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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Trump First U.S. President in History to Be Impeached Twice; Ten Republicans Join Dems in Vote to Impeach Trump; Interview with Rep. Steve Cohen Lends Perspective to Trump's Behavior; Law Enforcement Fears Rioters Feel Emboldened; Donald Trump is Impeached for Second Time. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired January 14, 2021 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to a special edition of PRIME TIME. There is now a special place in history for Donald John Trump. He is the worst by being the first.
He is the first president to be impeached twice. He earned it by inciting an insurrection against his own country. Makes the other high crimes of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress pale in comparison, doesn't it?
A week after having his mob attack the U.S. Capitol, victims of that terror punished him for it at the scene of the crime: 232 yeas to impeach -- and it wasn't just Democrats this time. This was a bipartisan rebuke, the most bipartisan of its kind ever.
Ten Republicans put their names in the history books by voting against the disgraced leader of their party. There was talk other Republicans wanted to join them but held out.
Not out of conviction but out of fear for their lives if they stood against Trump. That is the America we're living in right now. And the threat here is far from over. We just got our hands on a bulletin from U.S. intelligence, warning that last Wednesday's attack by a Trump mob will likely motivate additional follow-up attacks by extremists throughout this year.
Intel officials are worried that this is going to be, quote, "part of an ongoing trend in which extremists exploit lawful protests, rallies and demonstrations and other gatherings to carry out ideologically motivated violence and criminal activity," unquote.
Scary. And we are in this dangerous place because of the crazed president of the United States.
I should not say crazed.
It is an insult to those who deal with mental health issues. And he is not mentally ill. He is just really bad at his job and filled with bad and selfish intentions.
Now with the realization of the implication for him, now we see Trump with a little bit of a shift. He's now giving a message he should have given before the rally last week. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I cannot emphasize there must be no law breaking, vandalism of any kind. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country or movement. Mob violence goes against everything that I believe in and everything that our movement stands for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Again, now that is what he should have said last week but he did not. That's why he got impeached.
The question now is, what is the next step?
Mitch McConnell is kicking the can on the Senate Trump trial until after the inauguration. Not enough time to hold a fair trial, he says. When he can't get a Supreme Court judge confirmed to a lifetime appointment, he gets that done in days. But now is not enough time.
This Trump trial will be different no matter what.
Will the Senate hold him accountable this time for high crimes?
Is the timing to the benefit of the nation?
Let's bring in John Harwood and Scott Jennings.
Gentlemen, good to see you both.
John, let's start with the historic significance of this being bipartisan.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the behavior of President Trump was so bad and it was so directly threatening to the 535 people who work in the U.S. Capitol and represent the American people that it was unavoidable that, even in a party that Donald Trump dominates -- and the polls shows he still has 70 percent approval of Republicans and he got 93 percent of House Republicans to oppose impeachment today. Still, the splintering off of 10 House Republicans is significant. The fact that Kevin McCarthy felt obliged to say what he said about Trump's responsibility for the violence and the fact that Joe Biden won, yes, of course, it is very obvious.
But he hadn't been willing to say it before. The fact that Mitch McConnell has held open the possibility of voting to convict Trump, all of those things are significant in the sense that Donald Trump finally has pushed the Republican Party too far, not the base but Republican politicians. And there are consequences for that.
HARWOOD: And by the way, those consequences, the potential convictions in the Senate, not to mention all of the corporate America fleeing away from him, losing the PGA golf tournament at his golf club, all of the other societal sanctions being imposed, not to mention the legal jeopardy, that is why he put out that statement disavowing violence.
Donald Trump never does the right thing for the right reasons but he does respond to intense pressure and he is under it right now.
CUOMO: Just for some context, when we say most bipartisan, President Johnson, there was no bipartisan crossover. President Clinton had five Democrats vote for three separate articles against him and one for the fourth article. And Trump, the first time, had none.
Scott Jennings, what does this say about the GOP and the degree of desire to take the party back from the ReTrumplicans?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think as John pointed out, the conduct here is so egregious and I think to a lot of Republicans so far beyond anything that has ever happened that they felt compelled to vote to impeach.
Even several people, one, Chip Roy of Texas said, he thought the president had committed impeachable offenses. They just were not captured in the article sent out by the Democrats. A number of people today made pretty negative statements, even if they didn't vote with the Democrats to impeach the president.
I don't know what's going to happen in the Senate. I suspect there will be some Republicans in the Senate who vote to convict. I don't know which ones. I do think societal penalties are being imposed. But at the same time, since last Wednesday, the question I've been asking is, there has to be a political penalty for this.
I mean, sending a lynch mob to the Capitol to subvert the Constitution, to attack your own vice president and to stop the wheels of democracy from churning, you can't look the other way just because of the calendar. The calendar is changing to a new president. But that does not mean something this egregious should go unpunished. And I think a lot of Republicans have the same view..
CUOMO: John, what do you hear about Cruz and Hawley in the Senate, the idea of some kind of censure?
HARWOOD: I would be surprised if they vote to censure those guys. I think they're going to get a tremendous amount of criticism. I think their conduct over the last several weeks will trail them and diminish their political careers. Certainly there will be a cadre of people within the Republican base
who view both of those guys as heroes of a sort. But I think there will be a permanent cost exacted to their careers. Neither one will ever be President of the United States. I would trust Scott's instincts on this more than mine. I would be surprised if you have a formal Senate vote to censure them.
CUOMO: Do you feel the same way, Scott?
JENNINGS: Yes. I think it is unlikely. I actually heard Senator Manchin on CNN the other day, commenting on this and he thought a formal rebuke of them from the Senate while they were voting on something that was part of their duties seemed unlikely.
So I think it was a terrible vote. It was terrible judgment. They even had a chance in the moment to correct it after the Capitol had been cleared --
CUOMO: Did you see Hawley's defense today, where he said -- ?
CUOMO: -- said, I am not going to let a mob intimidate me. That is exactly what he did. That is exactly what he did.
CUOMO: -- continue.
JENNINGS: Yes. It is a ridiculous defense. Never mind the fact that the entire thing is built on a falsehood to begin with. So you have a mob that shows up, fueled by a falsehood and you end up voting to uphold the aims of the mob, even after they have occupied your place of work, killed people and threatened your colleagues and their families and everyone else in the building.
That wasn't standing up to the mob. That was bending to their will, which is exactly the wrong message to send to people who think there is a place for political violence in our culture.
CUOMO: Just a touch of intrigue --
HARWOOD: Chris, Josh Hawley was bodysurfing -- I just wanted to add Josh Hawley was bodysurfing that mob, hoping that he could roll all the way to the Republican nomination in 2024.
The idea that he would cast that raised-fist photograph -- and the rhetoric that he was using as standing up to the mob is preposterous.
CUOMO: The idea that the president -- and I want to make sure I get it right -- is telling aides not to pay Giuliani, John --
CUOMO: -- and to check his expenses that he said he spent traveling overseas, abroad, what do you make of this?
HARWOOD: I got to say, Chris, if the consequences for all of this behavior were not so serious for the country, it would be hilarious. Donald Trump is such a terrible person.
HARWOOD: No matter how slavishly obedient and loyal you are to him, eventually he will ask you to do something you can't do. So Rudy Giuliani embarrasses himself with these ridiculous content-free legal arguments, which were really just press releases to try to overturn the valid elections Joe Biden won in those key states.
He couldn't do it. Donald Trump is angry because he couldn't do it so he says he is not go to pay him. Kevin McCarthy fostered those -- a resistance to reality on the election. And finally tonight, as he is facing the loss of donations to his Republican candidates, stands up in the well of the House, saying he is responsible for the violence.
Even though Kevin McCarthy opposed the impeachment, Donald Trump is angry at him. Obviously the quintessential example is Mike Pence, who just swallowed so much garbage for Donald Trump for four years.
And Donald Trump repaid him for that loyalty by turning on him, by setting the mob on him, excoriating him for weeks and putting his life in danger. It is -- a fiction writer could not come up with a betrayal that complete.
That is who Donald Trump is. Donald Trump may, when he closes his eyes and tries to go to sleep at night, may recognize that all of the things he is blaming on other people are his fault. But the rest of us can see it all in broad daylight.
CUOMO: Gentlemen, thank you especially being ready at this hour. We appreciate you but we are living history together. Be well.
JENNINGS: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So it was historic. No question about it. We had bipartisanship and an impeachment like we have never seen before. OK.
So was it a good day on any level for Biden?
The election is over. He already won. The White House was bracing for twice as many GOP votes to go against Trump as the ones that came.
So what does this mean about the state of play going forward?
What does it mean about the GOP?
You know, that matters because the health of that party will reflects its degree of acceptance of any type of progress and compromise. So we have a key member of Congress, who has been on this journey before -- next.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: The president's final week in office is unlike anything we have ever seen, a second impeachment. I suggest that it will cement his bid to be the worst president ever. It is a historic and bipartisan rebuke. And now our nation is on high alert for terror attacks from within. Here to discuss it all is Democratic congressman Steve Cohen.
Good to see you, sir. Best to your family for the New Year.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Thank you. It's good to be back with you. You've been through COVID-19 and through the family affair with you and your brother, the guv, and all those other things.
CUOMO: This has beaten me up so badly, I now look like my brother. That is how taxing it has been.
COHEN: A compliment to your brother.
CUOMO: Sad days, no matter how you look at it. Now we have to laugh otherwise, we cry all of the time.
Can you believe we are on high alert in a way that is 9/11-esque from ourselves right now?
COHEN: It is bizarre. But with Donald Trump, you could almost expect it. The guy is a narcissist to the nth degree and all four years he's been in, he's been awful. We only have six or seven days left. What I fear mostly about the end is that he will try to do something to go out with a bang.
(INAUDIBLE). That's what a narcissist does. (INAUDIBLE) And I think he could do. I would not be surprised. And I have no basis, I just know him as an evil character, this man, and he would try to do something real terribly. And I think that's why the Joint Chiefs got talked to by Speaker Pelosi. And they put out (INAUDIBLE) the troops, to act (INAUDIBLE) the Constitution because that is something that he can do. (INAUDIBLE). Right now he is at the bottom.
CUOMO: Hopefully that is one constitutional premise and institution he does not choose to test.
How much of his relative quiet and his acquiescence today, to read that statement that was written for him, about not wanting any violence, do you think is about the money side, the PGA and all of the private contracts or public-private contracts with the municipalities that are being cut?
COHEN: Yes. I read a story about his friend of his. (INAUDIBLE) is that he's going to be losing money (INAUDIBLE). But he's going to be losing it because of his (INAUDIBLE) conduct.
And he's always -- the money is the main thing with him. It is about the money. He's way beyond that age that Tom Cruise played. It is all about the money and it's all about him. And he's hurt himself (INAUDIBLE) greatly, with these banks cutting him off, losing the golf tournaments with the PGA. He is not going to get the conventions.
He is going to be back where he is and he does not have Daddy to come and try to bail him out. Forever, (INAUDIBLE) Trump bailed him out, of the casino problems, if it was the problems he had with the real estate industry. He's a loser. He is the world's biggest loser who had, for some (INAUDIBLE) a change in circumstance, he got the electoral votes to beat Hillary Clinton and become president of the United States, which is just unfathomable. (INAUDIBLE) evil people of all time. And this group thing put together to attack the Capitol -- and he put them together -- it was the worst group (INAUDIBLE) got from Harvey Korman in "Blazing Saddles."
You know, he got the Nazis, the Hell's Angels and the bad Mexicans and the Klansmen. This crowd was worse. He's with this -- "deplorables" is elevating them a level.
COHEN: I drove through them two days when I was up in Washington and looked at these people. They had the look of ignorance. They had the look of evil. They had the look, they were dark. They were dark souls. And they showed it. They were the rabble.
CUOMO: Sad when, you know, we are all members of the same country. Let me ask you something that is really hard, 74-75 million people, not the base but that is who voted.
How do those people get convinced that he was lying, the 40 percent of this country that believes the election was rigged and stolen?
How do those people become convinced that that is not the truth?
How -- who can do that?
What can do that?
COHEN: I don't think anyone can do it. Trump won't do it because Trump will never admit the truth that he lost. And the Congress people that should do it don't have that kind of sway with him. These people are so enraptured with Trump, that's their life.
They live through him. They follow him on Twitter. They had chains, that they were together as a family on Twitter, where they would -- when I would, say, as come on your show -- and you saw it, Don Lemon saw it -- they would attack us like a pack of wolves. And they operated that way. They are a pack and they watch and they would attack.
This is what they did for their life. This was their being. And they cannot admit that they were wrong because they had been totally wrong, they have been fooled. This man could care less about them. He could just use them and he would have nothing to do with them. And they can't admit that they were chumps.
CUOMO: Do you believe there is anything more than rumor to the suggestion that there may have been an inside aspect to the planning or consideration of what we saw last week?
COHEN: You know, I have great faith in Mikie Sherrill. She's an outstanding member and she served in the military and she's a smart woman. She said she saw groups of Congress men, different Congress men, taking large groups of people on tours on the 5th. I didn't know anybody was getting the tour. I didn't think you could get people in the Capitol to give a tour for a loved one. So I'm amazed that Mikie would say that if she didn't see it.
So that's an interesting aspect of it. There have been allegations on the social media that I have seen that this Ali Alexander had conspired with Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar and Biggs on -- in planning the timing of the attack. If that is true, the Ethics Committee has got to look at that. Mo Brooks said some pretty awful things up there and he's right up there with Giuliani, egging these people on and encouraging them to come up there.
CUOMO: That means he helped plan the rally with those guys; that's different than planning the insurrection.
COHEN: But it is still is if they helped plan the insurrection on social media. I've seen that, the three of them. What he did with the rally, I don't know. But even then, the rally was that -- the launching point of all this. They were supposed to be at a different place --
CUOMO: Absolutely. I'm just saying that -- and i mean this with all due respect. Be careful about not becoming what you oppose because rumors, allegations, "Well, I heard this" and it could connect to that, that is right out of the Jim Jordan-Rudy Giuliani playbook. We need to get to a better place. Those pages need to be ripped out of the book, yes?
COHEN: Well, they do but the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone. (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: That is true. Not so much in my body anymore, that is why I walk with a hitch in my giddy-up.
Let me ask you something, in terms of getting the bipartisanship today, we have not seen anything like that before in an impeachment vote.
Do you Believe it bodes well for any increase in the degree of workability between the Right and Left in the House?
COHEN: A little bit. I mean, there were only 10 members; there weren't a lot. There were 10 members. Liz Cheney showed great courage. And I'd seen her about three days earlier, walking through the Rotunda. And I was sitting by Dr. King's sculpture. And I hollered at her, you got (INAUDIBLE) support and I appreciate you greatly.
(INAUDIBLE) the chokehold there when you go up to Pelosi's office. She's been given a lot of abuse -- Jim Jordan and all of them have been after her. She's a leader. She showed great leadership. They've been doing that for a while. Anthony Gonzalez is a good guy. He voted for it. There were 10 of them.
And I commend those 10 in (INAUDIBLE) others to see that and try to emulate them for trying to become more bipartisan themselves. But they have problems within their party, that base, that rabble base is not the Republicans per se. It is the base of the Republican Party, particularly in the South. Without the South, the Republicans would not be in the numbers or the power that they are in.
And without those people, they wouldn't have the South. So they've got to -- Congress will have (INAUDIBLE) interests (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: We have got to find a better idea than that which is in the minds of people that keep us apart. That's
COHEN: Joe Biden will do it.
COHEN: He will try to bring people together and --
CUOMO: Got to have a better idea. You got to give people a reason to believe in something better than what is holding us apart. Easy to say, tricky to do, Congress man Steve Cohen, thank you for being part of the mix. Appreciate you, especially at this time.
COHEN: You are welcome, Chris. Good to see you.
CUOMO: Be well, God bless.
So President Trump got banned for life from more social media, now Snapchat. Facebook is seeing new signs of trouble in the wake of the Capitol attack. We have the developments for you -- next.
CUOMO: Federal law enforcement tells CNN, quote, "The chatter is off the charts right now."
The domestic terror threat did not end on Wednesday and it won't end when Trump leaves office.
Let's bring in Donie O'Sullivan, who's digging into what we're seeing from places like Facebook.
Good to see you, young brother.
CUOMO: There are two different things going on here. And you have spoken to one of them very well. And I want to start with that. You keep saying how entitled this group seemed compared to other groups of ne'er-do-wells that we've seen. We have never had anybody attack our Capitol like this.
But the interviews, the pictures, social media, being out front with their chat. They're not even hiding.
What does the intel community and what does your reporting suggest about that brazen nature?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, do you know, like, when we think about brainwashing, we think about science-fiction movies, where you think about hypnosis. But, you know, you have enough insignificant amount of people in this country who have been seeing the same messages from the president, from their bubbles on Facebook, from alternative news media like One American News, over and over and over and over again, which is too terrible things.
One is terrible conspiracy theories about child abuse and the Democratic Party, baseless stuff. Secondly, that American democracy has corroded and the election was stolen.
And -- and so you have a lot of people who seem to genuinely believe this, have bought into it, and so for them, showing up to Washington and staging an insurrection is actually a rational act if they -- if they bought so far into this. And, you know, they believe it because they want to believe it. But they -- they're able to believe it, because they have all the infrastructure of an ecosystem of B.S. laid out for them on the Internet.
CUOMO: So they actually think that they are the righteous in this mood. And now you mix them with a true extremist element. And, you know, Phil Mudd, who we both know, the terror expert here on CNN, said to me early in Trump's days, You should not be playing come out, come out wherever you are with rhetoric that baits right extremist groups in this country. They are no joke.
What do they add to the mix for the U.S. intel analysis?
O'SULLIVAN: Yes, and that's what we've been seeing the past few days. So we finally see these platforms, like Facebook, like Twitter, like Snapchat, TikTok, cracking down on -- particularly on QAnon. And they've done to QAnon now what they did to ISIS a few years ago. They've totally deplatformed QAnon.
I think Twitter told us yesterday that, since Friday, they have taken down 70,000 QAnon accounts. Now, that raises the question, say, why the hell didn't they take them down all along? What were they waiting for? But what we've seen in the past 24, 48 hours, with all this
deplatforming, is people who are sharing these conspiracy theories, people who are pushing this stuff, people who are encouraging violence, are now trying to find new platforms.
And they are moving into smaller platforms with less rules, and platforms that are, frankly, harder for journalists like me and for law enforcement to keep an eye on.
So I think that we're sort of in somewhat unchartered territory here, I think, in this country, because you know, it's one thing to -- it's one thing when these actors are on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. They can be watched. They can be monitored, and there are some rules there.
And now we're -- these people are being pushed into even darker corners of the Internet and, really, it's a recipe for radicalization. So as they try and solve one issue on these bigger platforms, you're creating new challenges elsewhere.
CUOMO: QAnon, what is the relevance within the ranks of the repugnant that we saw last week?
O'SULLIVAN: It just pulls together so many different strands of -- of everything. You know, it sort of started off as -- as one conspiracy theory, but then it sort of became a catchall. But ultimately, QAnon justified everything that Trump did. Trump was the hero. And then you had the most terrible conspiracy theories, the most violent allegations being flung at Democrats, or anybody who is a Trump critic.
And so that, then, therefore sort of created this fantasy world that made people believe, the people who staged that insurrection last week, that they were righteous; that they were acting and the good, and all of us were the traitors.
I was at the Capitol last week, and as people were eventually streaming out of the Capitol grounds, after police tried -- got them out eventually, you know, I was asking some folks there. I was like, "Are you proud of but you did? You know, are you proud of what happened here today, the violence, the destruction?"
They said yes, absolutely. This had to be done. And that we were the traitors, the people who accepted the legitimate results of the election, were the traitors.
So you know, these people are -- have been -- they're -- it's seriously sick. I mean, it's an illness, that what they have bought into.
CUOMO: Somebody told me -- and I hope that they were joking -- I just didn't want to check -- that there is a theory on there that my eyebrows are an antenna that are used to channel propaganda into my brain.
[00:35:11] To which I say, why would I need that when I have this IFB that pipes secret information into my head at all times?
Donie O'Sullivan, thank you very much for the reporting. We've got to laugh a little bit.
O'SULLIVAN: Great eyebrows, Chris. Great eyebrows.
CUOMO: Otherwise, we'll be crying all the time. Yes, I spend a lot of time on them, Donie. Thank you for that, very much. I'll send you my guy.
A new intelligence bulletin, warning -- I really do mean it. This is scary stuff. And believe me, I live it. I know what it's like to be threatened by these people, and I know what it's like to not worry about what to do for your family, what's right, what's wrong. I know what it's like to not really supposed to be able to tell you this, because it somehow makes it worse, because it shows them that I'm aware that they're coming at me, and all this other psychobabble. It's scary.
But at the same time, we've got to have some perspective, that we're not on even footing. OK? If this country comes together against this type of insurgent force, they have no chance on any level in this society. Violence being the least of it.
But in terms of the best ideas, and what wins in the marketplace of ideas, we will overwhelm this, once we decide to be on the same page. Can't be right and left anymore. It just has to be reasonable.
As U.S. Grant said, there are patriots, and there are traitors. We all get on the side of love in this country, and loving each other as visible proof of that. Nothing else will come close.
So now, where are we? We've got to worry about domestic extremists, as we always had. Domestic terrorism has always been at the top of the list. How do you counter all the threats on a scale like this? How? How do even begin to make sure next week is safe? Our national security brains next. One brain.
CUOMO: The director of the FBI, along with his new head of DHS, homeland security, and other top federal officials held a call with law enforcement across the country Wednesday. They laid out the threat for the inauguration to every state capital, and even after Trump leaves office.
So let's bring in a couple of veterans to the FBI, Phil Mudd and Asha Rangappa. I'm trying to get the breadth and depth of what we're dealing with.
So Phil, on the one hand, as you've been tutoring me for years, white extremists, domestic terrorists have been at the top of the list for a long time. What is new here?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think the first part I talk about is focus, and there's a specific aspect of that I want to get to.
For example, two years ago, you would've talked about this, even two years ago, Chris, and I don't think people would have been as focused as today.
The second piece -- and this is -- you're a lawyer -- this is really subtle, but I think it's really significant in my book. And that is room to maneuver.
If you go up to Congress and say, again, two years ago, I want to look on social media, for example, at QAnon, or at right-wing extremists, I think people are going to be extremely uncomfortable. You see the legal language still in the FBI memo around -- around some of the demonstrations that we've seen. The legal language says a lot of this is protected free speech.
Let me cut to the chase. Is the Congress getting more comfortable telling law enforcement it's OK to look at white supremacists before they commit an act of violence, and we're not going to accuse you of going -- going after people who are supporters of Republicans? Yes or no, do they want that to happen with social media intrusion, and informants? That is really sensitive, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, good thing we have somebody who can answer the question in terms of the legal scale and scope. Asha, what do you make of the suggestion?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think Phil has it exactly right. Look, when it comes to terrorism, there is always a tension between national security and civil liberties, but when the terrorism threat is external, when it's coming from foreign groups, there is just much more legal latitude.
For one thing, the executive branch has much more latitude in foreign affairs, but you can also create different legal standards for foreign groups versus domestic groups.
CUOMO: Because they're not citizens.
RANGAPPA: For example, designate organizations as foreign terrorist organizations and cut off their funding. We can't do that for domestic groups. It -- this crashes right into First Amendment and associational activity.
And here, Chris, I think we have, with the most recent, you know, manifestation of this, an additional problem, because in addition to kind of groups like what, you know, the KKK, or Proud Boys, or something like that, you have things like QAnon, which is this ideology which has also been branded as a political belief.
It is now a viable political belief to believe the Democrats are demonic child-trafficking cannibals, and they have representation in Congress.
And so, to investigate it gets into the problem that Phil just mentioned. If you start to investigate, then you can be accused of being politically biased or based on partisan interests. You know, Marjorie Greene Taylor had on a mask on that said, "Censored." She's a QAnon believer.
So I think we are in a very difficult thicket right now when it comes to dealing with this manifestation of the terror threat.
CUOMO: So, what have you done in the past, Phil? Because they've been emboldened by what they see as success last week, so you're going to have a little bit of a tail on it, some kind of copycat thing.
They obviously also feel that there's some sense of entitlement right now in Trumpland. That somehow, he believes that they're on the right side. So what tools do you have?
MUDD: Well, there's a simple standard in the past, and today, and that would be do you see specific evidence, and some of it is inspiring to commit a violation of federal law. Do you see, to make it simpler, do you see evidence that someone is conspiring to commit an act of violence?
Let me make this real simple, Chris, and make you cringe. Go back a week or so ago before the rally. The FBI is collecting information, including scraping open social media information. I assume they're talking to informants who are involved in maybe planning to do something at that rally.
Let's say in a different world, nothing happened in that rally. And let's say Jim Jordan, the Congress, gets ahold of an FBI memo that says the FBI was collecting information about people attending that rally. What do you think he would say?
People like me in the FBI would be sitting there saying, He's going to call us up and say, why are you collecting information on people who are going to rally for the president of the United States?
What we need is the Congress to step up and say, when you're dealing with people like QAnon, what do you want us to do? And let me be clear-clear, Chris. I don't want to hear it. I want it in writing, because I don't trust him. If you want us to do something, you'd better tell us on a piece of paper. Otherwise, I'm not doing it.
CUOMO: The answer to your question is he'd be saying the same things he's saying now. He would just have proof for a change.
Asha, what is the legislative fix that would pass constitutional muster?
RANGAPPA: That's hard. I mean, what we do in foreign terrorist context, like I said, is we have particular kinds of designations.
CUOMO: Right, but they're not citizens.
RANGAPPA: Which means that -- What's that?
CUOMO: They're not citizens, so you don't have the same rights and privileges issue.
RANGAPPA: They're not citizens, and no, foreign powers don't have First Amendment rights.
RANGAPPA: And you -- I think there is a very real danger, right? If you were to allow the executive branch to -- I mean, we ran into this problem and this issue over the summer. You don't really want the executive branch to be able to designate domestic organizations as terror organizations, because that -- you know, you are really trusting the, you know, good faith and judgment of the person who's leading that branch, which you can't always do.
And so, you know, what Phil said is right. Like, basically, right now, it's how do you -- how do you intervene at the moment where the speech, the intent turns criminal? And -- and be able to respond right at that moment in order to thwart the -- you know, the criminal activity.
CUOMO: You will always be playing catch-up.
RANGAPPA: Maybe borrowing more from the tools that we've used for, say, organized crime might be the better analogy than using foreign terrorism.
CUOMO: You will always be playing catch-up minimum. And remember, the end run around on the mob was their money. So you wound up creating a RICO and the idea of racketeering, which as you guys know, stemmed from the parties for moonshine that they used to do, where they'd make a lot of noise and that's how you knew they were meeting. It turned into racketeering. Then they had RICO. And it was all about their money.
And these guys are not about money. So you're always going to be playing catch-up. And the reason I wanted to have this conversation is that you guys are both respected for knowing what you're talking about, and there are no good answers. This is frustrating, because democracy is difficult. Because it values freedom over any type of isolation of speech. And this is going to be hard, and we're going to be playing from behind on this. And we're going to have to figure it out. And there are no good answers right now.
Phil Mudd, Asha Rangappa, sometimes it is helpful to the audience to know what we don't know yet. And this is a big question mark.
All right. Well, one answer we have. Today was historic, because not only did you have a president impeached twice for the first time ever, but it was the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. Ten Republicans voted against Trump, but many more are still standing behind him. The question is why? The Wizard of Odds on what history could tell us about the future,
CUOMO: The most bipartisan impeachment in American history today. We also -- sorry, yesterday, Wednesday. We also saw a number of Republicans condemn the Capitol attack while also protecting the man who incited the attempted coup. Why? What is the political play?
Our Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten, is here to talk history and show us what the numbers say about sticking by Trump. What do they say, friend?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, hello, friend.
Look, here's the deal. The deal is this is amazing, in my mind, that 10 Republicans voted to impeach the president of United States. Because look at history. Look at the three other impeachment votes that we've had, dating back since Andrew Johnson back in 1868.
Look, two of them, zero times members of the president's party voted to impeach, including the last time with Donald Trump. Five Democrats voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998, and this year, 10. Ten. And more than that, what's so important as a political scientist such as myself might tell you, is polarization is at an all-time high.
And so the fact that 10 members of his own party, despite the fact the Republicans are more conservative -- conservative than ever before, went out and impeached the president just gives you an understanding of the political grounds that we're standing on right now. And how much people really just don't like this president at this point.
CUOMO: So Mr. Science, what does today tell us about what the play is for these people who are sticking by Trump?
ENTEN: So, you know, if we skip ahead to slide three here, I think this sort of gives you an understanding of what the play is.
And the play is that only 15 percent of Republicans nationwide support impeaching the president of United States, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. Eighty-five percent oppose. These numbers are basically the same as they were during the first go-around with the impeachment of the president of the United States.
So even though what you see is that a lot of Republican lawmakers might be going against the president -- and I say 10 is a lot, even though, in reality, I believe it was 197 who said, No, we're not going to impeach the president.
The fact is, is that the Republican electorate at large has no interest, no interest at all, in impeaching the president of the United States.
CUOMO: I mean, then doesn't this just make it clear that -- look, we both know Trump didn't start what is called the Trump movement today. This has been banging around for a while. In fact, you and I share the belief that he went out there with King and Tancredo and got a good look at how nationalism works in America. And said, Oh, I can sell this, and did just that.
But they're going to stick with this, long after he's gone. I mean, isn't that the only play for them, as they're playing for white America?
ENTEN: I mean, look, I don't necessarily know. You know, I have enough problems forecasting the weather a week out. Forecasting political wins two to four years out, I'm not necessarily sure.
But you're exactly right. The groundwork laid for the Trump presidency was laid long before Donald Trump ever became a presidential candidate. And nationalism and the idea of, you know, a lot of white people, to be perfectly honest, being scared of the changing demographics in this country, is certainly still going to be a play, come 2022 and 2024.
But I think the fact that you saw 10 Republicans come out against the president of the United States gives you an understanding that perhaps some Republicans do want to get rid of Donald Trump, do not want it to be the party of Trump.
And more than that, I think this fourth slide really gives you an indication that perhaps Trumpism isn't nearly as popular as you might believe it is. Because look at Donald Trump's approval rating now, versus on election day among Republicans. It's now at 77 percent. It was at 95 percent on election day.
Yes, still the vast majority of Republicans approve of the job that Donald Trump is doing. But the events of the last week really did actually eat into his base, even if most Republicans are sticking by him.
CUOMO: Seventy-seven percent, and you see it as weakness? You think you're at 77 percent with anybody?
ENTEN: I'm 77 percent with your family. But here's the situation.
The situation is this. It's relative, right? Seventy-seven percent shows a clear drop.
And, you know, we've spoken throughout this presidency about how Donald Trump has this historically high approval rating with Republicans. Well, I'll tell you this. I will tell you that George H.W. Bush went out with a higher approval rating in 1993 among Republicans than Donald Trump is going out with Republicans in 2021.
So that is not historically high by any stretch of the imagination. He is still a Republican, right? And Republicans stick by their president. But the fact is, you know, as we look way forward now, as the Donald
Trump stock come 2020 to 2024, I still believe he's the leader of this party, but he is not the overwhelming leader. There is room in the Republican Party for someone who doesn't necessarily follow the ways of Donald Trump.
CUOMO: Guy's impeached twice and just definitely helped foment an attack of the U.S. Capitol, and he's at 77 percent.
Harry Enten, appreciate the science, brother.
ENTEN: I try my best. I don't know what to tell you. The numbers are the numbers, my friend.
CUOMO: We'll be right back.