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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Trump Allies Keep Pressuring Election Officials To Audit 2020 Vote; Election Deniers Running For Political Offices Nationwide; GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy's Long Quest For The Speaker's Gavel; Extremism In America One Year After The Capitol Insurrection; Biden Defends Blaming Trump On Riot Anniversary: We Have To "Face The Truth, Deal With It And Move On"; Biden: Purpose Of The Presidency Is "To Unite This Nation". Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 06, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In some lines that seemed almost designed to trigger Trump, going directly after him, adding emphasis in lines when he said that he was the defeated former president.
But in the end, as President Biden was leaving Capitol Hill today, he was asked by a reporter why he didn't name Trump directly. And Jake, he said it's because it wasn't about Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, but what he said it more was, and I'm quoting him now, "about the system and somebody who decides to put himself above everything."
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.
Across the country, supporters of Donald Trump who pushed the big lie are still pressuring local election officials to revisit the past election and to recount the 2020 vote. As CNN's Sara Murray reports, there are a lot of people running for office and observers are concerned that they want to make it easier to overturn election victories that they don't like in the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RON HANKS, (R) COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I'm Ron Hanks, and I approve this message.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. Senate hopeful Ron Hanks is shooting at 50 million (ph) voting machines and calling for an audit.
In Colorado, a state Joe Biden won in 2020 by more than 13 points.
In liberal, Washington State, a local Republican Party is knocking on doors trying to uncover voter fraud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're canvassing now in about a dozen counties.
MURRAY (voice-over): In Crow Wing, Minnesota, a bright red county in a state that's gone blue since 1976, residents are pressing the Board of Commissioners for an audit based on false and misleading pretenses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That log will tell us if that thing went on to the internet and switched any votes.
MURRAY (voice-over): And in Alabama, which former President Trump carried by 25 points, Republican Secretary of State John Merrill is still battling back unfounded claims of fraud.
JOHN MERRILL, (R) ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: I think a lot of that is people listening to people who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.
It's almost as if they will claim that a murder was committed and yet they cannot prove that the person ever lived, let alone the body or a weapon.
MURRAY (voice-over): In the year since rioter storm the U.S. Capitol, convinced the 2020 election was stolen, many Republicans are still lapping up Trump's election lies. They're pressuring local officials to revisit 2020. Some are even running for higher office. Others are passing legislation making it easier to meddle in election administration.
JESS MARSDEN, COUNSEL, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: Thirty-two of those bills have become law in 17 states, which is a really unprecedented amount of legislative interest in the mechanics of election administration.
MURRAY (voice-over): Efforts to undermine confidence in election results began in hotly contested battleground states, but have since ballooned into a nationwide crusade. In Colorado, election officials like Justin Grantham are aware of Hanks sad (ph).
JUSTIN GRANTHAM, CLERK & RECORDER, FREMONT COUNTY, COLORADO: With his copy machine that he blew up with a rifle, yes, I have seen that.
MURRAY (voice-over): But State Representative Hanks rebuffed offers to learn about the voting systems firsthand.
GRANTHAM: I've extended multiple offers for him to come into my office and talk to me about the election and he's not responded and not come in.
MURRAY (voice-over): Hanks told CNN he appreciates the offers, but he did his own research.
HANKS: I didn't really need it. I was at other locations and so that made it rather redundant.
MURRAY (voice-over): Asked why he's still spreading debunked conspiracies, Hanks says nothing has been debunked.
HANKS: I think that is a false argument. We have found evidence and where it is compounding daily.
MURRAY (voice-over): Back in Alabama when Merrill met with election deniers, including My Pillow CEO, Mike Lindell. MICHAEL LINDELL, MY PILLOW CEO: And the whole technology was attacked.
MURRAY (voice-over): He easily debunk their claims.
MERRILL: The information that they had been sharing with us could have been cleared up by doing a simple Google search of addresses.
MURRAY (voice-over): Other officials, though, are aiming to appease their constituents. When CNN asked a Crow Wing commissioner who previously said he's confident in the county's election for an interview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got an email last night I'm going to read it.
MURRAY (voice-over): He declined, instead reading our interview request to audit supporters in a county meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sara Murray of CNN news.
MURRAY (voice-over): This week, he and other board members voted to ask Minnesota Secretary of State to launch an audit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Motion passes.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MURRAY: Now, democracy advocates worry that this swirl of disinformation could lead to more violence around future elections. Even Dominion voting warned that violent ads like the one Ron Hanks is running in Colorado can endanger its employees as well as its customers. Jake.
TAPPER: Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Georgia Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Michigan's Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
And Secretary Benson, let me start with you. "The Washington Post" spoke with Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel. And here's what she told them about her challenger who's a Trump backed conservative who filed a lawsuit challenging the vote in Michigan. Quote, "There is no question that if I am replaced by Matthew DePerno, democracy falls in Michigan. Not maybe, not possibly, certainly. He has made it clear not only that he supports the big lie, he's one of the originators of the big lie," unquote.
You know, obviously she faces an election challenge there, but do you think that's hyperbole? And if not, what does that mean for the people of Michigan if they're democracy falls?
JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: No it's not hyperbole, democracy is on the ballot this fall and it is an opportunity for voters to hold accountable those who have lied time and time again spreading misinformation about the truth of the 2020 election. But it's also a potential opportunity for those bad actors who have clearly shown they don't believe in democracy to gain the levers of power over our democracy. That lies (ph) the chief election official, that the attorney general as the chief law enforcement officer maintain to protect and preserve the integrity of our elections. If those -- that authority is handed over to individuals who clearly do not believe in democracy and if used their careers to try to dismantle it, then indeed, democracy could fall and wither on the vine here in our state and around the country.
TAPPER: Lieutenant Governor Duncan, we hear the phrase democracy in peril quite a bit, maybe for some people can start to lose meaning after a while, but you have predicted a, quote, "political civil war in Georgia." What do you mean by that?
LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): Well, we continue to be the center point of the political universe here in Georgia. And it seems to me that we're going to be a continued proving ground for democracy, but also for a style of leadership going forward, this notion that populism makes sense in a long term fashion, and leadership is just a false narrative. We need real leadership right now. And so we've got a busy 12 months ahead trying to defend what we're doing here in Georgia and really put on display for the rest of the country what conservative leadership is all about.
TAPPER: Secretary Benson, NPR conducted an analysis of the races for secretaries of state across the country found at least 15 Republican candidates who push the big lie about the 2020 election, including one running against you. What's your message to the secretaries of state throughout the country who are on the frontlines of this fight? Democrat, Republican who have held the line and protected democracy including Secretary Raffensperger in Georgia, a conservative Republican.
BENSON: What's important on days like today, in particular, to recognize that in 2020 democracy prevailed, because good people on both sides of the aisle did the right thing and protected the integrity of the accurate results of the election. And it's incumbent upon all of us now who are on the ballot to tell the truth, to continue to emphasize the importance of the state's chief election officer as one who puts country first over party and to build a national coordinated nonpartisan coalition in support of prodemocracy election officials as there is on the other side a clear national coordinated strategy to replace us with those who do not believe in democracy.
TAPPER: And part of that, Lieutenant Governor Duncan, we should know just for people who heard your last answer and aren't Georgians or aren't political junkies, what's going on is your the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, the governor, Brian Kemp, he's running for reelection. He faces a primary challenge from conservative Republican David Perdue who has he's recasting himself as a MAGA, Trump Republican. And he says he wouldn't have certified the election the way that Governor Kemp did. And this is really the biggest difference between them, right, is that Governor Kemp, abided by the state constitution and did his constitutional duty and David Perdue is recasting himself as somebody who will just bend to Trump's will.
DUNCAN: Yes, David Purdue's primary challenge against Brian Kemp is a synthetic primary challenge. The only distance between the two of them is one appears to be willing to lie that the president won the election here in Georgia, which he didn't. And one is not willing, and is going to speak the truth, and that's Brian Kemp. I mean, he is literally the most conservative governor in Georgia's history and deserves an opportunity to continue to lead us.
And, Jake, to that point, I think, if any Republican going forward is going to be taken seriously, they're going to have to have either gotten it right out of the gates, which is a pretty few slim number of Republicans or they're going to have to be reckoned with the fact of saying in front of a camera, I got it wrong, and it's time to move on.
TAPPER: And Secretary Benson, let me ask you the about election reform efforts in Congress, there are Republicans open to overhauling the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which is kind of written sloppily. And it's the law that Trump and his allies were trying to use to convince Pence that he could overturn the election.
I know that's not what Democrats want. Democrats want sweeping election reforms. But shouldn't Democrats at least try to get this part fixed and work with Republicans on that?
BENSON: I think there are really three things that we need from the federal government. One is, sustained funding for our elections and our democracy. The cost of running elections are increasing. And that's something that we need from the federal government.
Two, our basic floor of protections against what we've seen in nearly every state in this country to make it more difficult for everyday citizens to vote and hold their elected officials accountable.
And then finally, we do need federal protections against election subversion. And reforming the electoral contact has got to be a critical piece of that.
So, all of these three things are needed. None is dispositive, none is, you know, for election in support from the federal government requires action on all three. And certainly, if one comes before the other, that's great. But as long as that does not negate the need to have the other two. So I fully support the efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act, but not, you know, we have to make sure it's not at the expense of the other things we also need.
TAPPER: Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
The lesson that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to have learned from the insurrection and what that could mean if he gets what he has always wanted, that speaker's gavel. Plus, Republican Governor Larry Hogan has never been afraid to call out Donald Trump. He is going to join us next on the future of his party. Stay with us.
TAPPER: A look now at the possible next Speaker of the House of Representatives if Republicans win control of the chamber in this year's election. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy from California, who went from initially acknowledging Trump's culpability in the January 6 attack to spending the past year absolving the former president of any responsibility and whitewashing what happened. What might Speaker McCarthy do?
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TAPPER (voice-over): For House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one overriding question seems to have been at the top of his mind for years.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Can I be a speaker?
TAPPER (voice-over): McCarthy's quest for the speaker's gavel started shortly after being elected to Congress in 2006, joining leadership in three years, becoming the House's third most powerful Republican in five years before taking the leader role in 2014.
MCCARTHY: First and foremost, I want to thank my constituents and my colleagues for the trust that they instilled in me.
TAPPER (voice-over): But one year after that, despite being the heir apparent, McCarthy was passed over to replace Speaker John Boehner, when ultra conservative Freedom Caucus members vowed to not support him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to move forward.
TAPPER (voice-over): The lesson McCarthy seems to have learned, make sure the most extreme members of your caucus are happy. Even if that means embracing lies and extremism. McCarthy was all in on Trump's election lies, for example.
MCCARTHY: President Trump won this election. So everyone who's listening, do not be quiet.
TAPPER (voice-over): McCarthy signed on to that mendacious lawsuit from Texas that tried to throw out votes from states Biden won.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Kevin McCarthy told me directly that he wasn't going to sign it. I said, good. You know, this is not -- it's not a brief that we got to be associated with. And then a few hours later, he signed it.
TAPPER (voice-over): And then even after blood had been shed in the Capitol, McCarthy voted to disenfranchise all of the voters from Pennsylvania and Arizona based on those same lies. Although he did have this moment of clarity in the hours after the insurrection.
MCCARTHY: We will not falter, we will not bend and we will not shrink from our duty.
TAPPER (voice-over): Initially pointing a finger at his close ally, outgoing President Trump.
MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters.
TAPPER (voice-over): But a little more than one week after that, McCarthy sang a different tune.
MCCARTHY: I don't believe he provoked if you listen to what he said at the rally.
TAPPER (voice-over): And days later, McCarthy went down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump's ring.
He then turned his attention to Trump's biggest acolytes in Congress, including Representatives Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who McCarthy defended just last week after Twitter kicked her off its platform for posting misinformation about the COVID vaccine. And after Greene had made this comment about him.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): He doesn't have the full support to be speaker.
TAPPER (voice-over): McCarthy called her to smooth things over, leading her to say they had a good call and that, quote, "I like what he has planned ahead." Part of those plans, punishing private companies that comply with the subpoenas from the bipartisan January 6 committee writing, quote, "A Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable."
McCarthy adding, he would reinstate Gosar and Greene on committees after they were kicked off by Democrats. Gosar for sharing a violent video depicting the apparent killing of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Greene for her continued push of dangerous and bigoted patently false conspiracy theories.
MCCARTHY: They'll have committees, they may have other committee assignments, they may have better committee assignments.
TAPPER (voice-over): McCarthy has even hinted he could retaliate against Democrats by kicking them off their committees if Republicans take over next year.
MCCARTHY: This body has suffered greatly. And a new standard will continue to be applied in the future.
TAPPER (voice-over): Looming over the November midterms, how would McCarthy have presided as speaker last year if he had been in charge during Trump's attempt to undermine the election?
CHENEY: Any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law. And Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.
MCCARTHY: I'm looking forward to being speaker in the next Congress.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TAPPER: One note, in the last hour, Ryan O'Toole (ph), a congressional Republican staffer who was working for Kevin McCarthy on the day of the Capitol insurrection on the floor of the House, he told me at the time that McCarthy did not engage with any of his staff in that horrible day. McCarthy's office has reached out and disputed that account, they wrote in a statement, quote, "McCarthy refused pleas from his security detail to leave his office until all of his staff and several other staff members from other offices that were sheltering in ours were guaranteed safe passage out of the building. They all escorted us through the tunnels through the Rayburn garage. Throughout the day McCarthy was in frequent contact with members of our staff," unquote.
Let's discuss the larger issues here with a Republican Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan.
Governor Hogan, I want to ask you, what do you think Kevin McCarthy would have done had he been speaker last year? Do you share Congresswoman Liz Cheney's skepticism that he would have upheld the Constitution and done his duty?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, look, I can't speculate as to what Kevin McCarthy, you know, did do or would might have done. I can tell you that, you know, you're the one of the clips that you just showed what he said on January 6, I agree with. And, you know, I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary over the past year, that would make me change my position about what happened on January 6. But I can't speak to what Kevin McCarthy might have done. It's kind of, you know, I have no idea what he would do.
TAPPER: Former Vice President Dick Cheney was at the Capitol earlier today. He said this about the state of the Republican Party, quote, "I am deeply disappointed at the failure of many members of my party to recognize the grave nature of the January 6 attacks and the ongoing threat to our nation."
Do you agree? And how do you change the direction of the Republican Party? How do you get Republican officials to stop lying about the election?
HOGAN: Well, I do agree with Vice President Cheney's remarks today. And you know, I've been speaking out about this myself repeatedly over the past year. It bothers me deeply.
I think that, you know, people in my party who refuse to accept the realities of what happened one year ago today, are making a big mistake and, you know, putting fealty to Donald Trump ahead of their, you know, their constitutional oath to defend the Constitution, represent their constituents. And I think it's, you know, it's not helpful for the Republican Party. It's not good for the country. And, look, I remember vividly exactly what happened on January 6 as I was getting frantic calls from the leaders of Congress and when I had to send in the Maryland State Police and the Maryland National Guard. You know, anybody who doesn't believe that that happened on January 6 is just not telling the truth.
TAPPER: But we've heard today even from Republican officials, Governor DeSantis, in Florida, belittling what happened that day. It seems like the fever is getting worse in your party not better.
HOGAN: Well, you know, I would actually agree with you. I was -- I thought that by now that perhaps the fever would break and that more people would start standing up and telling the truth. There are some leaders -- there are a few more Republicans that are coming up and telling it like it is. But there's certainly, you know, a shortage of courage in my party and a lot of people that are just kind of whitewashing what happened.
You know, you can have different opinions on different issues. And, you know, I certainly don't, you know, question Kevin McCarthy's, you know, desire to be speaker and Republicans taking over the House, you know. But I don't think we ought to get there by trying to deal with conspiracy theories and lying about what happened in the last election or trying to pretend like this wasn't a violent insurrection at the Capitol a year ago.
TAPPER: And what did people -- Republican officeholders tell you, ones that aren't as bold as you or Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger or Geoff Duncan? What did they tell you about why they either go along with this or spew the lies?
HOGAN: Well, you know, you hear a little bit of everything that some people, I think, are actually believe this stuff that they're saying, but there's an awful lot of people, I think, that are just afraid. They're afraid of being primary, they're afraid of being attacked.
I mean, look, this is -- people are actually being threatened for standing up and saying what they believe. And, you know, so it's -- I think there's a little bit of, you know, people all over the spectrum, but there are certainly a lot of my friends and colleagues in my party who realized that, you know, that the election, although, you know, there may have been some improprieties here and there, that there was not enough to overturn the election, and that what happened on January 6 was an assault on our democracy.
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, it wasn't just staffers and members of Congress and journalists and observers, it was an assault on democracy. Exactly as you as you put it. There are former Trump staffers, according to former Trump communications Chief Stephanie Grisham, at least 15 of them, who we're going to meet next week to talk about a way to stop this fever, this disease in the Republican Party.
What can they do? You've been out there speaking your mind, following your father's example for people who might not know your dad, rest in peace, was a Republican congressman from Maryland, and he voted to impeach Richard Nixon after Watergate and very bravely so and was alone, so you come from good stock. But for people who have the DNA, what do you tell them?
HOGAN: Yes. Well, no, look, I'm not the only one speaking. You mentioned a few. There are other Republican leaders. I saw there was an op-ed by Karl Rove today that was pretty hard hitting. You know my friend, Chris Christie, who was very close to President Trump is speaking out. We had a number of people resign their cabinet positions and leave the White House.
And so I think people, you know, just the speaking their mind and their conscience and telling, you know, what really happened, I think the more voices the merrier. This is something really important to me. It's, you know, I've been focused on this for the entire time I've been in elective office, but especially over the past year. And it's -- I think we need to have more voices in the Republican Party that are willing to have the courage to stand up and speak out.
TAPPER: I think Politico went back and looked at the 18 members of the Trump administration that resigned in protest because of January 6 or around that time suggesting, and only one of them, only one of them, Alyssa Farah, and I think Stephanie Grisham also so too, were have been willing to say anything since. Secretary Chao and others, dead silence.
Governor Larry Hogan, thank you so much. I appreciate your time today as always.
HOGAN: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up next, stopping extremists and another possible insurrection. Security and intelligence experts are going to talk about how that's easier said than done. Stay with.
TAPPER: This is a live look right now at the steps of Capitol Hill where any moment members of Congress are going to hold a prayer vigil to mark the one year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Once again, security gates and bike fences are up around the Capitol this time as lawmakers gather for this moment of silence to mark this one year since the dark deadly day. Those barriers also serve as a stark reminder that there are still extremists who want to resurface according to the Intelligence Community.
Let's talk about that threat while we wait for the prayer vigil to start. I want to bring in former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer, former FBI Senior Intelligence Adviser Phil Mudd and former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Juliette Kayyem.
Chief Gainer, I'll start with you. You spent many years in leadership positions at the Capitol. For years, you've called for a more secure perimeter. Have those calls been taken more seriously in recent years? TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Well, in some ways they have but when you see we still refuse to think maybe long term about fences and traffic around security. I don't think we've addressed that. And the nature of the threat is changed. This violent extremist is a very different threat than we prepared for years ago.
TAPPER: I'm sorry, I have to interrupt. We have to go to the Capitol to listen to that prayer vigil. Let's listen in. Right now, we are hearing from, I believe this is a Bishop Michael Curry.
PRESIDING BISHOP MICHAEL CURRY: You are the source of all that is good and just and true, and compassionate. We come before you, the fountain of all wisdom and the light of all truth. We come before you not in pride or arrogance, but we come before you in true humility.
We come before you because we need your help. We need your help in these troubled times. We need your help for this beloved nation. We need your help for those who have been traumatized and troubled by the painful events of one year ago and all that has continued since.
We need your help, Lord, now to be the democracy you would have us to be, to be the nation you would have us to be. One nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. So we ask you now to help us. Help up all those who are traumatized. Help all of those who have lost loved ones. Help those who are struggling.
Help us to be instruments of your peace, instruments of your love and instruments of your healing for this land, for this Congress, for this government, for we the people, for this country and this world.
Precious Lord, we come not in arrogance or pride, but humbly. Precious Lord, please take our hand, lead us on, let us stand. Some of us are tired. Some of us are weak and some are worn. But through the storm, through the night, lead us on to the light. Take our hands Precious Lord and lead us home. Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Master Sergeant Sara Sheffield of the President's own United States Marine Band.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We thank Ms. Sheffield for leading us in song, Bishop Curry for leading us in prayer.
On behalf of the distinguished Democratic Leader of the Senate, all of our colleagues from the House and Senate, we prayerfully mark one year since the insurrection and patriotically honor the heroes who defended the Capitol and our mark our democracy that day. Let us all here join in a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives and sacrificed so much for our democracy that day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining the prayer vigil. Have a good rest of your evening.
TAPPER: You just watched a silent prayer vigil on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as members of Congress mark one year since the deadly capital insurrection. I'm not sure who is in the audience there. I hope it is a bipartisan crowd. I do not know and I cannot tell with the masking there.
I want to bring back my panel of national security experts to discuss ways to stop another potential Capitol attack.
Phil Mudd, let me go to you now. These threats go well beyond the Capitol in Washington D.C., of course. I spoke with the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas yesterday. Here's what he said about what fuels this extremism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Domestic violent extremism does, in fact, remain one of the greatest threats that we face on the Homeland. Words matter. And the words of leaders matter a lot. And that can actually fuel the spread of false information and can drive people to violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And Phil, that's a point you've made on the show before.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.
TAPPER: Members of Congress sometimes are not only the victims, some of them are the source of the problem.
MUDD: I think so. And I think if you look at the language he's using and expand that language. When you hear domestic violent extremism I think some people will say, you know, the FBI, the Capitol police, state local police across the country can handle this because extremism is groups, like the Proud Boys.
Let me give you a bottom line, Jake. When we did threats 20 years ago for the FBI director, we had maybe a handful on the table every day of serious players, and maybe 5,000 investigations of Al-Qaeda nationwide. That's violent extremism of a foreign nature. That's not a revolution.
Today, you had 700 people charged in one day, there are members of Congress who believe that this extremism is not only acceptable, but that violence may be the only solution. And polling data says that there are 10s of millions of people who sympathize with them. Let me be clear, law enforcement can't handle this. That's not extremism, that's a revolution and the leaders have a responsibility to cut it out.
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, revolution is a nice term for it. Treason might be another one. Juliette, militia groups have long organized underground in this country. How dangerous are they? The local law enforcement officials need to do more to stop those groups.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DHS: They're dangerous. And see, what we saw a year after the insurrection was essentially, for a while they went quiet, because they knew that they were being sort of under surveillance. And then you've seen this sort of ratcheting up, but it's been quite localized. And it's combined the political grievance of Stop the Steal with all this other crazy conspiracies about what the vaccine does to you or what our kids are studying in school. So you've had this -- so I call it the hate stew, which is brewing on a local level.
And I think, but just to Phil's point, that feeds off of a sense of winning that Trump tries to give these people. I mean, in other words, you cannot separate what's happening on the local level with a sense that there's a leadership. And so, I've always over the last year focus on Trump, because what you need to focus on now is recruitment. It is -- there's going to be people who can't be changed, we have to recognize that. You want to stop this thing from getting bigger.
And that goes to a sense of people who join these violent groups that they are on a winning team. And that was, I have to say, the brilliance of Biden's speech today. Without naming him, he belittled Trump, he minimized him. He said, we're not negotiating, we're not -- I don't need to understand you anymore, this is about good versus bad. It was essential pivot to stop recruitment and radicalization
TAPPER: And Chief Gainer, more January 6 defendants come from Florida than any other state. Last July, Capitol Police announced plans to open a regional office in Tampa just to investigate threats to members of Congress. What do you make of that?
GAINER: Well, that's a good step. But it also requires, I think, as both Phil and Juliette are indicating that this is nationwide. And our local police departments are not well equipped to do that, because you may recall that we really cut back on intelligence units in local police departments and people have been reticent about getting mixed up in the whole issue about First Amendment rights. So we have to refocus our local law enforcement officers to give them the tools to matter to this.
And then at the same time people are complaining about, we don't want artificial intelligence, we don't like cameras, we want to be free to do what we want. But the expectation is, there's a lot of people who have to work together to feed that information and intelligence to make everybody smarter about this.
TAPPER: And Phil, the Anti-Defamation League is among the groups tracking how extremism, how bigotry and hate metastasized in the year since the election. The CEO of the ADL said today that extremism has recently become more localized. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: These extremists have grown more organized, they've been increasingly involved in. They've shifted from large public rallies to small local school board meetings to attacking the integrity of medical professionals, to intimidating town council members and whatnot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What would you be looking for, for evidence of a potential threat? Obviously, people can believe whatever they want to believe in exercise their rights and free speech. But in terms of a potential threat, what would you look for?
MUDD: Well, the problem you have here is you're not looking at a single group where you can focus intelligence resources, I have to have some indication of violence. Otherwise, as we're talking about, somebody is going to come up and say, I just went to a school board meeting and spoke what I wanted to speak. That's a First Amendment rights. So they're learning what language to use to get under the radar.
The final thing I'd say, Jake, is what you need is help from the political side. Let me give you a scenario. You go into a hearing and somebody at the council or in the Congress says, I agree with those guys. What do you say?
And Juliette Kayyem, final thought?
KAYYEM: No, I mean, I agree with everything said. And I think what we need to focus on is that this is a my -- this is a problem of the majority in terms of focusing on a minority sentiment. We have a sense sometimes that this is like an equal fight. It is not.
This is a small group that would use violence for political gains, you could call them terrorists insurrectionist. And so, pivoting to a winning stance is what we need to do as Americans. Not be afraid of this, but to actually shame it, call it what it is and prosecute it when the threat of violence is real.
TAPPER: My thanks to all of you. Thank you so much.
President Biden forcefully laying out the facts about January 6. But is the United States simply too divided for his words to change any hearts and minds? Stay with us.
TAPPER: A look now at President Biden's role in the fight to save American democracy. Today, President Biden dismissed questions about whether his forceful remarks given at the U.S. Capitol earlier today could end up dividing the country more than healing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The way you have to heal, you have to recognize the stem of the wound. You can't pretend. This is serious stuff. And a lot of people understandably want to go, OK, that was an accident (ph). You know, I just assumed not facing.
You got to face it. That's what great nations do. They face the truth. Deal with it and move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Here to discuss, former Obama Administration Official Van Jones and Biden biographer and New Yorker writer, Evan Osnos.
Van, let me start with you. President Biden mentioned the former president 16 times without actually using the word Trump, calling -- saying that he lost, he failed, he lies. You're somebody who thinks about ways to reach out to Trump supporters. How do you do that when so many of them just believe this lie?
VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, look, first of all, I think you have to punish the ones who did wrong. The fact that right now you got a bunch of people who did a bunch of bad stuff, who truly did for it, and they have not been prosecuted at all is a very bad sign. It means you can do horrible stuff and get away with it. So you've got to be tough on the ones that are bad.
But I think what we don't do enough of though, I think, you know, doing more now, there are people in the Republican Party who did the right thing and stood up to this President.
The reason that you have a functioning democracy right now is because black women in the south who are progressive did more than anybody could have ever imagined. And because a bunch of white conservative grassroots election officials did the right thing and put the Constitution above their party. And the twin result of black women and white men who voted against each other but still fought for the same country, that's -- we don't say enough. We don't lift up the good enough, but we got to do more to punish the wrongdoer.
TAPPER: Evan, was there anything in Biden speech that you heard today that a Trump supporting Republican in Congress or in a voter could agree with?
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, what one of the things I heard that was very distinct, was him saying, look, this is not just about this former president, this is also about the web of lies. That idea, the web of lies, is really important. Because you have to think about, there's a whole apparatus really that is out there that is profiting from the web of lies, that is spreading the web of lies.
And if you're going to try to peel off people within this broader community that might eventually say, you know what, enough is enough to quote Lindsey Graham on the night of -- after the riot of January 6. If you're going to try to get people to actually say enough is enough, you have to recognize that there are people out there who are pulling this country apart for no other reason than to make money from it. That's one of the arguments he made today.
TAPPER: And Van, there's a poll from November that shows only 12 percent of the of the American people think that the country's become more united since Biden took office, 49 percent say it's become more divided, 38 percent say the country hasn't changed. That's not Biden's fault, necessarily, but that's just what people think about the state of the nation.
We're almost a year into Biden's first term. If you were advising him, what would you do to tell him so he could change that, so he could unite us more?
JONES: The most important threat we have right now is with the election coming up having a double legitimacy crisis, where if the Republicans lose, they don't accept, that they say there was trickery, if the Democrats lose, we don't accept it, we say there was voter suppression. And there's just no confidence at all now in our voting system.
I think there could be a grand bargain on voting. I think trying to do it with only one side the way we're doing at the state level where only Republicans get their way and then trying to -- the federal level have only Democrats get our way, I think there is an opportunity. Everybody would like to feel better about our election system. And I think he could perhaps try to strike a grand bargain on voting. And that could show a pathway forward together as America.
TAPPER: Evan, you have written one of the most in depth biographies of President Biden that exists. Do you think that there's anything more he can do to change the vicious political divisions? Or does he really view this through the perspective of democracy versus autocracy, which is one of the themes of his presidency in his view?
OSNOS: Yes, look, Jake, it took a generation for this country to get as divided as it is. It's going to take more than a year to begin to stitch it back together.
You heard him today, speaking, frankly, with a kind of bluntness that we haven't heard from him about the reality of the disunity in this country. About him saying, let's brush this aside. As long as we're facing these kinds of obstacles, it's impossible.
But you heard him land on the note that he came to this presidency with, which is that this is a struggle for the soul of the nation. And that sounded, I think, to a lot of people like kind of empty campaign rhetoric today on the one year anniversary of January 6, it sounds like a pretty clear prognosis at diagnosis of the problem we're facing.
TAPPER: Evan Osnos, Van Jones, good to see both of you. Thanks for joining, good to see both of you. Thanks for joining us. And I'll be back with you tonight in just a couple hours, joined by Anderson Cooper, we're going to be live from the Capitol for Live Coverage of January 6 One Year Later. That starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
Coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer, she was one of the lawmakers stuck in the gallery when the Capitol was attacked, Wolf is going to talk to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal ahead. Stay with us.