans may want their Party back from Trump.
Reportedly, Senator Mitch McConnell thinks Trump has gone too far. "The New York Times" reports that McConnell may be indicating to the Caucus that impeachment could make it easier to rid the party of Trump. Now, I know that's hard to believe, especially coming from him.
But you'll hear from a Senator tonight that is hearing from his colleagues that Members of the GOP in the Senate may want to break with the Republican - with the Re-Trump-lican number in their ranks, a number may be open to convicting Trump in the Senate.
Now, in the House, it looks like impeachment is not going to be an all-Democrat affair. The third Ranking Member of the GOP is Liz Cheney. Now, she said tonight she will vote for impeachment, so did Representative Adam Kinzinger and Representative Katko. And the names keep coming. It's not just those three.
A White House official says there may be 20 or more Republicans, in the House, who may vote to impeach. Add that to the top GOPer in the House, McCarthy. Now, he sat silent for so many lies by this President, and advanced many of those lies for Trump himself.
But now, McCarthy is reportedly trial-ballooning Trump being pushed to resign. It sounds kind of like a Nixon situation, where the Heads of the Party would go to him and say, "Look, you don't have the votes. You don't have the confidence. You need to go."
That's how it happened with Nixon. Democrats didn't throw him out. Republicans got him to resign. Do they have that kind of resolve now? I don't know. But I've never seen any indication of it, until now. This is a moment in history, if only because of this degree of shift.
So, here is the state of play. The House is now debating a resolution on whether Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. I'm a seller on this proposition, and I'll tell you why. First of all, the VP sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, a short time ago, this evening, saying he's not in favor of this.
Now, that's because the 25th Amendment, to be fair, was not meant to be punitive, OK? It was meant about actual physical or mental incapacity, whereby the President can't, on their own accord, step away. That's really what it was meant for.
Impeachment is the right process here. And if anybody is motivated to push that way, it may be VP Pence. Why?
We just learned that Trump said to Pence, on the phone, just before the VP headed to the Capitol, to oversee the electoral vote count, last Wednesday, OK, "The New York Times," citing two sources, says the President told Pence, "You can either go down in history as a patriot or you can go down in history as a p-blank," ends in a "Y," five letters.
For some reason, we think it's too delicate a word to say. In these crass times, we should be worrying about our realities. But I'll spare you that word. You get the meaning.
Can you imagine the President saying that to Pence, and he still did what he thought was right? We haven't seen anything close to that in these Republican ranks, let alone from Pence.
And look, you can say "Why now? He's about to leave." Look, that's obvious. There have been so many egregious situations, so many ugly instances, where anyone of good conscience should have stepped up and said "I'm not about this," and they didn't. And that must be remembered, absolutely.
But for this to be happening, at all, marks a moment in history that should not be forgotten either, because Congress, because this country, could not be in a more dire situation.
The Joint Chiefs have issued a statement to remind U.S. Forces of their duty to the Constitution. Why? What kind of signal does that send you about what the level of concern is here?
All 50 state capitols have gone on alert for more potential violence in the run-up to Inauguration Day. The Attorney General of Michigan is saying their capitol will not be safe.
Members of the GOP, considering whether to finally amputate Trump is meaningful. And you know who helped this a lot today? Trump. By going to Alamo, Texas, and making it very clear that he makes no apologies, and more importantly, that he is ready to say the same things that he said before the insurrection, again.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This impeachment is causing tremendous anger.
I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country.
If you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I've seen it both, in the papers, and in the media, on television, it's been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.
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CUOMO: Who? Not you. Not me. The only people who thought it was appropriate were the members of that mob, those would-be terrorists that responded to his words by attacking our democracy.
Turns out that now, even diehard Re-Trump-licans are doubting their dedication. McCarthy, OK, the big man for Republicans in the House, seeming to step away from Trump.
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REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We will not wait to four years from now to change this. We are going to fight this now.
President Trump won this election. So, everyone who is listening, do not be quiet. Do not be - do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes. Join together and let's stop this.
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CUOMO: I want to remind you, that's who this guy is, OK? Does that sound like "This is just due process"? Does that sound like, "Sorry that we lost, not happy about it"? No.
"Fight this now!" "Stand up now!" "Come now!" This is a call to arms for them, OK? That's how they played it. Now, did they think it would result in an actual call to people carrying arms to the Capitol? Maybe not, but they still said it in a way that obviously wound up instigating it, because it happened, OK?
And what did McCarthy and all the others do, when they came, the people he invited to come, the people he told to fight? They ran, because they knew it was wrong. You didn't see Ted Cruz there with open arms, "Thank you for supporting my efforts on this." They ran!
So, where does it stand with them? It's hard to tell, because a lot of this is reporting. They're not coming out, and saying it to you directly. They may say it with their votes, and their mixed signals.
Lindsey Graham stood up, everybody started giving him maybe a little thought that maybe his mind is come back into some kind of concert with his heart, you know, "Count me out. Count me out. I'm done with this."
Well now it's "Count me in Lindsey Graham." You know where he was today? The Senate Judiciary Chair was with Trump, when he went to Alamo, Texas. Why? Well, they went there on Air Force One, obviously, because it was supposed to be about the wall.
But what it really was, he's from South Carolina. It was just a comfort campaign. He was just showing dedication to this President, OK, a President who is still effectively inciting an insurrection.
It's called Alamo. It's not The Alamo. But you really think it was a coincidence? There are lots of Texas towns with walls in it. Why do you think they went there? What do you think the symbolism is?
What do you think they're trying to inspire? "Against great odds, you must put it all on the line, you must put your life on the line," it's easy to say. It feels good, when you know people are that dedicated to you. But what about the cost?
Just think about what kind of mentality it takes to come out of what happened, last Wednesday and not apologize, not to address the country, not to talk about how wrong it is, profoundly.
What he said it today, Trump, it was pro forma. He was reading words off a teleprompter, and we both know he didn't write them. That's who he is.
And yet, there he was, at the border, again, trying to gin-up manufactured crisis, while the real one that he created threatens to destroy the democracy. "Caravans of Mexicans!" "The Brown Menace!" Remember that? "The Brown Menace is coming, look out!"
You know what wound up coming? A virus, a pandemic that he ignored. He made up something that was coming to get us. And what did come to get us, he ignored, and it killed more people than ever, just today. These are the times we're living in. It's not rhetorical. It's reality.
So, where are we now? It seems to be not enough for Lindsey Graham and others to just give a nod to what they saw. They have to speak up and speak out.
I don't want to read it just in "The Times." I don't want to read it just in my own reporting. I want to hear it.
They have to stand up and be counted. Now is the time. Admit what happened was wrong. Admit you were wrong to be part of it. That is what will stop the division. It will stop it here and now.
In the first briefing on the Capitol attack, today, the Feds say, we will be shocked about what they're uncovering. Significant cases of sedition and conspiracy are being built. 70 cases already charged. The number will grow to the hundreds. But their big fear is what happens next, and who will stand up to prevent it.
Let's bring in David Gregory and Norm Eisen, politics and law, thank you both.
David, how moved are you by the apparent move by GOP leadership?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HOW'S YOUR FAITH?": Look, I think it's significant.
And the biggest reason why is that if impeachment moves forward, as we expect it to, tomorrow, it's such an important statement to the country, to those insurrectionists, who led this assault, on our government, and to history, that there were Republicans, who were willing to step forward, and say, "Shame on you, Mr. President. You don't deserve to be in office. You deserve the shame that comes with being the only president, in history, to be impeached twice."
Liz Cheney is a study in leadership tonight. That's mature leadership. Leadership, doing something that could be really politically difficult in leading the way.
I've always felt, Chris, and you and I have talked about this, over the years, why don't more Republicans stand up to Trump? Because he was too strong or they perceived he was too strong.
McConnell's reported views tonight say to me there is finally a sense of vulnerability that Trump, who not only lost the election, but who also proceeded to then lose the Senate, for Republicans, is done.
And that Republicans, conservatives, and even Republicans, who want to appeal to his more populist base, say "We can do it without him. This is the time to break away without him hurting us." CUOMO: So, the question becomes, while there may be the political will, on some levels, is there the case for Trump to become the first president that we see not just impeached a couple of times but removed?
Norm, marrying heart to head, what is the high crime, or misdemeanor, to charge him with, here? And what is proof of the same? "It was just a speech," he'll say. "I was just giving a speech. I didn't say "Go to the Capitol and insurrect!" I just said "We got to fight!" It's rhetoric. It's what people say."
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chris, thanks for having me back on this historic night, when we're finally, finally, on the cusp of accountability for Donald Trump.
The voters delivered their verdict. And I think the Congress is going to deliver a proper, legally and factually grounded verdict. First, the law, Chris, incitement of insurrection, it's the most fundamental of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Our Founders and the Framers of the Constitution, when they said "You can remove a President for a high crime," they feared the mob. They talked about a corrupt president, who would try to break the electoral process. That's what he did, Chris.
CUOMO: Speech is protected. Brandenburg!
EISEN: So, there is no question.
CUOMO: You can even cry "Fire!" in a theater. It's just speech. It's protected.
EISEN: It doesn't.
CUOMO: He just said it.
EISEN: It is - no, Sir. The President's speech is not protected.
This is not a private setting, where an individual can say whatever they want. This is a president, who has sworn a solemn oath, to uphold the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Guess what, Chris? He became an enemy. The First Amendment does not protect that. The impeachment clause overrides, and then the facts.
This isn't empty rhetoric. He said "We have to fight." He said "If you don't fight for your government, it will be taken away from you. Now let's march down Pennsylvania Avenue."
And we saw the results, Chris, those shocking images, the worst attack in over a century and a half. You have to look to a foreign war, the British invasion, and the War of 1812, to see things like that.
No. It is a high crime. It is legally-based. It is factually-based. You cannot have a president for another day, another hour, who would attack his own government. Not just the Senate.
EISEN: Not just the House.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
EISEN: But Mike Pence, his Vice President, who was in the building.
CUOMO: David, jump in.
GREGORY: Chris, the politics, I think, control here, because obviously Norm is laying out the legal case of what would be the impeachment charge. But we remind ourselves, when we talk about impeachment that it's a political process.
And I think what it's rooted in here, and whatever bipartisanship there is, and, by the way, we haven't mentioned tonight, there are Republicans, who are going to vote to impeach.
But the leadership, so far as we know at this point, are not going to lobby other Republicans to oppose impeachment. They're going to let people have some room. That in and of itself is significant, especially compared to all the enabling we've been seeing from Republicans over the years.
This was an attack on another branch of government. But it followed an attack on our election system. So, the notion, as a political matter, that you could have one Party or the other every four years reject the will of the people is simply unacceptable in a democracy.
GREGORY: Particularly one like ours.
CUOMO: Cogent points. And I will just end on this.
CUOMO: Remember what President Ford said. What is an impeachable offense? "Anything Congress says it is," because it comes down to the votes.
CUOMO: David Gregory, Norm Eisen, thank you for living history with me.
All right, so what's it like in Washington right now? How strong is this pull of the GOPs moving against Trump?
A Senator, who would be on the jury, if Trump is impeached again, thinks that things are different. How different? Why does he think that? Senator Joe Manchin is very much the man in the middle, next.
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CUOMO: Look, there's more proof of concept here that things are changing in real-time.
CNN has just learned another GOP Member of Congress will vote "Yes" on impeachment in the House, Fred Upton of Michigan. Now, that is the fourth Republican to say "Yes" by name, all right? You have Congresswoman Liz Cheney, you have Kinzinger, you have Katko, and now Upton.
But a White House official tells CNN that they believe there may be as many as 20 Members of Congress joining Democrats, tomorrow, and backing this effort.
Now, remember, Democrats don't need it. But this is about politics. This is political will. This is not a legal process. It really isn't. We have to remember that. I know you heard it a ton last time, but we forget, because on our head is a maelstrom of new problems all the time.
Again, President Ford said it right. "An impeachable offense is anything Congress says it is." That's why consensus is so fundamental. And if you have Republicans, joining in the House, what momentum might that cause in the Senate? What are the chances?
OK, so I've got an insider, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. What does he see in the state of play?
Senator Joe Manchin, thank you.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Thank you for having me, Chris. It's always good to be with you.
CUOMO: So, as my straight broker, on the situation, what do you make of all this talk? Are you actually seeing things shift?
MANCHIN: I'm seeing the same statements everyone's seeing this evening, Chris that things are shifting a little bit.
You have Liz Cheney coming out, very direct and forcefully. You have Mitch McConnell sending complete different signals than I've ever heard from him before. So, we just don't know.
Only thing I've said before, I thought it was ill-advised for us to go down this path again, and have the same result. The bottom line is, I think, everyone knows Democrats will vote to impeach.
But we're still a country where the rule of law is our bedrock, and every person is innocent until proven guilty. So, we have to go through a trial. There has to be a defense.
Is there enough time to do that? And how much will that disrupt what we need to do and do immediately is that Joe Biden put a government, functioning government together, to build confidence with the American people.
CUOMO: Would you have ever believed that we were anywhere near a day where not just Liz Cheney but--
CUOMO: --Senator Mitch McConnell was allowing stories to come out that impeachment could be a good thing that high crimes and misdemeanors may be present with President Trump?
MANCHIN: Well it's so obvious what has happened, you know, because we have it all in color, if you will, and we have all the video, and we have all the audio that is needed in any type of a trial. I can't imagine anything different than that.
We haven't seen the backstory to this yet. When they start looking at phone records, how long has this been going on, who's been planning, who's been coercing, that all has to come out too.
So, but with what we see on face value, it's just absolutely tremendously damaging. And I think they even have a hard time of denying it. And I think maybe they're just tired of it. Enough is enough.
CUOMO: So, your concern was that if you have another impeachment situation, where it's all Democrats, no Republicans, it enhances the divide. But now you're saying that there is a number of Republicans, there are a number, who may actually vote--
CUOMO: --for removal or for conviction in the Senate on the Republican side?
MANCHIN: I - the way I'm - the way I'm reading between the lines of what Mitch McConnell is saying, "Maybe it's time that we can rid ourselves of this bully, truly, and be able to move on to a more normal procedure, and bring our Republican Party, the Grand Old Party, back to where she should be."
Maybe he looks at that opening, right now, and thinks this is his chance. I can't read his mind. I really don't know. It's hard with Mitch. But I've never seen signals sent from Mitch McConnell the way they're sent right now.
CUOMO: Are you hearing from your Republican colleagues a change in tone?
MANCHIN: Well I haven't yet, OK? I will probably later this evening, and as they kind of decipher everything, and they talk back and forth.
We have our bipartisan, bicameral group that continues to talk all the time. We chat back and forth, on a daily basis, many, many times a day. So, I'm sure that the lines will be hot tonight. I'm sure it will be hot.
CUOMO: Now, is there a line short of conviction that is still seen as political progress, in your mind, meaning something between all Democrats, no Republicans, and a two-thirds vote to remove?
MANCHIN: Well, just all Democrats is not going to be a surprise to anybody.
MANCHIN: It just politicizes it too much, Chris.
MANCHIN: That's what I have said.
MANCHIN: We're going down a political process. I believe we really have justifiable cause to go down a judicial process.
And a judicial process will do the proper investigation. The evidence will come forth. Charges will be made. Those who have been charged will be - there will be a trial. And no matter, no person is above the law. And we go from there.
If they do impeachment, the only thing I asked for, I was pleading, "If you're going to do an impeachment," and they are bent on doing it tonight, tonight or tomorrow, "then please, consider holding that until three months, maybe four months, so we can see everything else unfold."
Give the people a time to breathe, to digest, to see all the evidence coming forth. It might make it much easier to bring the entire nation with us or the largest part of this nation, back together.
CUOMO: The counterargument is, you let it linger, it keeps Trump relevant well into Biden's term. And what was supposed to be seen as a change of urgency and dynamic, you'd still have Trump being part of the mix, if you delay it for three months, four months.
Is that part of the calculus of plus/minus on that plan? MANCHIN: Right. My only concern would be this. If you go for impeachment, and it comes down political lines, then you've done worse than that. You've done worse than that.
And he can basically say exactly what he will say. "I told you it was a witch-hunt. They just won't quit." So, the supporters and sympathizers will basically entrench themselves, and then we've got what we've got, stalemate.
We have a chance to move the ball or we have a chance now to let the judicial. I think that basically the quicker we can take it out, of the political arena, and put it in the judicial courts, and the judicial arena, we would be much better. Let the third branch of government do their job, Chris.
CUOMO: Do you believe that Trump is a clear and present danger to this country?
MANCHIN: Oh, I most certainly have said that, and I do.
And I think that Larry Hogan, my friend, the Governor from Maryland, put it very, very succinctly, that he believes that the sooner that President leaves, the safer our country will be, and the safer the world will be.
CUOMO: Do you believe there's any chance that Senator Mitch McConnell may allow a move of censure or something else against senators Cruz and Hawley?
MANCHIN: When you look at exactly at what they did, and here's the thing, I'm looking at now, I would like to know this.
I want to see the transcripts going back. I want to see the tweets coming out from their phones. I want to see if there was fundraising requests going out at the same time all this attack on the Capitol and right after the attack on the Capitol. That would change me completely, whether I think they have the right to serve in the Senate, in the United States Senate.
If they basically capitalized, for their own political gain, basically at the peril of our government, and they put their Party and their politics, ahead of our Constitution, and our democracy, and the Republic, then I would have a complete different change, and I would be as hard as anybody could be that they should not--
CUOMO: Well is there--
CUOMO: Is there any proof that they did it for any other reason, Senator?
MANCHIN: Well I mean I have--
CUOMO: I mean neither presented any proof of any allegation that they brought up. Cruz never has. He pointed to polls and said, "Well, you know, a lot of people believe the President." Yes, of course they believe that it was rigged. He's been telling them--
MANCHIN: Well yes.
CUOMO: --it was rigged for weeks.
MANCHIN: Well not for weeks.
CUOMO: But no proof.
MANCHIN: It's been months. It's been basically - I think the President saw the polls, long before the election, and he saw that he was in trouble, and it was very obvious that what happened could happen, he would lose.
With that, he started basically sowing that doubt. And he's been a master with the media. And I don't think anyone got--
CUOMO: But he didn't do it alone. He didn't do it alone, Senator.
MANCHIN: Come on! Come on, he--
CUOMO: Without Cruz, and without Hawley, we would have--
CUOMO: --never been there, last Wednesday.
MANCHIN: And many - and many, many more. Yes.
Can you imagine, if you were sitting over in a Joint Session with the House, and see 50, 60, 70 congress - Republican congresspeople stand, after the attack on our Capitol, after people had died, and still object, knowing that it would incite more violence? Can you believe that you'd ever see that? I couldn't.
CUOMO: Can now.
MANCHIN: Someone has to be held accountable, absolutely.
CUOMO: Understood. Senator Manchin, thank you so much. What amazingly dynamic times we live in, that literally, 24 hours has a different atmosphere in Washington.
CUOMO: We hope the change continues to be positive.
MANCHIN: We're better than this, Chris, we truly are. And God bless America.
I truly believe God has blessed America, and we need more blessings now than ever before. Abraham Lincoln says, "Let that angel inside of you - let that better angel inside of you fly." It's time to let her fly.
CUOMO: Beautiful! Senator, thank you.
MANCHIN: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: Angels and demons in our midst. Did you ever think you would hear a sitting U.S. Senator say that a President is a clear and present danger to the United States of America? Just think about the times that we're living in. Now, what to do about it?
Also, happening on our watching in real-time, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is saying, "Open your eyes. Hold the President accountable." But she's talking right now about the 25th Amendment, OK?
The VP sent a letter to her tonight saying, "I don't think it's the right course."
I have to say, this is an interesting political play by the Democrats. With this momentum moving toward impeachment, which is a legitimate avenue of punishment for bad behavior, see, they're making two plays here, bad and sick.
25th Amendment has to be about incapacity. What does incapacity mean? Now, the 25th Amendment, Section 4, has never been invoked.
But when you look at the legislative history, about what the discussions were, at that time, it was the "God forbid!" scenario. Somebody's sick, and if they're sick enough to relay, "Listen, I can't do the job right now," that's Section 3.
What if they're not? Then there is a mechanism that is very intricate, why, because you don't want someone to just seize power, right?
So, it was like coup-proof, Section 4. You need the VP, a majority of the cabinet, they have to go to the Senate. There are all these delay periods, of deliberation and letters being sent, and then eventually there's a vote.
But it's about incapacity. You can very well make the argument it wasn't meant to punish bad behavior. It was meant to deal with someone being sick, not bad. Bad is impeachment. Bad is somebody who gives fuel to the fire that we have burning in our country right now.
And we have real threats. Forget about what politicians say. It's about what bad people are doing, growing dangers that will require unity among all of us, to stop. This is not over.
We have a Democrat, chairing a House panel, probing the attack on the Capitol. He has information about the scariest aspects of what we may see in the run-up to the Inauguration, next.
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BROOKS: Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!
BROOKS: Our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes, their lives, to give us, their descendants, an America that is the greatest nation in world history. So, I have a question for you. Are you willing to do the same?
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CUOMO: Now look, you can say hindsight is 20/20, and that political rhetoric is often heated. That's Congressman Mo Brooks, OK?
Now, Mo Brooks had a very special place, for me and, really, for all of us, who were watching what happened when Steve Scalise, the Member of Congress, was shot during that softball practice - baseball practice.
Mo Brooks took us through those events that morning. He was brave. And he was positive. And he was conciliatory.
And that man is gone, because the man, who was up on that lectern now, is saying all the kinds of things that should never be said again, not if you don't want people to respond with anger and violence.
And yet, he is doing the worst Trump imitation he can. He stands by it. He makes no apologies. He was getting people to just get out there and exercise their rights? No. That's not how it came across.
And you know how you know it's not how it came across, on the morning of January 6th? It didn't come across that way because that's not what they did. They didn't all run out and go and register voters for the next time, right? It was an insurrection. And then, everything seemed to go wrong, the right way, for the mob.
You saw these waves of security this summer, when Trump wanted to go, and hold the Bible, in front of the chapel.
How was it so weak on so many different levels? And what is the real level of threat now, going forward? Somebody has answers for us tonight, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan.
Good to see you, brother. Thank you for joining us.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: I hope the family is well. Happy New Year to you all.
RYAN: Happy New Year. God bless.
CUOMO: All right, so we are in a weird time. I've never heard this kind of chatter from the Republicans before. We'll see what happens.
I want to ask you something first about what you've learned in your Committee.
Am I wrong to have this sense that the security was so weak, on so many different levels, that it's almost hard to understand, how it could have been that way, in the midst of such a charged environment? What have you learned?
RYAN: Well, we're still baffled by the whole thing, Chris. And let me be very, very clear here.
The rank and file members of the Capitol Police and the Washington Metro did an absolutely phenomenal job, but for maybe a small sliver that we're looking into, but the vast majority, like I said, 98 percent, 99 percent, of them, are heroes.
And we have to be very, very clear, when we're talking about what the command and control did, what the leadership did.
CUOMO: Fair point.
RYAN: What the Sergeant at Arms leadership did. They failed and put the rank and file members in a lose/lose situation.
RYAN: And it was very dangerous.
CUOMO: But why?
RYAN: And so, we have to honor--
RYAN: --we have to honor the heroes here.
CUOMO: But why?
So, I'm totally with you. I saw what was happening there. I've been in situations like that.
CUOMO: They were totally overwhelmed in terms of numbers. It may have been a death sentence for them to have been more aggressive than they were in certain instances.
CUOMO: I'll allow for that. It seems totally reasonable. But how? How, when you have this charged environment--
CUOMO: --how were we not more ready? Because it almost smacks of a setup. And we don't want that. We don't want to feed that. But how do you dispel that notion by explaining how inept it was?
RYAN: It was so incompetent that yes, it brings about these ideas that maybe it was a setup, maybe there was an inside job.
Because it was so unbelievably irresponsible, for the Capitol Police, and the Sergeant at Arms offices, not to have thousands and thousands of people backed up, National Guards, other federal agencies there to help and support, because nothing happens in a vacuum.
So, you go back to Charlottesville. This has been a run-up from all along. And then Trump tried to manipulate his followers to vote for him. But then he lost. And so, it got escalated even more.
And he precisely targeted this date, as you said it a million times, on your show, over the past week, "January 6, it's going to be wild." He targeted this date. And then that led to the ramp-up, and that led to the online chatter.
And then that morning, and then you get Mo Brooks, who couldn't beat himself out of a wet paper bag, is up there, getting everybody else all riled up. And Hawley, and Cruz, and these guys, the phoniest people you'd ever want to see in your life, are now inciting more and more violence.
So, it was the context that makes the failure even that more significant, because anybody could have seen this coming.
And we were promised, I know, as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee, that funds the Capitol Police and Sergeant at Arms, I was promised that everything was taken care of, that the National Guard was available. I know other Committee Chairs were as well.
And so, we need to honor the heroes, and we need to make sure that there is some significant changes, as we move forward.
CUOMO: Agreed that overwhelmingly, the small number of people you had, relative to the threat, did what they could, agreed and accepted.
But just to kind of give people a little bit of a wide-eyed sense of reality, how lucky did you get, given what you've learned about the intentions of people, in that mob, and the level of protection you had, against the level of force, that everybody made it out of that room? RYAN: Almost a miracle!
I would say that what - you and Senator Manchin "God bless America," God has blessed America.
This could have been an absolute catastrophe, if those people were armed, coming in there, if it was just a few minutes sooner, when there were Members of Congress, good number, senators, in the chamber, the Vice President Pence, it would have been a horrific scene, because they were out for blood. And we are very, very lucky.
Now, we, in the United States, like Winston Churchill said, "We try everything else before we get it right," you will see a show of force, during the Inauguration, that will prevent anything like that from happening, across Washington D.C.
There will be a significant amount of security here, National Guard, federal agencies. Secret Service is taking the lead, which gives us a lot of comfort. And we're going to be ready for it this time.
CUOMO: So, I'm hearing - OK, I have something you're going to want to hear too. John Katko, Republican, is on the floor right now, supporting impeachment.
REP. JOHN KATKO (R-NY): --to defend the United States and protect those who work here.
Many officers were severely injured and beaten, including one of my former interns. And tragically, one officer, Officer Brian Sicknick, succumbed to the injuries he sustained.
To Officer Sicknick's family, I extend my deepest condolences, and know that we are praying for you.
And to all Capitol police officers, we are deeply thankful for your bravery. Because of you, thousands of lives were protected, and the people's work was able to resume. Now, just as the Capitol Police protected us, Congress must match their courage and protect the Constitution, our democratic processes and this nation.
The President's role in this insurrection is undeniable, both on social media, ahead of January 6, and in his speech that day. He deliberately promoted baseless theories, creating a combustible environment of misinformation and division.
To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack, without consequences, is a direct threat to the future of this democracy. For this reason, I will vote to impeach this President tomorrow.
The bill before us tonight is a non-binding resolution, which requests the Vice President to invoke the 25th Amendment, a step he's already said he will not take. It is merely a symbolic gesture, and I will oppose that resolution.
After last week's attack on the Capitol, it is clear our nation is more divided than ever, in recent history. We began this great experiment over 240 years ago. And to preserve it, we must remember that our faith, race, or political party is not what unites us.
What unites us is that we are Americans. I'd encourage Members of this body and everyone at home to remember that simple truth. And with that, I yield back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Gentleman from Ohio, do you, do you reserve?
CUOMO: I want to get back to Representative Tim Ryan. I have to tell you--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I will yield.
CUOMO: --I would have never thought we would have heard that from a Trump supporter. But there he was, saying exactly what you were saying, that the President's words were instigating the actions that became the reality on January 6th.
He's against the 25th Amendment. I got to tell you, I think they've got a good argument that the 25th Amendment wasn't meant to be punitive. It was about incapacity.
I get the sense of desperation of trying to get something to suffocate this President's words, especially after what he said today, that everything he said was appropriate. And I want to identify what you know about the threat going forward.
You said the Force will be in place, to deter any kind of group activity. But in terms of not just what they want to do, but to whom, Congressman, how has it developed, in terms of what Members of Congress, by name, are being targeted?
RYAN: Well the first, you know, we may need to republish Kennedy's book "Profiles in Courage," because I think Katko, and Liz Cheney, and these others--
RYAN: --you know, they could - they should--
RYAN: Absolutely, Adam's been great. I mean just consistent in standing up when the country needs you to answer the call, and they should be commended.
I'm a Democrat. They're Republican. But they - no one understands, as much as they do, how much pressure is applied. They are literally putting their political lives at risk, because of this vote that they're making, and they should be commended for that.
So, moving forward, there have been different scenarios that have been reported, about surrounding the Capitol, and shooting people, to make sure that they can't go in and vote, preventing Biden from going into the White House, been a lot of scenarios.
There is going to be sufficient protection here, Chris. There are already - the FBI and others are already preventing people, who were at the last rally, from even being here, because they're getting charged, in the process, so a lot of the activity won't be as much.
But who knows? We will be prepared and this Congress will be prepared.
CUOMO: How heavy can you go? Are you allowed to have military? No. You're going to have National Guard. What can you do that can show the kind of force that you may need, if you have thousands of people there demonstrating?
RYAN: Well, part of it is this global fencing. Part of it is making sure you have these barriers that are up, around the Capitol, and then around the neighborhoods, really around the city.
No one should be here if they, you know, there's not going to be any tickets. It's not going to be like Obama's Inauguration or anything like that. It will be very, very small. And I think they will be able to identify people, who were here. I think they're going to monitor people coming in and out.
It should be a pretty safe place. It doesn't mean something can't happen. But even walking around now, Chris, I was outside earlier, just checking things out, National Guard, all around, and that frees up the military and the law enforcement to do the job they need to do.
And lastly, the use of force, which a lot of us questioned, why the Capitol Police weren't allowed to be a little bit more aggressive, which I would have liked to have seen them been able to do, they weren't getting permission to do that.
And those rules of engagement are going to be a little more in favor of making sure that those officers can protect themselves, which we're all supportive of.
CUOMO: Right, as long as they have the numbers, because you know, I mean, you're sophisticated in the dynamic. It's easy for people to say they have to be tough. When it's 50-1, it's tough--
CUOMO: --to be tough because you can be overwhelmed. And you were right--
CUOMO: --to draw the distinction between command and control, and the men and women, who are on the ground, keeping you guys safe, and they are--
CUOMO: --but for them, god forbid.
RYAN: No question, which is why we've got to be very careful, that we see a video on social media, and draw an immediate conclusion.
RYAN: You can't do that when it comes to policing and law enforcement. You have to have the context. You have to know what's going on.
If there's a thousand people, bull-rushing three people, you have to do what you have to do, especially when their main mission is to protect Members of Congress. Their main mission isn't to protect the portrait in an ornate room in the Capitol.
Their mission is to protect Members of Congress, and they did an excellent job at that, and they should be commended.
CUOMO: All right, so look, you have the floor here, going forward. Whatever people need to know about what the level of threat is, how or where we should be, what information they need to know, you have the opportunity, as always, Sir.
And I wish you well, and I really, you know, you'll be in - all of you are going to be in my thoughts because this is a very tender time in this country. So, thank you for the information, Congressman Tim Ryan.
RYAN: Thank you.
CUOMO: God bless you and the family and good luck, all right?
RYAN: Chris, always great to be with you.
CUOMO: Thank you very much.
So, that was great to get the state of play that they are really preparing for what's going to happen next week.
We are monitoring what's happening on the floor of the Capitol. So, this is a non-binding resolution, OK? What does that mean? This is the Democrats standing up, and saying, "Something has to be done."
There are basically two avenues, here, really three.
One is, push him to resign and get out, just so you can have a truly peaceful transition, because he won't go to the Inauguration, or least not go to the Inauguration, in a way that will make it better, that's one. We saw that with Nixon.
Two, the 25th Amendment. I have to tell you, doing the scholarship on it, and you can Google it yourself, it's never been exercised this way, and you could argue, it wasn't meant for this. It was meant for physical incapacity. Now, there are different theories on that. But it doesn't really matter.
This is an academic exercise because the VP sent a letter, to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, saying "I am not going to exercise it," and he would have to. It has to be done on the VP's volition with half of the cabinet members. So, that's what they are debating.
But it is laying the groundwork, for what is to come next, which is a move on this President, for impeachment, and we are seeing something that is a world away from what we saw the last time, OK?
We just had one Republican, Katko come up, Republican, Member of Congress, and say "I'm not for this 25th Amendment. But I am for impeachment because what the President said led to what we saw."
We have four by name who have come forward to say that. Already, that's a universe of change from the last time. But the White House says they may have 20 Members already.
So, you would have a completely different complexion of articles of impeachment in the House, and what might that mean in the Senate, with news that we reported to you tonight that Mitch McConnell is saying, "Maybe this President has gone too far. Maybe people should be open to it," Senator Manchin saying that Republicans are thinking about it.
Now, why? Because we were just made unsafe. We were just attacked. And now, we have to figure out how to stay safe and how to get better.
One of the top officials, who remains is Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. He will know what it will take to keep this situation and this country safe, next week.
Good to see you, Ken.
KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DEPUTY HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Good to be with you, Chris.
CUOMO: Can it be done? Can we get this Inauguration next week?
CUOMO: Why so confident?
CUOMO: After what we saw at the Capitol?
CUCCINELLI: Absolutely. And we will.
Well that's a great question, Chris, and a lot of people have been asking it.
Let me tell you, the Secret Service started planning for this Inauguration, four years ago, and the interagency group that they lead started planning it all together, in a COVID environment, last May, and an intense amount of effort has gone into this.
28 subcommittees of the National Special Security Event, this is our 67th National Special Security Event, run by the Secret Service. About half of those have been in the Washington Metro area.
And think back, just four years, to the Trump Inauguration, there was violence in Washington D.C., but it was kept away from the Inaugural efforts. Everyone was kept safe with respect to the Inauguration.
The Secret Service has planned for with partners. You've mentioned some, earlier in the show, National Guard. Of course, we work with the Washington Metro Police. The list is very long, across the Department of Homeland Security, for orders of magnitude, bigger problem, than you saw at the Capitol, and to handle it handily. And they are ready for that.
CUCCINELLI: The whole interagency partnership is ready for that.
CUOMO: What went wrong at the Capitol?
CUCCINELLI: It was quite a failure on the part of the Capitol Police. And a lot of that's going to be need to unwound.
I was very interested to listen to the Congressman because he is on a Committee that's going to have a lot to do with that. I agree with a lot of what he had to say, respect a lot of the effort of individual officers.
But their leadership was woefully unprepared, woefully unprepared. And when that happens, you leave individual officers in terrible positions, terrible positions, where - I will say this on the plus side.
They took care of the Members. And some of those Members are pretty fragile. And they took care of the Members. But the breach should have never happened. And it was, you know, they were unprepared.
They didn't appreciate the possibility of danger, even after 7.5 straight months of violence in different parts of this country. And yet, that breach occurred. And it does need to be remedied, and it needs to make sure it never happens again, at the Capitol.
And frankly, Chris, I hope this is an opportunity, on the Left and Right, where we, you know, we're talking about a lot of unity discussion.
One way to be unified is we should all agree that violence is never acceptable. It is never acceptable, not in the political discussion, not on the playground. It is never acceptable.
And together, we ought to - we ought to encourage those responsible, to prosecute everyone, everywhere in the country, who commits, or threatens violence, like we saw at the Capitol, on January 6th.
And frankly, we've created a bit of an environment in this country--
CUOMO: A bit?
CUCCINELLI: --where it seems like sometimes it's OK.
CUCCINELLI: And it's never OK.
CUOMO: Well, Ken, I want to talk to you about you that, about what you can't control, going forward. But you're going to want to hear this. Eric Swalwell is on the floor right now. Let's see what the tone and tenor is of his pitch.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Let's unite against a president, whose hate speech, led to the death of a law enforcement officer, and unite for the cops and military who bravely defended the Capitol.
Let's unite against Donald Trump, who inspired terrorists, to carry a Confederate flag, into this Capitol, display a noose, and desecrate the People's House.
And let's unite for the custodial staff, largely people of color, who cleaned up, after those White Supremacists, because they still believe in this democracy, as imperfect as it was that day.
The most essential function of a president is to protect life and defend liberty. Donald Trump has failed to do that and is failing to do that. So, Vice President Pence must invoke the 25th Amendment.
I yield back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Gentleman yields back. The Gentleman reserves.
The Gentleman from Ohio?
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Mr. Speaker? May I--
CUOMO: Saying why he believes in the 25th Amendment, as a remedy, it seems very unlikely the Vice President want to do it. He'd have to initiate it.
Back to Ken Cuccinelli, who is instrumental in keeping the Inauguration safe, next week.
So, what you don't control is what comes out of the President's mouth. And you can argue anyway you want--
CUCCINELLI: Yes, it's true.
CUOMO: --about what the impact was. But isn't it worth you and everybody, in a position of power, saying to him, "What you said wasn't acceptable. Don't say it again. We cannot handle that next week?"
CUCCINELLI: I think that message has been delivered within the administration pretty effectively. You saw--
CUOMO: He just said today what he said was acceptable, Ken.
CUCCINELLI: Well let me - let me - let me finish with it, Chris.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
CUCCINELLI: So, I'm not over in the White House, obviously.
CUOMO: I know.
CUCCINELLI: But what he said on Thursday is what we wanted to hear on Wednesday, right? And it was late. But there have been reactions, within the administration.
And you had Senator Manchin on earlier. And I really appreciate Senator Manchin's comments, earlier this week, where he said, he asked people like me to stay, and to get this ship into harbor, if you will.
We're working on a safe transition, not just the Inauguration.
CUCCINELLI: But all aspects.
CUCCINELLI: I spent three hours today, with a good chunk of the Biden - incoming Biden cabinet, as we walked through emergency scenarios that they might face.
CUOMO: Good of you to do that.
CUCCINELLI: And to try to help them have the benefit of our experience. No, I'm glad to do it. It's part of my job.
CUOMO: No, but other people aren't. And I don't think you get to--
CUCCINELLI: And it's part of what I committed to do.
CUOMO: I don't think people should get high ground. I think it's indicative of what you say, is a destabilization in the White House.
But for people to leave now, when the new administration needs guys with savvy, and women, with sophistication, about what's going to happen, I think there is a good case that's made to stay.
But aren't you worried that Trump is going to have to get attention that he's going to have to talk? He has never said they were wrong to do what they did. He talks generally about it. He doesn't call out his people, the way he would, over the summer.
And if he does it again next week, aren't you worried about what that could mean?
CUCCINELLI: I can't imagine in a million years that he'd be calling people to violence next week. And we already talked about how prepared we are for anything, in the Capitol, led by the Secret Service. But the environment has shifted substantially here. And there is a lot of Left-Right common ground, if you will, on dealing with the violence. And that's something we need to keep going forward on. And that's regardless of who's inspiring what, or what role they play. We need to be very firm about that.
And the Department of Homeland Security, I mean, you commented on things that we were saying in the summer. We had the same line then that I've had in the last week. It hasn't changed in terms of the principles at stake and how we condemn the people committing violence or contemplating violence.
CUOMO: Right. But the President of the United States--
CUCCINELLI: And that's what we're looking ahead to prevent.
CUOMO: The President of the United States saying to a group of angry, disappointed people, suggestions of fighting and rallying, and coming and stopping, Mo Brooks echoing that, others allowing it with their own kind of quiescence, you know, their silence, when they should have stood up, that is a problem here.
And we have never heard this President, and I want to get your take on this, him standing up and saying, "If you support me, never do what they did, because that is not what I want." He has never said that, even after this insurrection.
He said he didn't like violence. He said "We shouldn't do this. We are about law and order." Those were his people mixed in with a bunch of ugly types that resonate to this President for whatever reason. Like I say, all Trumpers may not be bigots, but all bigots are Trumpers. And they came.
Doesn't he need to condemn it more strongly than he has?
CUCCINELLI: Look, I expect him to condemn it, like I expect everybody in leadership to do that.
CUOMO: He is unique.
CUCCINELLI: You know what - well, he is the President. I mean we've had other people, who have been condemning police, as they defended against this sort of thing, through the rest of the country so.
CUOMO: Nobody has the power that he does with his mouth.
CUCCINELLI: So, so, each person is responsible, in their own position, for their own role.
And, in this case, what we're talking about here is the absence of being firmer. What I was talking about is people who affirmatively, people like Eric Holder said, "When they're down, we kick them." Nancy Pelosi, "The police are Stormtroopers."
And the President here, what he said strongly Thursday--
CUOMO: You remember - you remember people attacking the Capitol--
CUCCINELLI: --he should have said Wednesday.
CUOMO: --after what Holder said, or what Pelosi said?
CUCCINELLI: Yes. That was Wednesday.
Yes, but I'm saying, there's a reason--
CUCCINELLI: Hey, look--
CUOMO: --people attacked the Capitol, Ken. We both know it. This is not apples-to-apples. Nobody has ever done anything--
CUOMO: --like what we saw last week. And it happened for a reason.
CUCCINELLI: Well they didn't do it - no, no, no.
CUOMO: And the reason is his mouth.
CUCCINELLI: They certainly - they most certainly - they most certainly had. They just haven't done it at the Capitol. They've been doing it--
CUOMO: But that matters.
CUCCINELLI: --all over the country.
CUOMO: But that matters.
CUCCINELLI: For seven months.
CUOMO: Overturning the election is different--