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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
President Trump Impeached for Second Time with Support from 10 House Republicans, Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 13, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks very much to all of you for joining us. AC 360 with Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening, seven days after choosing to be the first President to ever to incite insurrection against the country and the Constitution he took an oath to defend, the President now has another first to his name, the first and only President ever to be impeached twice. Let's let that sad and shameful fact register for just a moment.
There have been just four presidential impeachment in the entire history of this nation. Donald John Trump now owns half of them and will follow him to his grave, that will.
The face you see on your screen right now, that is the face that future generations of school kids will see when they go online and search the word impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The ayes are 232, the nays are 197. A resolution is adopted without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And with that, another shameful superlative for the man who likes to boast about having the best and most of everything. Well, he now has received the most votes to impeach in modern history, more than against Bill Clinton in 1998, more than against him just 13 months ago.
And in a sign of just how serious his actions had been, the vote took place with troops in full combat gear in the Halls of Congress because the fire this President has been playing with and stoking has not yet burned out. Look at those images.
This is the first time that members of the Armed Forces have been garrisoned at the Capitol since the Civil War. Imagine that.
The deployment is three times the size of the American presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria combined. Let me just repeat that. There are more troops in the nation's capital
right now than there are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria combined.
All because one man was too small and too weak to admit he lost; too small, too weak to accept the results of a free and fair election.
Remarkably, despite having to run from a mob of people who wanted to kill their colleagues, hang the Vice President, a mob which killed a Capitol Police officer and attacked and injured scores of others, 197 men and women chose not to hold the President accountable today.
Before we get to their votes today, I want to play some video just to remind viewers of what these lawmakers in both parties were all facing last week, and it's important to take it in again because to hear many Republican lawmakers say you would have thought this whole episode was just another outrage of the week from the Trump administration.
I want to warn you, you're about to see the mob attacking police, throwing a chair at one officer and cheering when he is hit.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
CARLSON: Those are the MAGA folks who love law and order says the President. This is what the President of the United States unleashed with his lies, with some even literally chanting, "The President sent us" when told to leave. It is what 147 Senators and House Members abetted with their cynical and factually unfounded challenge to the election, which had already been certified by all 50 states.
The President had his day in court, let's be clear. He had many days in court, dozens of courts over and over again in state after state. He had no proof.
Five people died in the insurrection which the President was reportedly too busy watching on TV to stop even if he'd wanted to which he clearly did not. The reporting indicates and commonsense backs it up, he was gleeful. He loved what was happening. He said he loved the attackers after watching their mayhem, their violation of our democracy.
A police officer was killed by this President's followers. Others were beat up, crushed and tasered. People who wrapped themselves in the flag, using a flagpole to beat one officer, while others dressed in paramilitary gear with zip ties searched for lawmakers to take hostage or execute or as the crowd chanted about Vice President Pence, sought to lynch.
So consider all of that, as you listen to some of the Republicans, some of their reasons today for not holding the President accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JEFF VAN DREW (R-NJ): Nearly half the country supports our current President. This takes their voice away.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I'm not even sure what that means. That is New Jersey
Republican Jeff Van Drew, one of 147 Senators and House members who voted just last week to reject the election results, now arguing about taking people's voices away. That is rich, but not as rich as this guy today arguing for unity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Today is a moment for Members of Congress to put aside partisan politicking and place people over power.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this divisive impeachment and realize that dividing America will not save this Republic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That is Madison Cawthorn, voice of unity. He too voted to overturn the election, not his own victory, of course, first time, elected only Joe Biden's. Apparently there was no fraud and his election victory.
He also addressed the rally on January 6, clearly someone not concerned about partisan politicking and divisiveness.
COOPER: Oh and yes, Election Night, here is what this modern day Gandhi's campaign tweeted out, "Cry more, lib." Because you know, unity.
There's also this excuse from another one of the 147, who spewed lie after lie about election fraud in support of the President even after the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JODEY ARRINGTON (R-TX): The criminals who stormed the Capitol that day acted on their own volition. They are responsible for their actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Personal responsibility, he says. Yes, absolutely. Not for the man who literally told Proud Boys to stand back and stand by and then told the insurrectionists to march and pretend that he would be marching with them.
And if that's not enough, there's Jim Jordan, who simply lies, in this case accusing Democrats of being no better than the man who sent killers to the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): So, Democrats can say, quote, "I just don't even know why there aren't uprisings all over the country," while there are uprisings happening around the country, but they impeach the President of the United States for saying "peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Seriously, that might be the most grotesque case of what about-ism ever on record. The attack that killed five people outside the doors of where Mr. Jordan was saying that and could have killed many, many more, and this guy is apparently talking about overwhelmingly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests from the summer.
I'll say it again. This attack nearly killed some of the people standing next to him today while he was making that comparison.
As for what happens next? Well, it should surprise no one that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today took steps to delay a Senate trial until after the President leaves office and that's the new Majority Leader's problem.
As for the President, he spoke today, make of it what you will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week. I want to thank the hundreds of millions of incredible American citizens who have responded to this moment with calm, moderation and grace.
We will get through this challenge, just like we always do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Praising people for calm, moderation and grace. If only he knew what those words meant.
Let's bring in CNN chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta; chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; and chief national correspondent, John King.
Jim, the President's statement tonight, obviously, I mean, it's in laughable contrast to what he actually said moments after watching the mayhem, which he is now saying he is condemning.
I just want to play a clip from that -- and just let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side.
We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel.
But go home and go home in peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, why should anyone -- I mean, no one -- I guess the irritating thing about his statement tonight is that it just allows Republicans to say oh, look, see, he has changed his mind. He is, you know, he is really he is saying the right things. He has learned his lesson, which is a joke.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. He is giving some Republicans in the Senate now, no question about it, when it comes to this Senate impeachment trial.
But Anderson, we do know from talking to our sources that the President's advisers and lawyers have been telling him, he has to clean up his language, he has to condemn violence.
He faces the real threat of prosecution for inciting violence after he leaves office. He faces the real prospect of being sued, potentially, by family members of the victims of that violence at the Capitol.
But beyond that, I mean, Anderson, just to give you a little bit of a glimpse behind the scenes here at the White House, you know, when I walked into the Press Office earlier this evening, they were packing up their boxes. They were getting ready to go before January 20th.
And when you talk to officials here, they weren't even sure whether or not they were going to be able to put the President's video online because he is facing so many restrictions and dealing with so many restrictions from social media companies. That goes to show you how dysfunctional this White House is right now.
And Anderson, the reason why the President has been banned on social media, because he incites violence and that is the big lie in the video that he released tonight. He was saying, well, my supporters would never believe in political violence.
Inciting political violence and condoning political violence has been one of the through lines of this presidency, from calling the press the enemy of the people, saying very fine people on both sides after Charlottesville, calling immigrants you know who are part of a caravan that they're part of an invasion. All of those episodes, you know, were followed by acts of violence, and the President has been responsible for that throughout his presidency.
ACOSTA: And so, Anderson, you know, this was an attempt to do some cleanup on the part of the President. He knows full well by looking at what's happening up on the Capitol that there is an army of people defending the Capitol right now. All of that is because of him.
COOPER: Gloria, you know, he is the first President to be impeached twice, biggest bipartisan vote for presidential impeachment. I was going to ask you, where does his legacy stand tonight? I'm not sure he cares about his legacy. I think what he cares more about is his brand and the potential to make money down the road.
But maybe they're both linked in the same. Maybe the legacy and the brand are essentially the same, and they are both tarnished to say the least. I mean --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well --
BORGER: They're both in tatters. And I think that, maybe you're right, I think the President probably cares whether he is going to be able to make money or pay his more than $300 million in debt once he gets out of office.
But when you look back on his legacy, the two main things people are going to -- in history are going to know about Donald Trump, yes, he got 73 million votes the second time -- is COVID, the inability to manage this pandemic, and right now today, more than 380,000 Americans are dead, and he has paid absolutely no attention to it for months.
And then the second thing is, as you pointed out, he has been impeached twice because he lied about an election, he lied to his supporters, and you know, started violence. I mean, you know, inspired violence and an insurrection on the Capitol and refused to admit that the lie was false that Joe Biden was freely and fairly elected.
So he will be known as a sore loser and somebody who could not help the country in a time of great need.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, it is interesting, John, you know, Lindsey Graham has a number of occasions now called the President, a President of consequence. And I mean, yes, deadly consequences, dire consequences.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a trial won't happen before Inauguration Day, at which point, he will be Minority Leader. Is that -- I mean, do you think part of that is he wants to hand this over to Chuck Schumer? Do you think McConnell will actually vote to convict the President?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, let's take it in order. Hand over to Chuck Schumer, there is no question. There's no question especially Democrats will say Mitch McConnell is passing the buck here, by not organizing the Senate trial right away.
Joe Biden will be inaugurated one week from today. He will be President at this time, next week. So there will be legitimate understandable criticism of Mitch McConnell saying why don't you get started tomorrow with the organizational moves and then start the trial as quickly as you can?
But let me take a bit of a contrarian view here. We know Mitch McConnell is very mad at the President. We know 10 House Republicans today voted to impeach the President. Republicans in the Senate are much less Trumpy, if you will, and they have much more anger right now. They are much more willing to break from this President and it will take 67 votes to convict.
With the Democrats running the trial, that means the two Georgia senators will be sworn in by then. So instead of needing 19 votes from 48 to 67, the Democrats will need 17 votes, still a steep, steep climb, but a less steep climb.
And so yes, Chuck Schumer is going to have to run the trial, but watch Mitch McConnell. Remember when Liz Cheney said it's a vote of conscience that was a greenlight. That was the sign that she was going to turn, a vote to impeach the President, and she was trying to embolden others.
Mitch McConnell says he has not made up his mind. I would take that as the very same thing. Mitch McConnell is counting. He is looking around. He wants to hold this President accountable. Will he have the courage? We will see soon enough.
But this is not good for the President of the United States that Mitch McConnell is not committing to do what he did last time, which was bury this thing.
COOPER: Yes. So Gloria, so I mean, John's math is right. And it is something that's worth repeating, a supermajority is needed to convict the President in the Senate, 17 Republicans would be needed to join them.
BORGER: Right. So it's a long shot right now. But as John says, we have to watch Mitch McConnell. I think we also have to watch Donald Trump. We have to see what Donald Trump does over the next week. I mean, you never know, from day to day.
I mean, today, he did another video, where he seemed a little more conciliatory, even though he said he was shocked by the violence, which I don't see how that could be since he was the one who inspired it.
But who knows what he is going to do. Who knows what his pardons are going to be coming up? You know, there are there are things that Donald Trump can do over the next seven days that could add to the Bill of Indictment. We just don't know. We just -- you know, that could make some Republicans say, wait a minute. Enough. We have to go on the record for history against him.
COOPER: Jim, is he actually doing the job of President? I mean, is there anything he is actually doing, other than trying to you know, save himself now.
ACOSTA: No, he is not. I mean, he's been giving out, you know, I guess, participation trophies if you want to call them in the form of these a Medal of Freedoms he's been handing out to his friends and allies and apologists and so on.
ACOSTA: The head coach of the New England Patriots backed out of one of those ceremonies and said, listen, I don't want one of these Presidential Medal of Freedoms. I mean, did you ever think something like that whatever happen over here at the White House?
But Anderson, even his own advisers know that he is going down in the history books as a villain, as a scoundrel, as an outcast and a pariah. I talked to one adviser earlier today who said, Donald Trump is going to be known as somebody who destroyed everything because of his lies, and that when people tell their children about the importance of telling the truth, and we've all been wondering, how do we explain to our kids what's happening right now?
One of the President's own advisers was saying, this is what you're going to tell your children. You don't want to lie all the time, because you might end up like Donald Trump.
COOPER: Thanks, everybody. Just ahead tonight, new reporting on the President trying to pardon himself and how quickly that might happen.
First, the man who warned us all the last time that unless removed from office, the President would do something dire again, House Intelligence Committee Chairman and lead impeachment manager, Congressman Adam Schiff.
Chairman Schiff, you were front and center for the first impeachment more than a year ago. This time, there were some Republican votes. How much different did it feel?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I think it was very different a year ago. Today, we stood in the same place in the House chamber that was almost overrun by a mob incited to violence by the President.
We moved with incredible alacrity to address this danger that the President poses every day he remains. That's much different than the lengthy investigation we did of the President's last abuses of power.
But this felt very familiar in the sense of the President's character or lack of character has been known from day one. There's nothing that's surprising that has taken place. He is who he is, as we, as we pointed out during the trial, and the odds that he would again, try to cheat in the election we said were a hundred percent, and that was all too tragically the case.
So there's certainly a lot of familiarity about it, but the magnitude of the harm to our country is just beyond comprehension.
COOPER: I was really surprised by, I guess I wasn't surprised by it, but a lot of the arguments that we heard today from Republicans in the House who chose to side, to not try to make the President face any responsibility for this. The argument really just seemed to be well, you know, there's a double standard. There were protests this summer and there was, you know, there was violence at some of the protests.
And what about that? You know, this what about-ism? There was not a full throated defense of the President by many people in the party. I guess, they were too embarrassed to actually really try to do that.
SCHIFF: Well, that's true. You know, the President, of course, is the prime propagator of what about-ism. We've seen that for four years now. So they are following his example.
And 140 or more of those members, even after this bloody insurrection, we're back on the floor three hours later pushing out the President's lies again, challenging the election again.
And they realized that if they were to indict the President by impeaching him, they're really indicting themselves. So clearly, you know, that group of 140, two-thirds of the Republican Conference, they weren't going to be moved to suddenly honor their oaths.
But I would have liked to have seen more than 10 of the rest recognize that the severity of what this President did and the need, not only to remove him, but to telegraph to any future occupant of that office, that if a person does anything like this again, they will be impeached and removed from office.
COOPER: I don't believe that, you know, the 74 or whatever million Americans who voted for this President this time, you know, that all of the 74 million people approve of what occurred on the Capitol, I just can't believe that.
I think most Americans abhor violence and would abhor what they saw. But how do you convince the country -- the tens of millions of people who do legitimately believe that this election was stolen, and there's good people who do believe that? A lot of them. How do we, as a nation move forward without those tens of millions of people, at least coming to the understanding that, yes, this was a fraud. The President has been lying. It's been a grift and a fraud and the election is legitimate.
SCHIFF: Well, I think this is one of the most important and one of the most difficult questions for the country going forward and that is, we get our information from very different places now and there's a whole information ecosystem where if you want to live in Donald Trump's fantasy land, you can.
SCHIFF: You can tune into FOX prime time, or OAN, or you can read Breitbart or "The Daily Caller," and you'll get nothing, but the regurgitation of his lies. It's hard to break through that.
Now, I think one of the important and salutary things about an impeachment trial is you do get to reach people who are not watching the news all the time, and it's an opportunity to reach those whose minds are still open to persuasion.
And I think you're absolutely right, Anderson. I don't believe for a minute that the 70 some odd million who voted for Donald Trump condone this kind of violence. I think it is a small percentage of his supporters.
But nonetheless, a small percentage, obviously, can do great harm to the country, and we need the much greater multitude of his supporters to understand the facts of the election, that Joe Biden not only won convincingly and that they've been fed a lie. And, frankly, that they've been fed a lie not just by the President,
but by their own Members of the House and Senate, and they should hold them accountable.
COOPER: Chairman Schiff, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: More now on next steps, joining us, CNN political commentator, former Obama adviser, Van Jones and former republican strategist, Stuart Stevens.
Stuart, can you envision 17 Senate Republicans actually joining with Democrats to convict President Trump?
STUART STEVENS, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Listen, I'm kind of out of optimism for the Republican Party. I mean, I wrote a pretty bleak book about the Republican Party a year ago and it turns out I was way over optimistic.
COOPER: Right. It was it was a lie, or it was all a lie, was that the title?
STEVENS: "It was all a Lie."
STEVENS: I'd like to think that this could happen. I think Mitch McConnell is trying to have it both ways. I think he is trying to send a signal to the donor class that he is not radioactive and that it's okay to support him and his PACs while not actually following through.
If he really believed that this was an impeachable offense, he would move to impeach, he wouldn't delay like this. This is a game McConnell is playing. I hope he gets called out on it.
I hope that Republicans do what is obviously the right thing. I mean, they said last time there wasn't enough evidence to impeach him. They are hiding under their desk. Is that not evidence now?
COOPER: So can you just repeat that because it is something I haven't really heard much about. I saw you tweet about this. You think Mitch McConnell, if he -- you know, he signaled that he is very upset and he is angry and that's what the reporting has been.
You're saying if he really was all those things, and really wanted to impeach the President, he could do that, he could move forward on that now and he could convince others to do it as well.
You think it's just a feint, in order for him to be able to continue to raise money for his PACs and stuff from big donors, from companies?
STEVENS: I think that the change here has been that important corporate entities out there have signaled that they will not support this, that they will not support those who are trying to disenfranchise huge numbers of black voters. And ultimately, this is mostly about race, and I think that scares him
to death. I think the fact that two Georgia Republican senators lost, which is just extraordinary, scares him to death.
So if you look at what Josh Holmes, his longtime aide, who really speaks for him, I think, channels him said on Election Night last week, he said, watch the suburbs, that's where we've lost it. And I think they understand that, but they're trying to have it both ways.
They got a Supreme Court justice confirmed in what -- eight days?
COOPER: Yes. They could do that if they want.
STEVENS: You're responding, you know, to take over the Capitol and you can't do that? It's just disingenuous.
COOPER: Van, what do you make of that?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a couple things. First of all, you know, I think that the Congress had two unfortunate precedents available. One was setting the precedent that, you know, you can have a snap impeachment, that you could just go right to the floor, we did -- we broke a lot of precedent today about how impeachments are done.
But the more dangerous precedent was a precedent that a President like this could act this way and Congress do nothing meaningful. And I think that, you know, Donald Trump has repeatedly put this country you know, in the situation where we're damned if we do, we're damned if we don't. If we attack his base for you know, supporting him, then we're calling them deplorables, so we can't say anything. If we don't say anything, it gets worse and worse and worse.
So this is one of the last kind of bridges that the country have to cross, and I applaud this Congress. I applaud the 10 Republicans who did the right thing. You can't let this stuff happen and then pretend it didn't happen. It's got to be in history books.
Half of the impeachments ever to happen in the history of the country happened to Donald Trump, because that is how reckless he has been.
JONES: And so I think it's very important that, you know that history will always have to reflect not only, you know, his earlier shady behavior with regard to Russia, but his absolute blatant disregard for just basic human decency that he showed in setting that mob up to kill people on the Capitol.
COOPER: Stuart, Josh Hawley, who continued to contest the election results even after the insurrection and you know, gave, you know, a positive kind of fist salute to the mob before they attacked, wrote an op-ed in a Missouri paper, he says in part, "Sadly, much of the media and many members of the Washington establishment want to deceive Americans into thinking those who raise concerns incited violence simply by voicing the concern. That's false and the allegation itself is corrosive and dangerous." What do you make of Hawley?
STEVENS: This is the same thing that segregationist said and they said, well, we're really not saying that black people are inferior. We just think that there needs to be the standards.
Josh Hawley is a complete fraud. He knows that this was an illegal election. He knows that the Republicans who were elected in November were elected legally, and this whole thing has been so absurd. How is the bottom of a ballot legal, but the top with the presidential race illegal?
I mean, the only way that this will be consistent if someone like Josh Hawley said, every Republican who was elected should not be acknowledged and have their seat taken unless there's an investigation and possibly a revote.
STEVENS: Yes, but they are not. Josh Hawley is trying to appeal to the non-college educated Trump voters, which he has nothing in common with and he knows it.
COOPER: Stuart Stevens and Van Jones, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, new reporting on the investigation, especially on the question of how much planning and coordination went into it.
Later, someone who wrote the bestselling history of Richard Nixon's final days on this President's last week in office, Carl Bernstein, legendary journalist ahead tonight.
COOPER: Even as a twice impeach President puts out a statement decrying violence, we're learning more about the attack that he incited, there are videos coming to light that indicates how determined some of the rioters were to penetrate the Capitol. Listen to how some of the instructions for communicating with one another during the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey guys, I've been in the other room, listen to me. In the other room on the other side of this door, right here where these feet are standing. There is a glass that if somebody, and if it's broken, you can drop down into a room underneath it. There's also two doors in the other room, one in the rear, and one to the right when you go in. So, people should probably coordinate together if you're going to take this building. (INAUDIBLE) we got another window to break to make in and out easy. And this window here (INAUDIBLE) needs to be broken.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: We're going to take the building. This was live streamed on Facebook as it all unfolded. And along with everything else we're learning about, it only adds to questions about the extent to which this was planned.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with the latest. And so, what have investigators discovered at this point in terms of how this instruction came together?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that some chilling video that certainly law enforcement is taking a look at they are trying to authenticate it and to try to see what parts of it make sort of fit the puzzle that they're trying to put together. Now, one of the things that they're looking at is some of the evidence that has now emerged, some they've seen some evidence of people who were attending the Trump rally at the ellipse outside the White House, they had to go there and had to leave some of their backpacks, they had to leave some of the items that they had, because of the security. And they seem to leave a little early in order to retrieve some of those items, perhaps they went back to their cars. That's the theory of law enforcement is pursuing prosecutors believe that this indicates there's a lot more planning than perhaps we first thought and that really, really raises some additional concerns.
So you have prosecutors who do public corruption and counterterrorism, who are now working with the FBI to try to get to the bottom of this. They don't know whether or not this is one big plan or whether there were multiple groups that were doing individual plans. And it all sort of coalesced. What it's very, very clear is that this wasn't just a protest that that went out of control, that there was a great deal of planning. They're looking at travel records, they're looking at communications, they're looking at, they're trying to follow the money, frankly, to try to see who helped fund this because people showed up with ropes with climbing gear, they showed up with helmets, frankly, that were better than what the Capitol Police had. They had sledge hammers, there was a lot of stuff here that is emerging as prosecutors and investigators try to unearth this in this evidence. And it's frankly giving them a great deal of concern about how wide this was.
COOPER: Yes, Evan, appreciate it. Appreciate the reporting. Evan Perez.
A lot to learn. Joining us now is former FBI Director, Deputy Director and current CNN contributor Andrew McCabe, also, Kathleen Belew, author of Bring The War Home, The White Power Movement In Paramilitary America.
So Andrew, you hear Evan's reporting the cat attacking the Capitol, that they're looking to the levels of coordination? Are you -- do you have any conclusions based on what you've seen thus far? What you've learned us thus far?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the only conclusion you can draw right now, Anderson is that there is a lot of investigation left to do. And there are a lot of really good leads to follow. I can tell you from my own experience of working a lot of post, post crisis events, post attack events, the first thing you do is try to put your hands on the people that committed it and obviously that's what the FBI is doing. But right after that, you immediately get to trying to shed light on the entire expanse of the network. So that is everyone that helped plan, train, fund, transport anything, anyone who aided or abetted this conspiracy in any way you want to know who those people are first so you can prevent that's another act from happening and second to hold them accountable.
And they do that in exactly the ways that Evan was laying out. You look at money, you look at travel, you look at lodging, you look at who may have traveled with who else, those groups that booked tickets at the same time, things like that. And the FBI is incredibly good at doing that one.
COOPER: Kathleen, you study white power groups, it's so interesting to me this confluence of, you know, various, you know, people from disparate backgrounds, you know, white power, white nationalists, QAnon followers, you know, some people claim to be, you know, religious conservatives. There's people from with different ideologies in some cases, but above all, sort of coalesced under the Trump flag and under the, you know, the election was stolen flag.
KATHLEEN BELEW, AUTHOR: Yes. And one of the really interesting things about this groundswell is that we don't know the same amount about each of those different streams in the crowd. So we have a thing like QAnon, which is a relatively recent phenomenon, and has radicalized people incredibly quickly online. We have the sort of garden variety Trump base, who many of whom were there to simply support the President and take action and in voicing their own belief that the election was stolen, although that belief is erroneous, that is a free speech action. And then we have a much more problematic violent white power movement presence. Now, that's important, because there we have a long history of this movements activity, the kinds of actions it has attempted, over time, a record of both attempted and successful acts of violence against American institutions, American democracy itself and against civilians, including mass casualty attacks, bombings, attacks on water supply, assassinations, and also big political shows of force like the one we saw on January 6.
COOPER: You know, it's interesting with these white power groups, you know, at Charlottesville, it was very blatant. There were Nazi flags, you didn't see that in this group. I'm wondering if they learned some lessons from Charlottesville, they lost a lot of money. They had some fundraising problems, a lot of the group's kind of, I think, ended up disbanding, right?
BELEW: Absolutely. I think that's the right interpretation. And, you know, both in Charlottesville at the Unite the Right rally, and on January 6, we see a very deliberate kind of public costuming and public messaging. People on the 6th really didn't show up with their most offensive symbology. They didn't show up in their scariest uniforms. They showed up wearing garb and carrying flags that they thought would be appealing to a broader part of the Trump base. Now, what that tells us alongside the presence of our activists is that people are seeing that as a opportunity to recruit from a broader population of people for their own purposes. In other words, this isn't a movement that is in control by the President. This is a movement that is using this moment for its own ends.
COOPER: Andrew, has the U.S. government been focused on right-wing extremism. You know, I mean, going back to what was in the '90s, the or even earlier, the militia groups, obviously, there was the Oklahoma City bombing. I mean, I feel like time and time again, there have been warnings over the last years about the rise of right extremism. But it seems like under this administration, there, you know, the focus, certainly in the last year or so the talk was on Antifa and Black Lives Matter. And I wonder on an organizational level, if that actually filtered down, and there weren't the resources devoted to tracking terror on the right.
MCCABE: Well, I mean, I certainly hope that that's not the case. Right? So I can tell you that our law enforcement authorities have a long and successful history of tracking and infiltrating those groups that we know the best like the KKK and kind of the standard run of the mill white power groups that have been around for a while, you're a little more challenged with things like QAnon, which is a much more diverse, less kind of tightly organized kind of an ideology that anyone can embrace by looking at on the internet. The question is whether or not the rising threat that we've all seen and that even people to include the FBI Director himself is testified about publicly in Congress just this year, whether or not the analysts and the agents who are aware of the rise of the domestic terror threat and have been pushing that those assessments forward, whether or not that's been making its way to the president. Because as you know, Anderson, we have a lot of reporting that the President just did not want to hear those things. There are also some claims from DHS that people were given explicit orders not to write about and try to publish analysis and assessments on the domestic terror threat because it was not politically palatable to the President and his allies.
COOPER: Kathleen, is that you're your understanding also?
BELEW: Yes, absolutely. And we're talking about a record of violence that is much longer, even in the recent past. And then just the story of what happened on January 6. This is the same movement that delivered, you know, gun attacks in El Paso and in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue, it's the same movement that spurred Dylann Roof to act in Charleston, it's the same one, we trace back not only to the Oklahoma City bombing, which is the largest domestic mass, you know, mass casualty event between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in the United States. But even further back than that, this is a movement that has been organizing since the early 1980s.
And in some ways, even before that, with a very complex infrastructure comprised of social relationships, but also of paramilitary training facilities, methods for obtaining and training with military grade weapons and material, explosives expertise, and a whole bunch of other skills that can now be passed on to these broader groundswells like QAnon.
So the question here is about what kind of carryover there can be and how adept we can be at mobilizing not only surveillance resources, but all of our attention and public resources towards this problem.
COOPER: Yes. And they've had a president over the last four years who had been giving them not only dog whistles but outright, you know, indications of support. Andrew McCabe appreciate it, Kathleen Belew is really fascinating your work. Thank you so much.
There's one especially notable new federal case announced in the wake of the attack. According to court documents, Olympic swimmer Klete Keller was charged for their alleged participation in the riots. Still images released by the Justice Department show Keller who took part in four Olympic Games and won five medals among the rioters on Capitol Hill. Scene they're wearing USA Olympic jacket. It isn't known if he is actually in custody tonight.
More in today's historic impeachment vote, just ahead including a new report on how sources say President Trump may use his pardon power to distract from impeachment talk, when those pardons may come. And a conversation with a famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein. When we continue.
COOPER: Sources tell CNN President Trump is looking for a distraction from the impeachment headlines. That would certainly be, you know, his usual MO. Pardons may be the tool he uses and we now have some idea about when that may come.
Pamela Brown joins us now with the latest. So what are you hearing about the President's mindset and how that may impact possible pardons?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've been speaking to White House advisors sources close to the White House. And we're told that the President is largely alone today on this historic day of being the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. And I'm told he's in self pity mode, that there's a lot of anger in the White House and anger directed at one another. The President is upset he feels like not enough people have come out to defend him. But even some of the presidents and bigger -- biggest defenders over the years Anderson are privately not coming to the President's defense. They are saying the only person that got the President to this point with a second impeachment is the President himself. He is the one to blame to incite these riots.
Now, you can argue about whether these are the same people who have enabled him but even some of the GOP congressmen who have been the President's defenders, particularly with the last impeachment, Kevin McCarthy came out today and said that he takes responsibility for the riots. So the President really is left to fend for himself at the White House. And we saw that today with but he put out the statement during the impeachment proceedings denouncing violence and they put up that manufactured video which clearly contradicted how he really felt when the rise were going on a week ago. But he is alone, he is in the residence stewing essentially over how his presidency is ending. And he's trying, of course, to think of ways to distract from the narrative as he has. And I'm told one way to do that is to wield what little power he has left. And that is, of course, to issue pardons.
Now, to be fair, more pardons weren't going to come out in this last week before he leaves office. But that is one way the President views as a way to as once were said use the last remaining power to the nth degree issue pardons, high profile pardons that will garner attention, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, if you really want to help the country, he could come forward and just admit that he has been lying because to leave tens of millions of Americans believing his lies that this election was fraudulent is doing real harm to the country moving forward. And of course, he certainly is not willing to do that. Pamela Brown, I appreciate it. Really thank you.
The historical importance of this moment really can't be overstated. We want to talk to somebody with long experience chronicling the final days of disgrace president. Here's author and journalist Carl Bernstein. Carl two impeachment for this president, more in shamble, I mean, no presidents ever been impeached twice president likes to be, you know, get all the superlatives. He certainly has them now. Is this more of a shambles than Richard Nixon?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's more of a disgrace. This President has created an insurrection that attacked cause the people's house, to be sacked by his followers. So, we're talking about a wholly different set of crimes than Nixon's. But on top of that, Richard Nixon, at the last days of his presidency, he was forced from office by Republicans. Republicans had not enabled him to do his illegal acts, he had committed his crimes in secret. Trump has committed his crimes in public. But in the end, a group of Republican leaders led by Barry Goldwater marched down to the White House, Nixon thought that he would be able to survive a trial in the Senate perhaps prevail. And Goldwater and the leadership of the House and the Senate, the Republicans said, no, Mr. President, we will convict you ourselves. And that forced his resignation.
COOPER: Unlike President Trump, Nixon, you know, hated the calls from the Republicans to resign. I mean, the President, it's, you know, at least Nixon had the decency to kind of take himself out of the equation and I guess perhaps it was, you know, self-preservation from for the long run. But this President is still lying about, you know, he's still perpetrating the big lie which caused all this, the lies about, you know, why he lost the election?
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. And Nixon gave up the lies and what happened the night before he resigned, he came to a place of great interest spectrum. He had been drinking, he had been talking to the pictures in the walls upon the walls of the White House. And yet he was not on him then out of control as his Donald Trump. But nonetheless, he sat down in the Lincoln sitting room with Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser. And suddenly he started to stop and say, what have I done? What have I done to the country? What have I done to myself? And he said to Kissinger, Henry, you're not an Orthodox Jew, and I'm not an Orthodox Quaker, but let's pray. And the two of them got down on their knees. And Nixon was sobbing while he was praying, prayed for the country, prayed for peace. Kissinger later said it was the most wrenching moment of his life.
But throughout all of that night, Nixon came to this introspective place where he recognized what he had done to the country.
COOPER: Well, that ain't going to happen.
BERNSTEIN: And his concern was for the country, despite his horrible, horrible crimes.
COOPER: Yes, introspection is not something --
BERNSTEIN: Is exactly right.
COOPER: This person does. The President from call to speech last Wednesday, that inside of the mob and the Capitol, quote, totally appropriate, claiming everybody's looked at it, it is look that it's perfect to a tee. Does -- I mean, of course, it's exactly what he would say, because he's never wrong.
BERNSTEIN: And just like the speech about Ukraine was a perfect phone call. Everything Donald Trump does in his own eyes is perfect. He is diluted, he is a delusional president. He is the most dangerous president in our history. And it's imperative that he be restrained in a constitutional straitjacket for these next few days. And I think that, indeed, the people around him have moved to try to do that, especially the military people, they're not willing to go along with orders that would seem to be calamitous if they come about. He is restrained, but he is the greatest danger to the national security of the United States that any president has ever been. You cannot say that about Richard Nixon.
COOPER: I just don't understand how the country, you know, moves forward with tens of millions of people believing and I don't know the actual number. But, you know, millions of people believing that the election was stolen.
BERNSTEIN: This is the crime of his Republican enablers. There was a vote today in which almost 200 Republican members of the House refused to go along with obviously impeachable offenses by this President of the United States. Compare that to Watergate, in which there was going to be an impeachment vote, the Articles of Impeachment had been reported out by the Judiciary Committee, in which there was support from courageous Republicans, which made it a bipartisan effort to impeach the President. And it most if the vote came about on the House floor, Nixon was told by those same Republicans who visited him and forced him to resign, that he would get perhaps 50 votes against impeachment from Republicans not 200 like today. And that's the huge difference in the dynamic. Because he -- this president and he is irrational, illegal and seditious conduct has been enabled by his Republican Congressional cult. And there's been no restraints placed on him --
BERNSTEIN: -- by the cult.
COOPER: Carl Bernstein. Appreciate it. Thank you. Momentous day.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.
COOPER: Coming up next, more breaking news. President-elect Biden ways and details when we continue.
COOPER: It's more breaking news tonight. President-elect Biden has released a statement on President Trump's impeachment and he had some words for those senators who would be sitting in judgment after his inauguration.
For that, let's go to Arlette Saenz in Wilmington, Delaware. So what's the President-elect saying?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, President-elect Biden acknowledged that vote that the House took today to impeach President Trump but then he quickly turned his attention to that looming Senate impeachment trial and which has the potential to really take over the early days of his administration. I want to read you a little bit of what Biden had to say. He said, this nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus in a reeling economy. I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment, while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.
So, the President-elect they're really pressing the Senate leaders to ensure that they can still work on legislative business while the Senate impeachment trial plays out. That is a question that still needs to be answered by the Senate parliamentarian, but he's essentially asking senators to walk and chew gum at the same time as the Senate impeachment trial is expected to unfold in the coming weeks.
COOPER: And hasn't been confirmed that he's had conversations with Mitch McConnell. Do we know?
SAENZ: So, the President-elect we know did speak with Senator Mitch McConnell on Monday to talk about trying to split the Senate time between the legis -- between the Senate impeachment trial and also his legislative agenda. McConnell has deferred to the Senate parliamentarian to determine whether that will be possible. But Biden certainly wants the Senate to be focusing on confirming his nominees. They're placing a lot of emphasis on the national security nominees for his cabinet and also passing some key items of his agenda, including a COVID relief package.
So, the President-elect is hoping that the senators will be able to do both at the same time. The question is, whether the rules will allow for that to happen.
COOPER: Arlette Saenz, appreciate it. Thanks so much. Reporting on President-elect Biden.
The news continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: We're living history once again, Anderson. Good to share with you.
I'm Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Primetime".
History was definitely made. Today we saw the most bipartisan impeachment in American history.