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Trump on Verge of Historic Second Impeachment After Capitol Siege; More Republicans Abandon Trump Ahead of Impeachment Vote; D.C. Rally Organizer Says He Was Helped by Three GOP Congressmen. Aired 7- 7:30a ET
Aired January 13, 2021 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: U.S. history to be impeached twice.
And this morning, more Republicans are turning on him. At 9:00 A.M., impeachment proceedings begin in the House. Over in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears open to supporting this process. A source says that McConnell, quote, hates President Trump for inciting that insurrection and says he'll never speak to him again.
At least five House Republicans are publicly supporting impeachment, including the third most powerful House Republican, Liz Cheney. More could come forward at any moment. We will keep you apprised of all developments.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: President Trump this morning showing no signs of remorse about inciting the deadly mob that overtook the Capitol. He is still using inflammatory rhetoric. The Justice Department confirms it's pursuing a slew of new cases, including charges of conspiracy and sedition.
You know we've reached an inflection point when military leaders are reminding troops about their constitutional duty to uphold the Constitution, metal detectors now being installed directly outside the House chamber, although some Republicans have objected and fought with Capitol police about going through those metal detectors.
Joining us now, is Democratic Congressman Jason Crow. He was an impeachment manager for the first impeachment. He also serves in the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
By sunset, Donald Trump will be the first president in history to be impeached twice. Reflect for a moment on the historical significance.
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Yes, he will be impeached twice, because he needs to be impeached twice. You know, we know very well who Donald Trump is at this point. He is a violent and unstable man. We've actually known that for years. If people have been paying attention, they could have seen that we were heading in this direction. So this is less of a story about Donald Trump at this point than it is about his enablers, those around him, members of Congress, his inner circle, who should know better, and in many cases do know better, as they tell me behind closed doors but haven't been willing to check him.
BERMAN: As of this morning, five Republican House members have come out and said they will vote to impeach the president. Where do you think that number will end up?
CROW: I just don't know. I mean, the numbers should be all of them. I mean, let's be honest here, and, in fact, I've had many conversations. I was on the House floor last night for about an hour, just talking to as many Republicans as I could. And I've talked to over a dozen that said that they know that we need to do this, that we should do this, that many of them admitted that Donald Trump is very dangerous and that he needs to have leave office as quickly as possible.
But they actually are fearing for their own lives. They've told me this, that they fear for their own safety by their constituents and people in their district. And they don't know yet what they're going to do. I would like to see the number north of 15 or 20, whether or not we're going to get there, I just don't know.
BERMAN: Let me rapid fire, if I can, one by one, go through a few of the arguments that some are making against impeachment and quickly, for you, to refute them if you will or if you can. Number one, there are just seven days left, what's the point?
CROW: Well, every day that Donald Trump is in office, every hours that Donald Trump is in office, the American people are at risk and our national security is at risk. I think he's proven time and time again that he's capable of doing very dangerous things.
As we sit here right now, he is the commander-in-chief and the American people are less safe because of it.
BERMAN: Number two, it's divisive. Impeachment is divisive.
CROW: Well, there needs to be unity and healing in our country. There's no doubt about that But in every case, unity and healing requires truth and accountability. People around the world, dictators and despots and would-be autocrats, as well as the American people need to see that our democracy will not be intimidated, it will not be browbeaten, that actions have consequences and that's important for the rule of law and that's important for our healing as a nation.
BERMAN: Number three, that this will get in the way of the Biden administration.
CROW: You know, these false choices have been very popular for many years. It's the -- you can't do accountability, you can't enforce rule of law, and also do things like infrastructure and health care and immigration. It's just not true. We can and must do both, just like generations of congressmen and women have for many, many years.
We will uphold rule of law, we will uphold our democracy, and we also will fight the pandemic and we'll get done what we need to get done.
BERMAN: You told me moments ago that one of your big concerns is about the enablers, who support the president or who have pushed the president or not stood up to him. And there are members of Congress who continue to support the president and the things that he said.
A little bit earlier overnight, Congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has apparently, in the past, had some sympathies with QAnon, this is what she wrote on Twitter. She says, President Trump will remain in office. The Hail Mary attempt to remove him from the White House is an attack on every American who voted for him.
Democrats must be held accountable for the political violence inspired by their rhetoric.
Twitter put a warning on this. I'm shocked that, frankly, at this point, she still has a Twitter account. But your reaction to a statement like that overnight?
CROW: There are, unfortunately, a handful of members of Congress and Ms. Taylor Greene is just one of them who are amorally bankrupt, they are depraved and they're frankly dangerous individuals. So we're looking at our options within the House as to how we stop this, and whether this is an expulsion proceeding, a censure, rather. You know, we can't let this stand because this is exactly my point.
Donald Trump is one thing. He's shown us time and time again who he is, but he doesn't do this without support. Last Wednesday, there were tens of thousands of people rioting around the Capitol, assaulting the Capitol, over a thousand that probably got in. And I believe that those people, most of them, truly believe in their heart that this election was stolen, despite the facts to the contrary, courts ruling to the contrary, secretaries of states and Republican officials around the country saying to the contrary. And it's because there are a few depraved individuals that give oxygen to these conspiracy theories and legitimatize it.
So, that has to stop and we have to figure out a way to get back to facts and stop these false realities that have been created for so many Americans.
BERMAN: Metal detectors placed outside the House chamber yesterday, yet some Republican members, Markwayne Mullin, Steve Womack, Van Taylor apparently argued with the Capitol police who were enforcing the requirements to walk through those metal detectors? Your reaction?
CROW: You know, service is not about you, because I learned that a long time ago that when you're in service, it's about doing what you need to do to protect others and protect those around you, and this is no exception.
This is an example is masks, right? We wear masks not because we want to. I certainly don't want to. But we do it because we have an obligation to each other. We just had an assault on the Capitol, an insurrection. And if having metal detectors make people safer, if it's what security professionals and law enforcement, the Capitol police are recommending we do, let's do it for a certain period of time. Let's figure out long-term security measures instead of fighting it and putting the officers at stress.
And that's the other thing, as of right now, the Capitol police are under extreme, extreme stress. They just went through a very traumatic event. They were put into a position they never should have been put into. That force is bending right now.
And we don't want it to break because we need them. We have terrorist plots underway right now. We have domestic terror threats that we're facing today and in the days ahead. We need this force to be whole, we need it to be able to do its job. And re-traumatizing these officers is not the way to do it.
BERMAN: How safe will you feel on inauguration day?
CROW: I don't know yet. I'm still in discussions with House leadership, law enforcement officials. I've actually done my own interim security assessment, based on my background as an Army Ranger. I've spent years defending embassies sensitive sites and bases around the world in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I've walked the Capitol grounds. I did last night, as a matter of fact, and did my own assessment and sending those notes on to law enforcement officials who are involved in the preparations and leadership.
So I'm hoping to get there. I think we're on the right path and we are going to have a secure inauguration, but it's important that the American people and the world see us on that platform, out there, having the transition of power. And that's what we're going to do. We're not going to be intimidated by a mob, a violent group of fringe Trump supporters. Our democracy is so much bigger and stronger than that.
And we're going to go forward, we'll be safe and we will have the transition of power and we will do what's necessary for this country.
BERMAN: You were an impeachment manager last time around. Jamie Raskin, congressman from Maryland, constitutional law professor, will be the lead manager this time around. He lost his son tragically a couple of weeks ago, took his own life, had dealt with mental illness. Jamie Raskin, his daughter, was inside the U.S. Capitol. He had to ask his chief of staff to guard her with your life during the insurrection. And that chief of staff stood there with a fire iron to protect the door, to protect Jamie Raskin's family.
Talk to me about the symbolism of Jamie Raskin being the lead manager. And also, you've been so calm this morning. I mean, how angry are you about all of this?
CROW: Oh, I'm mad, don't get me wrong. Just because I'm, you know, calm in this interview doesn't mean that I am not incredibly angry.
I sure am.
You know, there's symbolism to Jamie being the lead impeachment manager, but there's also a great substance to it. Actually, I had a discussion with Jamie last night on the House floor where we were voting. And I told him, Jamie, I just -- I can't believe the reservoir of strength and focus and discipline that you have right now to go through great personal tragedy about a week ago, go through the trauma of the attack on the Capitol last Wednesday, and then to be able to pick up and focus and defend our democracy, but be on the tip of the spear of defending our democracy, is truly inspirational. It's a profile in courage. And, frankly, it's an example of the leadership that's going to move our country out of this dark period and move us forward. And I just couldn't be more inspired than Jamie's example right now.
BERMAN: Jason Crow, thank you for being with us this morning. Thank you for your efforts to keep you and your colleagues safe, walking the halls of the Capitol and providing your own security assessment of where things stand. We really appreciate the work you're doing.
CROW: Thank you.
BERMAN: We have new reporting coming in on the fractured relationship between President Trump and Vice President Pence and the vulgar ultimatum the president issued to Mike Pence one week ago.
CAMEROTA: At this hour, five Republicans in the House plan to support impeaching President Trump today. That includes the third-ranking GOP leader in the House, Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
Sources also tell CNN that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell believes impeaching President Trump will make it easier to purge him from the party.
Joining us now are CNN Political Analyst, Maggie Haberman, she and her colleague, Jonathan Martin, broke the McConnell story in The New York Times, and CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings, who is a long- time campaign adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and can help us understand his thinking. Great to have both of you here.
Maggie, tell us your reporting about where McConnell is this morning on his thought process.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. So Jonathan Martin and I reported yesterday that Senator Mitch McConnell is pleased by the impeachment proceedings that Democrats are moving ahead with. He is not whipping votes in one direction or the other. He wants to see how it plays out, but he believes this moment will make it easier to purge the party of Donald Trump. And, again, he is not saying where he is. I just want to make that clear, but this is notably different than what we saw with Mitch McConnell in the last impeachment, where he held the line very firmly against witnesses. He was very much whipping votes in the president's support.
I think, that Mitch McConnell -- I know, and I think Scott can speak to this better than I can, but he is furious about what happened, not just last week, but over the course of the last several weeks since the election, including the fact that the president's conduct is widely seen as contributing to Republican losses in Senate seats in Georgia.
But senators are enraged by the attack by the Capitol last week. They feel as if, the ones I've talked to, like the president sent his supporters, and, again, these are their words, not mine, to their house, to march on it and they're very offended by it.
So, the fact that Donald Trump does not have his Twitter feed to insult lawmakers is also something that McConnell is aware of to scare them out of backing an impeachment vote. That's where it stands right now. I think it is one of the final things holding Donald Trump in check for the last couple of days of his term.
BERMAN: I said this earlier, Maggie, but when that report came out, it's hard to be surprised anymore in this day and age, but, to me, that was a political earthquake. To me, that is the entire political ground shifting, not under the presidency as much because there are only a few days left in the presidency, but under Donald Trump as a thing, as a historical figure, as a presence on earth.
And, Scott, you don't speak for Mitch McConnell, I get that, but you understand Mitch McConnell as well as anyone I know. So what's going on here?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, and like you said, I don't speak for him and I do think he's waiting to see what happens. But he's an institutionalist. He believes in the Senate. He's a constitutionalist. He believes in the Constitution. And as he noted in his floor speech just before the insurrection started, he'd work in that building for 36 years and said that that was the most consequential vote to confirm the Electoral College that he had ever cast.
So I think that gives you some idea of just how seriously he took the congressional responsibilities to confirm the Electoral College. I mean, normally, this is a perfunctory thing, and yet, for him, it had become the most important vote that he was ever going to cast.
And so when you consider that the president of the United States is directly responsible for whipping up a mob of people to attempt to subvert congressional responsibility under the Constitution, on top of the phone call he made to the Georgia secretary of state, which, by the way, we've all forgotten about, but happened just a few days prior, it's obvious to anyone looking at this set of facts that there was a clear, coordinated attempt to subvert the Congress from performing its duties under the Constitution.
The president takes a very simple oath of office, preserve, protect, defend the Constitution. You cannot look at the Georgia call or what happened at the Capitol last Wednesday and conclude anything other than this. The opposite happened and the president was involved in it. And I think that's why Cheney's statement yesterday summed up her position in exactly that way.
So, I think if you're someone like Senator McConnell and many, many other people who work in that building and look at the set of facts, as I just laid it out, you would be very -- you know, you would be within reason to conclude that if this isn't impeachable, then what is?
CAMEROTA: And so, Scott, take it one step further for us. Do you think -- what are the chances that Leader McConnell would vote to convict?
JENNINGS: I don't know, to be clear.
I think that, as I said, the -- everybody is looking at the same set of facts. I think unlike the previous impeachment, where Republicans truly did not think what happened, as dumb as it was, what Donald Trump did, Republicans truly did not think it had risen to the level of impeachment and certainly conviction. That was a strongly held Republican belief. It didn't mean they condoned it, but they just didn't think it got to that level.
In this particular case, you have direct circumvention of the U.S. Constitution or an attempted circumvention of the Constitution, and you have one branch of government essentially launching an attack on another branch of government. And so this goes well beyond any, you know, dumb phone call shenanigans.
So I think that the facts here are different and they go well beyond what people thought in the first impeachment. And so I think a lot of people, not just Mitch McConnell, but a lot of people are looking at facts here that really aren't in dispute and asking themselves a very simple question, if this isn't impeachable, what is? And how can you let something like this happen without a punishment of some kind occurring, which is complicated by the fact that we're at the end of his term?
But still, doing nothing here, saying nothing would be to condone it. And I don't think anybody thinks condoning political violence is good for the future of our democracy.
BERMAN: One more question to you, Scott, on the procedure and on McConnellville here, as it were. If he feels this way, he could bring the Senate back more quickly. He could get them in before January 19th to do this with Schumer. I mean, they could start the trial earlier. Why doesn't he do that? And just very quickly, what message is he trying to send in all of this right now? JENNINGS: Well, there are some Senate rules about the pro forma session that they're in in about how they would have to get out of that and any senator can object to that. So I think it's a little more complicated than you made it out there. But I think that the Senate leaders and a lot of the senators believe and know, based on a memo that was circulated by Senator McConnell's office, that you cannot duck this responsibility, that once the house does it, the Senate has to take it up.
And so whether that happens tomorrow or whether that happens Monday, I think, is less relevant than the fact that they cannot duck it, they cannot hide from this, it has to be confronted. And so I guess I'm less interested in the timing, honestly, than I am in the fact that it has to be taken up.
And then the other issue, of course, is whether or not the Senate business can be bifurcated to do impeachment at the same time they're trying to let Joe Biden install a government, which is not an insignificant thing. I mean, he needs a national security team, at a minimum, as we have seen these threats emerge around the country.
CAMEROTA: Okay, we'll digest all of that.
Maggie, let's get back to a little bit more of your interesting reporting and that is -- and CNN has some of this, but I think your reporting puts a finer point on it, if I may, the conversation, the phone call between President Trump and Vice President Pence before the insurrection and he basically warned Mike Pence and said, you can be remembered as a patriot or you can remembered as a P-word. It's the P- word that he's partial to, as we know from the Access Hollywood tape. Tell us more about this.
HABERMAN: Sure. Kaitlan Collins alluded to this last week in reporting where she talked about how the president had used a, what I think she called a vulgarity with Mike Pence. As you note, it's a word the president is known to use all the time.
They were having a phone call last Wednesday and this was after days of the president really trying to work Mike Pence over to get him to expand his powers to something that Mike Pence had made clear to him he didn't have, which is to overturn the certifications by states and the Electoral College vote, when it was going to be certified or ratified on Wednesday just before this riot began.
And they spoke by phone, this final conversation after hours of it before. And President Trump told Mike Pence, you know, you can either be remembered in history -- I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but it was something to the effect that you can be remembered -- go down in history as a patriot or you can go down in history as a P- word.
Mike Pence is deeply religious. That word offends him greatly, as we may recall from the Access Hollywood tape. This, I believe, added to why Mike Pence was so angry. And, remember, Senator Inhofe said that when he saw Mike Pence on Wednesday, Pence was furious and that he couldn't really believe how Trump had treated him. I believe this is part of why.
So they had their reconciliation meeting earlier this week, but that is a relationship that is never going to be the same. And, yes, Mike Pence has political ambitions. Yes, Mike Pence would like to run for president in 2024. Sure, there's a political calculus here. But at the same time, I don't think people should underestimate just how much pressure and abuse Donald Trump was heaping on his vice president in the lead up to Wednesday.
BERMAN: Mike Pence's statement overnight didn't include the word, impeachment. I'm not suggesting that Mike Pence supports it but it's a choice not to include that word.
Very quickly, Maggie, the president's opinion on these Republicans turning on him overnight.
HABERMAN: Not happy. And the president has gotten angrier and more defiant over the last two days.
I think he was emerging from the three hits of losing his Twitter feed, on having the PGA tournament that he had been really looking forward to, according to advisers at one of his clubs in 2022 canceled, and impeachment. He has become much more focused on impeachment over the last 24 hours and has become, as one adviser put it, defiant, wants to fight, has mused to some about testifying. You know, he's very angry.
CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, Scott Jennings, thank you both very much for all of the insight, really helpful.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Did the domestic terrorists at the U.S. Capitol have some help from someone, anyone, inside? What we know about the role of some sitting Republicans in Congress, next.
BERMAN: Developing this morning, the organizer of the Washington, D.C., rally that preceded the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, says he had help from several Republican members of Congress.
CNN Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin joins us now with much more on that.
That's something, Drew.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It is. Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama already facing calls for censure, John.