Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Democrats Expected To Introduce Impeachment Articles Monday; Murkowski Becomes First GOP Senator To Call On Trump To Resign; WaPo: FBI Looking Into Whether Some Rioters Intended To Harm Lawmakers Or Take Hostages. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 08, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I mean we can't look at that and hear that person gasping trying to breathe. I mean what are we doing? What are we doing?

I'm done. It's time for Chris. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All those people organizing on Parler, and the other sites, for people, to come, you see how often they said "Don't wear a mask! Don't wear a mask!" It's become a sign of defiance, and one, once again that was introduced by the worst of us, currently President of the United States.

Anderson, have a good weekend, brother.

COOPER: You too, Chris.

CUOMO: I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The case against Trump is the easy part of this situation. No one in their right mind can think what happened at the Capitol is OK. They can say "Well, but what about the summer?" That rings hollow in the face of the worst attack on the Capitol in recent history.

We now know that when it was happening, Trump refused to stop it. We have proof of his refusal to stop it for you tonight.

He says he called for the National Guard. Sure, he did, when it was to attack Black people, all during the summer. But he refused to call the National Guard, when the Capitol was savaged in his name. That is the truth.

It is also the truth that he, in fact, made calls, to use the riot, to further his own cause. That's right. While it was happening, he asked people, senators, who were in hiding, to use the riot, to derail the vote. Not to stop it, to magnify it. That alone should damn him in all future historical accounts.

Here is the tweet that he sent out during the riot to remind you that what I'm saying makes perfect sense.

"These are the things that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is stripped away." And then he said "Go home with love." He incited it. He continued it. And he congratulated it.

He won't be tweeting dangerous bile like that anymore. Twitter suspended his account permanently tonight, due to the risk of further incitement of violence. Think about that! The man has access to nuclear codes, but he can't have a Twitter account.

Then, he took to the @POTUS account, and put out more inciting tripe, with impeachment hanging over his head. With everybody in their right mind telling him to shut his mouth, he still tried to make it worse, tried to say that he was being victimized by all the usual targets.

But then the tweets vanished, but not the threat. The threat, that Trump poses remains. The man who is trusted to keep us safe is an imminent threat to our society. We know that.

So, what do we do now? Prosecuting those who took him seriously and attacked the Capitol and Congress is a must.

And the fact that these terrorists, and this is key, they felt empowered to do this, they felt that they were better than other rioters, didn't they? And that will make it somewhat easier to prosecute them, because they bragged about it, and put their faces all over the place.

Now, why they felt empowered takes us to the harder questions. Trump must be held to account, but so must his Re-Trump-lican enablers.

He didn't do this alone. What about those who sat silent while he incited? Or those who echoed him, and even stood up on the floor of Congress, during and after the insurrection, to parrot his perfidy and lies about the election?

So what do we do about Trump and the Re-Trump-licans? Well, as for Trump, Democrats are expected to introduce an article of impeachment to the House, on Monday, for incitement of insurrection. We have one of the top Democrats, leading the historic push here tonight.

Trump could be the only U.S. President to ever be impeached twice, and that may cement his place, as the worst person to ever hold the office. And there is value in that, a fixed place of our all-time worst.

But, I argue, you have to be just as concerned as those who remain. Again, Trump couldn't do this alone. Cruz, Hawley, McConnell, McCarthy, without them, does any of this happen?


Eight senators turned servants to their worst instincts, 139 more, in the House, stood up for lies that fomented this attack. They all voted to overturn the election, after the insurrection that they themselves fomented. Think about that.

And they all know they made a deal with the devil. How? "How can we judge their hearts and minds?" By their actions. What happened when the mob came? They ran. Why run? You told these people it was stolen from you. You told them that they were patriots.

They heard your echoes. They heard you stand by and applaud those objecting the legitimate electoral count. They observed your silence as Trump told them to "Go and be strong." If it was OK with all of you, why wouldn't it be OK with them?

You always say the people who did this are "Just patriots." Why did you run? Why did you take cover behind the protectors of an institution that you insistently say is corrupt? Why did you cower with Democrats, the same people you told this mob to oppose? Why?

You'll have to answer that, and you should be asked, and you should have to. You can run when they come, but we cannot let you hide from what you did, because you did it to the rest of us, and to something that matters more than all of us, our democracy. And you went after it, and you know it.

And more damning still, after you were saved by the people, who put you in to safety, when you put them at risk, with your reckless disregard for the truth, some of you had a change of heart, but most of you stuck to Trump, to toxic destabilizing of the only thing we have that balances our differences in this society, our institutions of democracy. And no, I submit to you that cannot be forgiven and forgotten. That would be a mistake.

Cruz and Hawley, the senators who led the way, with this poison, this insurrection arguably, does not happen without them.

Cruz is now trying to say "Oh, I've been at odds with Trump plenty." Don't let him get away with this. His cleanup proves he knows he is dirty. Hawley, raising a fist, in solidarity to the mob, right before the onslaught.

Part of what we have to do is have leaders call out what's wrong, specifically the culprits. And our new leader, President-elect Biden, did do that today.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the American public has a real good clear look at who they are. They're part of the big lie, the big lie.

Trump said that before he ran. If you say it enough, I'm going to convince you. I'll say it enough, "The press is bad! The press is bad! The press is bad! The press is bad!" If he is the only one saying it, that's one thing. But the acolytes that follow him, like Cruz and others, they are as responsible as he is.

There are decent people out there, who actually believe these lies, because they've heard it again and again.


CUOMO: He's right. But there are others, Re-Trump-licans, some of them didn't vote to overturn the election, like Senator Marco Rubio. He's been proud to carry Trump water, and push his lies, for four years, even after he rightly identified him as a great Ameri-Con.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): There is no way we are going to allow a con artist to take over the conservative movement, and Donald Trump is a con artist.


CUOMO: So, explain to people why you did exactly that, brother?

Why did you help him lead the way for the con's incitement of an insurrection? Now you want to blame the liberal media, but not you, right? You're good still, right, because you quote the Bible, right? It's us who's spewing the BS, right?

You and Cruz and the other Re-Trump-licans, you banged him during the campaign, but then you loved him up when he had power over you. And that shows you never put your constituents fist. And I hope they know that.

You want to complain about the media? Complain to the media. Come on the show. Show that you can debate with decency. I promise you the time, and I promise you measured tone, until you demand otherwise. But you won't come.

I invite you because you want to be a victim, but you victimized the rest of us. And if I'm wrong, come on and explain it. This is an open door, because I don't want to stay where we are. It's killing us. So, if you're so righteous, if you're in the right, come on and explain. Let people understand how we got here, without your help.


Trump will go, but these people will remain. And they cannot be allowed to move on until they step forward and say they were wrong to allow him to run free and run wild. Otherwise, they're not to be believed, even when they grieve a dead Capitol police officer.

Brian Sicknick, may he rest in peace and my really profoundest sympathies to his family. I'm so sorry he was put in this position. This should have never happened. Four others were killed in Wednesday's attack as well.

And may the peace that the Sicknicks, at some point, get, some measure of solace, will be the truth about why he had to give his life.

Because words, because disinformation, because lies can have deadly consequences, and it is the job of leadership to check them, not Twitter.

We shouldn't be waiting on Jack Dorsey to stand up to the American President, before the people elected to do exactly that. Twitter is not the natural check to the presidency. You people are. Do your damn jobs. Nobody wants to hear that you're patriots. Show it. Unity is not a one-step process here. You cannot forgive and forget,

and that's not about vengeance. It's about a reset. It's about getting somewhere better, and that has to have consequences. But what does that mean?

Let's bring in one of the top Democrats in Congress on the way forward, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He helped lead the last impeachment drive, now pushing for a second go-around.

God bless the family. It's good to see you, Congressman.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Great to see you, Chris. Thank you for having me on.

CUOMO: Impeachment, is it the right move now? Why?

JEFFRIES: Well, what we witnessed was a violent insurrection that was incited and encouraged and, in many ways, directed by the current President of the United States of America with deadly consequences.

It was seditious. It was treacherous behavior. It resulted in the death of a hero police officer. It shattered democratic norms. It was an attack on the Constitution, on separate and coequal branches of government, on the American way of life.

So, there has to be accountability with respect to this incredible abuse of power, this violent rebellion that Donald Trump stoked. And so, in my view, one of the tools that we have available to us, to hold an out-of-control president accountable, is by impeachment, which is why I support it.

The challenge, of course, Chris, is that we've got limited time. But Donald Trump can do damage every minute, every hour, every day, every week that he has left in office.

CUOMO: But impeaching him doesn't stop that. He was a little subdued during the process last time.

But being impeached, and that process does not stop him, from exercising his powers, and you know, with almost all certainty, going into it, that you're not going to get a trial and conviction in the Senate. I don't even know that you get a trial. So, is it worth it and why?

JEFFRIES: Well, there are three different lanes that we're pursuing.

The consensus approach that I believe exists within the House Democratic Caucus, led by Speaker Pelosi, as she has articulated, is that he has to be removed immediately, and we've got to work toward that objective.

There are three lanes. There is an impeachment lane, which of course would result in a process in the Senate, possibly to remove him.

There is the 25th Amendment lane. And it's my hope that those cabinet secretaries, who are left, would do their constitutional duty, consult with Mike Pence, and make it clear that this President is no longer fit to serve in office, or there is resignation.

We're starting to see Republican senators call for his resignation, which is interesting, Chris, because they had an opportunity to do the right thing, on the floor of the United States Senate, in January of last year, when we made the case that this was a President, who was trying to interfere in the 2020 election, and undermine our democracy, and turn it into a dictatorship.

We presented clear and convincing evidence. And yet, they kept him in office. So, they are also responsible for what we're seeing right now.

CUOMO: And you know that there is very likely not going to be the political will to move against him, because even after the insurrection, they still stood up and lied.

And yes, you've got one Republican Senator calling for, Murkowski, calling for him to step down. But one is just one, especially if McConnell isn't the one.

Also, a lot of people believe that if you impeach him, a second time, he can't run again. You and I both know that's not true. He'd have to be convicted to not be able to run again. So, he would be the worst, by the measure of two impeachments, but he wouldn't be restricted from running again.

And what happens with this notion of continuing the process after he's gone? Why would that benefit the democracy?


JEFFRIES: Well, no decisions have been made with respect to going down that lane.

There are conversations, as the Speaker has indicated, with the variety of other stakeholders, in the process, the incoming administration, the Senate Majority Leader, who will take office shortly, Chuck Schumer, in terms of the changeover, from the Republican to the Democratic control, of the U.S. Senate.

So, those are things that are - that are being worked through. But we have to respond to the moment. And we're trying to respond to that moment as best we can.

And we also will continue to call out the sycophantic behavior that we've seen, amongst Members in the House of Representatives, led by the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had been burying his head in the sand, and now he is actively fanning the flames of sedition, by joining his colleagues, who are perpetrating the big lie that Donald Trump won this election. He did not. He lost an Electoral College landslide.

CUOMO: Is it true that McCarthy called Trump, asked him to stop the activities, the riots, the insurrection activities, and that Trump refused? And then the guy still got up, and lied for him, on the floor of Congress? JEFFRIES: That's a very interesting question. I think Kevin McCarthy should be asked that. It seemed to me that that was an unsourced rumor that was put into the public domain, perhaps by allies of Kevin McCarthy.

CUOMO: To make him look good.

JEFFRIES: I don't know that to be the case.

CUOMO: That's an interesting spin.

JEFFRIES: To make him look good. Because otherwise there is no explanation when he has not publicly condemned Donald Trump, and as you pointed out, went to the floor, of the House of Representatives, and then voted with those, who were fanning the flames of sedition.

And so, I believe he is a lost cause. There are other Republican colleagues of mine, several, including a member of leadership, who did vote to certify the election of Joe Biden. They should be given credit.

And hopefully, increasingly, we're going to see a break from Donald Trump. Brighter days are ahead. Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States of America.

We did our constitutional responsibility. They tried to stop us. We stopped them by going back to the floor of the House of Representatives. We're going to continue to do that as we move forward.

CUOMO: Well, look, you couldn't have an easier case for impeachment than you have, in front of you, right now, but it's about what does it cost, and what does it gain, and these are tough calls.

And I appreciate you coming on to discuss it with us, Congressman. We're at a bad place. Fighting the good fight has never meant more than it means today. God bless and good luck going forward. You always have a place on this show.

JEFFRIES: Thank you so much, Chris.

CUOMO: Hope, hope, sometimes it's defined as, as yet undiscovered disappointment. We've had that heartbreak. Democrats can't do it alone. Republicans have to want Re-Trump-licans no longer in their number.

So, we have somebody to talk to tonight. He was the first, in his Party, in Congress, to call for the 25th Amendment, as a way to remove Trump. What's he hearing from his colleagues? Where is his head and his heart now?

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, next.








CUOMO: You could make the argument why are we talking about the Democrats? Yes, they have the numbers in the House. But shouldn't this be about the Republicans? Shouldn't they be desperate to clean out their own house?

You got Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, became the first Republican senator to call for the President to resign today. She told the "Anchorage Daily News," "I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage."

Fair point! The fact that they're only realizing this now, many of them, 12 days out, from the end, is something that all of them will have to account for.

The fact is Trump's not going to resign. He only thinks of himself, and resigning would be bad. And it's unlikely that Pence will invoke the 25th Amendment.

So, for Republicans, who think he has to get gone, the only option would have to be impeachment. Is that likely for anybody? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just threw cold water on that, as expected.

You know? All of you who said "Oh, look at the speech he gave. He respects the Electoral College," he respects nothing but advantage. He is a brilliant player of a dirty game that we have allowed to become this.

And he said "Oh, the earliest that we could take up any House-passed articles of impeachment against Trump would most likely be after his term ends." Yes, because he doesn't want to do it. So, what can be done?

Let's talk to a face of the future of that Party, GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Good to see you.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Hey, you too.

CUOMO: Now, brother, I am not objective on you, and I've never said that I am, because from, not just your service to the country, in the military, before, but you have been a fair broker, ever since you got in there. And I have tested you all kinds of ways. And you are showing right now

why I believe that you're a fair broker.

You called for the 25th Amendment. I don't know that that's your greatest move, one because it's not in the control of Congress. You know there is no will from Pence or the people around him. And you could argue it's for physical incapacity.

Impeachment, do you believe that that would be a death sentence for you politically, or is it something that you would be open to, because it would be the only potential avenue of removal?

KINZINGER: Yes, look, I don't - I don't think - I mean, it's definitely something that I'd be open to. I'll do what's right, OK? Period! Especially, when it comes to even this gravity of the moment we're in.

When I called for the 25th Amendment, there was seeming to be discussions. That was before we had heard about Vice President Pence calling it out and saying he wasn't going to do it.

Here's what I worry about with impeachment, though. First off, there's a lot of moving parts going on, right now, a lot of behind-the-scene negotiations. But my worry on it is, as you said in the opening, it's not going to - it's not going to effectively take Trump out of power.

What's going on right now is he is down. He is basically beleaguered. He just had his biggest bully pulpit ripped away in Twitter. And I'm worried that if we go forward with this - and I'll always do what's right, on this. Trust me.

But I'm worried that what that does is gives him an opportunity to those that were in his base that are starting to like, you know, Saturday morning, after a big Friday-night bender, you're looking around, going, "What did we just do?" I worry that that gives them fuel to see him as a victim again, because that's what he's great at. He is great at being a victim.


CUOMO: He did that already. He went into the @POTUS account, and put out a string of tweets evidently that he is being victimized by all the usual targets. And then they vanished. We believe Twitter took them down. Now--


CUOMO: --so where does that leave you? You should have a future in this Party. You check a lot of boxes for them. But they may hate you for this. Do you believe your Party survives Trump?

KINZINGER: I do, but I do think there is going to be a real kind of family meeting/fistfight, in some cases, where we have to look at this, and say what of the Trump base is - are people that just were in on him, because they liked his policies, and what part were the ones that were the Proud Boys, for instance, or some of those far, far out there organizations, solely intended to promote violence.

So, when my colleagues say "Well, you know, we need to figure out how to maintain the energy of the Trump base," I agree for people that are Republicans.

But when you get these crazy groups, the QAnons and stuff, short of pulling them out of their brainwashing, and that's a process, and I think it's a process we need to undergo--

CUOMO: You're in a tough - you're in a tough spot because--

KINZINGER: --we don't have them--

CUOMO: --all Trump followers are not bigots, but all bigots are Trump followers.

And you saw 130-whatever of your brothers and sisters, in that Party, in the House, stand up for what they know is BS. After an insurrection, they stood up. After they ran away from the same people they were fomenting, they stood up. What do you do with that?

KINZINGER: So, there's two kind of categories of these people.

So, some just voted because of the politics of it, which I think is chicken, right? I mean I've told these people that. Nothing personal but I just - I think, on something like overturning an election, you shouldn't be voting based on your politics.

What was crazy is we came back, from this insurrection, back into office - back into session, at 8 o'clock, and I heard people like Matt Gaetz spewing that he already had proof that this was Antifa.

I saw people arguing on the floor cheap old anti-democrat political talking points. Mo Brooks was somehow talking about illegal immigration in all this. And I was saddened. And I actually went down and gave a pretty fiery speech for about two minutes, right by, I'll admit, they didn't like it.

But to then see again everybody still vote, I mean there were a lot of people that kind of came off, were going to be asked to overturn, and didn't, but to see a lot of people still I - I just - we have to get - we have to - we have to maintain this moment.

There is nothing normal about the fact that the Capitol was occupied for the first time since the war of 1812. It's not the same as the riots we saw in the summer. Those were bad, but they weren't occupying one of the branches of government. And this is an honest conversation we've got to have with people, and quit trying to assuage but be forceful and frankly condemn where it needs to be.

CUOMO: Quick, you think we get to a better place, yes or no?

KINZINGER: Yes. Yes, I do. I think we're at rock-bottom right now. I think we get to a better place soon.

CUOMO: I hope so. I hope that's true. I hope we're at rock-bottom. But Congressman, as I said before the interview, I want you to see this place as a home. We need Republicans--


CUOMO: --who want to do the right thing, talking about what that is, and how we get there, and you have a place here. God bless. Stay healthy, and keep your spine, brother.

KINZINGER: You too, brother. See you.

CUOMO: Be well.

The Trump White House is collapsing on itself tonight, and it should. People are resigning because the man they worked for is disgusting and an embarrassment to his office. So, what happens if they go impeachment? Is it practical? Is it not about practicality?

Let's get some take of people who understand the workings of politics and impact, David Axelrod, John Harwood, next.









CUOMO: So, we understand that Democrats are expected to introduce an impeachment resolution, Monday.

The White House is in total crisis management mode, whatever that means. Trump tried to sneak-tweet from a different account, put out more tripe. Twitter had to shut him down twice. His main account is permanently suspended by Twitter. I don't know how long this guy stays quiet. I don't know what else he could do.

The President of the United States is arguably an imminent threat to our safety. So, what is the best move here and why? Let's bring in John Harwood and David Axelrod to discuss.

Gentlemen, thank you.

John, let me start with you. What are you hearing about what the fears are, around Trump, about what he might do between now and the 20th?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think at a base level, you start with the fact that he is the Commander-in-Chief with the access to the nuclear codes.

So, you had Nancy Pelosi put out the statement that she'd consulted with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, about trying to make sure that there were safeguards in effect, in case an unstable President issued demands to start some sort of military conflict, or even launch a nuclear strike.

We saw earlier, the 10 living former defense secretaries, both parties, put out a letter, cautioning members of the military, against getting involved, in anything untoward, toward the end of the President's term. So, I think that's the baseline.

And you said, a minute ago, the White House is in crisis mode. I think all of Washington is in crisis mode right now.

And in the first instance, they're trying to figure out how to avoid something dangerous happening from the President, and then, secondarily to that, how to hold him accountable.

There is, obviously with only 12 days left in his term, there is a narrow window of accountability, while he is President, although that doesn't preclude some accountability for him, of course, after he is President.

CUOMO: True.

So Axe, what does that look like? Impeachment, they've never had an easier case.


CUOMO: But is it worth what comes along with it? The delays, him playing the victim, them not getting a trial in the Senate. Mitch McConnell just made that obvious. So when you plus/minus it, where do you come out?

AXELROD: Yes, well, I've been wrestling with this myself, because I do think there is a downside to it.


There's no question about it, he is an unstable person. It is fodder for him to lay another log, on this roaring fire that he's started, although he has a more limited array of weapons with which to communicate.

On the other hand, it is - it is unseemly to think that a President of the United States, never before in our history have we seen it, could actually foment an armed insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, on the Capitol building, and try and interrupt a sacred ritual of our democracy.

And there is no official sanction. And that's what you're hearing. That's the debate that you're hearing back and forth. I think people should set aside the notion that if they move forward

on impeachment, though, that's going to either pressure him to resign, or result in his removal. I don't think either of those things will happen, nor do I think the Cabinet is going to act, or Pence is going to act.

So, this would be done solely to make clear, on behalf of the country, that this was a - this was a sin against democracy, and it would be the final stain on this tawdry presidency.

CUOMO: Principle and practical, the principle is, "Look, we have to do it because it's the only right thing to do. We have to do the right thing. We have to do what we can, and this is it." I get that argument from the Democrats.

Although there is this misimpression that if they were to impeach him again, if you're impeached twice, you can't run for office again. That's not true. He would have to be convicted. Otherwise, it doesn't matter how many times he is impeached.

Then you get the practicality, John, which takes me to you. This could happen again. He was inciting again, tonight, on Twitter, before they silenced him. There is talk about the 17th. There is talk about what happens on the 20th.

What are the concerns you're hearing about how much of a role Trump has in making this worse?

HARWOOD: Well, look, that is what everyone is alarmed about. The President of the United States is unstable and mentally ill. And they're concerned about him taking some sort of rash action, calling a fresh mob into mobilization.

But I think that the part of the discussion of impeachment, discussion of the 21st Amendment, demands by senators, including of his own Party, that he resign, is a way to demonstrate the gravity of the situation to the White House, raise pressure on the President, persuade the President, and his family, that the jeopardy for him gets worse.

We see that he reacts to pressure. It's not like he realizes that he has done something wrong. He's not capable of doing that.

CUOMO: Right.

HARWOOD: He doesn't have a conscience. He is amoral.

CUOMO: Right.

HARWOOD: But if you put enough pressure on him, he responds to the pressure. That's why he put out that statement saying somebody else is going to be President on January 20th.

CUOMO: But then he rebounds.

HARWOOD: And he said that before. CUOMO: Then he rebounds. Then he rebounds.

HARWOOD: That's right, that's right.

CUOMO: Then he rebounds.

HARWOOD: But it is - it is--

CUOMO: And that's why you have to worry about it.

HARWOOD: --it is a step - that's right. But it is a positive step--


HARWOOD: (INAUDIBLE) another question is how do you deter him, going forward, and if you can't deter him, then the (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Right. And John, your audio was getting screwed up there, but I think people got the point.

David, what do you make of the reporting, quickly, that he was calling senators not to make sure they were OK, but to say "Yes, yes, yes, the insurrection is going on, use it to delay the vote," calling Mike Lee, calling Tuberville, and saying "Use it."


CUOMO: Not only did he not stop it, not only is he lying about the National Guard, but he tried to make it worse.

AXELROD: Yes, well, I think it's more evidence that, you know, just how deeply he was involved in this, and how much he wanted - he sent them there, as his agents, those insurrectionists, the mob. He sent them down the street to raise hell to try and stop this process. And there is - and this is just proof of it.

And, look, he didn't - he had no sense that was - what was going on was wrong. He came out, as you recall, on Wednesday night, and told this crowd, this mob of - violent mob that ended up costing people their lives that they were very special and he loved them.

CUOMO: Right.

AXELROD: I mean, what more can you - what more can you say? Look, this is an unbelievable situation.

But this is kind of a hostage drama. The nation is the hostage. He is in the - he is holed up in the White House, and the goal is to get him to come out, without doing any additional harm. I mean I think that's job number one right now.

CUOMO: Yes. He knew it was wrong, and so did the brothers and sisters, who stood up for him, and lied, because they ran when people came. If they're just patriots that are going in there to reclaim an election that was stolen from them, why did you run?

John Harwood, David Axelrod, bless you both and thank you.



CUOMO: So look, I'm telling you, this has to be investigated. You have to take the people, who broke into our Capitol, and punish them, either as terrorists, or just criminals of federal-protected property.

Many suspects have already been nabbed, including a state lawmaker. Who else, which way does this need to go? We'll give you a road map with an expert, understanding exactly the cleaving to fact and law in this, next.








CUOMO: Reality is sinking in for those who somehow thought they were empowered to do what they did, in Trump's names. Reality for many came in the form of agents in FBI windbreakers.

Derrick Evans, the newly-elected West Virginia State Delegate, wasn't screaming for anyone to follow him, into a courthouse, in cuffs today. This was never just some party. This didn't just get a little out of control.

Five people are dead. Don't hear any Re-Trump-licans calling for 33 hearings into who's to blame for that, do you, right? This isn't Benghazi, why? Why? Not when it's your people, not when they vote for you, not when you need them angry?

These people bought the President's poison, and they came with bad intentions. The Feds say that includes Lonnie Coffman of Alabama. The charges state he came packing 11 homemade Molotov cocktails. Just concerned patriots?


The guy had an assault rifle and a handgun. He wasn't caught up in the moment. He parked his truck on Capitol Hill hours before the siege. Investigators say if his bombs had gone off, it would have had the effect of napalm.

Speaking of what could have happened, I want you to hear what was being shouted, as the mob stormed the Capitol. Listen to their intentions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell Pelosi we're coming for that (BEEP).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell (BEEP) Pelosi we're coming for her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're doing a lot now I guess (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (BEEP) traitor (BEEP). We're coming for her.


CUOMO: Remember that, because there were a lot of them, not just that one lady, screaming that they were coming for the Speaker of the House.

You see guys in tactical gear, running through the Capitol, with zip ties in their hands. It was all over these freaky fringe sites to "Come, Be ready, War," this, that, "Don't wear a mask."

It's not funny, when Richard Barnett decided to prop his feet up on Nancy Pelosi's office. He bragged about it to "The New York Times" because he's stupid.

I doubt he was saying the same when he got picked up back home in Little Rock. And these charges are going to be fierce. The envelope he stole from Pelosi's desk, that alone, is a federal crime, carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Then you got someone like Nick Ochs, Proud Boys, big-shot, probably felt, pretty good on his flight back to Hawaii, until he got arrested, at the airport in Honolulu. The interview he gave CNN about how easy it was to break the law, he can read all about how easy it's going to be to prosecute him in his indictment.

The DoJ announced 13 arrests so far. There are going to be a lot more. Some of these people arrested were armed. Some were likely just caught up in a frenzy. Both are wrong.

It's the same for the approximately 100 arrests we know that were made by the D.C. and Capitol police, none of whom the FBI says have any indication of a connection to Antifa. None!

So, how does the FBI go about a manhunt, and womanhunt, on this kind of scale? Let's bring in a vet, on the massive challenges, the massive investigation, and the massive importance.

We're going to do that right after this. Let's get after it.









CUOMO: Washington Post reports the FBI's investigating whether some rioters intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages. They certainly put out those messages on their fringe sites.

They point to photos, showing some of the rioters, carrying zip ties, plastic version of handcuffs, and one man arrested, carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds. We've also just learned at least one rioter kept texting people he wanted to kill Pelosi and brought - and bought hundreds of rounds of ammo.

Let's bring in Asha Rangappa.

First, one step sideways, it's good to see you and happy New Year.


CUOMO: Do you - how do you explain all the messages, all the threats, the ADL, all these extremists watch groups, going to the law enforcement, going to the government, saying, "Be careful, be careful, be careful," and they are still this unprepared, how do you explain it?

RANGAPPA: I think that's something that will need to be explained by the FBI.

Now, Chris, we learned from this summer, when there was a lot of discussion about Antifa, and whether they were a domestic terror threat, you know, the FBI is an investigative agency. It's not an Intelligence collection agency.

So, to the extent that it is looking at the activities of particular individuals, or even groups, it's going to be in service of an investigation into a potential violation of federal law. Otherwise, there are broad First Amendment protections.

So, they need information that there may be speech that is going to cross into criminal activity. And there is a buffer there. Having said that, as you just mentioned, it seems pretty clear that there were definite signals, on social media and, you know, in kind of forums, that many of these individuals were intending to cross that line.

And it's very puzzling how that did not make it onto the radar of the FBI to the degree that it would have increased its alert, made its law enforcement presence more ready, or available, to respond to that. So, I think that that is a big hole that Christopher Wray may need to

answer, in the coming weeks.

CUOMO: He's also going to have to answer why it seemed that these guys didn't deal with these people the way they dealt with all the people over the summer.

In terms of what this will take shape as, how big do you think this is going to get and how deep do you think the charges are going to go?

RANGAPPA: I think it's going to depend on the evidence that the FBI gets on the various individuals involved.

We've already seen from the charges that most of these people have been charged with knowingly entering on federal property without authority. That's trespassing. By virtue of just being there, illegally, they are guilty of that. But beyond that, the FBI is going to need evidence that they have violated other federal laws.

Other charges include violent entry, disorderly conduct, assault, possession of unregistered firearms. Where I think that this is going to escalate into higher charges is when the FBI gets documentary evidence. They have already received 17,000 tips.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: Just imagine, Chris, if this were happening 15 years ago, or 20 years ago, you may have had some press in there, but you would not have had the visual documentation of the people that are there.

These people were wandering around, taking selfies, taking videos. So, there is a lot of pictures, videos that people themselves posted on social media, and that's going to be incredibly helpful to the FBI. So people--

CUOMO: How bad can it get for somebody who entered the U.S. Capitol, saying that they wanted to hurt Members of Congress and seemed prepared to do so?

RANGAPPA: That is going to escalate the potential charges against them.


Just by virtue of being there, there will likely be, you know, especially if they posted things on social media, the FBI is going to have probable cause to access things, like their social media accounts, and get their communications, and that's going to go to "Were they posting things about intending to harm public officials? Were they trying to target, say, the Vice President of the United States?"

Some of these people are also going to have physical evidence that is going to be clear from, say, their photos, if they're wearing tactical gear or things that demonstrate an intent to detain to--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --take people hostage, right? So, I think there is a range here of people who are - we see this in the videos. There are some people just wandering around.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And there are people who are clearly there for a mission.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And especially people who were communicating with others in terms of what they intend to do there, that starts to cross into conspiracy.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: And that's where you can start to see higher-level charges for people who had coordinated and planned a targeted attempt to go in there and take particular violent action.

CUOMO: They're going to - they're going to carry some sentences, if they go all the way through with this, to prosecution. They're going to have people away for a long time. In federal time, you get no break.

Asha Rangappa, thank you. We'll be right back.


CUOMO: What a week! God bless you, my brothers and sisters, and thank you for giving me and the team the opportunity to live this history with you.