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Members of Congress Reflect on January 6th Insurrection; Nation Reflects on January 6 Riot, Ongoing Attacks on Democracy; January 6th Select Committee Faces Pivotal Year Ahead; Interview with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Trapped in the House Gallery on January 6. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 06, 2022 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Congresswoman Madeline Dean is speaking right now about her reflections on this day.

REP. MADELINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you madame librarian, thank you to the historians, John and Doris. And thank you and my sympathies to Mr. and Mrs. Sicknick for your extraordinary sacrifice.

I'm pleased to be with all of you today. I would not be anywhere else. Because as we as Lisa Blunt Rochester said, this is a day to remember, to reflect, and very importantly, to recommit ourselves to our precious democracy.

I don't know about you, but I'm emotional. I'm emotional because my memories are very similar to many of yours. I was three days into my second term in Congress. Excited to participate in the certification of an election, knowing it was ministerial. Not to be terribly eventful, but surely, I was excited to be there.

I too was up in the gallery. I want to observe, as I was preparing my own arguments for the Pennsylvania challenge to come, I wanted to observe the arguments of the early states that were challenges. And so, I stood there, shoulder to shoulder with Dean Phillips, hearing those challenges. Mouthing the word shame, shame for these arguments.

And then I remember trying to go back to my office to finish my arguments, and a very large police officer stopped me and said, there is a bomb threat in Canon, please go back to where you were. So, I went back to the gallery and stood there again and heard those series of commands from the floor from I didn't know who at the time. Please sit down. Please prepare to kneel or lie down. Please get your gas masks out from under your seats.

Like so many of you, like Rosa, I had no idea. And as we fumbled with the gas masks, I headed to the rail, to the wall at the rail. I remember calling Lucille over to me. I remember seeing Veronica in a gorgeous white jacket standing, readying her gas mask and screaming, get down, get down!

And then the pounding on the doors. That haunting sound I will never forget. Put on your gas mask. And out we went. Todd Colco behind me, up and over railings, until we got to some safe place, and the constant worrying of the gas masks.

The lies that stormed the Capitol one year ago these hours remain a threat to our democracy, to you and to me, to our children's future today. That's why I'm particularly proud of our president for his powerful historic speech today.



He quoted the bible, and I think, John, you did, too. He said, we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free. I am a woman of faith. I do believe. You know, in my six decades on this planet, I had no idea the precious nature of our democracy. No idea. Justice William Brennan once said, the Constitution will endure if we have the courage to defend it. The vision to interpret it and the fidelity to live by it.

You know, in the end, with apologies to our librarian and to Doris and John, the words that keep coming to me are from a president in a movie -- Michael Douglas. Forgive me, please, John. Doris, are you going to be all right? When in that beautiful speech he said, America isn't easy, America is advanced citizenship. You got to want it badly. Thank you, all, for wanting it badly. Because it will take every one of us nationwide to eagerly, faithfully, thankfully participate in this historic course in advanced citizenship for ourselves and for our children. Lucky me to pass this way with you. God bless you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Madeleine Dean. Next is my friend, Robin Kelly, from Illinois.


CAMEROTA: OK, we've been listening there to various lawmakers reflecting on where they were and what happened that day. And it was interesting, Richard, to hear from Congresswoman Madeline Dean because she gave a blow-by-blow description of the events devolving in the violence ratcheting up, than I had heard before about the instructions of get down, put your gas mask on. It was very tense but we didn't -- I think in the past hear some of those details.

Yes, let's bring in --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes, let's go to Brian Todd. He can come in and tell us what it's like to be back now and reflect on that day. I remember your report vividly, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Alisyn, those memories are still fresh and very raw. I can remember like it was yesterday. We started on the east front of the Capitol. My team and I came over here to the spot where I'm standing now, the west front, and basically found ourselves in the middle of a massive brawl.

We saw these insurrectionists pushing past police barricades, rushing up these very stairs, these very same stairs here toward the Capitol, climbing scaffolding, flying pro-Trump flags on the scaffolding. Then rushing toward the windows and doors.

I think what I'm still struck by a year later is the sense that we got right at that moment that the insurrectionists knew that they had the upper hand almost instantly. That they -- the moment they arrived in this spot, they knew they had the numbers, that the police were not there in enough numbers to really fight them off. And when you are in the middle of that kind of mob mentality and that kind of violence, it's a pretty frightening thing.

Another thing that I remember, and I think maybe has not been talked about quite enough in the year since this happened, is the heroism and the quick response specifically of the D.C. Metropolitan Police. No, this is taking nothing away from the Capitol Police. They fought valiantly that day but they were overrun quickly.

If the D.C. Metropolitan Police hadn't arrived immediately with the numbers with which they came, and if they had not fought as hard so hard from the moment they stepped on these grounds, I think the carnage clearly would have been much worse. The deaths and injuries would have been maybe unspeakable that they. And I think maybe that has been talked about quite enough. The heroism in the very, very quick response of the DC Metropolitan police to reinforce the Capitol Police that they. I think they deserve a lot of credit. Maybe they haven't gotten enough of it.

BLACKWELL: Oh, absolutely, we should always remember those members of law enforcement who served that day. And we've talked a lot about the physical scars that many have suffered. We should also remember the psychological scars that are not as easily seen as we remember the law enforcement that worked so hard that day. Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Let's bring in our CNN senior legal analyst and former attorney Eli Honig. He joins us now. Eli, you know, let's focus now on the investigation there from the 1-6 committee. We just learned from Jim Acosta this new element that former President Trump did not want to tweet out "stay peaceful" during this. In these elements that we are receiving, they're interesting, certainly interesting painting a picture, but what people want is accountability. So, what are you watching as this investigation moves forward?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Victor, there really are so many dimensions to the requests for full truth and accountability. Now let's start with this. For the first time in decades, we are seeing a criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress, United States versus Steve Bannon. He received an unlawful subpoena from the committee. He defied it. And now he's charged with federal crimes.

He's going to trial in July. You can bet he will try to turn that into a circus but he will have to face a judge and a jury. Also, let's remember, and this moment, DOJ is considering whether to charge criminally Mark Meadows, the Chief of Staff, a central player during January 6, and that will be important because it will signal whether the DOJ is willing to consider -- to continue backing up the committee or whether they're going to draw a line and say that's it. CAMEROTA: Eli, as we all remember, Rudy Giuliani was the person who

said, let's go have trial by combat before we saw the attack on the Capitol. So, what's happening with that?

HONIG: Yes, so, we have civil suits filed by everyone from the DC Attorney General to members of Congress, to police officers. And the people who are being sued -- there are different people in different suits -- but that includes Rudy Giuliani, for those comments. Donald Trump, Fox News is being sued by one of the voting companies, The Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers.

These civil suits are seeking billions of dollars in damages, and perhaps more importantly for the ultimate quest for truth here, they're going to get into discovery soon. That's when the parties exchange information and evidence. We could see people, including Rudy Giuliani, soon have to be deposed, face depositions under oath, and we could learn important facts through the truth of that process as well.

BLACKWELL: Back on the 1-6 committee, there is this legal fight that's going through the courts of trying to get access to the Trump White House documents. Where does that stand?

HONIG: Yes, any day now, any moment now, the Supreme Court could rule. Now we remember, the committee tried to get these Trump White House documents which are stored at the National Archives.


Donald Trump said, no, no, no, I object on the basis of executive privilege. Even though he was doing it not for the White House but from Mar-a-Lago.

Now, Donald Trump lost this decisively in the district court. He lost decisively in the court of appeals. This is his last gasp. One of two things are going to happen here. Either the Supreme Court is going to say, no, we're not taking the case, in which case those 700 pages of documents will go to the committee. Or if the Supreme Court does takes this case, I think the law is so straightforward here that Donald Trump will lose again. It'll take a little longer, but those documents will become part of the record.

CAMEROTA: OK, Elie Honig, thank you.

HONIG: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, she was one of the lawmakers who had to hide as the insurrectionist roamed through the Capitol. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is going to join us next with her memories and reflections on that day.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're actually looking at video right now of these anarchists, these people who were involved in this insurrection. They broke the glass in the United States Capitol and now they are climbing through the window. This happened moments ago on the ground of the United States Capitol.


BLACKWELL: And that was footage from one year ago this hour as Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol.

On that day Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee tweeted this: I am in the U.S. Capitol. I am safe. And will not fear or leave because of this unwarranted and shameless violence. These actions are not serving well at all our precious democracy, America. We will stay on the floor until every vote is counted and Biden and Harris are again confirmed as President and Vice President. This is my pledge, no one will stop me, the majority of Americans are depending on us.

Now a short time later she tweeted this photo as she and other members of Congress crawled there on the floor.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee joins me now. Thank you for your time. We've been listening to these reflections from members of Congress. We heard from Madeleine Dean of banging on the door, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro talking about the gas masks under the seat and she didn't know that there were gas masks. What memory comes to you first when you think back on that day?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): The sound of a shot and the banging and screaming of the terrorists, domestic terrorists surging toward the middle door, watching as furniture was placed and guns were drawn.

But I think when I heard the shot, as I just reflected as well with my colleagues in the Cannon Caucus Room, that shot was the shot heard around the world. Tragically someone lost their life. But even more so, there were, of course, law enforcement, Capitol Police, who lost their lives in that room with us today with the parents of Officer Sicknik.

And so that shot clarified or emphasized that this is real and that our lives are in jeopardy, but most importantly, that we had a then- commander in chief who provoked, stoked and looked and allowed and seemingly enjoyed the crisis of terror that was taking place on the Capitol of the United States, the one I stand in front of right now.

BLACKWELL: You know, as we look back on the actual violence and threats of violence on that day, I found it interesting that you told NPR that there is actually something to celebrate, that we should celebrate January 6 as well. Explain that if you would.

LEE: Well, I had the fear and anguish and trepidation of being in the gallery and hearing the shot, but I also had the privilege of holding the gavel as we gaveled out at 3:49 a.m. and what it said is victory. We did not lose, we won. And it also brought to mind I always mention the regular guys, if you

will, the bus drivers and teachers and work people that work every day that get up at 4:00 a.m. that have jobs that move this country. And I thought about the fact that they are the dominant population and that is who we were fighting for, as well as our soldiers that were in far- away places with uniforms who took their oath as well to defend America.

We didn't let them down. We had a peaceful transfer of government. We came back to work. We did not give up. And as our beloved, late leader John Robert Lewis would tell us, don't give up, get in or give out, that's why I thought it was victorious. I maintain that today it was a scary time.

And for our colleagues we looked and wanted to make sure, running around the gallery, who knows who could have toppled over. Who could have come in and attacked you? You had nowhere to go.


LEE: Absolutely nowhere to go.


But we were victorious for America not necessarily ourselves, but for the oath that we took to defend this Constitution in this land. We did it and I thought it was something to be victorious about. But you know what, the fight continues because we still have the deniers, the believers of the big lie.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know you mentioned the late Congressman Lewis there. Let's turn to voting rights now. Because we know that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over in the Senate is planning to bring a vote up on the filibuster in the next few days before the King holiday. Aimed at passing some legislation to protect voting rights.

I know that you've had direct conversations with one of the holdouts, Senator Manchin, about the voting rights, about the Build Back Better and other things. But do you believe, is there any evidence that there is something that can get done in the next couple days?

LEE: Today we listened to Don Meacham who indicated -- Professor Meacham, excuse me, who indicated if you are to have a portrait and you looked and whether you would want to be Jefferson Davis or Abraham Lincoln. I would characterize that and rephrase it to say, who would you want to be if there was a portrait done of you and it was a characterization of yourself?

Would it want to be that he or she showed courage when courage was needed? Or he or she were absent?

This is what has to happen over the next couple days. I hope to talk to Senator Manchin again and others. We've been fighting for this for so long and it is tragic that we fight again. But what I want Senator Manchin to know is that there is collateral damage. There is real damage that has occurred. Members are drawn out of their seats. People don't have the right to

vote for a person of their choosing. SB-7 is the worst bill in the land, in the state of Texas which will even threatens disabled persons as they vote.

And so, I don't think we have a choice. We have to look at ourselves and ask how will we be described? That we exerted and exercised courage when courage was needed? And to do that you've waive, roll off, you've got to suspend the filibuster, which is, the only definition is to deny.

The segregationist Senators in the 20th century denied civil rights for 30 years or more. I don't want to be associated with that. I don't think anyone today would want to be associated with that.

And let me say to West Virginia, I would much rather have a Senator Manchin of courage that represented what was right. And I know he can do that. I believe in it. And we're going to get these bills passed.

BLACKWELL: Congresswoman, we know that Senator Manchin has heard all of these arguments from you and many others and has not changed. We'll see if there is something that changes in the next few days but thus far it doesn't look like it has changed his mind.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, I thank you so much for your time.

LEE: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right, tonight, on CNN join Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper for an unprecedented gathering inside the Capitol with police, lawmakers, and leaders, "LIVE FROM THE CAPITOL JANUARY 6 ONE YEAR LATER," begins tonight at 8:00 on CNN.



CAMEROTA: We do want to bring you other headlines right now. The U.N. Human Rights chief is calling for peace in Kazakhstan after antigovernment protests turned violent overnight. An increase in fuel prices triggered the unrest. Dozens of people were reportedly killed, including several police officers.

BLACKWELL: The protesters also burned government buildings, overran the airport. The troops from a Russian led military alliance have moved in after the country's autocratic president asked for help from Russia.

The Biden administration says it is watching for any human rights violations.

And the stand-off might be approaching a resolution in Chicago. Public schools there are closed for another day. The teacher's union and district officials are trying to come up with a solution on COVID safety measures. But moments ago, the district said it is working nonstop with the teacher's union. CAMEROTA: CNN's Omar Jimenez has the latest. So, Omar, what are you


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Alisyn, it seems they may be getting closer to a resolution but at this point there is a lot of uncertainty between parents, teachers, and of course the school district. As of right now the latest we've heard is the union plans to go door to door in some of Chicago's neighborhoods knocking and trying to get people registered for testing as part of this.

And that's part of the -- or I should say that is the heart of this dispute here, that the union does not feel the resources put forward by the district is enough to safely return to class in person.

So specifically, they want more access to testing, students and staff to test negative within 48 hours of coming back in person. They want more at home tests available. They want more school site testing available. They want N-95 caliber masks available to all students and staff as well. And they want to have a metric where you move immediately to 14 days of virtual classes once the city of Chicago hits a positivity rate of 10 percent. The past few days it's been over 20 -- Victor and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Omar Jimenez, please keep us posted what's happening there.

Well, Victor, I think today was more emotional than I expected.



CAMEROTA: In terms of listening to all those speeches and just an important reminder of how we can never take democracy for granted.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's interesting how some lawmakers were crystal clear that day, the gravity of what was happening, and today have taken a complete reversal, likely partisan.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.