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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Amid Massive Security Inauguration Operation, Trump Considering 21-Gun Salute, Red Carpet DC Departure; Washington Post: Capitol Police Intel Report Warned 3 Days Before Attack That "Congress Itself" Could Be Targeted; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is Interviewed About the Riot Attack on Congress and the Ongoing Probe. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired January 15, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
As the president makes plans for his military sendoff next week, the capital he's preparing to flee is witnessing the kind of military presence once seen only in places like Baghdad and Kabul, which is not something to just take note of and move on from. It has not been this way since the Civil War and it's growing.
The Pentagon late today upping the contingent for next week's inauguration from 21,000 to 25,000 National Guard members.
And just as the threat picture for that took shape, there is breaking news about a police intelligence report that predicted something like what we saw last week three days before the assault took place. That and other new details about last week's attack.
They make it clear in case a reminder is needed that this could easily have been far deadlier than it was. There is new reporting in "The Washington Post" about how close the insurrectionists some shouting, "hang Mike Pence" and "lynch Pence" may have come to crossing paths with the vice president, his wife and daughter.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
COOPER: According to the post timeline, this mob being lured away bravely from the Senate chamber door by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, came up the stairs at 2:14 p.m., according to C-Span footage and a "Post" reporter on the scene, that's a minute after the vice president was moved from the room into a nearby office. Had the attackers arrived just that one brief minute sooner, they might have spotted Pence and who knows what might have happened then.
Just ten minutes later by the way, with the vice president and his family in hiding, protected by Secret Service, the president tweeted and I quote: Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and Constitution.
He didn't tweet: Gosh, I hope the vice president is okay. Please, everyone leaves the capitol. He didn't tweet there was no fraud. Joe Biden won the election. We'll get them next time at the ballot box. No, the mob that nearly caught sight of the man they came to hang
still had these words from the president ringing in their ears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you catch somebody in the fraud you're allowed to go by very different rules. So, I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn't listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he's listening to. We're going to walk down to the Capitol and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, those were their marching orders. They were based on a lie. People died because of that lie and even now with the blood of police officers on his hands, with thousands of troops in the nation's Capitol and authorities in all 50 states on alert for violence, this twice impeached president has not repudiated that lie. He doesn't care or wants to burn it down on his way out the door or maybe both.
He could tamp this down, but he won't, of course, he won't. He'll keep lying and say the election was stolen parroted by supporters bent on violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Make no mistake: this election was stolen from you, from me and from the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It unquestionable that our votes were stolen. It's unquestionable.
TRUMP: The Republican poll watchers rejected, in some cases physically, from the room under the false pretense of a pipe burst.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were bushed out of the voting areas, told that pipes had broken.
TRUMP: Election officials pulled boxes, Democrats, and suitcases of ballots out from under a table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ballots were made up out of nothing. They appeared from under tables in suitcases.
TRUMP: You all saw it on television. Totally fraudulent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't get to tell us we didn't see what we saw.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): They changed the rules. They changed the election law and they did it unconstitutional fashion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They changed the rules mid-game. They're not being held accountable, and that's a shame.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): President Trump won this election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You watch the American election get stolen from us.
MCCARTHY: Everyone who is listening. Do not be quiet. Do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to as American patriots, we have to do what we can to take back this country.
MCCARTHY: Republicans will not back down. We will not wait for four years from now to change this. We are going to fight this now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were normal good law-abiding citizens and you guys did this to us. We want our country back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: From the president's lips to his enablers to the -- would be lynch mob, all of it, a lie. The president has yet to take back a word of it.
Yesterday, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma sent a letter to black constituents saying what I did not realize was the national conversation about states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan was seen as casting doubt on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly black communities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit.
He said he was blindsided by the reaction but also found a blind spot within himself. He expressed regret in this letter, not forecasting doubt on the outcome of the election tempting to overturn those votes, but for what he called his blindness to how his words and actions could be interpreted by black residents of Oklahoma.
Now, whatever you might think of Senator Lankford's apology such as it is, it certainly far eclipses anything we've seen or heard from the president.
For more on the pomp and circumstance the president wants to move on with among other items, we're joined now by CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
Jim, so President Trump wants a big military sendoff which is not perhaps surprising. I mean, is it to take the sting out of being impeached a second time?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think it's just another "dear leader" moment for the president before he leaves office as the sorry, shameful chapter in American history comes to a miserable end next Wednesday. We're told by officials familiar with the planning of this, that the president wants a ceremony, a grand departure ceremony that is similar to the kind of ceremonies you see when there is a departing head of state, complete with a 21-gun salute, a red carpet, a military banner and color guard.
And people at home might wondering, Anderson, how come the president get something like this? Until noon on Wednesday, the 20th, inauguration day, he's still the leader in chief. He can order all this, sell his staffers to set all of this up and American tax dollars will pay for it.
COOPER: So, is this to happen before the inauguration, in the middle of the inauguration? As kind of counterprogramming?
ACOSTA: It's supposed to happen on the morning of the 20th before Joe Biden takes the oath of office and, Anderson, you know, it is -- it is a sad commentary on the Trump presidency. I was here on January 20th four years ago when the Obamas met the Trumps, greeted the Trumps in the north portico at the entrance behind me as Donald Trump was preparing to take the oath of office and the Obamas showed that kind of grace and class even though Trump had questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama when he was president of the United States.
President Trump is not going to afford the same courtesy to the Bidens. He's going to continue with the fantasy and fraud the election was stolen from him and going to leave the city in that kind of fashion in an event that is essentially a fraud.
COOPER: Yeah. I mean, these are small people. They pretend -- this president pretends he's a big man, strong man. He's too scared and not strong enough to go to the actual inauguration.
I mean, Dana, I get him wanting to try to take away from President- elect Biden's inauguration. He's petty like that but feels tone deaf. He wants a big military send off. He's got one. There is more than 21,000 national guard troops in D.C. and the city is on lockdown and people are dying of COVID in record numbers and the vaccine rollout is nowhere near it needs to be and this is what this guy is spending the final days planning and dreaming about?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is Donald Trump. It is the way he has been, and he has become a caricature of himself which is kind of hard to imagine given what we've seen over the past four years.
But, Anderson, you've took the words out of my mouth and we've seen images now. The president wants to have an image and some kind of theatrics that people will remember. This is what they're going to remember. They're going to remember people like Jim and me and everyone else who works in this city having to go through check point after check point like you would, Anderson, when you are going to warzones across the globe.
But this is in the United States of America and for one reason and one reason only and that is because voters in a free and fair democracy defeated Donald Trump and he can't admit it and he's still clinging to this lie because he was told since he was younger that you cannot be a loser so he is coming up with and hanging his hat -- according to somebody who knows him well. This isn't even just me saying this, hanging his hat on any crazy conspiracy theory that he can find in order to not admit the reality he was defeated.
Those are the images. That is the circumstance without the pomp that Donald Trump is going to have and always -- will always be remembered as he leaves office.
COOPER: Jim, I understand Kayleigh McEnany flown the coop. She's gone I guess off to Florida and is not coming back.
Who is visiting the White House these days? I understand somebody visited today.
ACOSTA: Yeah, the "Star Wars" bar of characters continues to file in, Anderson. We saw Mike Lindell, the founder of MyPillow, which is a pillow manufacturer. I'm sure you've heard it. Perhaps you've talked about Mike Lindell in your show.
He's been espousing the same silly conspiracy theories about the election that the president has. He met with the president for about five minutes. I confirmed this with Mike Lindell on the phone earlier this evening.
He said that he brought some documents in for the president to see, claiming to be evidence of election fraud and the 2020 election and he says that President Trump took that material and gave it to some of his staffers. The other thing we should point out, Mike Lindell points out, at no point does the words "martial law" appear.
Anderson, if you look at a close up of these documents right now, the words "martial law" do appear. It one of the strange type of things that are said in these documents and, Anderson, it's another example how the president despite everything that happened on January 6th, the fact people died because of these lies spewed by the president, he's welcoming people to the White House who are reinforcing crazy ideas about the election.
And I hate to say it, Mike Lindell is one of those people. And when I was talking to him on the phone earlier this evening, he just wasn't making a lot of sense just like everything else happening with Donald Trump these days, Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, Dana Bash, thanks very much.
More on the breaking news just up on "The Washington Post" website, the headline, Capitol Police intelligence report warned three days before attacking that Congress itself could be targeted. "The Post's" Carol Leonnig writing: the authors of this intelligence report, quote, warned of a violent scenario in which Congress itself could be the target of angry supporters of President Trump and how thousands of enraged protesters egged on by Trump and flanked by white supremacists and extreme militia groups were likely to stream into Washington warmed for battle, end quote.
With that on the table, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.
I mean, Sean, this reporting is frankly stunning -- the fact it was Capitol police intelligence report indicating this given what we now know about the preparation or the lack of preparations, the lack of security preparations on the Capitol. Clearly, authorities want to avoid any repeat of what happened last week.
What are the latest security measures we're seeing in Washington tonight?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anderson, keeping on that theme of the military send-off. When you look around Washington, D.C., you can't walk a step without seeing the military presence, and you can see trucks like this parked here, there's another one down the block here and then there are two more here surrounded by these concrete barriers.
And what's happening is this is the scene all across downtown Washington, D.C. and other parts of Washington, D.C. It seems that what the police here and military are very concerned with vehicles. Right now, almost every intersection is blocked off by these trucks and they're really keeping a lot of cars. They want to keep cars out of this zone. We've also seen National Guard troops arriving by the busload.
Just a few minutes ago, so about half a dozen buses filled with National Guard troops arriving. So you can definitely feel the military presence here. You can definitely feel the security.
I mean, the streets are deserted. There is barely anyone out here at this hour as there are more trucks passing through. But certainly, the military presence here is definitely being felt, Anderson.
COOPER: And, Shimon, the FBI is announcing more arrests in connection with the insurrection. Where does the investigation stand tonight?
PROKUPECZ: Yeah, that's very much on going. The FBI announcing more arrests almost every day. There are also arrests they are making and not announcing because people are cooperating and questioning them.
Today, they say they one of their big focuses on the death of Officer Sicknick. That's the Capitol police officer that died. They say they're making progress in that investigation. They believe they have several people under the investigation. And so, they are making progress.
They also told us, the U.S. attorney here, Michael Sherwin, the man running this investigation, that they have 300 cases open against individuals. They have taken several of them into custody. The U.S. attorney here, actually, the FBI director for the Washington field office said that in terms of this investigation, that we are just in the first quarter, Anderson.
So, there is a lot more work that they're doing, and this is going to go on for weeks and perhaps months.
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. Thanks.
Joining us now, two CNN law enforcement analysts, former D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey, and former Secret Service agent, Jonathan Wackrow.
Chief Ramsey, so this "Washington Post" report tonight saying three days before the violent insurrection and internal Capitol intelligence report warned Congress itself could be a target of Trump supporters. You know, again, it just amplifies the questions, you know, we've been asking, and you and I have been talking about for quite some time now since this attack of, you know, what went wrong?
And I mean, if they had this kind of intelligence, surprised, you know, of course, they had this kind of intelligence, this was publicly well-known. Is there any justification for how unprepared they were?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, I don't think so. And I also think you need have a commission or somebody to really take a deep dive into what happened. Who knew what when? And that's only where we're going to get this solve, because, you know, bits and pieces are kind of trickling out.
Obviously, they weren't prepared. Obviously, there is a breakdown somewhere partly in intelligence, partly as in probably the authorization to really be able to deploy properly, there are so many different moving parts we got to get to the bottom of it. And I don't think that will happen until there is a commission or someone that can take that deep dive into it.
COOPER: And, Jonathan, "The Washington Post" also reports that this report was not shared widely with other law enforcement agencies. I mean, if it had been shared with the FBI, the Secret Service, other authorities, would it have made a difference, or do we not know that at this point?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, any time information is power, Anderson, and any time that you have intelligence that is credible that can be shared with law enforcement partners, it's only going to aid in the situation. It's going to aid you in preparing.
Having intelligence that stated that Congress could be targeted in not providing any action based upon that information isn't just an intelligence failure. Anderson, that's negligence.
COOPER: And why wouldn't this be -- have been disseminated? Why wouldn't this have raised alarm bells among Capitol police?
WACKROW: Well, Anderson, I have no idea and to Chuck's point, I mean, we need to factually assess every action that happened before January 6th and fully understand where multiple points of failure had occurred and guarantee they never happen again. We have a capitol police officer that died. They died because this intelligence was not disseminated. This is negligence and it has to be addressed. COOPER: And, you know, there's been suicides after this among police,
as well which is also a direct result of this. I mean, Chief Ramsey, what goes through your mind when you look at what D.C. has been turned into ahead of inauguration?
Obviously, look, there is security concerns around inauguration, but authorities have established what they are calling a Green Zone, you know, I spent a fair amount of time in the Green Zone in Baghdad. It's stunning there is a Green Zone in D.C.
RAMSEY: Well, I spent time in the Green Zone in Baghdad in '07 and you're right. I haven't seen anything like it. In fact, one could argue maybe it a little more intense than it was in Baghdad because it's a smaller geographical area they're in. But 25,000 national guardsmen, I was part of two presidential inaugurations, planning for two, both Bush inaugurations, George W. Bush, and this is nowhere near the security, including '04 which was in the aftermath of 9/11, and we did beef up security but nothing like this at all.
You know what my biggest concern is, and I know we're right now just focused on the 20th, but a day will come when all these people leave. All these barricades will leave. Where do we go from here? I mean, there have to be serious changes in terms of physical security and other aspects of security at the Capitol and elsewhere because this whole threat is not going to end on January 20th.
COOPER: Jonathan, also, I mean, if there are certainly other targets, soft targets, you know, hardening all these targets now for around inauguration to Chief Ramsey's point and state capitols, but if some of these fringe groups want to, you know, target people, individuals or, you know, whatever they want to do, there is plenty of soft targets for them with all the attention being on state capitols and in D.C.
WACKROW: Yeah, Anderson, and that's the problem that law enforcement has right now.
We've fortified Washington, D.C. We've hardened certain sites such as the Capitol, the White House, and other key locations.
But there is a line of demarcation where the security steps down and that's the point of vulnerability though secondary targets, softer targets that anti-government and anti-authority violent extremists could actually launch an attack on.
I don't think what we're going to see moving forward is a coordinated large mobilized attack on January 6th. The threat moving forward is people who possess this ideology acting as lone wolves, in furtherance of their goals.
COOPER: And, Jonathan, there is a bulletin from DHS, Department of Homeland of Security, FBI, and other agencies, indicating that domestic extremists who claim to believe the incoming Biden administration pose the most likely threat to inauguration. Has U.S. law enforcement ever faced a situation which the legitimacy
of a freely and fairly elected president is the motivating factor for a threat?
WACKROW: You know, Anderson, I haven't come across and heard it and that's why you're seeing such a dramatic response from law enforcement. I mean, these groups wholly believe in apocalyptic ideology. They want to take down the U.S. government and the challenge is we know that we don't have to assess that there's a likelihood that they will engage in violent acts.
We actually know they will engage in violent acts and that's why you see this mobilization of the National Guard and law enforcement all under the coordination of the Secret Service right now to address this clear and present danger.
COOPER: And, Chief Ramsey, CNN is reporting tonight that both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI failed to issue threat assessments about potential violence ahead of last week's attacks, despite warning signs, and online chatter.
How confident are you all agencies will be up to speed ahead of the inauguration because there is still an extensive amount of concerning online chatter?
RAMSEY: Well, I think after January 6th, I really don't have concerns information is going to be shared. But again, until someone takes a deep dive into who knew what when of all these agencies, federal, local, state, whatever it may be, we're not going to really know just how many people dropped the ball on January 6th, and why it happened.
But it is -- it is frightening to think that these kinds of things can take place but as far as the 20th goes, in light of the 6th, there is no way they aren't sitting down sharing information at this point in time.
COOPER: Yeah. Chief Charles Ramsey, Jonathan Wackrow, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee, thank you so much for being with us.
As I mentioned earlier, "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight three days before the insurrection, the Capitol Police internal intelligence report indicated Congress could be targeted with violence. Given that, the response by police on Capitol Hill clearly was different than response to demonstrations we saw this summer in the wake of George Floyd's killing.
What is your reaction to this -- to this report?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Anderson, you're absolutely right. Just a couple of days ago, the Congressional Black Caucus, the first organization took a deep dive on this divided and definitively different response, and also, the racist overtones of these domestic terrorists.
This will not be the end or beginning. Many of us will be heading committees that will immediately be looking at what happened.
But let me share with you what the real problem was. First of all, the overall collapse of security, including helping with the United States Capitol fell squarely at the feet of the individual who is provoking and stoking these fires and that's President Donald J. Trump.
The reason why it included responsibilities in his area is because the vice president traveled from the White House to the United States Congress. So, you had in essence the representation of two co-equal branches of government. The president did not encourage, direct Homeland Security, FBI, DOJ, the U.S. Department of Defense or any other agency for that day to do anything, to share information.
Now, one would think this is the normal work these organizations do and you're absolutely right. There is something to the terminology of commander in chief. The president has death and blood at his feet, but at the same time, was complete abdication of responsibility, if you will, and dereliction of duty that he did not command and to move forward.
So, yes, there was a failure in the House. As you well know, the two leading security persons have resigned.
The chief of police has resigned. There is reporting that the chief of police said that he gave information to the two sergeant-of-arms that are no longer here. We have to be able -- I'm delighted that the speaker has appointed General Honore, he's outstanding. I can assure you we'll get to the bottom of it.
But you know what? Lives of large amounts have been lost. Lives of large amount could be lost, and the continuity of government could have been interrupted.
COOPER: Yeah, as you mentioned, Speaker Pelosi announced General Russel -- retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore is going to lead the review of security infrastructure of Capitol Hill. Obviously, he got a lot of praise in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
CNN is also reporting some members of Congress are worried about their personal security, that members of their family's security. Some are said to be buying body armor and adjusting their daily routines.
Just in general terms, I'm not asking really specifically of you, but are you concerned about safety, about your safety?
JACKSON LEE: Absolutely. Absolutely. I only say that because this is something we've never seen before. You've heard us say this has not happened since 1812, 1814, the British burning the Capitol down in 1814, I believe.
And so, this place has purposely, Anderson, been open not only to the American people but our guests because it's a citadel of democracy. We enjoy people in the gallery, pre-COVID-19, seeing how democracy works.
And even as we disagree vigorously with our colleagues, our Republican colleagues, we thought they agreed there is one sacred thing in this place and that is our willingness to subject ourselves to the laws of this nation and to be able to stand (ph) in democracy.
Now we're thinking about pipe bombs. We have more troops there than we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, we would be concerned.
But we do have a constitutional duty to be present on this day that has been designated for the peaceful transition of government. Our new president and vice president will be there. And so, I guess we challenge those with racist tendencies and otherwise to be able to stand down as they say with the security that we have, that we're serious about holding them accountable, and that we will do our jobs. And that's the way we look at the duty that we're obligated to do.
COOPER: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, appreciate your time. Thank you.
LEE: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: One programming note, be sure to tune in this weekend for a closer look at the forces behind the attack last week, or involved in the attack, and the ongoing threat that remains. Our CNN's Special Report, "THE FACES OF THE TRUMP INSURRECTION" airs Saturday night at 10:00 Eastern Time.
Coming up next tonight, what the next days hold as the president sits and stews in what is quickly a very lonely White House and what he'll do once Air Force One drops him off in Florida. Tony Schwartz, his one-time ghost writer, joins us with his thoughts.
And later with the pandemic burning out of control. The administration's promise that millions of vaccine doses were kept in reserve. Tonight, we know that was a lie.
COOPER: It's the picture tonight of a White House emptying out for the President and the walls closing in on him and not just in the city he wants to leave with the 21-gun salute. Also today, we learned that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has expanded its criminal investigation into the Trump organization's finances to include the family's compound in Westchester County. It's likely not the only potential criminal civil or financial jeopardy he faces. The question is, what must this look like from his perspective?
Anyone might know is Tony Schwartz, the author of The Art of the Deal and more recently Dealing With The Devil, My Mother, Trump, and Me. Tony, good to have you here. So, the situation the Capitol couldn't be more dire or dangerous. Yet, the President wants a color guard and military ban and 21-gun salute and a red carpet for his departure. I don't imagine you are surprised. TONY SCHWARTZ, AUTHOR: I'm not surprised because there's nobody who has the chutzpah that Donald Trump does, even in the worst moment of his life. You know, I don't think he is able to take in the enormity of the defeat the enormity of the humiliation. He will move frequently to anger and to rage. But, I think this is overwhelming to him. It's kind of mind boggling to me, Anderson after four years of and thank you for providing me a forum to call Donald Trump out over the past four years. But it's a little bit surreal right now.
COOPER: I mean, not only is the person not going to the inauguration, which is kind of a sign of how small he is. He's leaving D.C. in the morning, apparently, least in part, so he doesn't have to ask the new administration to use Air Force One after noon time when he's no longer president. I mean, do you think you've used having to ask President Biden for use of the plane as a form of concession?
SCHWARTZ: Oh, my god. Yes. I think, you know, it's always for Donald, a binary choice between dominance and submission. And the reality is that he has to submit now, but he is certainly not going to actively participate in that submission.
COOPER: Today, Lindsey Graham said that he thinks the President is ready to move on. I'm not sure even really what that means coming from Lindsey Graham, but I mean, do you think the -- what do you see his post-president life to be like? I mean, it does he stay at Mar-a-Lago, does he grow disenchanted there and want to and, you know, come back to New York a lot. I mean, I can't imagine him stuck in Mar-a-Lago hanging out by the bar, you know, listening to, you know, sort of hangers on come around and him table hopping. I guess that's what he does is table hop and complain about the last election.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, I can't either. Anderson/ I would imagine that Trump is going to -- the most striking thing about Trump in the last week is not what he's asking for, and not what he's sensibly saying, because we're not actually hearing it from him. It's the fact that he's off Twitter. And guess what? It says if Donald Trump doesn't exist anymore when he's not on Twitter?
SCHWARTZ: It changes the whole dynamic. So, I would imagine that what he's going to be looking for and I don't know now that he can find it. He could have before the Capitol catastrophe, but what I think he's looking for is an -- what he want is an opportunity to put himself back in front of people.
You know, the group that he leads now is a group of violent, right- wing racists and nationalists. That's his core audience. You know, we saw that his poll numbers are down to under 30% today. So, you're really talking about narrowing that frame to what Hillary in retrospect, rightly called an -- the word has slipped out of my head, the deplorables.
COOPER: Do you think the -- there was an ABC/Washington Post poll, the President, they say 38% approval rating. I know there's other polls that say that say lower. I mean, what concerns me is, you know, what happens to the country, not so much what happens to Donald Trump, and there are a lot of good, decent Americans who support President Trump, who genuinely believe that this election was stolen from them and from the President. I don't know how we convince people that the facts show otherwise.
SCHWARTZ: I don't either. And that's why democracy will remain in peril. We've really seen how vulnerable it is, and Trump came within an inch of destroying it, but he had failed. But that does not mean that it doesn't continue to be under siege. What was very heartening to me this afternoon was both about the present and about the future was to watch Biden at his news conference talking about COVID. And suddenly you had science, you had facts, you had compassion, you had leadership. I think that's going to prove to be pretty seductive, for all, but that percentage of those of people who support Trump who will never leave, it is going to be a better world without him. And I think for most people, I think for even a good percentage of Republicans, that's going to become increasingly apparent in the weeks ahead.
COOPER: You know, I just wish he would sort of take a page from Ronald Reagan, who, you know, finally admitted lying about I believe it was Iran-Contra and saying, you know, my heart tells me this, but the facts show otherwise. I just wish the President would, you know, do one dignified act and just admit, you know, he was wrong, and just send the message that the election was completely valid.
Of course, he's not going to do that. This is going to be a grievance. He, you know, nurtures at Mar-a-Lago, you know, for the rest of his life and even when he goes to the dentist, he'll be talking about this to the dental hygienists. But, you know, I wish he was a bigger man than he is. Tony Schwartz. I appreciate it.
SCHWARTZ: We all wish that in the future.
COOPER: Tony, thanks so much.
Digging deeper into the President's reception in Florida, in short, it might not be as warm as welcome he'd like as to why, you might call a case the President's own words and promises coming back to haunt him. More than that from Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump shouldn't expect his neighbors to roll out the red carpet in Palm Beach, Florida. That's because some say Trump's plan to make Mar a Lago his full-time residents would violate an agreement he signed decades ago. This letter sent by a Palm Beach County attorney to the mayor of Palm Beach, Florida offers a suggestion. Palm Beach has many lovely estates for sale, and surely, he can find one which meets his needs. How did it come to this? Trump bought Mar Lago back in 1985 from the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Then in 1993, long before Donald Trump became president, he cut a deal with the town of Palm Beach. That agreement allowed Trump to convert Mar a Lago into a private social club. As long as members didn't spend more than an agreed amount of time there. The agreement which CNN reviewed limits how long club members Trump included, can stay stipulating a maximum of three non-consecutive seven-day periods by any one member during the year. In other words, it seems members, including Donald Trump, are limited to 21 days a year at the club. That's Trump's signature on the agreement from August 1993.
(on-camera): Given that agreement, do you think he should be able to live there full time?
SUSAN, PALM BEACH FL RESIDENT: No. He signed the agreement he should abide by the agreement is not everybody in this country do the same and we follow the rules.
KAYE (voice-over): That same Palm Beach County attorney who sent a letter to the mayor said the significant tax breaks the President received for this arrangement remain in effect, as does the use agreement.
Just last month, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization insisted in a statement to CNN, there is no document or agreement in place that prohibits President Trump from using Mar-a-Lago as his residence
(on-camera): Trump switched his residency from New York to Florida yet the town manager here in Palm Beach says he has seen no evidence that Trump plans to live full time at Mar-a-Lago. The town manager told us if and when the town learns Trump does plan to reside at Mar-a-Lago, it will address the matter appropriately.
(voice-over): That could mean telling Trump he cannot stay,
BRIAN SEYMOUR, PALM BEACH COUNTY LAND USE ATTORNEY: Or they could get an order from a judge that says you cannot have somebody live full time on the property. It is not significant at that point that he's the former president. The laws still apply to the club as the property owner, and the town has the right to enforce it.
KAYE (on-camera): Do you think that Donald Trump should be able to live it?
MIMI FLAMM, PALM BEACH FL RESIDENT: No, I don't think so. It's a club. It should abide by the rules of the club. Because he doesn't like to abide by any rules though. I'm definitely not a fan of his.
KAYE (voice-over): During Trump's presidency, the town didn't do much to enforce the Mar-a-Lago agreement. It allowed for a helipad on the property, which was prohibited in the 1993 agreement without approval from the town council. And despite the 21-day maximum and the deal based on our count, last year, Trump visited Mar-a-Lago nearly 30 days.
SEYMOUR: Would not be unreasonable for them to look at it differently once President Trump is no longer the sitting president,
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
COOPER: Well just ahead, the looming impeachment trial. We'll discuss the defense President Trump's lawyers are expected to deliver with Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe.
COOPER: For the Trump's legal troubles mounting a forthcoming impeachment trial plus late word According to The New York Times and the possible criminal inquiry by Atlanta area prosecutors into Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's election results. On a start with impeachment, there's no timing set for the trial of President Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn't say publicly today when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. Whoever source familiar with Speaker Pelosi is thinking that she'll do so next week.
One Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told CNN Thursday the trial could begin days after the inaugural. More sources tell CNN the president's lawyers will argue that his remarks prior to the Capitol Hill rioter are protected speech under the First Amendment. Remarks that again result in rioters killing a police officer and nearly as we reported earlier, coming into contact with a man, men in the violent mobs that day said they want a dead Vice President Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you're sworn to uphold our Constitution.
You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.
And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that the source says the President's lawyers will argue is protected speech. Another defense which some allies have already made is that the Senate can't hold a trial for someone who has left office. Not so since our next guest Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe writes in the Washington Post, quote, the clear weight of history original understanding and congressional practice bolsters the case for concluding that the end of Donald Trump's presidency would not end his Senate trial. We're joined now by Professor Tribe, who is also the co author of To End the Presidency the Power of Impeachment.
Professor Tribe, thanks for being with us. So in the Washington Post's opinion peace, you share several examples dating back to the founding framework of this country for why you think there's precedent to prosecute a president after his term ends. Can you just say explain to us why you believe that's permissible? Because that is an argument a lot of Republican senators are kind of pointing to, which would sort of help them avoid even addressing whether or not the President should be impeached.
LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think it's pretty clear. Article 1 Section 3 of the Constitution says that there are three things that can happen at the end of an impeachment trial, you can convict you can remove that's been superseded by events. And you can by a mere majority, disqualify from future office holding. That third possibility is very much on the table. And because of those three distinct things that can happen, there just is no real basis in the text of the constitution for saying that it's all over just because he ran out the club. Besides when the Constitution was written, the main example the framers used was that of a guy named Hastings, who had been Governor General of India, and who was being impeached in England. Fact is that he was impeached a couple of years after he left office. And finally, in our own history, a really corrupt maybe not as corrupt as Donald Trump, but a really corrupt.
The Secretary of War named William Belknap, was about to be impeached. He saw the handwriting on the wall, he ran to the White House, he said, let me resign, let me resign, he resigned. But it didn't help because after that, there were five articles of impeachment voted against him in the U.S. Senate voted by a majority, that is still had jurisdiction. In this case, Trump didn't even resign, he was impeached while he was president. So there's no question that the trial can go on.
COOPER: My understanding on the idea of voting to do that, to make sure that he could never hold office again, that that actually would be a separate vote from the impeachment vote. And that would not require a -- it would just require a simple majority, is that correct?
TRIBE: That's correct. The -- there are a couple of precedents making that very clear, it's a separate vote. The Constitution only says that there can be no conviction of a president or have anyone in an impeachment trial without two-thirds of the sitting senators, the ones who are who show up in favor of it. It doesn't say anything like that with respect to this separate matter of disqualifying the person from ever holding a future office. And the background rule in the constitution is majority rule, except where the constitution expressly says you need a supermajority.
COOPER: In your mind is preventing the president from ever holding office, again, more important than convicting him on the actual impeachment charge.
TRIBE: I think it's really the only practical thing we can do now convicting him on the impeachment charge is critical, because without convicting him, which, as I say, requires two-thirds of the senators present. We can't get to the next stage of disqualifying him. But it's disqualifying him and preventing someone who was fomenting a revolution, sitting back and telling them to be strong and saying awful things about Vice President Pence when they were within 100 feet. And he had concrete feedback at the time, within 100 feet of hanging the guy. I mean, that's not safe for this country to have someone who is so disrespectful of life and democracy, that he's willing to just foment a violent insurrection, seditious insurrection against the United States government.
COOPER: As CNN's reporting that the President's attorneys will likely argue or plan to argue that his words ahead of the assault on the Capitol are protected speech. Do you think they are?
TRIBE: Absolutely not the for the President of the United States, basically, you say, you know, go get them. That's not protected speech. That Brandenburg test, the famous decision, which says, you can't punish ordinary citizens from your advocacy. First of all, it doesn't apply to the President. He goes around the country and says, I want a fascist state. I don't believe in democracy. That's not exactly speak. But here, he didn't just speak, he stirred up this mob. So, even though the First Amendment test doesn't really apply to the President, if it did, it would be met here anyway, because the court in that Brandenburg case said inciting a mob is not protected.
And in addition to that this is not a criminal prosecution, whose purpose is punishment, where the First Amendment comes in. This is prevented. This is simply protecting the country from somebody who has shown that he's ready to tear it down. The First Amendment is an absolute red herring has nothing to do with the case, but I expect them to play it for all it's worth because they don't have any other cards to play.
COOPER: There's also the issue of all the, you know, the videos the president released in the, in the words he spoke in the wake of injuring the Capitol attack, you know, saying things like, you know, I love you to the rioters, telling them they're --
COOPER: -- very special people. Would, should that be used as evidence to?
TRIBE: Absolutely. The videos, the words, they're about 1,000 pages of appendices, the evidence is going to be overwhelming but more important. This is the first impeachment in the history of the country where the whole nation indeed the whole world watched the high crimes and misdemeanors being played out on live television in real time. And besides that, it's a whole course of conduct, twisting the arm of the Secretary of State of Georgia, threatening prosecution unless he found, quote, found 11,800 votes magic number, just one more than Trump needed in order to steal all the votes of Georgia. This was part of an overall scheme to undermine the free election and to go after not just the Capitol, the citadel of democracy, but to go after the most fundamental step that we engage in as a country, where we have self-governing people choose who will govern us. He never was willing to live with that. He always said that the votes that are not for him are illegitimate, and I have a feeling that he had in mind mostly the votes of people who are not white rich guys like him.
COOPER: Professor Laurence Tribe, I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you so much.
TRIBE: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, we have more breaking news, HHS Secretary Alex Azar resigning. We've just seen his resignation letter that uses the words tarnish legacy. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me next.
COOPER: Just breaking news on another resignation from the Trump administration. HHS Secretary Alex Azar did submit his resignation and took a swipe at President Trump. Azar said the Capitol Hill riots, the actions and the rhetoric following the election, quote, threatened to tarnish what Azar said were the administration's accomplishments. He went on, quote, the attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world. The letter was first reported by the New York Times.
All this as America approaches nearly 400,000 COVID deaths turns out at the moment, there are no reserve stockpiles of the vaccine left to release. Before his resignation was made public he made the announcement earlier in an interview with NBC News, the opposite of what is our himself said only a few days ago. Talk with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta about it in a moment.
But first consider this a lengthy list of accomplishments the White House issued tonight during President Trump's administration. Nowhere was this simple message of wearing a face mask will help mitigate the disease. All these countless cases by far the most in the world and all these data get nothing from the White House about the importance of wearing a mask.
Sanjay joins me now. What do you make of Azar's resignation?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I mean that Anderson that, you know, procedurally, these types of resignation letters are, this is when they happen, you know, and so he's it's pretty standard for this sort of resignation to happen at this point. I thought it was interesting, you know, he listed the accomplishments of HHS talk specifically about the pandemic, and the success of Operation Warp Speed, the vaccines and some of the therapeutics. But you know, obviously not a lot about the death toll and how staggeringly high it's been, especially in comparison to other countries.
And then there was that that part that you read Anderson, which was near the bottom of the letter.
GUPTA: Surprising for a health secretary to put that sort of thing in there. But, you know, I guess, obviously, he felt strongly about what has happened over the last week.
COOPER: Yes, he's going to stay on, I guess until the 20th. You know, I guess the most important thing, though, it was just earlier today is our said there was no stockpile of vaccines in the U.S. after the administration --
COOPER: -- promised there was a stockpile. I don't understand this. I mean, what -- how is that possible?
GUPTA: Well, this is, I know, this has been confusing. I spent a good chunk of the day to day trying to sort of figure out exactly, exactly what happened here. Some of this may be semantics. So, a reserve stockpile versus held back second doses, they may be two different things. But here's what went down. And here's what's infuriating about it is that you remember the incoming administration basically said as part of their plan, they would not, you know, hold back any stockpile of doses. And that idea was that, you know, sort of dismissed by the current administration. And then current administration says, you know, what, we will also release the stockpile.
And, so states, understandably, were expecting a surge of vaccine doses. And then it came out today, as you mentioned, that there isn't, is in fact, no stockpile. So there is no surge of doses going to the states and many states are understandably upset. But at the same time, we heard from Pfizer saying, we do in fact, have second doses, which we've now been told to start shipping.
So bottom line, Anderson, I do think there's going to be more doses going to these states. These are the second doses, as opposed to a sort of held back reserve stockpile.
COOPER: And earlier this week, HHS recommended states move to start vaccinating people 65 and older. In many places across the country, there aren't enough doses. And there isn't the infrastructure to expand availability to more people. So what needs to happen to improve the rollout?
GUPTA: Well, you know, there's several things, you know, we've sort of seen this now, because we've seen what's gone wrong so far. One is you've got to, you know, obviously, broaden the criteria, as you just mentioned, people over the age of 65. But you got to have, you know, the these places where people can get the vaccine, I mean, people really don't know where to go get the vaccine, who to call how this all works right now. That's got to change. And some of this we heard in President-elect Biden's speech, this idea of having vaccination fairs and community outreach clinics. On day one, they say a FEMA is going to start these community outreach clinics, they're going to have hundreds of they say. Got to have more health care workers, we find that the simple process of just having enough people to push the shots into arms, that's been a rate limiting step.
So, you know, calling on the Commissioned Corps, even asking if retired healthcare professionals want to come back in and do this sort of work for some time. And maybe the pharmacies as well, they could certainly add a lot to this effort. Collectively, all the pharmacies could probably do close to 100 million doses a month. So, these things -- these are the sorts of things that need to happen.
COOPER: Sanjay, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
News continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME", Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Have a good weekend my friend.