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Chris Cuomo, CNN LIVE PRIMETIME; Day One Of Trump's Second Impeachment Trial; Vote On Constitutionality Of Trial Passes; Trump Legal Team Sends Talking Points To GOP Senators; GOP Faces Trump Loyalty Test in Second Impeachment Trial. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired February 10, 2021 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN LIVE PRIMETIME: I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to another live hour of primetime. It's 1:00 a.m. in the East, 10:00 p.m. in the West. We're here because history is unfolding again before our eyes.
The days that follow, the day that just passed, it will be remembered for decades.
We have the only president, former president now, to be impeached twice, now on trial again. The trial will proceed because it is constitutional and that was backed up by a majority of a split jury.
Both sides formally opened their cases at noon Wednesday. We're going to break apart what happened in day one in just some moments. But first, here's a recap from Jeff Zeleny.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD.): This cannot be the future of America. We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SNR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Searing arguments steeped in history on the opening day of the Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump.
Tonight, Senate jurors answering a single question; whether it's constitutional to put a former president on trial.
RASKIN: These powers must apply even if the president commits his offenses in his final weeks in office. In fact, that's precisely when we need them the most because that's when elections get attacked.
ZELENY: The lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin, a Maryland congressman argued that it clearly was. All Senate Democrats and six Republicans agreed on a 56-44 vote advancing the proceedings to a full-blown trial. Several Republicans blasting the presentation from Trump's legal team.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY, (R-LA): The house managers made a compelling, cogent case and the president's team did not. ZELENY: Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana who voted against the majority of his party called it a disorganized, unconvincing case on constitutionality. The president's legal team opened with a rambling defense.
BRUCE CASTOR, TRUMP DEFENSE LAWYER: And you know, senators of the United States, they're not ordinary people. They're extraordinary people, in the technical sense, extraordinary people.
ZELENY: Raising eyebrows even among some Trump allies before a second lawyer stepped up and sharpened the argument.
DAVID SCHOEN, TRUMP DEFENSE LAWYER: At the end of the day, this is not just about Donald Trump or any individual, this is about our constitution and abusing the impeachment power for political gain.
ZELENY: To make their case, house prosecutors opened with the video, zeroing in on the president's own words.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.
ZELENY: And reviving terrifying images from the deadly rampage on the Capitol one month ago.
REP. JOE NEGUSE, (D-COLO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day is the framer's worst nightmare come to life.
Presidents can't enflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.
ZELENY: Now to convict President Trump, 17 Republicans would have to join with all Democrats, that is 11 more Republicans than voted that it was constitutional to impeach a former president. So certainly an open question and a very high bar.
But as the proceedings now head into their second phase, proving the case, certainly Democrats are confident about their case they are making and Republicans believe President Trump got off to a rocky start.
ZELENY (On Camera): Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Capitol Hill.
CUOMO: All right. Our thanks to Jeff Zeleny. Let's bring in Elliott Williams and Phil Bump. Good to have you both.
CUOMO: Elliot Williams, yes, you can criticize the quality and degree of the lawyering by Trump's team today. But you don't have to do that well when you have the jury in your pocket. What do you think the calculus is here for the next few days?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's exactly the main point, Chris. Look, a number -- 45 of (inaudible) or 44 today senators have indicated how they're inclined to vote.
But I think more importantly, Chris, 11 senators this morning, we started off today -- this isn't really getting talked about. We started off the day with a vote on the rules for the trial and 11 senators, Republican senators, voted against those rules, rules that were negotiated by Mitch McConnell, rules that have been approved by President Trump's own lawyers.
So what you saw is a major portion of the Republican caucus even more extreme procedurally than Trump's own lawyers are. So that's sort of what the house managers are up against.
So you're exactly right. They don't really need to put on much of a good case, they could basically just show up and read "Llama, Llama, Red Pajama," to the audience, and would still stand a good chance of winning. It comes down to a political matter.
And what is the accountability going to be in 2022 or beyond for these senators for these votes that they're casting? But no, you're exactly right. They didn't really need to make that strong a case because, in a very rare proceeding, the jury has spoken even prior to any argument having been made.
CUOMO: Phil Bump, what is the downside for a Republican votes to acquit this president?
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it depends, right. It depends on what the longtime ramifications are of the events of January 6th, it depends upon who that Republican is and the state that Republican represents.
One of the things that I think is worth remembering is there are people today, yesterday, tomorrow, who are still being arrested by the FBI for their involvement.
There are still major players who are involved in the events of January 6th who are still at large and who have not yet been arrested and against whom the FBI and other law enforcement officials are still building cases. There's a lot more to be learned about what happened that day.
And over time, I think the president's team runs the risk of having this look even worse for the long term than it does now in the short- term. And that may then have implications for the senators who chose to look the other way at what Trump had done to cause January 6th to happen.
That may be something which poisons the well to some extent down the line with these votes having already been taken.
CUOMO: What do you think about the threat of criminal prosecution after this, Elliot? The DOJ, obviously, is making their case as you do have a lot of the people that they charge saying yes, I went there because of Trump.
In a political context, that is -- I believe -- carries weight in terms of the case they're making politically. If the DOJ were to try to pursue this criminally isn't Trump in a better position in a criminal case than in a political case?
WILLIAMS: Yes, he is in a better position in a criminal case because in a criminal case you'd have to prove criminal contempt. That he criminally intended to have the violence, the rioting take place at the Capitol which is just a higher bar than you find in an impeachment proceeding.
I think people are very -- because I think we live in a very criminal society -- almost for lack of a better way to put it -- people put things in terms of is it a crime or is it? And many people have put impeachment through this lens, is it a crime or is it not? It's a lower standard for impeachment.
And prosecutors would not have to meet the same bar to find Trump culpable for his conduct.
Now look, by any measure, President Trump -- even if you don't use the word incited -- these people would not have been at the Capitol were it not for President Trump directing them to be there.
He's the first person who said the words, January 6th, he's the first person who said be there, be wild. He's the one who didn't call them off when they got there and a number of people at the scene of the crime were saying our president wants us here.
And there's even one person quoted, maybe in an article by Phil, saying it's time for us to go home because the president wants us to go home.
And so, certainly, for the standard of impeachment which is a lower standard, as I said, than a criminal case there's no doubt that any rational person looking at this could say that these people were there because the president sent them.
CUOMO: You know, Phil, they were at a "Stop the Steal" rally, which is inherently a lie.
Mitch McConnell said today -- I want to get the language right -- that this is a vote of conscience for Republicans. Well, first of all, where's his conscience?
The only reason they had this delay issue is because of him, he asked to move this trial; the Democrats wanted to hold it before Trump was out of office. He said no, no, no, let's give it its due time, he never said there was any propriety issue.
But in terms of this being a vote of conscience, that seems to open the door that you could vote against the constitutionality of it and for the conviction of Trump. Likely?
BUMP: Not terribly likely. I think it's pretty clear that the votes which have taken so far on this issue have largely been partisan votes.
That Republicans are very wary of going against their base. They've seen what happens, for example, when representative Liz Cheney opted to vote for impeachment and the blow back she's facing in Wyoming, a lot of it lot instigated by President Trump and his allies.
I think it's probably unlikely that there are a lot of people who are really sitting down and studying the law and coming to the determination that perhaps this is unconstitutional and yet, they may still vote to convict President Trump.
At the end of the day, the fundamental issue here is that the House impeachment managers really need to make a broad case -- in the same way that they did with the first impeachment trial which Donald Trump and the Republicans tried to very narrowly make about this phone call with the president of Ukraine -- they're very narrowly trying to make the events of January 6th about the speech that President Trump gave that morning.
And I think it's incumbent upon the House impeachment managers to make the case broadly no, that's not what actually this is about. It is about, as Elliot just said, it is about the broad trend of what President Trump had been doing.
And I think that then will make it easier for Republicans to be able to potentially say, OK, you know what, actually that is a valid point if we're looking at this as an incitement, as something broader than just what happened that morning -- maybe you might get some people who'll peel away beyond who we already expect to peel away.
But it's highly unlikely, this is a deeply partisan thing. Impeachment is a political act, it is not criminal in the sense that we are assessing guilt. It really is -- it comes down to politics. And we're seeing that reflected in what we expect to happen.
CUOMO: And no -- and in that room, if they were going to see it more expansively, you'd have a room filled with Republicans who never said in any strong way that any of those other things that Trump said or asked for were wrong. And now they'd be saying they're wrong, that's tough for them to swallow also.
CUOMO: Elliot Williams, Philip Bump; thank you, fellas. Appreciate it. Now you have this question.
If this trial is such a slam dunk win for Trump, if you want to call it that, why was he so angry watching his new lawyer in action? Now you could also ask, why do we even care?
Let's bring in Anthony Scaramucci for some perspective on where the party is and what this proposition is for them, and this existential threat from the right. Is that enough?
CUOMO: Donald Trump demands fealty from Republicans. It means something that is not loyalty; loyalty is you do for me, I'll do for you.
It's not what Trump's proposition is; it's do for me or else. OK. And that comes complete with telling friendly senators what he wants them to say.
Remember, this is the man who during the insurrection, instead of doing something to stop it, tried to contact Republicans to delay the vote. All right. That tells you a lot about how he felt about what was happening and what his duty was, or not.
CNN obtained talking points sent by Trump's team, which is calling itself "The 45 Office."
They include --
"The entire impeachment trial is unconstitutional. The U.S. Senate lacks jurisdiction over the 45th president because he holds no public office from which he can be removed. And the constitution limits the authority of the senate in cases of impeachment to removal from office."
That's not completely true, but whatever.
The constitution says the opposite -- "The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments." The problem is that it is not conditional, you see.
For Trump's argument -- and a lot of scholars make this argument -- but for it to be dispositive, for it to be beyond reproach, it would mean that the constitution, the framers thought about these eventualities and made these different determinations.
It is reasonable to believe that they would think about people quitting when you impeach them because it's happened. So they had time to change this and they never did, they never made it conditional.
Now that's before you get to the fact that a bipartisan vote just blew this idea up, so it's over.
Trump's team goes on to say --
"What the Democrats are really trying to do here is change the U.S. Constitution for the sole purpose of vindictively punishing one man and one man alone. This is about political vengeance." No, that's what the "Stop the Steal" rally was. That's what your calls to have people go down to the Capitol were about. Vengeance, that's what it was. That's why you didn't stop it.
The law and order ex-president is nothing if not consistent for seeing himself as a victim. Not the people who are dead or the more than 100 cops who were injured. He doesn't talk about them much, you notice that? But he says these are special people whom he loves that hurt and killed them.
Another talking point --"The Democrats aren't just putting President Trump on trial, they're putting the First Amendment on trial. Like all Americans, the 45th president is protected by the First Amendment" -- especially for political speech, very strong protection.
"Nothing President Trump said on January 6th was inciteful let alone impeachable and, in fact, President Trump urged supporters to exercise their rights peacefully and patriotically."
Now the last part of that is cherry-picking. Trump told the crowd to fight 20 times that morning. Having a right to say something doesn't mean that what you said is right and comes without consequence. And that's exactly what impeachment is. Consequence; political, non criminal, non-statutory, non-Brandenburg V. Ohio imminency of violence. Consequence.
Plus the rioters themselves say they attacked the Capitol because Trump told them to and they still support Trump.
How do we know? We've asked their lawyers. Remember.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT BRODEN, ATTORNEY FOR GARRETT MILLER: I've referred to him as a cult leader. Donald Trump was a cult leader.
ALBERT WATKINS, LAWYER FOR QANON SHAMAN, JACOB CHANSLEY: For people like Jake, for millions of Americans, they truly did hang on every word of their president.
ENRIQUE LATOISON, ATTORNEY FOR ROBERT SANFORD: He's the commander-in- chief telling them to fight and to stand up for your country and to do all these things.
EDUARDO BALAREZO, ATTORNEY FOR MATTHEW RYAN MILLER: The only reason any of those people went to the Capitol to storm it and to do whatever they did there was because Trump demanded it, Trump asked for it, and Trump wanted it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And those clients support the president today. All right? So they're not people looking to throw him under the bus. That's the point. How do you overcome that and say yes, no, he had nothing to do with
it? How? How? When the people who did it say differently.
Then there's the claim that -- "Compared to the incendiary rhetoric we've seen radical Democrats use this past year, what President Trump said was nothing."
(Kevin McCarthy, Captioned): "The president bears the responsibility for (the) attack on Congress by mob rioters."
CUOMO: The president needs to understand that --
(Lindsey Graham, Captioned): "His actions were the problem."
(Mitch McConnell, Captioned): "The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president" -- not my words.
That was Kevin McCarthy who said all that. Lindsey Graham who said that. Mitch McConnell who said that.
According to Trump's team -- "A true and actual timeline of the attack on January 6th shows that the bad actors who conducted these horrific activities planned, plotted and initiated their crimes before President Trump even started speaking."
Yes, if you limit it to that one day. But he'd been saying these things for weeks which helped motivate the plans.
Multiple DOJ indictments of the rioters, including those from some of the most dangerous Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, these other crap shops -- so called bad actors -- came ready to attack because of Trump spending weeks and months telling them to. Or them using it as an opportunity to exploit the animus for their own goals.
"Democrats can't have it both ways here. They can't both claim that President Trump's January 6th's speech was 'singularly responsible' for the attack on the Capitol while also claiming that his political commentary from the two proceeding months played a role."
Why not? The only people trying to focus just on the January 6th speech are the Trumpers.
In fact, here's the context of that "singularly responsible" line. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D-R.I.), HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: It was only the bravery and sacrifice of the police who suffered deaths and injuries as a result of President Trump's actions that prevented greater tragedy.
At trial, we will prove with overwhelming evidence that President Trump is singularly and directly responsible for inciting the assault on the Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So was Tuesday's GOP vote against the constitutionality of this impeachment purely about fealty to Trump or the senators maintaining powers for themselves? Let's take this loyalty question to none other than Anthony Scaramucci.
It's good to see you, thank you, especially at this time. Appreciate you.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FMR. TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Good morning, (inaudible).
CUOMO: Is your party dead? Do you think you're going to have a Ross Perot situation in 2024 where guys like you back somebody else?
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, no, the party's dying. It's on the hospital gurney and it hasn't quite gotten into intensive care yet and there's a group of doctors trying to figure out what to do.
But the one thing that we both learned in law school, Chris, was the 'but for' causation. And so, plain and simple, but for Donald J. Trump, there's no violence at the Capitol.
If he accepts the free and fair election that took place on November 3rd, he graciously welcomes President Elect Biden to the White House, we don't have five people dead, we don't have the Capitol wrecked or the insurrection or the threat of violence. Period, the end.
CUOMO: So he was the cause --
SCARAMUCCI: So the fact that you've got --
CUOMO: So he was the cause in fact. But for him, it wouldn't have happened.
CUOMO: What about the higher sense of scrutiny that doesn't necessarily apply to a political setting but just for the sake of argument.
Do you believe he was also the proximate cause? That it was foreseeable based on what he was saying that he should have known it was reasonable to assume this might happen?
SCARAMUCCI: There's no question about that. You could look through his tweets, you could look at his tweets that day. You could look at his actions during the insurrection, which obviously will come out with witness testimony.
You could look at the fact that he failed to call the National Guard in at the appropriate time after pleas from both Kevin McCarthy and Governor Hogan.
Chris, you could stop and look at the whole thing but we both know that he's the 'but for' causation.
So now you have Republican senators that know that, they probably also went to law school like you and I, and they're not going to vote that. They're not going to vote their conscience or uphold their oath to the constitution for reasons of political expediency and political fear.
They still fear him and they fear they'll be primaried, there'll be money spent against them. And so what they're hoping to do is just sweep this under the rug.
Guys like Marco Rubio -- the first chance I get, I'm going to vote to end the trial and nobody's getting a vaccine as a result of this trial.
No, you've got the constitution of the United States under threat. You should put this guy lights out and convict him to send a message to people how seriously we take our democracy. Our democracy is more important than any of your political expedient moves. But they're not going to do that.
So they're on the hospital gurney. There's at least five to eight percent of the Republicans that are working right now -- there was a session last week, there'll be a session next week -- about breaking off from that party, creating a new center right party to weaken and effectively liquidate that party.
And so -- and I think that has to happen, Chris. Unless they get their stuff together and they start leading and they start explaining to the radical side of the party that what they're doing is classically un-American and we're not going to accept a form of violence as a result of a disagreement over electoral process.
CUOMO: Can one of the men or women who vote to acquit win back your heart if they don't hold Trump to account for what happened on January 6th -- arguably one of the worst days in our history. Can one of those men or women come back to you at some point and say all right, I did the wrong thing there but I'm still better for you than the guys on the left, come home?
SCARAMUCCI: OK. So I'm a Christian and I obviously believe in redemption and I've admitted my series of mistakes. But I think that this is actually a very big test for them, this is a crucible.
It's not to say I wouldn't say hello to those people or possibly forgive them, but I don't think you can support them politically from this day forward.
I think this would be the lodestar of their cowardice and the lodestar of their un-American behavior to support Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the most un-American president that we've had in the modern era. He incited insurrection.
He's the only one that you and I can think of that didn't accept the peaceful transfer of power as a result of the electoral process. That's a historic tradition that goes back several centuries.
So to me, no, I think you can't support them politically. I would wish them well and want them and their families to do well but I don't see how you support somebody politically if they don't see how important this vote is.
And here's the good news. There'll likely be an acquittal but you're moving hearts and minds of the American people and the majority of the American people know the truth. And I think that's where the new coalition lies for America.
CUOMO: Your party is 78 and 19. Although that doesn't really work out. But --
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, that's good. But remember, the party is only 30 percent of the registrations, Chris. So let's say it is 78, 19; 30 percent, 80 -- that's 24 percent of the American people. That means that 76 percent of the American people realize how wrong this is.
And hopefully we can expand that, maybe we can get that over 80 percent. And I think that's one of the purposes of this trial this week. CUOMO: Do you care how Trump feels about the trial?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, no. Listen, I personally don't care. I know that that's part of the theater, that's part of the drama of it.
And I know he's probably leaking to people at CNN how incensed he is at these people because he's trying to gin up that response and he's trying to fire up the base. I get his personality. So no, I don't care.
But I understand why it's being leaked, how incensed he is. Because that will scare people like Marco Rubio and these guys that are -- they're just basic cowards trying to keep their jobs, Chris.
CUOMO: Anthony Scaramucci, I appreciate you. Thank you very much on this important day.
SCARAMUCCI: Thanks. Good to be here.
CUOMO: Senator Rand Paul spent his time as a juror doodling on day one, during video of January 6th. He was a victim of this attack on our democracy.
So was the lead impeachment manager, who powerfully shared his account on the senate floor. Something we should all listen to closely, next.
CUOMO: You know, when you think about January 6th, it should be something that you take personally. It's certainly personal to every single member of the congress that was in office that day, or in the office that day.
The message, was delivered in an extraordinary moment of emotion, passion, pain by Representative and lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin. Let's take a moment and watch these unforgettable human sentiments.
SENATOR JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Senator, Mr. President --to close I want to say something personal about the stakes of this decision whether President Trump can stand trial and be held to account for inciting insurrection against us.
This trial is personal indeed for every senator, for every member of the house, every manager, all of our staff, the capital police, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, maintenance and custodial crews, the print journalists and TV people who were here, and all of our families and friends.
I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is and how personal is the loss of democracy too.
Distinguished members of the senate, my youngest daughter Tabitha was there with me on Wednesday on January 6th. It was the day after we buried her brother, our son Tommy -- the saddest day of our lives.
Also there is my son-in-law Hank, who is married to our oldest daughter Hannah. And I consider him a son too, even though he eloped with my daughter and didn't tell us what they were going to do. But it was in the middle of COVID-19.
But the reason they came with me that Wednesday January 6th was because they wanted to be together with me in the middle of devastating week for our family.
And I told them I had to go back to work. Because we were counting electoral votes that day on January 6th. It was our constitutional duty. And I invited them instead to come with me to witness this historic event, the peaceful transfer of power in America.
Then they said they heard that President Trump was calling on his followers to come to Washington to protest and they asked me directly, would it be safe? Would it be safe? And I told them, of course it should be safe. This is the Capitol.
Steny Hoyer, our majority leader had kindly offered me the use of his office on the House floor, because I was one of the managers that day and we were going through our brief. So Tabitha and Hank were with me in Steny's office, as colleagues dropped by to console us about the loss of our middle child, Tommy, our beloved tommy.
Mr. Neguse and Mr. Cicilline actually came to see me that day, dozens of members, lots of Republicans, lots of Democrats came to see me. and I felt a sense of being lifted up from the agony. And I won't forget their tenderness. And through the tears I was working on a speech for the floor when we would all be together in joint session. And I wanted to focus on unity, when we met in the house. I quoted Abraham Lincoln's famous 1838 lyceum speech where he said that if division and destruction ever come to America, it won't come from abroad. It will come from within, said Lincoln.
And in that same speech, Lincoln passionately deplored mob violence. This was right after the murder of Elijah Lovejoy, the abolitionist newspaper editor. And he -- Lincoln deplored mob violence. And he deplored mob rule.
And he said it will lead to tyranny and despotism in America. That was a speech I gave that day, after the house very graciously and warmly welcomed me back.
And Tabitha and Hank came with me to the floor, and they watched it from the gallery and when it was over, they went back to that office, Steny's office off of the house floor.
RASKIN: They didn't know that the House had been breach yet, and that an insurrection, a riot or a coup had come to Congress. And by the time we learned about it, about what was going on, it was too late. I couldn't get out there to be with them in that office.
And all around me people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye.
Members of Congress in the House anyway were removing their congressional pins, so they wouldn't be identified by the mob as they try to escape the violence.
Our new chaplain got up and said a prayer for us and we were told to put our gas masks on. And then there was a sound I would never forget, the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram. The most haunting sound I ever heard and I will never forget it
My chief of staff, Julia Tagen (ph) was with Tabitha and Hank locked and barricaded in that office, the kids hiding under the desk placing what they thought were their final texts, and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes. They thought they were going to die.
My son-in-law had never even been to the Capitol before. And when they were finally rescued, over an hour later by Capitol officers and we were together, I hugged them, and I apologized and I told my daughter Tabitha, who's 24 and a brilliant algebra teacher in Teach for America now.
I told her how sorry I was and I promised her that IT would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me. You know what she said? She said "Dad, I don't want to come back to the Capitol ever again."
Of all the terrible brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then that one hit me the hardest. That and watching someone use an American flag pole, with the flag still on it to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly, tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life.
People died that day, officers ended up with head damage and brain damage. People's eyes were gouged. An officer had a heart attack. An officer lost three fingers that day. Two officers have taken their own lives.
Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America, we cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refused to accept the will of the people under the constitution of the United States.
Much less can we create a new January exception, in our precious, beloved constitution that prior generations have died for and fought for so that corrupt presidents have several weeks to get away with whatever it is they wanted to.
History does not support a January exception in any way, so why would we invent one for the future?
We close Mr. President and reserve the time.
CUOMO: Why was Jamie Raskin's message so resonant? Is it just that it's sad that he lost his son, that his family lost his son? Certainly. And that he was so vivid, and emotional, and poignant in his recitation of what happened that day. No.
Yes, he was eloquent. Yes, it's painful. And I really feel for him and his family about what they went through, with his son which by all accounts I hope that my son is half of what he was.
CUOMO: The loss was so terrible. But I think the power of it that we have forgotten goes to a one word, three-letter question that really defines all of the confusion right now, all of the division -- why? Why do we do this? Why do we endure?
Why are you a Senator? Why are you in Congress? Why do you feel the way you do when you listen to Jamie Raskin? Why does it touch it your heart in it reminds you of your interconnectedness and your interdependence to other people and that they're pain could be yours. There but for the grace. And that is why there is a deeper connection.
Or is there not? I think that that is the scariest proposition about this week, we know what's going to happen in all likelihood, the question is why it will happen and what that says about us.
This is not just another moment in political history, it's not a bitter election, where the battle of ideas has gotten a little off. It's not that. They came to kill the people in the Capitol. And they were us, what does that mean about what we are about in this country?
Let's take a break. We'll come back and discuss what we will see on Wednesday of the Trump trial.
CUOMO: Let's bring in the professor, Ron Brownstein. You would say that the demographics explain what the Republicans are holding on to with this fealty to Trump. You've argued many times here and brilliantly at the Atlantic and elsewhere, that it is a feudal (ph) race. It is a race of attrition, that diversity will be they're playing to white fright.
But is that what explains what will most likely be an acquittal, even in the face of damning facts?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. look, I think history will have no trouble understanding what happened on January 6th as the almost inevitable culmination of the Trump presidency and the distillation of Trumpism, which is mobilization of the portion of white America most uneasy about the way the country is changing for a kind of unfiltered to the point of violence defense of their quote, "right" unquote to run the country even if they are no longer the majority. Almost by definition, in the way Trump presents it if they are not the majority it is being stolen.
I still think the most important words that he said, not only that Wednesday but earlier was this is our country. And they're trying to take it away from us through fraud and stealing and that is ultimately the emotion that produced the insurrection and n the riot.
CUOMO: Let me ask you this, based on the disposition as it stands right now, they acquit then WHAT? Aren't they inextricably tied to Trump and what he wants for this party to look like in the midterms and then into 2024 because if the fear is being primaried from the right, he pulls the strings on that whenever he wants, no?
BROWNSTEIN: I think I lost you.
CUOMO: You can't hear me now? Ron? I feel like we're talking past each other.
You want me to take a break and then we'll come back to Ron on the other side? That was a little conversation with myself in my head.
CUOMO: I hear you now Ron. Do you hear me? No? Fine, let's go to break.
CUOMO: My brothers and sisters, we will not be deterred. We have the professor, Ron Brownstein back now. Thank you brother. Sorry about that.
BROWNSTEIN: No worries.
CUOMO: We were at the point in the discussion of, if they vote to acquit, what does that say about the party and where it is headed?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, it is not happening in a vacuum, you know. I mean Republicans in the House chose not to sanction Marjorie Taylor Greene to in effect create a moral equivalence between her offense of all the things that she said and the offense of Liz Cheney voting to sanction Trump for his actions.
We are seeing state party sanction those -- censure those Republican who took any step against them. We had the reports of the ties between the Republican Party in Michigan and the militias there. We have Arizona state Republican in essence threatening violence, when the state did not sanction Maricopa County over the election.
In all of these ways, you have to wonder whether the party is going to kind of pull out of this direction. A wave in states of bills in Republican controlled states to make it tougher to vote based on Trump's discredited claims of fraud. The likelihood of a new wave of gerrymanders to try to maintain control in places like Georgia and North Carolina and Texas, that are evolving demographically away from them.
I keep, you know, going back to this point, for most of our history, whites without a college degree and white Christian who are majority of the population, they are now both a little over 40 percent of the population.
And a big share of each of those groups have been very responsive to Trump's appeal to kind of racial anxiety and unease about change.
If so many of them are open to those appeals when they're 42 percent of the population today, what makes you think that they're going to be less open to it when it's 38 percent of the population in 2025 or 2024.
So I worry that unless we have leadership that explicitly tries to pull out of this nosedive, as I've written, I think the next decade, the 2020s could be the most difficult for America since the 1850s.
CUOMO: But if the threat from the right, if you don't appease the base and you'll lose in a primary, how real is that in how many places?
BROWNSTEIN: It's real. Yes look I mean that is real. Here is the conundrum Republicans are in. If you look at all the polling that's out CNN, from ABC/Washington Post, even the brand new poll from CBS about three-quarters of Republicans basically still support Trump, think he did nothing wrong, think the election was stolen, think he is within his rights and don't blame him for what happened on January 6th.
But roughly depending on the question, between a 5th and a quarter and sometimes 30 percent of the Party do you think that he bears blame, do object to the way Republicans have been handling themselves since the election.
BROWNSTEIN: And so while that balance of power makes it tough to stand up within the party, if even a portion of that 20 or 25 percent pull away from the GOP, because they think it is tolerating and codding --
CUOMO: Then they've got trouble.
BROWNSTEIN: -- that is (INAUDIBLE) result.
CUOMO: All right.