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Don Lemon Tonight

Evidence Linked to January 6th Siege; GOP Senators Met with Trump Lawyers; Fifteen GOP Senators Seem Not to Care; Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Was Interviewed About What He Felt Upon Seeing the Video of the Insurrection; House Democrats Filed Connections of Trump and the Mob. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 11, 2021 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: They are what the president has been doing. They are the party is condoning what happened at the Capitol. They are the party that is condoning bigotry. They are the party that's condoning racism. They are the party that is, they are complicit in all of This.

Because you are what you eat, and guess what? They have been eating everything that Donald Trump has been regurgitating for the past five years and that is the Republican Party right now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Because that's what's on the menu. They will be forced to own it. This is more them on trial than Trump frankly.

LEMON: I'm not saying they shouldn't have to trial. I'm just saying --


CUOMO: No, no, I know you're not.

LEMON: -- that we should stop pretending --

CUOMO: I'm saying --

LEMON: -- like how can they not, my gosh, face all this evidence?

CUOMO: I'm with you.

LEMON: that's what they're going to do.

CUOMO: I'm with you. that's why I look at it in reverse.


CUOMO: America already decided about Donald Trump. He was voted out with the biggest number we've ever seen. This trial is much more about the future of his party than it is anything else. With this acquittal, they will be sealing their own fate. And you know, when they'll change, I disagree that they won't change. They'll change if and when they lose big time for this.

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: If in the midterms they get whopped -- which is a big if -- then they'll change, because that's politics.

LEMON: Yes, but -- what do you mean? They lost the Senate. They're not in control of the Congress and they --


CUOMO: But they did so much better than we expected.

LEMON: OK. But that counts in horseshoes.

CUOMO: Well, no. The counts right now because look at the state of the Senate. If the Democrats had really won, we wouldn't be having any of these problems.

LEMON: But they still, the Democrats are still in control. They did -- they did horribly. And listen. The Democrats thought they were going to do better. They didn't. But they're still in charge.

CUOMO: They are, but like really margin --


LEMON: So, I don't think (Inaudible) lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose the White House, and then your president is going to incite an insurrection and you still don't change? And then you have someone in your party --


CUOMO: They don't see it the way you see it. They picked up seats in Congress.


CUOMO: They're killing on the state legislative level.

LEMON: Well.

CUOMO: Which is very important.

LEMON: that is important but we're talking about --


CUOMO: And in the Senate they thought they were going to lose like six, seven seats. And they're in a dead tie.


CUOMO: that's why they're sticking with Trump. Now I'll tell you where it doesn't make sense in the Senate. Not only were they given six-year terms to ignore this kind of eminency, constantly the next election falling on your head. But 34 of them are either retiring or don't have a primary coming up. So, their fealty comes with no penalty if they're not that way. They can't vote their conscious.

LEMON: But maybe. And it's not -- it's not, I shouldn't say maybe. It's not fealty to Trump. That's who they are. He is just confirming who they are. He is just giving what they are a platform. He's allowing them to be who they are. That's what it is. You don't go against your principles, your morals, your conscience, if that's not who you are on the inside.


CUOMO: Reagan and Bush Republicans were nothing like these guys.

LEMON: I don't know about that.

CUOMO: Look at just the issue of immigration.

LEMON: I mean, listen.

CUOMO: Look how Reagan and George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush talked about immigration (Inaudible) these guys.

LEMON: Reagan was the first presidential election that I voted in. And listen --

CUOMO: You went for the hair, didn't you?

LEMON: No, I'm just saying, I'm just saying that people hold him up to be -- Reagan was not perfect. Reagan was horrible when it came to --


CUOMO: Perfect. He gave us one of the biggest deficits we've ever seen --

LEMON: that's what I mean.

CUOMO: -- and he absolutely fed the divide.

LEMON: They always hold him up -- they hold him up as a gold standard.

CUOMO: But I'm saying compare to these cats.

LEMON: And when you look at what he actually -- hold on, when you look at what he actually accomplished, he didn't. He was horrible when it came to racial issues. He was horrible when it came to the AIDS crisis. He was horrible when it came to uniting the country. He didn't unite the country. He was a divider.

And so, they hold him up as a gold standard. But so, listen, I just think it's degrees, but I think the Republican Party --

CUOMO: Degrees matter.

LEMON: -- has been moving in this direction forever. Again, they are the party of everything that they're trying to pretend that they're not. I'm not saying the people in the Capitol, that's not us. Yes, it is you. The people in Charlottesville, that's not us. Yes, it is you. Those people are not marching for Democrats.

And this whole weird thing that they keep saying, what about the riots and demonstration that happened this summer? that's apples and oranges. First of all, the demonstrations, the protests were for something that's real. It was for facts.

CUOMO: Systemic inequality.

LEMON: It was for inequality. It was for police brutality. It was for all those things. It was people who were rising up for their rights. What happened at the Capitol was built on a lie. Those riots that happened this summer were people who were capitalizing on the people who were out there who were fighting for things that were real.

It's awful that you had those things, but guess what, those people were not marching because Joe Biden or any other Democratic presidential candidate told them to go there and march and told them, hey, we're going to go take Portland. We're going to go take --


CUOMO: But that's all true.

LEMON: Nobody did that. And so for them to compare the two is B.S. It has -- one has nothing to do with the other. Demonstrations, people protesting, it's not perfect. But to have all of those people there fighting against police officers --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- in the name of a president is something that is completely different, and they're embarrassing themselves by comparing it.


CUOMO: Most protests are not peaceful. It's peaceful assembly under the first amendment, but they're angry, they're hostile, they're throwing things. They're angry. They're there out of outrage. that's always been my point. You know, people want black people to go out there and sing gospel hymns and go home.

LEMON: Kumbaya. We shall overcome.

CUOMO: You know, that's not how you are going to get change. If there's no anger, there's nothing for people to understand and think, and there's nothing for leaders to weigh. That's always been my point. Once you cross that line and you become what you oppose and do things that are criminal, then you're a criminal.


CUOMO: But look, the relativism is what's killing us. The relativism is what made everything OK. And degrees matter, Don. You don't have to tell me about Ronald Reagan. My father, may he rest in peace made his bones in politics criticizing Ronald Reagan. That was his famous speech of a tale of two cities, my father was in contrast to Reagan. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I get it. Believe me.


CUOMO: But degrees matter.

LEMON: But we should --

CUOMO: And compared to this guy that they just voted out. Those guys would have been a step in the right direction.

LEMON: Let's just day -- listen, the Republican Party again, my point, has been moving towards in this direction for a long time.

CUOMO: And now they're about to take the biggest one we've ever seen.

LEMON: Starting with that, and then Willie Horton --

CUOMO: The biggest.

LEMON: -- and on and on and on.

CUOMO: This is the biggest.

LEMON: Yes. Well, this is the biggest --

CUOMO: They will be sending a bull horn to -- you and I are going to have to move in together and have a moat with some of the alligators from his administration to keep us safe.

LEMON: Well, it is Valentine's Day coming up, so there you go. I'm yelling and screaming at you now. I love you. I'll see you later.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: Thank you.

CUOMO: I'll get you something for Valentine's Day.

LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Democrats rest their case.


JOE NEGUSE (D), HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: It's pretty simple. He said it and they did it. And we know this because they told us. They told us in real-time during the attack. You saw the affidavits, the interviews on social media, on live TV. They were doing this for him. Because he asked them to.


LEMON: Former Trump administration officials tell CNN -- and I quote here -- "if this isn't impeachable, what is?" If these managers can't convince you, you're not listening, or you don't want to listen. All you have to do is listen, really. The impeachment managers laying out the evidence in the form of the president's own words, evidence of him whipping the crowd into a frenzy.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All of you people really came up with -- we will stop the steal.


CROWD: Stop the steal! Stop the steal. Stop the steal.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Soon after, the president basked as the crowd chanted if the fight for Trump. And when he incited to crowd to show strength, people responded. Stormed the Capitol. Invade the Capitol. Here are both of those moments but from the crowd's perspective.

CROWD: Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!

TRUMP: Thank you. We'll never get back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.



UNKNOWN: Invade the Capitol building.

DEGETTE: We also have another perspective from this moment. Online extremist chatter. At the same time as the people in the crowd shouted, take the Capitol building, as President Trump said show strength, a person posted to Parler saying, quote, "time to fight. Civil war is upon us."

Another user said, quote, "we are going to have a civil war. Get ready." An analysis found that members of civil war quadrupled on Parler in the hour after Donald Trump said "show strength."


LEMON: And while impeachment managers were presenting that evidence in the Senate, the DOJ was presenting evidence in court that an oath keepers leader waited for direction from the then-president before the Capitol attack. The MAGA mob was waiting for their orders, and that's exactly what they got.

And we all know it didn't start on January 6th. Ex-president was inciting violence right out in the open. It happened at another Capitol last year. I'm talking about Michigan when hundreds of protesters, some of them armed attacked the state Capitol after the then-president tweeted, liberate Michigan.



REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): This Trump-inspired mob may indeed look familiar to you. Confederate battle flags, MAGA hats, weapons, camo army gear. Just like the insurrectionists who showed up and invaded this chamber on January 6th. The siege of the Michigan statehouse was effectively a state level dress rehearsal for the siege of the U.S. Capitol that Trump incited on January 6th. It was a preview of the coming insurrection.


LEMON: So, there's the evidence right there. If those rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol weren't his mob, why did he call them great patriots and tell them to remember this day forever? Why? Why did he say, we love you, you're very special?


TRUMP: We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.


LEMON: Members of the ex- president's own party say it right away, they saw it right away. They saw that he incited and crowd and only he could stop them.


UNKNOWN: I could not be more disappointed at with the way our country looks at this very moment. People are getting hurt. Anyone involved in this, if you're hearing me, if you're hearing loud and clear, this is not the American way.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): Mr. President, you have got to stop this. You are the only person who can call this off. Call it off.

Pretty simple -- the president caused this protest to occur. He's the only one who can make it stop. What the president said is not good enough. The president has to come out and tell his supporters to leave the Capitol grounds and to allow the Congress to do their business peacefully. And anything short of that is an abrogation of his responsibility.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): You know, a guy who knows how to tweet very aggressively on Twitter, you know, puts out one of the weak statements on one of the saddest days in American history.

UNKNOWN: The president's role in this insurrection is undeniable both on social media ahead of January 6th and in his speech that day. He deliberately promoted baseless theories creating a combustible environment of misinformation and division. To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of this democracy.


LEMON: But they also must have known that he wouldn't stop the violence, not after years of inciting it.



TRUMP: See, the first group, I was nice. Take your time. The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I'll be a little more violent, and the fourth group I'll say, get the hell out of here!

All right. Get him the hell out of here, will you please?


TRUMP: Get him out of here. Throw him out.

I got a little notice in case you see the security guys. We have wonderful security guys. They said, Mr. Trump, there may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. So, if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously.


TRUMP: OK. Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees, I promise.


LEMON: You know it's amazing, right, when you hear from him again after just a few weeks of radio silence, just the negativity, so vile. It's amazing to realize what we were subjected to for years -- just blah, blah, the most vile things. The casual demagoguery, hate, packaged up. It's entertainment for the masses, except it wasn't. You know what it was.

It was indoctrination, it was cultivation of a MAGA mob, a mob that viciously stormed the Capitol bringing death and destruction. Now, imagine this, OK? Imagine this -- you were president. You held a big thing, you had this -- you did this thing for, you know, big job or whatever. And then it ends like this. Can you imagine? The worst thing that could happen.


An insurrection on the Capitol of the United States of America. How embarrassing! What a terrible legacy to leave behind. All of this. Lawmakers, officials, fleeing for their lives. that's your legacy. that goes down on your permanent record. When people look up Donald Trump this will be the first thing that comes up. And the wreckage, as it so often is, left for brown and black people to clean up after.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: For many of the black and brown staff, the trauma was made worse by the many painful symbols that were on full display that day. Insurrectionists waved confederate flags and hurled the most disgusting racial slurs at dedicated Capitol workers.

Then after all that, these same workers, many of them people of color, were forced to clean up the mess left by mobs of white nationalists. One member of the janitorial staff reflected how terrible he felt when he had to clean up feces that have been smeared on the wall, blood of a rioter who had died, broken glass and other objects thrown all of the floor. He said, I felt bad. I felt degraded.


LEMON: I said it last night -- Dave Cicilline channeling me. Can you imagine? You work at the Capitol, you're a dedicated worker, you're a black or Hispanic officer or member of the cleaning staff, and you have all this vile racist disgusting literature, language, confederate battle flag, people calling to you n-word? And you got to clean it up. The black officers, you got to save lives.

And then you have people, lawmakers who are sitting there pretending that it's no big deal. that it's normal. How do you feel as an American? Think about that, Republicans. But you don't have to worry about it because it doesn't apply to you. You just go on to treat people badly. I don't want to go through the metal detectors. Just those people over there who work -- don't even have to look at them.

All right, Christians. So, what in the end is all this for? We are learning that Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, who are jurors in the trial met with Trump's attorneys tonight. Imagine that, jurors who are supposed to be impartial meeting with the defense attorneys the day before they present their case. In the real world, I think they might go to jail. There would definitely be sanctions. The case could probably be thrown out, something, retrial.

But people wouldn't just let it go and not say anything. There would be repercussions. But you know. Ted Cruz sure has changed his tune since 2016 when he told Glenn Beck this about the real possibility of violence leading up to the nominating convention in Cleveland.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): You know, Glenn, I'm very troubled by this. Donald Trump now has a consistent pattern of inciting violence. Of Donald and his henchmen pushing for violence. You know, you go back to his rallies, when a protester shows up, and Donald tells his supporters, punch the protester in the face.

Look, I have protesters. When protesters show up at my events, I actually engage them. Now if they're disruptive, they're removed. But no politician has the right to threaten violence against American citizens. Even lefty numb skulls are American citizens and you don't threaten violence against them.


LEMON: Did he engage those racist insurrectionists that day? Did he go out there and try to talk to them? All right, Ted Cruz. There were empty desks today. Fifteen of them on the Republican side at one point. They couldn't even be bothered to stay in their seats.

Josh Hawley -- I hate saying that name -- slumped in his chair with his feet up. Ted Cruz leaving the chamber, sitting in another room. Can't wait for their Scarlet Letter "a" for acquittal.


These are the people that I was talking about right at the beginning with Chris. These are the Republicans who love to brag about cancel culture, who love to call anyone who calls out their lies, their disrespect, their disingenuous snake oil salesman act Orwellian.

Well, do you know what Orwell actually said? He wrote in "Nineteen Eighty-Four", the book "Nineteen Eighty-Four" about exactly what we see this week on the Senate floor about the bulk of the Republican Party during the second impeachment trial of their disgraced defeated one-term leader.

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final most essential command. Shame on you. Awful, awful, awful.

I want to bring in now CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, it's always good to see you. Dana, what a shame.


LEMON: What's happening what's happening. And the final command, ignore all the evidence. Trump called his people to the rally. They came. He said stop the steal. He pointed them to the Capitol. And they went. Is this the final step that completes the hostile takeover of the Republican Party?

BASH: You know, I don't know if it's a final step, but it is a giant step, or it is a major chapter in the book of Donald Trump taking over the Republican Party. And it's really an open question after this trial is over how the Republicans deal with him and also how he deals with them.

I mean, we still have Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, the minority leader in the House, going down trying to get Donald Trump engaged in the 2022 elections because he believes that Trump can help. You have other Republicans in the Senate, again, trying to get him maybe not to jump in for Republicans in the Senate, because that's a very different dynamic, but at least to stay on the sidelines and not run off the field some senators who they -- some Republican candidates, rather, who they think can win.

So, he's so in the mix, separate and apart from what happens in this trial. But obviously you can argue even more so if and when the Republicans who have the chance to sideline him with a conviction don't do it.

LEMON: You know, Dana, it looks like Trump's legal team could present their case in just three hours. They're planning to show video of Democrats using language similar to Trump.

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: A total, a false equivalency I talked about it earlier. Is it all about giving GOP senators a fig leaf something to say, hey, you know, or just to assuage their own guilt or hypocrisy?

BASH: Yes, I mean, we're going to see a lot of both side-ism happening on the Senate floor tomorrow during the trial. Absolutely. And you know what we won't hear? We won't hear much of any defense of the Donald Trump's actions, defense of his words, defense of his rhetoric, defense of his incitement, because it is indefensible.

It is going to be a sidestep of all of that, and it will be -- we'll look at what Democrats did, even though there is no equivalency. You're right. For many, many, reasons we don't even have time to get into tonight. But also, because they are looking for ways for Republicans to get on an exit ramp and say, this is why I'm not going to vote to convict Donald Trump.

LEMON: Yes. And Dana, listen, I have to run, but when you say there's no equivalency, no one is saying that what Democrats did or said, if they used strong language or whatever, that it's right. There's just no equivalency to the two things. There's -- because there's no nuance anymore. I just want to point that out to people. No one is condoning Democrats talk or if they did something wrong. But again --

BASH: No. I'm glad you said that.

LEMON: yes. But again, to equate the two is just ridiculous. It's not the same thing. Thank you, Dana. I know you had a long day.

BASH: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: So, get some rest. We'll see you again tomorrow. Thanks a lot.


LEMON: OK. Do they not see it, or do they not just care? Are his enablers willing to risk anything for the sake of a former disgraced president who's been impeached twice?



LEMON: Praise tonight from some Republican senators for the case presented by House impeachment managers. Even a former Trump administration official saying if these managers didn't convince you, you're not listening or you don't want to.

Well, 15 weren't listening. We saw their empty chairs. And more than that, they don't, they don't want to listen.

So, I want to bring in Matthew Dowd, the former chief strategist for President George W. Bush and Anthony Scaramucci, former Trump White House communications director.

Look at this, look at this group we've assembled here, assembled. Who says we don't deliver? Thank you, gentlemen. It's good to see both of you.

Matthew, how shortsighted can the Republican senators be that after all the evidence that's presented -- is this a five-alarm fire for leadership in the Republican Party?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT G.W. BUSH: Well, it's definitely a five-alarm fire for leadership across the country, and we got a signal point on the senators that seem to don't care, the Republican senators that seem to don't care about this in this moment.

I would just council people, when we look at this, Don, the most important part of this is not the punishment part of this. It's not whether or not Donald Trump is going get acquitted or convicted. that's not the most important part of this. The most important part of this is truth and accountability and defining who's accountable in this, not only Donald Trump but others in this. And it's something that we didn't do.

I loved your first segment of this. It's something we didn't do in the aftermath of the Civil War, when reconstruction failed and then for 150 years we're dealt with the aftermath and were still dealing with the aftermath of that when we didn't come to truth and accountability.

So, I would say everyone should look at this. Sometimes you lose battles but raise awareness and raise expectation about what you want. It happened in the Civil Rights movement.


You know, Emmett Till was killed in 1955. An all-white jury acquitted them even though the evidence was convincing. But that led to Rosa Parks, that led to Medgar Evers death. that left to the freedom march from Selma to Montgomery. And 10 years after Emmett Till's death, we had the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

So, it's something I wish they would convict, and I wish they have leadership, but let's look at the big picture. What's the most important part of this is finding what the truth is and finding who's accountable.

LEMON: Matthew, I can't agree with you more on that. So, do you really -- do you really think -- how do I say this? Do you -- I don't even know if there's going to be a change for the Republican Party. Maybe is it a change for the country? Because I think what's happening is showing the country what really happened because people are in their silos. Right?

And if you watch just, you know, one particular channel, a conservative, just conservative media, you may not see all that video that came out of the Capitol, and maybe similar to what happened with Selma and with the Civil Rights movement.

So, do you think that this was going to be maybe a turning point for the country, not necessarily for the Republican Party, which will force the Republican Party to then do some correction?

DOWD: I absolutely believe this is an important moment as it was in the 1950s and, 1960s. I think this, we are finally, maybe we are finally able to confront the truth we don't want to assess in our country, which is there is a segment of our population, and some of them were carrying confederate flags on January 6th that does not believe all men and women in this country are created equal.

And maybe finally, we'll get to the point of this, and Donald Trump, we can use Donald Trump in the midst of this to raise the awareness and the truth of this. And even if he's not convicted, which is likely he's not going to get convicted, we can finally have the conversation in the country that before we get to unity and before we get to healing and before we get to reconciliation, we have to finally -- we have to finally have the conversation in this country where we have to address the fact that a segment of our country, who stormed the Capitol, who wanted to nullify election just like 1860.

Just like 1860, they wanted to nullify an election because they don't like the way America is headed. And the reason why they don't like the way America is headed their real America, is they don't like the fact that a diverse part of the population wants to assume leadership of our country, and that's fundamentally what they're fighting against.

LEMON: Yes. Anthony, it sounds like the conversations we have. We talk about all the time offline. I got ask you, though. let me, in your answer you can mention what you're going to say but let me get this question out there because I think it's important.

I think that we can break Republicans who are speaking out into four groups. OK? You got the Romneys, the Kinzingers, the Cheneys currently in office who are taking the tough stance politically. And then you have the current Republican governors more moderate -- in more moderate states who appeal to the middle like Governor Hogan of Maryland, Governor Baker of Massachusetts, former Trump people. Right? that's one.

Another group who, you know, who know just how bad it is from the inside, but they're out of power and favor and they're out of favor. You got, they're John Bolton and they're Chris Christie. And then you have to old school Bush and Reagan era officials who have always been never-Trumpers. If that is the case, OK, Anthony, then who is left in the Republican Party? What is the party?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, it's a very large group of people that are in the personality cult of Donald Trump, and you've got the acolytes that Matt is referring to that are going to acquit him. And I think you got to ask those people at some point, what does the president have on you and when did he get it on you? Because you can see prima fascia that he broke the law, he disavowed

the Constitution. And it's not just political expediency. I agree with everything that Matthew said about the demographics of the country, and people trying to hold on to something that doesn't exist anymore, but I do think it's something more than that.

Because they have this opportunity to put him lights out right now. They don't need to be intimidated by him anymore. He's been weakened, he's been disavowed on Twitter, and he's not coming back. The golem is effectively dead, Don. So, what does he have on these guys? Why are they not willing to turn on him?

And so, you've got all those people that you mentioned. All those people are independent or independent of Donald Trump. They're either making salaries away from him, they're wealthy, they're not tied to him politically, but there's a very large group of people that seem to be tied to him or maybe he has something on them that we don't fully understand.

LEMON: Matthew, thank you. Anthony, we owe you a little more time, but you know, you're always here. And we'll have you back.

SCARAMUCCI: No, it's all right. It's all right.

LEMON: Thanks so much. It's good to see you. And Matthew, we'll see you soon. Thanks very much.

DOWD: Thank you.


LEMON: Three Republican senators meeting with Trump's attorneys tonight. Three jurors in Trump's impeachment trial meeting with his lawyers to discuss strategy. A key Democratic senator responds right after this.


LEMON: House impeachment managers wrapping their case against the former president today, laying out why they believe he is guilty of inciting a riot at the Capitol and why he's still a danger to our country.

let's discuss now. Senator Jeff Merkley is here, a Democrat from Oregon. Good to see you, sir. Thanks for joining.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Good to see you, Don.

LEMON: So, video was a key component of the House impeachment manager's case. When you see the evacuation and you see your Senate colleagues and you realize how your own lives were in danger and how close the insurrectionists were, what's that like?

MERKLEY: I'll tell you, it was so strange to have gone through that experience from inside the chamber than to be in the chamber again, seeing the whole how it all played out and how close the insurrectionists were, how violent they were, how they were calling for blood or death, and to realize how much worse this could have -- could have been.


It was -- it was surreal. This is just an extraordinary experience to have a president who encouraged violence all along. And I found it very interesting where you had that clip from Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz is right. Donald Trump in every instance gave full approval to the use of violence and not just in demonstrations but then in Michigan and then with this group.

And he failed to defend America from enemies foreign and domestic. The Capitol was being attacked and he was having a party rather than getting on the line and telling people to shut down, stop, evacuate. We don't do that. Instead he watched it go on and was happy about it.

LEMON: There's no question, Senator, that the impeachment managers presented a very impressive case. Even Republican senators are saying so. But there are still a number of unanswered questions about who Trump met with before the riot and the calls that he and his attorney Rudy Giuliani were making. They built such a strong case. Why are they punting on witnesses?

MERKLEY: Well, essentially, I think the defense side -- are you saying the prosecution side, the House managers or the defense side?

LEMON: Yes, why are they not punting, why they're not calling for witnesses? Why didn't they subpoena the president and make him come?

MERKLEY: Well, I think they knew he would fight it in court forever, that this will draw out for an eternity, and they have the president basically testifying through every form of tape, comment, news conference, and tweet. So, they really didn't need him in person.

LEMON: His lawyers really have their work cut out for them, but sources are telling CNN that Trump's team might only go for three hours tomorrow. What are you expecting to hear from them tomorrow?

MERKLEY: Well, this is the thing, the defense has concluded that their client is guilty, so they have to basically say, ignore all of that. that was a bad process in the House. that's one cover story. He's no longer in office. It's unconstitutional. that's another cover story, a cover story that holds no water. They never made the case it was unconstitutional. They just asserted it.

All kinds of experty -- experts came forward and gave the information to show it was and is constitutional. It's the very foundation of how this was done at the time our founders were writing our Constitution. It just -- they're looking for that cover story that allows them the say, hey, we just stuck with our base.

Our base hears Trump media. All they hear is how great he is. They worship him. We want to get re-elected, and quite frankly, we're afraid of that base. We're afraid of the mob. The mob will try to come after us if we try to stand up, so we won't stand up to it. We will hide.

LEMON: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate it. Be safe.

MERKLEY: Thank you, Don. Take care.

LEMON: Trump wants to see more lawyers on TV defending him, so his lawyers, his lawyers doing just that. Shouldn't they be more focused on what they're going to say tomorrow?



LEMON: Court documents filed just around the corner from the site of the impeachment trial now bolstering the House managers' case. Federal prosecutors allege Jessica Watkins, a leader in the Oath Keepers was waiting for direction from Trump before the attack. Her concern about taking action without Trump's backing was evident in a November 2020 text, in which she stated this.

I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS activates us, it's not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units, too. If Trump asks me to come, I will.

So, joining me now is Noah Feldman, he's a professor at Harvard -- the Harvard Law School and the host of the Deep Background podcast. Noah, good to see you. Thank you for appearing on the show.

So, we're told that Trump's legal team will agree that there's no direct link between what the insurrectionists did and what the former president said. This filing seems like a very direct link to me. What about to you?

NOAH FELDMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: From what we know so far it shows that her, waiting for instructions she thought there was a direct link. What prosecutors will still have to show in the criminal case and it's also what the House managers have been trying to show in the impeachment is that Trump on his side was talking to her.

The fact that someone especially somebody who seems prone to believing in conspiracy theories and the like is waiting for word from the president and thinks she got word from the president doesn't necessarily mean that the president intended to give her word.

LEMON: Yes. What about the House managers? What evidence have they presented to show that Trump did send the insurrectionists to the Capitol and did know what was going to happen?

FELDMAN: I think they really have two lines. One is to, you know, pretty clearly point out that for months and months, and they've done this very well, Trump has been denying the legitimacy of the election and telling people to do something about it. And seeing from that perspective there's this long-term trend line that then culminates with the events on January 6th where he's really just putting the final touches on that course of conduct by telling people on the ellipse, time to go to the Capitol and time to fight like hell. So that's one line.

The second has been to try to use the words that he used in the speech on the ellipse and to connect those to the way people were in a rather immediate sense with total proximity going from the ellipse to the Capitol and then entering the Capitol. And so, they've tried to show the juxtaposition again and again and again of Trump's words and the events, and that's the other way they are trying to prove the association.


LEMON: So tomorrow, Noah, we'll likely hear Trump's lawyers claim his speech is protected by the first amendment. Is that a good argument?

FELDMAN: It's a terrible argument in the sense that the first amendment protects you from criminal prosecution if you've spoken in a way that hasn't incited violence. If you have incited violence you can actually be prosecuted despite the first amendment, that's matter for the judge and the jury to determine. But it's certainly doesn't apply to impeachment.

Impeachment is for high crimes and misdemeanors. that means political crimes. And the president doesn't have a get out of jail free card from the first amendment if he committed a high crime by talking. And I think the prosecutors -- the House managers have done a really good job of showing that the president, the former president effectively did undermine the Democratic process for months and months, and ultimately with the events of January 6th and that's a high crime. that's breaking the Democratic process.

To me, that's the most important part of this trial, to show the world and show the future that impeachment is the appropriate step when someone in that kind of position of power, the President of the United States is trying to break our Democratic process.

LEMON: Noah Feldman, Noah, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

FELDMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: Hours away from team Trump's defense, what our sources are telling us about their plan.



LEMON: The House managers wrapped up their case today. Now it will be up to Trump's defenders to present their case tomorrow. It begins at noon, and our sources tell us that they may wrap up in just a few hours.

Make sure you tune in to CNN for live special coverage that begins at 11 a.m. I got a special black history month episode of my podcast for you, Silence is Not an Option, it's called.

South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn tells me why he wants to lift every voice and sing sometime called the black national anthem to be the national hymn of the United States.


LEMON: Why did you propose this bill? HR 301, what's the goal, Congressman?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): My goal is to make a contribution to trying to bring this country back together, and I just think that if we were to make this hymn our national hymn, and for all of us to be able to sing the song that way we sing the national anthem it will help us to really create a climate within which we can find common ground.


LEMON: And you can find the new episode and more on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our live coverage of the former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial continues with Anderson.