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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Democrats Lay Out Their Case Against Trump Using His Own Words, Tweets And Chilling Video Of Insurrection; Never-Before-Seen Surveillance Video Shows Narrow Escape By VP Pence, Lawmakers From Rioters At Capitol; "Proud Boys" Member Who Breached The Capitol Says He Was Incited By Trump. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 10, 2021 - 21:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Coop. Thank you very much.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

[21:00:00]

"Predictable and foreseeable," that's what House Managers argued January 6th was. And they showed new footage of a near-massacre, way worse than we knew. They showed clearly what should now be obvious.

Trump baited anger with lies about the election for a long time. He brought people, on January 6th, by design, to a rally, premised on a lie that the election was stolen. Once there, he stirred up that same crowd with inflammatory talk about how to fight back at the Capitol. And then they did that and only that. That was the case today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(VIDEO - JANUARY 6, 2021 U.S. CAPITOL INSURRECTION)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Jurors were showing what you're watching now, new surveillance, from the outside and inside, as the mob broke through the windows, and doors.

And for the first time, we saw footage of Vice President Pence himself, and his family, being escorted out of the Senate chamber, being moved down the stairs, to a safer spot. As he was being evacuated, rioters were heard and looking for him to hang him.

They erected a gallows outside. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(VIDEO - U.S. CAPITOL RIOTERS CHANTING "HANG MIKE PENCE!")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang up Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring it on! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang up Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring it on!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang up Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring it on!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang up Pence!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, why are they echoing that? We heard Trump throw Pence under the bus. We heard those looking for Pence say they were following up on Trump's orders. One even read Trump's tweet over a bullhorn. I want you to hear this again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: You see the tweet? "Mike Pence didn't have the courage" blah, blah, blah, from Trump? You heard it being echoed, at the point of the insurrection, as they were looking for Mike Pence. How much more clear can a situation be?

However, even more damning, once Trump knew what the insurrectionists were doing at the Capitol, he denied or ignored requests for help. While he knew Congress was being hunted, he did nothing to stop the attack, for hours.

In fact, the only thing Trump did, which shows his awareness of the situation, was when he heard about the insurrection, and was aware, he decided to play it to advantage, making phone calls, asking for help to slow the certification process.

So, a more visceral take on the case presented today is this. Trump sent the mob to the Capitol, angry, looking for you. Then, he left you, in Congress, you, Senate jurors, for dead. That is the case that was made today. And it was painfully obvious.

You remember the maniac who broke into Pelosi's office and kicked his feet up on one of the desks, Richard Barnett? What we didn't know, he was carrying a stun gun, tucked into his waistband, and he was looking for Pelosi.

What do you think he would have done to her? And is that what it would have taken for these senators to see this as more than a political opportunity?

The mob could have also killed Mitt Romney, it turns out, who only narrowly escaped. Remember Officer Goodman, who single-handedly diverted the mob from the Senate chamber? He also likely saved Romney, who was rushing the wrong way, and

Goodman turned him away from the rioters. They were running for their lives, seen in this video, released by Impeachment Managers today.

Now, tonight, we must do what's not being done in the media. The reporting is all about "Why they should convict? Why they should convict?" And that makes sense. But we should now reverse the action analysis, OK? What if these senators do choose to acquit? What will that mean?

Well, first, it will mean that they are inviting more of this violence. They will necessarily be seen as validating that violence, even glorifying that violence, if they vote to acquit. Why? Because Trump will take it as a victory, so will the Proud Boys, and other extremists, and racists, and lie-fed mobs.

[21:05:00]

If you acquit, after what you are shown today, at trial, on Day Two, it would be a giant middle finger to the men and women, who saved you that day. We saw today, more than ever, how they were fighting for your and their lives.

They were beaten, maimed. They died for you. And you will be saying with your vote, that that doesn't matter enough for you to risk political clout with the people who attacked them.

One leading theory tonight that investigators are considering in the death of Capitol Police Officer Sicknick, is that suspect sprayed an irritant, maybe bear spray, leading to a fatal reaction.

In Police audio that we haven't heard before, it was played at the trial today, officers are heard screaming. They are scared. They are overwhelmed. And they are dealing with even more than angry words and fists.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFFICER: 10-33. I repeat, 10-33 west front of the Capitol. We have been flanked and we've lost the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: "We've lost the line," he says. I have more of this sound for you. I'm going to play it later in the show, and we'll analyze it.

But you have to know that even the people, who believe in Trump enough, to try to kill Police, and Members of Congress, for him, they say they went to the Capitol at his urging. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were invited by the President of the United States! JENNIFER RYAN, ARRESTED BY THE FBI: I thought I was following my President. I thought I was following what we were called to do.

President Trump requested that we be in D.C. on the 6th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: And we have more tonight from a member of one of the most dangerous extremist groups in the country, why he says he acted that day.

So look, here's what's clear after today, there can be no good faith disagreement. The facts all point to Trump and his actions.

There can only be bad faith like this, Senator Ted Cruz, tweeting during this trial, about breast milk. He's worried about how the term isn't being accepted anymore. And he says it's "Orwellian."

Orwellian? Sir, you are at a trial that you're not even paying attention to, where you are saying that what happened didn't really happen, because you don't want to have to deal with the reality. That, my brother, is Orwellian.

Breast milk? Why is that on your mind? Focus, Ted! If you got off Trump's teat a little bit, maybe you wouldn't be thinking about breast milk so much. Do your damn job! If Trump had his way, maybe you, but certainly not all of you would have made it out of there. Think about that!

Trump waited for hours. Why? Let's bring in our better minds, Preet Bharara and Michael Smerconish.

Preet, what stood out to you today?

PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you said it at the top of the show. I think, in your first sentence, that you talked about foreseeability.

So, the video footage obviously stands out, because some of it was new, and it's harrowing. And it just makes people, I think, shake once again, because of what was averted, narrowly, not just what happened, which was terrible.

But the real crux of the matter is not just that these people did these things, and that lives were lost. But what was the President's responsibility for what was his role in it?

And I think the most powerful arguments and presentations made today, connected up what Donald Trump said, and did, and how it was foreseeable that the things he said and did lead to that violence.

Among other things, the fact that he has, on prior occasions, condoned violence, there was a great presentation that mentioned that bus, the Biden Harris bus, which was tried to be run off the road by supporters of Trump. And what did Trump do after that? And I'd forgotten about this. He tweeted a video about it, approving of it. That tells the people who were responsible for this thing that happened on January 6th, that they had the President's support.

A couple of other stunning things that directly involved, the President and his participation in inciting the insurrection, we found out, and some of this was known before, but we found out that the President made clear that he wanted the event to take place not on January 22nd, or 23rd, but caused it to be moved according to the presentation to January 6th, why? Because that's the day they were counting the votes.

And what else did he do? Apparently, the White House was involved in making sure that the route was changed on January 6th, so that people could march to the Capitol.

[21:10:00]

So, he had direct involvement in sort of the mechanics of what was happening that day, the timing of what was happening that day, and, on occasion, after occasion had reason to understand that his supporters felt emboldened by him, and were violent in nature, and tons of reports to that effect were being made to law enforcement to the Executive branch.

So, in combination, I think they made a very powerful case today that the President bears responsibility for what happened on January 6th.

CUOMO: What was impressive to me, Michael, was their recitation of what Trump did, during the event, and the inaction, and him only making calls of political convenience, and when he did put out statements, how mild they were, and really apologetic for asking the people to stop.

And yet, Lindsey Graham says that the legal theory of the Democrats is absurd. Your take?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I agree with you. And I want you to think about something.

If on the afternoon of January the 6th, after delivering that speech, that afternoon, if President Trump did not want rioting, did not want anarchy, how would we expect him to have behaved, not the way in which he behaved?

And I think you can judge his behavior as being satisfied, maybe even gleeful, with what was transpiring. So much of our attention up until now has been on the speech that he delivered on the 6th, or on his conduct between November 3rd and January 6th.

But what today really did for me was illuminate the point that you've made, which is how much we can glean from exactly the way he comported himself that day.

There's one missing element that I wish we had. I wish we had eyewitness testimony, someone in the White House, someone in the Oval Office, someone who watched him, watching flat-screen TVs, in the anteroom, to share with us exactly what his tone and demeanor were.

CUOMO: Yes, strong point! I get that witnesses are a plus-minus. But I think that they are needed. And that's why we're doing them on the show, frankly.

Tonight, we have one of the "Proud Boys" talking about why he went there. Now that's going to, you know, that's going to be a little bit of fireworks, because I don't know that I believe it about the "Proud Boys" as much as I do some of the other people that showed up that day.

Now, Preet, we know that this is a political trial, OK? We know that. We know the jurors are not impartial. We know that. Mitch McConnell said it.

But do you think today may have made a difference when it kind of it really dawned on me, and maybe on them, he really left you guys to die in there, that he knew they were hunting you. And he did not stop it. Did that come through?

BHARARA: Yes, well, I think it did very much so.

And this issue that we've been talking about, it's kind of interesting, that makes it a peculiar kind of trial, and creates a conflict of interest of sorts, because, a lot of these, in fact, arguably, all of the senators, who were also jurors, were victims, or potential victims of the mob violence.

You would never have it in a real trial. And you would expect that. And the reason it wouldn't happen in a normal trial, is that might prejudice those jurors against the defendant.

This is the defendant, who's trying to do harm to them or cause harm to them. That's the allegation. And you'd want them off the jury, because it might predispose them to voting guilt.

So, in this case, this dynamic you're talking about, would be peculiar in a regular trial, might cause them to think "You know what? Even this is - this is a political consideration. Lives were at stake. My own life was at stake."

It's permitted in this case. And it depends on whether or not they find that to be more valuable, as a principle, their safety, and the storming of the seat of our democracy in this country, or continued power and re-election.

Because look what's going to happen - look what happened to Liz Cheney, look what happened to some other people, if they dared to say the President did something wrong on that day, and to vote that way would be to be saying that, and maybe they won't win their reelection, maybe they'll get primaried.

And it's basically a choice between remaining in power, and doing something that I think would make America more powerful in the future as a democracy.

CUOMO: Michael, give me a quick last point.

SMERCONISH: So, I agree with Preet's assessment. It's as if those who've been burglarized are now sitting in judgment of the burglar, but there's something else.

Philip Bump has great reporting in "The Washington Post" tonight about how about one-half of those Senate Republicans themselves were saying and doing things completely in sync with what the President is being held accountable for?

So, it raises further questions of bias on their part. How can they be fair and sitting in judgment of Trump, when essentially they were doing a lot of the same?

CUOMO: Exactly. You have witnesses, victims, and accomplices, as the jury. I mean, it really is a bizarre state of events.

And then you have Trump's lawyer who today concluded the session by saying, "I already knew everything that we heard today." Really? Then, why would you even put up a defense, if you knew all these things that point Trump to the action?

[21:15:00]

Preet Bharara, Michael Smerconish, thank you very much.

BHARARA: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so we have obscene, newly-revealed images of the attempted coup. They add to our understanding of the horror of how much worse it could have been, on this day of infamy, January 6.

The Congresswoman that you are going to see, in one of these images, crouch down, hand over her chest, being covered - comforted during the attack, by another Member, she's here tonight.

These are witnesses to something that happened that we can never let happen again. This trial goes to that reality. What happens here will be highly suggestive of what happens next.

Then we have a Senate juror, who's already calling for Trump's conviction. What does he think of the case? And what does he think of what it means, if there is an acquittal? Next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: When you hear the question, "Is January 6th really any different than what happened last summer?" here's your answer. "Absolutely." "58 steps away tell them."

That's what Impeachment Manager Eric Swalwell noted in terms of how close a mob that was looking to hurt and kill Members of Congress, got, to senators, as they evacuated the Senate floor, on that day of infamy.

Now, over in the House chamber, not everyone could be cleared out at once. You've heard about this before. The lower floor had one set of options. The Gallery up top didn't have the same set of options. Some remained trapped up there. They could hear the rioters outside.

This is that room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Representatives, staff, journalists, all took cover, under their chairs, helped each other put on their gas masks, and held hands as rioters gathered outside.

Here in this slide, you see Representative Jason Crow, comforting our colleague, Representative Susan Wild.

The rioters continued to surround the House chamber, flooding the halls and kicking on the doors as they pass them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Imagine being in that room!

This was the scene outside the House lobby doors, rioters calling up a mob that would eventually lead to smashed doors and the deadly shooting of rioter Ashli Babbitt, when that group refused to stop trying to breach the entry.

Inside, on the other side, in the Gallery, Democratic Congresswoman Susan Wild, you saw her in that picture. And she joins us now.

Thank God! It is good to see you, safe, and in a very different setting. I know you don't love to see that. But during this trial, you are a witness. And it matters. Take me inside the head and heart that was lying on that floor in that moment.

REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): (OFF-MIKE).

CUOMO: Hold on. Congresswoman? Congresswoman? I think you have yourself muted.

WILD: Sorry about that. Hi, Chris. CUOMO: It's OK. You sounded great!

WILD: Sorry.

CUOMO: No, I couldn't hear anything!

WILD: Yes, I'm sure.

CUOMO: Tell me again.

WILD: I don't - I don't remember ever actually lying on my back like that. I remember being in a crouched-over position. And it was very disconcerting to see that picture because it brought some things back.

I'm pretty sure that that picture was taken just after I got off the phone with my children, my adult children. We had FaceTimed up in the Gallery. And I remember, after I hung up with them, feeling an extraordinary sense of panic, and feeling as though my heart was beating outside my chest.

And so, I think that's when that picture was taken. I remember Jason Crow reaching out and stroking my hand. And I remember thinking to myself, "How does he know that I'm so upset?" And so, seeing that picture really sort of brought back to me just how awful those moments were.

And I have to say, they were more than moments. We - the estimates of how long we were actually up there, in the Gallery, range anywhere from 25 minutes to 45 minutes. And I don't have any way of estimating how long it was, but it seemed like forever.

CUOMO: More importantly, to me anyway, how are you doing now? How have you been doing since then, about a month out or so? Very often, traumatic experiences like that, and that's what that was, doesn't matter what didn't happen. It's what you thought might happen that was realistic in that context. How are you doing?

WILD: Well, it's been five weeks, exactly. And I've dealt with it in the way that I deal with a lot of things in my life, and that is by throwing myself into other things.

I - many of us are doing a lot of different things in Congress right now, specifically related to COVID relief. And that's what I've mostly been focused on. And so, I've found comfort in that work.

But as the impeachment has - proceedings have grown closer, and we've started to get ready to see this on television, and of course over the last two days, I've seen vivid footage that I have never seen before.

[21:25:00]

I've seen snippets, just like your viewers have seen snippets. But I've never seen the incredibly-graphic videos that we've seen. And it's been very distressing, I have to say. It's triggering, I guess, is the right word. CUOMO: I think that is the right word. And you got to treat yourself like you fell down a flight of stairs, Representative. You know what I mean?

You got to be kind to yourself. And if you start to feel things, you got to get help, just like you would for anything else. Injuries on the inside are same as injuries on the outside.

And I don't want to traumatize or re-traumatize. But I do want to traumatize the people who are sitting as jurors, because there's too much of a rush here to dismiss this, to move past it, because they have different political inclinations and worries.

The tweet from your son, Clay, you know, it's just the situation I feel so much for your family, just like when I - whenever I hear about a, you know, a family that is being exposed to something, by extension of their loved ones, or their parents.

"My mom just called to say she loves us very much. She sounds strong. Shots have been fired inside the Capitol and lots of screaming in the background. Please, I'm begging, to anyone responsible. Just help cool this chaos."

What is the hardest part in understanding what you lived through emotionally?

WILD: The hardest part for me as a mother, and I think anybody listening to this, who is a parent, will understand, the hardest part for me, even if I - as I was there in the Gallery, listening to shots, and breaking glass, and pounding on the door, was weighing whether I should call my children, and upset them, or whether I should talk to them, because it might be the last time that I did.

Little did I know that they had full awareness of what was going on. So, I'm glad that I did call them.

But it's very, very difficult, as a parent, to ever think that you've caused your children any distress, even completely, beyond your own control. So, for me, it was the distress, and still, is by the way, the distress that I know that my adult kids felt that day, and have been feeling since.

I've talked with him about it somewhat. We don't talk about it all the time. But I know that it was very, very, very upsetting for them, until the moment that they knew that I was safe.

CUOMO: Whatever helps you feel better, whatever helps you process, do it. Trust me. I've been in those situations. Talk, say how you feel, listen to how they feel.

But I will tell you this. Watching you and your colleagues go back into that place, when I don't even know how they had guarantees that it was safe, I don't even know how they had - were able to clear the building as fast as you guys got back in, and doing your duty, and dealing with the torment of seeing the people, on the Right side of the aisle, stand up and certify - and refuse to certify, on the basis of a lie, that was a brave moment.

And yes, it was a profile encouraged for those of you who went back in and did your job. Thank you for doing your job. I'm sorry, it came at that price. And I wish you well.

WILD: Thank you so much, Chris.

CUOMO: God bless. Be good to yourself, Representative.

All right, now let's turn to a juror and witness inside the Senate chamber, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.

So, you're in there. And you know, as you look around the room, that some of your brothers, and a few of your sisters, on the Right, are really not family to you anymore.

They're not paying attention, Senator. They don't give a damn. They've made up their mind of what to do here. And it's all about expediency, even though they know you got lucky, all of you walking out there that day.

What do you say?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Chris, we were lucky beyond words. We were fortunate to be 58 feet from that mob, instead of in their grip. And there were so many close calls, Senator Romney and Senator Schumer almost walking into the grip of the mob.

And what I say to my Republican colleagues is let's revive the spirit of that moment when we were in a safe place after five hours. And we resolved. We were unanimous in our enthusiasm in going back and continuing the vote.

But my heart was in my throat, as I watched many of these absolutely profoundly shaking videos of the Capitol Police defending us, even as the President defied his oath of office and failed to come to their aid, failed to do anything to help his Vice President, in fact at the very moment when his Vice President was fleeing for his life.

[21:30:00]

Then, President Trump was calling a Senator, asking him to raise additional objections.

I think the betrayal of his oath is so stark and stunning here. I just cannot understand how my Republican colleagues can look at themselves in the mirror, look at history, look at their constituents, look at their children, and vote for an acquittal here.

CUOMO: One of the reasons it's a little bit of kind of a re-exposure is that half the political aisle has been in denial about what happened to January 6th, since it happened. They don't talk about it.

They talked about the riots last summer every day, because it played to advantage. They've been quiet about this. American flags used as battering rams, they've never seen anything like this, but they don't talk about it out of expediency.

Now today, we get new audio, of what that Officer Sicknick and the people around him in his detachment were dealing with. I want to play some to you just to get some context of what it is that killed this man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFFICER: Cruiser 50, I copy. We're still taking rocks, bottles, and pieces of flag and metal pole. Cruiser 50, the crowd is using munitions against us. They have - bear spray in the crowd. Bear spray in the crowd.

DISPATCH: 1328.

OFFICER: Multiple deployments U.S. Capitol with pepper spray (inaudible). DSO, DSO, I need a re-up. I need a re-up up here.

OFFICER: Cruiser 50. We lost the line. We've lost the line. All MPD, pull back. All MPD, pull back up to the upper deck. All MPD, pull back to the upper deck, ASAP. All MPD, come back to the upper deck. Upper deck. Cruiser 50. We're flanked. 10-33. I repeat, 10-33 west front of the Capitol. We have been flanked and we've lost the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The only times, Senator, that you and I have heard men with that kind of shake in their voice, and he's obviously moving, is war. And Officer Sickwick (ph) that is not officer Sicknick, it's one of the others in his detachment.

They believe it may have been, Investigators, now their lead theory is that he was sprayed with one of these repellents that they may have had, and it later caused a reaction that caused his death, and they're investigating it.

But the panic, how do you juxtapose how you should feel about that man, who was in that position to save you, with what's happening with this rush to acquit?

BLUMENTHAL: Chris, there is no justification, in my view, for acquittal here. The Republicans may rely on this bogus constitutional argument or a completely frivolous First Amendment claim.

But, as I listened to that Officer, in distress, my mind goes to Brian Sicknick, who went to work that day, expecting to come home, and I went to his memorial, lying in state. He was a sweet, decent man, who dedicated his life to this country. He served in the military and in the Capitol Police.

We're a family here, Chris. We go to work every day. We see the same Capitol Police. We get to know them. And there's a really human element here that I think has to impact my colleagues.

And another thing to keep in mind here is that that bloodlust was bipartisan. They were after Republicans, Democrats, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House. That was domestic terrorism. It was not directed at one Party or another.

And so, for my Republican colleagues, to ignore their oath, even after Donald Trump ignored his oath, is really unconscionable and incomprehensible.

And one last point. I view Donald Trump's failure to come to our defense, to call out the National Guard, or supplement those Capitol Police, who were being battered, that policeman who was caught in the door, blood coming from his mouth, and his headgear off, even as he called for help, and Donald Trump never lifted a finger and never denounced, not once, the violence of that day. He called them "Special" people. "We love you," he said.

[21:35:00]

I think my Republican colleagues have some thinking to do between now and the verdict here. And I hope they remember what they've seen these days, rather than trying to put it out of mind.

They can't look away. They can't wish it away. This domestic terrorism is bigger than all of us, and they have an obligation to do what's right for the country.

CUOMO: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining us.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CUOMO: And good luck with the job going forward.

Here's what we know. The people, who were there, trying to do terrible things, and succeeding, were taking their orders from Trump. That's what we hear over and over again.

I get that calling witnesses is a tricky proposition. I personally think it's a mistake. I think that these senators on the Right and Left should be confronted with the humanity that they may or may not choose to ignore.

When you look at these guys, even the ones from the worst groups with their own agendas, OK, like the Proud Boys, even they say, the one who was mentioned today, at the trial, Dominic Pezzola, he appeared before a federal judge and he said, why he went, what his motive was, and how he developed it.

You need to hear it. Next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:40:00]

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: It's not just about what happened on January 6th. It could. It could be. But we both know that Donald Trump spent months mobilizing an army.

House Managers laid out that on that day of January 6th, the day he picked, he unleashed that mob, the target was the U.S. Capitol.

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STACEY PLASKETT (D), DELEGATE TO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FROM VIRGIN ISLANDS: You'll see more about this later in the trial. But you'll see in these photos, to the left, Dominic Pezzola, and to the right, William Pepe, two of the leaders of the group, heading to the Capitol, on January 6. They were later charged with working together, to obstruct law enforcement.

I have already discussed "Proud Boys" member Dominic Pezzola, who has since been charged with eight federal crimes for his conduct on January 6. As you will recall, according to the FBI agents' affidavit, submitted to the court, the group he attacked the Capitol with confirm that "Anyone they got their hands on, they would have killed, including Nancy Pelosi."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Dominic Pezzola is the man that you're going to see here in the gray jacket, who's the first one to break the Capitol window. The DoJ has argued in court "There's no indication he's changed his mind about fomenting rebellion, six - since January 6."

What he did, and the people he associates with disgust me, the "Proud Boys." They are about hate. They are white nationalists. I don't even know what a guy with an Italian-American heritage is doing with a group like that. They don't like you. But why he did what he did matters in the trial of this former president.

Jonathan Zucker represents Pezzola.

Counselor, can you hear me?

JONATHAN ZUCKER, ATTORNEY FOR DOMINIC PEZZOLA: Hear you loud and clear.

CUOMO: Just one step backwards. When Donald Trump said about the "Proud Boys," "Stand back and stand by," let me remind the audience of that moment.

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DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name. Go ahead. CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR & DEBATE MODERATOR: White supremacists and Right-wing--

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: White supremacists.

TRUMP: Who would you like me to condemn?

BIDEN: Proud Boys.

TRUMP: Who?

BIDEN: Proud Boys.

WALLACE: White supremacists and Right-wing militia.

TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.

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CUOMO: Now, we all took that as way too weak, almost condoning them? Is it your understanding that so did the Proud Boys? My understanding is that they adopted that as part of their motto.

ZUCKER: Let me preface this by saying I have never discussed this with Mr. Pezzola, nor anybody else who claims to be a Proud Boy. And, so I don't know what their reactions were to that.

I know that Mr. Pezzola's contact with the Proud Boys is short-lived, relatively recently, and proceeded probably in December. So, I don't think he's had any connection with that statement.

CUOMO: All right, so?

ZUCKER: I'd be speculating on what.

CUOMO: I got you.

ZUCKER: OK.

CUOMO: So, we'll talk about who he is, what he's about, in a second. But first, he went before a judge and said, "Let me tell you why I believed I was doing what I had to do that day." What is his rationale?

ZUCKER: Well, let me just correct you. What was said to the judge was not said by Mr. Pezzola. It was said in pleadings by me as his counsel on his behalf.

And I don't think it's any secret what he, and it's pretty much universal, and it's rampant through the - through the press releases and the tapes that have been played in the Senate today, and all the press - all the tapes that have been played of the event.

He, along with other people, who participated in that event, believed they were acting as patriots. They were responding. He's former military. He's proud of his country. He considers himself a loyal American citizen.

And the President of the United States said that the election was being stolen, and it was time for citizens to stand up, and take action, and take control.

And so, he followed those instructions, believing he was acting as a patriot, which is consistent with pretty much what I've heard from everybody, who was down there, either from them, or from their counsel, who represent them. It was - it's not in dispute. And it was played out in the Senate today and in numerous press releases.

CUOMO: Well, it's very much in dispute.

ZUCKER: You can hear them.

CUOMO: It's very much in dispute, right? I mean, you have the whole Senate flank of the Senate - the Republican flank of the Senate, saying they went on their own accord. This had nothing to do with Trump.

[21:45:00]

But you're saying your client has communicated to you that the President's words and assertions motivated his actions that day?

ZUCKER: I can't get into privileged conversations. But I can say that that is consistent. But that is - it's not a disputed issue.

That is, if you listen to the tapes, of the activities, on January 6, at the Capitol, you could hear over and over again, everybody, they are chanting, that they were there on behalf of President Trump.

CUOMO: But it's a little different with him.

ZUCKER: Everybody says that.

CUOMO: It's a little different with him. And let me - let me make this point.

ZUCKER: With Pezzola?

CUOMO: Yes.

ZUCKER: Go ahead.

CUOMO: Because Pezzola is a part of a group that is the worst of us.

They are a White, hate, nationalist organization. They are not about democracy. He is not a patriot. They are not about patriotism. They are about racism. So, he may be a veteran, but he's clearly forgotten what his duty is and what being a patriot is.

And I'm surprised to hear that with them having their own agenda, that anything Trump was saying mattered to them at all. He didn't go to that Capitol as a patriot. He went there as a terrorist. And he knows it. ZUCKER: I would dispute that. I don't think he knows that. I don't think he considers himself that. I don't think anybody, at least that I've encountered, in connection with that, has that opinion.

Similarly, I do not know, and have never heard Pezzola express anything about white supremacy. I'm not - speak - and he doesn't speak on behalf of all of the Proud Boys.

CUOMO: That's what the Proud Boys are about.

ZUCKER: But I've never seen anything from--

CUOMO: They're a white nationalist, neo-fascist organization. They were started as part of the alt-right. They were condemned by their Founder for being too light, so they hardened up. I mean, it is weird that they got the Afro-Cuban guy as their leader. But they're about white nationalism. That's what they are.

ZUCKER: Well--

CUOMO: I don't know why an Italian-American guy would join. But they're just a bunch of haters. That's why I'm surprised to hear that they would be led by Trump. They have their own hateful agenda.

ZUCKER: Well, my contact with this case, I've been - I've not seen anything that indicates that, at least in relation to Pezzola. I've never heard him express, and never seen anything in light on your--

CUOMO: He just attacked the Capitol.

ZUCKER: --his claim to express it.

CUOMO: He attacked the Capitol.

ZUCKER: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: He wanted to beat the hell--

ZUCKER: He did so.

CUOMO: --out of different cops and fine Members of Congress and hurt them and kill them. That's not informative?

ZUCKER: Well, I'm not sure that's 100 percent accurate. He certainly didn't--

CUOMO: Really?

ZUCKER: Yes. He didn't - certainly was part of the insurrection. And he was present there. But I never saw anything--

CUOMO: What he wanted to do there? Get - what he wanted to do?

ZUCKER: --from Pezzola--

CUOMO: Get autographs? Why was he going? ZUCKER: He was going there at the behest of the President, because he thought he was a patriot and protecting democracy, and protecting our--

CUOMO: To do what?

ZUCKER: What?

CUOMO: To do what?

ZUCKER: Because they believed that the election had been stolen.

CUOMO: Yes?

ZUCKER: They were responding to Trump's entreaties.

CUOMO: So what was he going to do about it?

ZUCKER: I think they want them to stop the count.

CUOMO: Yes, how?

ZUCKER: I think by disrupting - well, I don't want to get into the attempt.

CUOMO: Yes, you don't want to get into it because you know exactly--

ZUCKER: But he went there at the behest of the President.

CUOMO: --what they were going to do.

ZUCKER: I - I don't - no, I don't think that's accurate, Chris.

CUOMO: Look, everybody deserves a defense, Mr. Zucker.

ZUCKER: I don't think that's--

CUOMO: But he didn't go there to talk to anybody. He broke a window. He could have walked through a door. He broke a window. They were violent. And they were trying to hurt people. Period! Good luck at court.

ZUCKER: Well I've not seen anything--

CUOMO: Everybody deserves a defense.

ZUCKER: Excuse me. I would take issue with that, because I've not seen anything indicating that Pezzola ever attempted to physically hurt anybody. There's an allegation, he broke a window. And I'm not going to be - this only evidence that he - that he did that. But I never heard him express an intent to hurt anybody.

CUOMO: I hear it. But he's with a--

ZUCKER: I never saw an intent to hurt anybody.

CUOMO: --he's with a group of--

ZUCKER: And--

CUOMO: He's with an organization that has been designated an extremist organization, and that talks ugly talk about hurting all kinds of people, including your interviewer tonight, but he deserves a defense.

ZUCKER: Well.

CUOMO: His motive is relevant. And that's why I wanted you to come on the show, and I appreciate you taking that opportunity.

ZUCKER: Well, and I think the motive is and certainly he feels, as do most of the people who participated in this, he feels betrayed by the President. But their motive was they thought they were being loyal Americans.

CUOMO: I hear you.

ZUCKER: It's misguided. It was - it was mistaken. But that's what their motive was, if you want to know what their motive was.

CUOMO: I hear it. And I appreciate you telling the audience that. Jonathan Zucker, thank you.

ZUCKER: OK.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.

ZUCKER: Take care.

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CUOMO: Look, just to be clear, all right, the "Proud Boys" are not patriots. I'm not here to have this guy make his case. It's about what it means as motive for his ugly actions that day as a hateful, nationalist, white nationalist organization.

He went there because he felt that that's what Trump was telling him to do. And the idea that they didn't go there to do bad things in his name, look, everybody deserves a defense. But to be clear, the guy said, quote, to kill anyone they got their

hands on and they would have killed, including Nancy Pelosi. At his house, the FBI found a thumb drive filled with files, detailing instructions for firearms, poisons, and/or explosives.

These are the kinds of guys that Trump told to "Stand by and stand back." They adapted it as a motto.

They are bad people. They are hateful people. And I will not shy away in saying that. And they deserve no quarter. And they deserve absolutely no defense in the court of public opinion. They are the worst of us.

And it's embarrassing that a guy with an Italian-American name would get caught up with a bunch of white bigots. But his motive matters for this case.

But make no mistake about who these people are, because they are now in the conversation. And they will do more of this online and off. We have never been in any kind of situation like this in our lifetime. And it's time to stop dancing around it.

Let's bring in Carl Bernstein, because he lived it before.

And people always draw the comparison, Carl. "Nixon, this is like Nixon." You were there. You're here. What's the feel in contrast?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: This is unprecedented. This is a seditious President of the United States, who has undermined the very basis of our democracy, who does not care about loss of life.

[21:55:00]

It's the same President who was negligent, in homicidal, terms because of his handling of the COVID situation, and not handling that in a way that would save American lives.

But let's talk about one other thing that this event that we witnessed today, in these horrible videos, was about the presence of evil. And the evil here is an evil President of the United States. Yes, it's an open-and-shut case, in terms of the incitement. But there's a moral dimension to this.

You know I've covered the courts. You're a lawyer. And then, in cases of violence that juries take into consideration, in their minds, the presence of evil. And that's really part of what the Republican Party here seems to refuse to consider.

The Evil has come to be the agenda of a President, and they have gone along with it. So, there's a moral dimension that we really ought to be considering in this, as well as the legal and the trial.

CUOMO: Well, you got a dynamic here, you didn't have with Nixon. Some of those senators--

BERNSTEIN: That's right.

CUOMO: --they're not all just witnesses, which you didn't have in Nixon. There, many of them potential victims, and some, you could argue, are accomplices. What does that mean to where we are?

BERNSTEIN: They're accessories - they're accessories after the fact as well.

CUOMO: Some before and during.

BERNSTEIN: What it means is--

CUOMO: They were saying a lot of the same stuff--

BERNSTEIN: Yes, well.

CUOMO: --that he was.

BERNSTEIN: Look, what we know is that this Republican Party is in thrall to the evil of Donald Trump, including undermining the very basis of our democracy, the electoral system.

They have aped his words, for months, about a rigged election. They allowed this terrible undermining of the process to go forward, up to the point of the day on January 6th. Some of them were still talking about that we needed to see if there was some kind of rigged election here.

This is unprecedented. A Party, one of our political parties, has become hostage to an undemocratic seditious President of the United States, and the evil that he has wrought, including with COVID as well.

It's all of a piece, and we need to look at it in terms of both, the law, the facts, and the moral dimension.

CUOMO: Carl Bernstein, appreciate you as a mentor, and as a student of history, who lived it then, and you're living it now. Thank you, brother.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.

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CUOMO: Friends, we will be back at Midnight Eastern with a special live late night edition of PRIME TIME.

But now, it is time for the big show, "CNN TONIGHT" with its star, D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You know what, Chris? You know if we've been - all day, everyone's been saying "The big lie," right? "It was the big lie what - the President had people believing that."

And my Catholic school education taught me to go deeper and go deeper, and I kept saying "Tell people what the big lie is. Tell people what the big lie is." The big lie was what? "The election was stolen. It was rigged." Where was it rigged? Who stole the election?

Who stole the election? I'm asking you.