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America Marks Anniversary of Deadly Capitol Insurrection; Biden Tears Into Trump, Blames Him for January 6 Violence; Democratic Senators Mark January 6th Attack One Year Later. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 06, 2022 - 10:30   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga.


Quite a day, quite an anniversary for this country. Just moments ago, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris put the blame squarely on former President Trump for the violence that took place in the nation's Capitol one year ago today.

On January 6th, 2021, our very democratic system was under siege, a mob incited by outgoing President Trump descended on the Capitol in an attempt -- part of a broader attempt to overturn the 2020 election. That attempted insurrection failed but it left at its wake damage to property, lives, fundamentals of this country's democracy. Tragically, five people lost their lives in that chaos. At least 140, 140 police officers were injured.

This morning President Biden referenced former President Trump 16 times but without saying his name.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We saw with our own eyes rioters menace these halls, threatening the life of the speaker of the House, literally erecting gallows to hang the vice president of the United States of America.

What did we not see? We didn't see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack sitting in the private dining room of the Oval Office in the White House watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assault assaulted, lives at risk, the nation's Capitol under siege.


GOLODRYGA: The FBI says 700 people associated with the attempted coup have been arrested. And yesterday, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirming that the Justice Department will hold everyone associated with the January 6th attack responsible. Still, right now, the country is deeply divided as Republicans continue to push the big lie and fail to recognize what happened on that day just one year ago.


Let's begin this morning with CNN Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. And, Kaitlan, President Biden essentially calling the former president a liar, fact-checking him.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Fact checking him, dismantling his argument that he has put forward for the last year ever since he had lost that election. And this was his most forceful attack yet on his predecessor, calling him out from Capitol Hill, calling out the lies that he has spread about the election since then, and standing in the same place where a year ago today this afternoon, those pro-Trump rioters stormed into the Capitol in that very hall where President Biden was delivering the speech, going after Trump for attacking the legitimacy of his election.


BIDEN: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests is more important than his country's interest and America's interest and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can't accept he lost even though that's what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said, he lost.


COLLINS: Now, of course, he did not mention Trump by name, he did not have to. 16 times he referred to him as the former president, talking about the lies that he spread.

And later on, when President Biden was leaving the Capitol, he was asked why he didn't name him directly. And he said that this is bigger than just a political battle between a current president and a former president. He talked about what it meant for democracy overall, saying it is bigger than that.

And also during that speech, Bianna and Jim, saying that Trump has put a dagger at the throat of democracy, talking about what it means not just about former President Trump and, of course, his reaction in the aftermath of his loss, but what it's done in the pervasiveness that you've seen throughout the United States with people not believing what actually happened that day was an attack on the Capitol.

SCIUTTO: Yes, perhaps realizing he had a rare chance to speak to people right and left in this country, he went after each false claim about the election and challenged them and knocked them down. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Well, joining me now, Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. She was in the chamber that day a year ago. Congresswoman, thanks so much for taking the time today.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): It's good to be with you on this solemn day for our country.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, because memories fade, frankly, disinformation thrives in this country, about January 6th for certain portions, lies people believe the former president's lies. You were there. You addressed a fearful Congress that day to calm people down as it was being assaulted.

For folks at home, tell us what you remember most from that day.

DINGELL: Well, I was on the floor of the House. I didn't understand what was happening, quite frankly, at the beginning. The Secret Service and Capitol Police had cleared the vice president and the speaker and Senator McConnell. But the rest of us were there. And a staff has said to me, go to the mic and keep people calm. And my immediate reaction, from what, what's going on?

But then, very quickly, security came into the chamber, told us to get down on the ground, put our heads down, that there could be bullets coming through glass. They told us to take out the gas masks -- I'd never used a gas mask. I didn't know how to put it on my head. And then you began to hear the crowds out in the halls, the pounding on the doors. You smelled tear gas.

But, you know, I also have this memory that a lot of people don't talk about of everybody on that floor pulling together, Republicans and Democrats, the guys putting benches against the door, young new Republican members helping me learn how to put a gas mask on, and when we vacated, making sure that we were safe.

And I want to say that when I listened to the president today, yes, he was strong, and I think a lot of people saw a president they wished they had seen be this strong, but I also asked the question we all ask and need to ask ourselves, what do we want this nation to be? And it isn't what we saw that day on January 6th 2021.

SCIUTTO: I'm glad you mentioned bipartisanship that for a moment that day lived, right? I mean, it was sadly bipartisan realization that this was a genuine threat. You were protecting each other. You knew regardless of party that this was a genuine threat and violent.

Some things worked, right, in the days leading up to January 6th and afterwards.


Courts, state election officials, recounts, some real, some fake, but they all found the same thing, the election was fair. Do you see any hope in that? I mean, a year later, are we any better off as a country moving beyond, assessing, dealing with what was revealed and the threat that we faced on January 6th a year ago? DINGELL: I have two things to say, as you ask that question. One is we do need to do an assessment of where we are. We have to have hope. But every one of us -- it's not just those of us that served in the Congress, every American across this country has to worry about what's happening in this country, and our democracy. We go to school and we learn freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. Those freedoms cannot be taken for granted. We all have to protect the roots of our democracy.

And I think that is the biggest message that I have from today is that we do have to have hope and we have to think about how we're treating each other. We need to -- that division, that fear, that anger you saw that day, we're seeing in our communities. And I think we need to add, is that what we want to be as Americans?

SCIUTTO: And do we -- can we have a shared set of facts and reality, right? So often with so many issues, we don't see that today.

President Biden forceful, and, by the way, he didn't use the name Trump but he was certainly placing responsibility for January 6th and what happened before and after firmly on the former president. Do you think President Biden struck the right tone, had the right message today?

DINGELL: I think he certainly tried. I think he laid out the facts. I believe that we all have a responsibility to protect our democracy, that the fundamental roots of it are under attack. And I think he asked the question of every American, to think about what we want our nation to stand for. We can't normalize this violence, this anger that we're seeing. And I think that's part of the questions that he was asking.

So, you know, I want to focus on the future. Look, I didn't want to be anywhere near the Capitol today. I wanted to be home. I want to be where I know I'm safe in my community, but I also think we all have a responsibility here.

SCIUTTO: We do. It's on all of us. Listen, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, we're sorry you had to go through that one year ago today, but thanks for joining us this morning.

DINGELL: Thank you. My closing words, united we stand, divided we fall.

SCIUTTO: They're good words, inspiring. Thank you, Congresswoman.

GOLODRYGA: Jim, it was really telling to hear her say that that anger that we saw at the Capitol last year is still in communities today and we can't let it exist, right?

SCIUTTO: No. Listen, she comes from Michigan, right? And this is a state that went blue in the last election but it has many Republicans and many Democrats and she hears from constituents that have very different views about it, right? We have not come together to the degree that we hoped.

GOLODRYGA: How sad that she doesn't feel safe returning back to the Capitol today as well, a sad moment for this country.

Well, with the country still deeply divided, three retired generals have warned that another insurrection is looming if the country doesn't act soon. One of them joins us next with his perspective on President Biden's speech.



GOLODRYGA: Well, President Biden this morning declaring that another insurrection must never happen again during his speech at the U.S. Capitol just one hour ago. But three retired generals warned in recent weeks that could be a reality. The military doesn't take active steps to prevent it.

SCIUTTO: It was a sobering warning. Their piece in The Washington Post saying, quote, we are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown nearing societal or political breakdown is very real.

Joining me now to discuss is one of the authors of that piece, retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Eaton. General, thanks so much for taking time this morning.

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Jim, Bianna, thank you very much for having me.

SCIUTTO: It's a sobering warning from people like yourself and others who co-authored this. Tell folks at home why you're worried that sufficient changes have not been put in place to prevent January 6th in worse form, right, actually succeeding, being able to overturn something like that, being able to overturn an election.

EATON: Well, we did see Admiral Kirby address the -- you know, how the Defense Department is getting after some of the right-wing extremist issues that we have. Necessary step, and it's a building step, it's a complicated step, so we're on the right path.

I also expect to see a thorough run through the chain of command through the command and control apparatus to ensure that this doesn't happen again, that our national security components, our federal police forces, National Guard active duty, if need be, are read in and prepared to address a national security event of this type.

GOLODRYGA: One of the reasons you say that you and your colleagues are, quote, chilled to your bones is because the fact that one in ten who had been arrested there at the Capitol had served in the military in the past. Is this a surprise to you? And what do you think can be done to remedy that and make sure it doesn't happen again?

EATON: Thank you, Bianna. When I had the project to rebuild the Iraqi army, the greatest difficulty that we had was to transmit to the Iraqi soldiers how to operate in the context of a military subordinate to civil authority. And that is the hallmark. That is something that I have never doubted about the U.S. military.

But indications and warnings, when you have that one in ten of those charged with a military record, when you have 124 generals and admirals support Trump in the Stop the Stop and challenge the suitability of our president to serve as president of the United States, you had Republican governors in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida challenge the nature of the commander-in-chief and National Guard, these are indicators.

So, Civics 101, I think that we need to reinforce what our men and women got in high school and college and reinforce the nature of how we understand the Constitution. And I think we need to war game how we might see events unfold in the next election.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you mentioned that when we spoke last, the idea of war gaming and domestic threat in a way that the military often does for external threats.

You, of course, a senior adviser to VoteVets, it's a political action committee that works to get Iraq and Afghanistan war vets elected. You're premiering a new ad relevant to the discussion. I want to play a quick clip of that and get your comment on it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine Donald Trump losing again, but this time commanding rogue members of the U.S. military. The Pentagon needs to take steps now to protect the chain of command and VoteVets will defeat traitor politicians who try to overturn the vote of the people and replace them with true blue patriots.



SCIUTTO: That is a pointed ad, to say the least. Tell us what specific steps you're talking about to prevent that scenario.

EATON: So, what VoteVets does is we recruit some of the -- to run for high office, to replace people like Congresswoman Greene and Cawthorn. We build excellence when we set out to get our veterans elected to high office. Every veteran that we get into high office is one more step to ensure civilian control of the military and an appropriate use of all those tools that we have available to us in the United States to combat domestic terrorism.

GOLODRYGA: I have to ask you, you know, one year ago today, allies and foes alike watched with horror what was happening in the United States. And I'm just curious today, one year later, is our national security, from the perspective of foes, Iran, Russia, China, what have you, are we in a safer position today than we were last year?

EATON: We are, Bianna, in a much safer position. We have -- what happened on January 6th. And we had our very senior military embark upon very specific, appropriate actions to ensure that anybody listening out there or interested in taking advantage of a bit of chaos understood that the Armed Forces of the United States are absolutely prepared to support and defend our Constitution and to defeat enemies from without (ph).

What we really need to do is take a look at the laws that limit what our lettered agencies can do inside our borders to this growing threat of domestic terrorism.

SCIUTTO: That's a point you've made. It's about intelligence operations domestically. Major General Paul Eaton, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

EATON: My pleasure. I'm flattered. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, the January 6th House committee is working to get to the bottom of what exactly happened before and after the Capitol riot. Attorney General Merrick Garland says the DOJ will work as long as necessary for justice to be served. And what struck me, Bianna, about that conversation in his statement was saying, no matter how high it goes.

GOLODRYGA: Right. And before we get into more of that, we are going to go back to Washington, where Senator Shumer is speaking.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): -- 163 years, this space has been the home of the upper chamber of the American Congress. What has taken place inside this room over the centuries has determined in very real ways the trajectory of our nation. In this room, we carry on the mission handed down to us by the framers to make sure the voice of the people is heard and represented and acted upon.

But one year ago today, on January 6th, 2021, mob violence descended upon this chamber and upon this Capitol. Thousands of rioters possessed by equal measures of rage, conspiracy and spurred into action by the sitting president of the United States attacked the United States Capitol in an armed, violent, and deadly effort to halt the peaceful transfer of power. Its windows were smashed. Its offices were vandalized. And lawmakers and our staffs, everyday citizens who love their country and work here every day, feared for their lives. Nearly 140 police officers were injured and at least five people lost their lives that day or in its aftermath.

The warnings of history are clear. When democracies are in danger, it often starts with a mob. That's what happened a year ago here in this building, a mob attack. And for mob violence to win the day, it doesn't need everyone to join in. It just needs a critical mass of people to stay out of the way, to ignore it, to underestimate it, to excuse it and even condone it.


The mob can start out as a small number, but if it's allowed to grow and leaders egg on the mob, encourage it, it can become poison. That is what Donald Trump is doing, as even his response to President Biden's speech today showed. And once that happens, the unthinkable could become real. Democracy erodes and could, God forbid, God forbid, horror of horrors, vanish. The poisonous mob mentality lives on today in the threats against election workers, poll workers, even other public servants, like school board members and health workers. This is what erodes a democracy. And Donald Trump today continues to spread his poisonous vile about the big lie.

To borrow from President Franklin Roosevelt, the violent insurrection of January 6th was a day that will live forever in infamy, a permanent stain in the story of American democracy, and the final, bitter, unforgivable act in the worst president in modern times.

Today, on this first anniversary, members from both the House and Senate and our staffs, the president and the vice president, are here today at the Capitol. And one of our purposes is to share memories and commemoration of that day.

At noon, we will hold a moment of silence in honor of those who were lost because of the attack. And to all my colleagues and to staff who struggle to get through today, you are not alone. You are not alone. We are here by your side. The employee assistance program has resources available to all Senate staff who are processing what happened a year ago.

Let me share my personal experience on that day. As I've recounted many times since then, my personal experience that day was in some ways like the opening sentence in Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, the best of times, the worst of times. First came the best of times. 12 hours before the attack, at 4:00 A.M., in the morning, I learned -- or several hours before the attack at 4:00 A.M., I learned that our two Democratic senators had won in Georgia and we would gain the majority. At 4:00 A.M., it became clear, I tried to get some sleep, couldn't, got down in my car, drove to Washington, and got to the floor of this chamber at 1:00 P.M. for the first time as the putative majority leader.

Within 45 minutes of sitting there and watching the beginning of counting the ballots, a police officer in a big flak jacket and a large rifle grabbed me firmly by the collar like this -- I'll never forget that grip -- and said to me, Senator, we got to get out of here. You're in danger. We walked out the Senate chamber door, made a right turn, went through another door.

This happened to be captured on the videotape above and it was shown at the impeachment trial, although I didn't even know they had the tape until I saw it at the impeachment trial. But we go through the door. You don't see us for 20 seconds, and then we are running out of the door at full speed. I was within 30 feet of these nasty, racist, bigoted insurrectionists.

Had someone had a gun, had two of them blocked off the door, who knows what would have happened? I was told late they're one of them reportedly said there's the big Jew, let's get him. Bigotry against one is bigotry against all. And I saw something that I've been told later never happened before, the confederate flag flying in this dear Capitol. That's just one of many searing, grotesque images of that unimaginable, most un-American day. There were good moments too. I remember when the leaders, Senator McConnell, myself, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, were sent off to the secret place, we convened after desperately trying to get the president on the phone to ask him to call the rioters off. We spoke to the secretary of defense and the acting attorney general, but to no avail. But then the four of us got together and said we're going to come back.


We're going to count those votes. We're not going to let the violent insurrectionists stop us.