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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pelosi Calls for Resignation of U.S. Capitol Police Chief; Biden Nominates Judge Merrick Garland As Attorney General; As Mob Stormed Capitol, U.S. Reported Record COVID Deaths and Hospitalizations. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 07, 2021 - 16:30   ET



SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): You know, they were convinced of things that weren't so.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, and the top Democratic leaders are seeking the top law enforcement officials on Capitol Hill to essentially step down, the top law enforcement official on the House side, the sergeant in arms has submitted his resignation on the Senate side.

Chuck Schumer has demanded that he be -- he resign, if not he will be fired once Schumer becomes the majority leader. And also, Pelosi is asking for the resignation of the U.S. Capitol police chief, saying that she hasn't even gotten briefed of details what exactly what happened here.

And, you mentioned it, Jake, there is a demand for a deep investigation on Capitol Hill by these senators and how members to figure out what's happening here. And Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, e is on board with that probe -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Manu Raju at the Capitol, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Terrance Gainer. He was once the chief for the U.S. Capitol Hill.

Also with me, Charles Ramsey, who is the chief of D.C. police and the Philadelphia police commissioner. You both worked together here in D.C.

Chief Gainer, let me start with you -- and let me say, obviously, the mob is responsible for the violence, OK? The police are not responsible for the violence. But, obviously, there was some sort of an issue here. And Chief Gainer, I am showing right now a clip of video showing an officer in the Capitol posing for a selfie with one of the rioters.

Now, you worked with the current chief of Capitol Police, Steven Sund. He said today that his officers responded, quote, valiantly. How would you describe how they responded?

TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Well, in many of the videos and the pictures that have been shown, individuals officers were engaged in a battle with the protesters. But overall, the responsibility does lie with the chief and the House and Senate sergeant of arms. And, Jake, as you know and Jake Ramsey knows, I was once the Senate sergeant of arms.

So the ultimate responsibility lies with them. And clearly, as can be, there was a major problem and security problem up there because of decisions that were made or not made.

TAPPER: Chief Ramsey, you heard Joe Biden and maybe earlier in the show, Hakeem Jeffries, talked about how the response to these rioters is very different from what we have seen when it comes to Black Lives Matter protests. In June, the D.C. National Guard lined the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

And that was to protect a statue. And we did not see this type of aggressiveness or planning at the Capitol, even though for weeks we knew the date was coming. Trump had called for them to come based on all of these conspiracy theories. What do you think happened?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, first of all, the response is unacceptable. I don't disagree with the comparisons that people are making. I mean, when you take a look at the heavy police presence during the summer. And I'm not disagreeing with the fact there should have been heavy police presence, but there should have been equally heavy police presence yesterday, if not more.

So, certainly, when you take a look at it there is a difference. Why that is I do not know. But you can't rule out bias as being one of the issues.

I mean, personally, I believe that this is a group yesterday that is supposedly conservative, although they are really not conservative. They are terrorists as far as I'm concerned. But they portrayed themselves as conservatives, as loving the police. They are predominantly white.

And I do think that may have figured into it in terms of people letting their guard down a bit. I don't think they thought these guys would do what they did, but they certainly did.

TAPPER: Chief Gainer, the acting U.S. attorney, Michael Sherman, says that the charges for those involved in the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol Hill could include seditious conspiracy, rioting, insurrection, they're not ruling out anything. What's your response? What do you think? Chief Gainer?

GAINER: Jake, I'm sorry. I did not know you were talking to me. I think that is good news. Sometimes you don't always make arrests on the scene when you are in the middle of a battle, where you're behind the 8-ball because you don't have enough people. There are enough cameras and videos and pictures being taken and fortunately the terrorists are on social media bragging about it.

It is very easy to do after action investigations. That is being done across the United States.

But, Jake, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I led one agency up there for four years. I was the Senate sergeant of arms for seven years. You never would have convinced me that this was racially motivated on the part of the police not to take the appropriate role.


There are failures. And the Capitol Police underestimated the number of protesters coming from the ellipse. They underestimated how angry they were and how violent they were. They underestimated the fact how the president could rile them up, or the former mayor of New York could say go down there and let's fight. And they were ill-prepared. They did not have enough people.

TAPPER: Chief Ramsey, the --

GAINER: And they should have called for the back-up from -- they should have called for the back up from the D.C. police much sooner.

TAPPER: Chief Ramsey, the acting U.S. attorney said when asked about President Trump's role here, he said we are looking at all actors here, as their command and control and others that facilitated or played some other ancillary role in this. All options are on the table.

But that doesn't mention inciting, and incitement is a crime. I mean, Charles Manson didn't actually kill anybody. The Creepy-Crawleys, his followers did, and Manson went to prison nonetheless.

Do you think Trump was inciting the crowd, and should there be charges against him?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, there is no question in my mind he incited the crowd. I mean, his fingerprints are all over it and they have been for a while. I mean, this is not new. It kind of came to a head yesterday, but he's been doing this throughout his presidency. He stirs the pot constantly. He gets other people to do the dirty work.

I mean, he is at this rally and he's telling them, you know, go march on the Capitol. I'm going to be there with you.

Yeah, right. He went straight to the White House, pick his feet up and turn on the television set. He got them to do what he does, and I don't -- I don't think he would have had the courage to personally do anything like that anyway.

But he stirs the pot. He incites. He does all kinds of things. I mean, this guy is a cancer on democracy, and we can't get rid of him soon enough as far as I'm concerned. TAPPER: Chief Gainer, do you think that there should be charges

against those who incited, whether President Trump or Rudy Giuliani who talked about trial by combat or Donald Trump Jr.? I mean, should there be incitement charges?

GAINER: I do believe that should be investigated and looked at by the United States attorney. They were definitely lit the match that started this. And, unfortunately, the Capitol Police wasn't able to control the fire once it got there. But they began this.

And as Chuck Ramsey just said, this has been fermenting for a number of weeks and actually over the last four years this guy has tried to not lead by example.


GAINER: But that does not advocate the police. We failed up there. We need to be held responsible for that.

TAPPER: Of course. And I know that you both agree that there are a number of officers who did their level best and a number of officers who are injured right now, one even in the hospital. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families.

Chief Ramsey, Chief Gainer, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

GAINER: Thank you.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: More breaking news now.

Moments ago, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly unleashed on his former boss right here on the lead. You heard it live, saying the cabinet should meet to discuss removing President Trump from office using the 25th Amendment. He said that he would vote to remove him from office were he still on the cabinet.

He also claimed yesterday's riots at the Capitol were a direct result of President Trump, quote, poisoning the minds of peoples with the lies and the frauds.


TAPPER: If you were in the cabinet right now would you vote to remove him from office?

JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes. I would. The one thing we have going for us here, Jake. It is only 13 more days. No one, as indicated yesterday by our vice president, no one around him anymore is going to break the law. He can give all of the orders that he wants and nobody is going to break the law. We saw Vice President Pence stand his ground yesterday.


TAPPER: Let's discuss with two of the best reporters in the country, Abby Phillip and Maggie Haberman.

Abby, what is your reaction to the former Chief of Staff Kelly's comments?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is obviously not something that John Kelly has been willing to do up to this point. You know, Jake and Maggie, you both know John Kelly hasn't been a fan of President Trump for a long time but hasn't been willing to do this kind of -- this kind of interview, frankly.

He doesn't talk to the press about his time in the White House. And I think a lot of people are legitimately asking how on earth if this is how you feel, how on earth could you have harbored these views and kept them from the public especially since there was a presidential election last fall.

But I did think it was interesting that Kelly told you, Jake, that the reason in his view that that happened was because when he decided to come into the administration and serve as chief of staff, which was actually his second post, he felt like he did not really know this is who Trump was.


And when he learned it was who Trump was, he felt he had to stay to prevent more harm from being done. So, that's a pretty familiar thing, but that's the explanation for those out there who are wondering.

TAPPER: And, Maggie, John Kelly said he did not speak ill of President Trump because he is a retired senior military officer and he thought it would be inappropriate to do so about the commander in chief and he's doing so now because there is a new president. What did you make of the interview?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I do think that is certainly part of why John Kelly hasn't talked. I was very struck by that sentence he said about how Trump poisoned the minds of people with his lies and he used the word "fraud". That wasn't here.

That was different than this man is flawed. That was very pronounced, and that was very specific that the president has been lying to his supporters for many weeks now about what was going on, but particularly about what Vice President Mike Pence was able to do yesterday in terms of certifying the vote and whether he could toss the actual results which were for Joe Biden.

I do think there is some revisionist history. I understand Abby's point about, you know, people wondering why people don't say things until now. There are a lot of criticisms of people. Every administration official, except for the die hard people, who came in with this president during the campaign have all been stunned to discover what he's like, who he is. They told themselves they are making a difference. They've been disoriented by him.

John Kelly knew who the president was. The president would call him about things when he was DHS secretary. And, John Kelly was involved in the child separation policy.

So I don't think (AUDIO GAP) but I do think it is words and power and what he would say about the impact was really important.

TAPPER: Maggie, "The Times" has new reporting. You work with the "New York Times" for anybody that does not know. The president suggested to his aides he wants to pardon himself before leaving office. It's not clear if that is constitutional or allowed. Tell us more though.

HABERMAN: So the president has been having conversations with advisors suggesting he wants to pardon himself before he leaves office. These conversation took prior to what happened yesterday. It's just important to note that or at least the ones we are aware of took place before yesterday. But this appears to be more than idle musings which he is sometimes given to.

This would be precedent-setting and it is not clear if a court would uphold it. I do want to note one thing said yesterday by the White House counsel (AUDIO GAP)

TAPPER: We are having -- hold on a second, Maggie, we're having problem with your Cisco. Say it again. You said one thing mentioned by the White House counsel's office.

HABERMAN: Sure. Jake, so one thing that the White House counsel said to him yesterday as they were trying to get the president to stop saying things on Twitter or in his video that were further inflaming the situation yesterday as the Capitol complex was engulfed by his supporters. The president could face legal exposure over what happened and over the violence that took place yesterday.

There are a lot of factors at play. The president is considering pardoning a number of people. He offered pardons to a variety of aides, some of whom were gamely asking what is it, what crime does he think I committed. I expect we'll see a bunch of this to come to this.

TAPPER: Yeah, incitement, we were just talking about that with Chief Gainer and Chief Ramsey. Incitement, I mean, there was -- I'm not a lawyer but that seems like something worth exploring.

Abby, I want you to take a listen to something else former White House Chief of Staff Kelly had to say about President Trump's behavior.


KELLY: When guardrails were off, he is very predictable to do the kind of things he has been doing. And, of course, he is enraged because he has lost an election. He is a laughingstock now. He is striking out.

But again, someone -- someone needs to help manage him. And you know, I don't think those people took up the task when I left.


TAPPER: I mean, I think one of the things that Kelly says there is that he was not particularly surprised. This is who Trump is. I know, Maggie and I have been talking about this for weeks, about concerns that things would get this bad.

Abby, your thoughts?

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, it also cuts to Maggie's point, actually. It cuts against Kelly's own, you know, explanation for why he stuck around for so long. I mean this is who President Trump is and always has been.

You know, ultimately I think that so many of the officials, John Kelly included, those that have left in recent days, those who are considering leaving, they really do bear responsibility for enabling this kind of behavior.


It is not true that, you know, Donald Trump is somehow of a different character today that he might have been a week ago or two weeks ago, or a month ago. So, all of that makes them a little bit culpable for what is going on here. And, beyond that, John Kelly speaking about the president like he is a child is just really extraordinary. But that is how many of his aides view the president.

TAPPER: And let me just also say as we come to the close of the Trump era, Abby and Maggie, President Trump has attacked both of you personally and repeatedly for being excellent reporters and clear-eyed about who he is. Thank you for what you have done. Thank you for your journalism. And thanks for being tough.

PHILLIP: Likewise, Jake.

TAPPER: President-elect Biden today condemning the mob that stormed the Capitol building, called it one of the darkest days in American history, saying those rioters were domestic terrorists.

As CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports for us now, the incoming president laid the blame squarely at the feet of his predecessor.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I wish we could say we couldn't see it coming. But that isn't true. We could see it coming.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day after the assault on the U.S. Capitol and American democracy, President-elect Joe Biden delivering one of his most powerful rebukes of President Trump.

BIDEN: The past four years, we had a president who made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything that he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset and yesterday was a combination of the unrelenting attack.

ZELENY: Yet Biden not adding his voice to the rising calls to remove Trump from office immediately.

CNN has learned Biden for now has little appetite for invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment.

The racial inequities on display Wednesday at the capitol, Biden said, were unacceptable.

BIDEN: No one can tell me if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday they would not have been -- they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.

ZELENY: Pledging to restore justice, Biden introducing Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general, to lead the Department of Justice in a tumultuous post-Trump era.

BIDEN: Your loyalty is not to me, it's to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice.

ZELENY: In selecting Garland, Biden turning to a centralist federal judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court by President Obama was blocked by Republicans. This heated times, Biden said, demand a leader at the Justice Department, whose beyond reproach of politics

JUDGE MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose.

ZELENY: Garland who recalled his early days in the Justice Department just after Watergate said he would restore America's rule of law.

GARLAND: As everyone that watched yesterday's events in Washington now understands, if they did not understand before, the rule of law is not just some lawyer's term or phrase. It is the very foundation of our democracy.

ZELENY: He will be joined by top deputy, Lisa Monaco, a longtime veteran of the department, and Obama's homeland security advisor, Vanita Gupta, as associate attorney general and Kristen Clark to lead the Civil Rights Division.


ZELENY (on camera): Of course now, Biden will be taking office in just 13 days and coming into a Washington that is entirely different than he thought as this week began. Of course, that Senate controlled by Democrats which will ease all of the confirmation. Jake, we're also learning this afternoon that he has also settled on his choice to lead the Commerce Department, the Labor Department, and the Small Business Administration. That rounds out his cabinet -- Jake.

TAPPER: And he's going to have a much easier time getting them confirmed now that Democrats control the Senate.

Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

ZELENY: Indeed. TAPPER: Meantime, police are still trying to piece together what exactly happened yesterday at the U.S. Capitol. D.C. police releasing these images, calling the people in them persons of interest for unlawful into the Capitol during yesterday's domestic terrorist attack.

CNN's Elle Reeve as in the middle of it all yesterday.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are just standing here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we supposed to do, OK? Supreme Court is not helping us. No one is helping us.


Only us can help us. Only we can do it.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A mass group of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to stop the certification of what they believed was a fraudulent election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unquestionable that our votes were stolen. It's unquestionable. There is so much proof.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want our representatives to do the right thing and decertify the seven swing states.


REEVE: The rally started peacefully as tens of thousands gathered outside the White House. They cheered Donald Trump and his allies as they continued to lie that the election was stolen.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Let's have trial by combat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just said trial by combat. I'm ready. I'm ready.

REEVE: People marched down two avenues to the Capitol and once they got there, some broke through barricades. A few rioters broke into the building, the mobs followed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was actually here with this guy started to break in with a cane. There was a power struggle. There was that guy. He just said oh, well. I am breaking it in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They broke down the barriers and we rushed and charged them. Got all the way to the steps and we made a line. We stood there and tried to push them back. They started getting rough with us and we pushed them back.

So, that's what we do. We pushed them back. We tried to get up the steps. They wouldn't let us up. They started to pepper spray and macing everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. They maced me. They pushed me out and they maced me.

REEVE: We spoke into some people who broke into the Capitol.

What happened in there? Tell us what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went in there and I walked in and there's just a whole people lining up in some Oregon room, smoking a bunch of weed in there and they moved down.

The cops are very cool. They were like, hey, guys. Have a good night. Some of them, it's just crazy. It's really -- you can see some of them are on our side.

REEVE: We reached out to the Capitol Hill police for comment but have not yet heard back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A long time now, long time.

JOSIAH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: A huge group of us stormed inside, and as we surged, we were basically shouting anti-cops. There are people arguing, trying to get them on our side.

REEVE: Clashes with police have been sporadically throughout the day, and waves of teargas wafted into the crowd. They said they felt like they were doing something good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our Capitol! We built it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a bunch of really, really pissed off regular folks. I got a job. This is Wednesday. I'm supposed to be at work. Yeah. Shh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're doing. We're fighting back.

REEVE: And what's the point? What's the end?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the point?

REEVE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are losing our freedom. What do you mean what's the point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taking our freedoms, locking us down and turning this country us into a socialist republic. And that is not right. Just what I'm doing here.

REEVE: Elle Reeve, CNN, Washington, D.C.


TAPPER: And our thanks to CNN's Elle Reeve, with that firsthand look at the assault perpetrated by the MAGA terrorists on the heart of American democracy as you heard many of those that stormed the Capitol did so motivated by all kinds of false beliefs, including conspiracy theories. Yet another considerable challenge facing America in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

And let us not forget the horror that unfolded yesterday took place on one of the darkest days of the pandemic. The U.S. now nearing a daily average of 4,000 dead Americans every day. Hospitals across the country are overrun, and despite the ones promising silver lining of this vaccine, distribution issues continue to plague the entire nation, and they are proving that this pandemic is far from over, as CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vaccine is making it into arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could not come soon enough in my mind, yeah.

HILL: But not nearly as soon as promised.

DR. MONCEF SLAOUI, OPERATION WARP SPEED: In the month of December between the two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, we expect to have immunized 20 million.

HILL: That didn't happen. Of the 21.4 million doses distributed, less than 30 percent, 5.9 million, have been administered.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we don't catch up on what the original goal was, then we really need to make some changes about what we're doing.


HILL: The federal government now offering $3 billion to help states with the rollout, HHS telling them to expand eligibility as the American Hospital Association calls on the Secretary Alex Azar to coordinate the national efforts among all of the states and resolve barriers to rapid deployment.

Even if a million people were vaccinated every day, it would take nearly six months to reach just half of the U.S. population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this speaks to a failed leadership from the very top of American government and here we are in January, breaking records.

HILL: Four hot spots among the ten states posting their highest seven-day average for new cases since the pandemic began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The numbers continue to grow in the wrong direction.

HILL: In California, where hospitals are reaching a breaking point, L.A. County's public health director noted bluntly that this is a health crisis of epic proportions.

Southern California, one of two regions in the state where there are zero ICU beds available. Daily reported deaths in the U.S. topping 3,800 Wednesday, another record.

This funeral home in Nevada added refrigerated trailers to handle the increased need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is something I never, ever believed in my career I would ever have to be dealing with this.

HILL: At least 52 cases of the new variant of the virus first identified in the U.K. have now been documented in the U.S. and a new study by the CDC finds hundreds of case identified late last summer over a two-week period at an unnamed Arkansas University were linked to fraternities and sororities. That was before the school banned gatherings of more than ten people.


HILL (on camera): And, Jake, one more note on the variant first discovered in the U.K. As of it today, it has now been identified in eight states around the country.

TAPPER: Erica Hill, thanks so much.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now.

And, Sanjay, yesterday, the U.S. reported a record, 3,865 deaths and more than 132,000 hospitalizations, also record breaking. Have we even hit the peak do you think?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. I don't think so, Jake. I can show you quickly the models that we are looking at here. I mean, it is important to note there is different trajectories based on do states put into plan these mitigation measures. If they do, it could -- it could make the peak come a little bit earlier and last a little bit shorter. I don't know if we have the image. But basically, we are sort of in worst case scenario territory.

And if you look at the peak there, I think it will really be sort of end of January and early February when you see the peak and lasting a few weeks. That is the number of people getting infected. As you know, Jake, hospitalizations, and deaths follow in the weeks after, sadly.

TAPPER: Republicans like to decry rationing health care whenever people talk about Medicare for all. I have to note that in the system we have right now, health care is being rationed right now.

GUPTA: Right.

TAPPER: My wife and I have friends who are very, very sick with COVID and they cannot get into the hospital because their oxygen levels are not low enough.

GUPTA: I mean, Jake, this is -- this is a heartbreaking situation. I mean we saw some of this earlier last year in the Northeast where EMTs were forced to make decisions for the very reasons that you are saying, trying to ration resources on the fly. This isn't policy. This is fly by the seat of your pants rationing where it's heartbreaking decisions these paramedics are having to make.

And in your friend's case, I'm sorry to hear about them. They are told even at the outset that they can't get into a hospital right now. So, it's tough.

I mean, look, you know, you don't want to say told you so. But this is the dire situation that was predicted. Not just about the number of cases. This is about stressing the current medical system in the country to it very limits, and it's happening.

TAPPER: Yeah. We've been talking about it since February, you and I.

Sanjay, we are running out of time. But I do want to ask, the CDC dodged answering the question when they thought the vaccine would begin to make a difference in this pandemic. Is that because they don't know or because the answer is far later than we would expect, maybe even not until 2022?

GUPTA: I was confused as to why they dodged that question. I mean, there's data and evidence around this. There's no question the vaccine rollout is going slowly. But you can -- you can look at the models and predict when it's going to have an impact. And if there's good news in this, obviously, the rollout is going slowly, but the good news is that the death rates should come down first before the newly infected people.

Hospitalization rates should come down after that. I still think Jake, and I hope I'm not, you know, the only one who's saying this, but I still think within the next few months, we are going to see the impact of these vaccines on the metrics that matter the most.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. I'm going to have you back on tomorrow. We'll talk about this and we'll talk about your excellent new book. Thanks so much for being with us.

And our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.