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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Discusses January 6th Insurrection; Members Of Congress Reflect On January 6th Insurrection; Interview With Stephanie Grisham. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired January 06, 2022 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And when you were with him a year ago, and when you were all basically hiding for your lives, just reflect on that. I mean, were there conversations? What was happening a year ago today?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Well, what was happening was Schumer, Pelosi, McConnell, and others were gathering, and Steny Hoyer, reaching out to the leaders in government and trying to get them to rally to our side to reclaim the capital, to take it away from the insurrection mob.
And I could see in McConnell's eyes and the tone of his voice a determination and resignation, we've got to get this done, and we've got to get back in the capitol tonight and finish our business so these people will not have won the day.
He was really determined at that point. And his speech on the floor of the Senate when he returned reflected that.
What he's saying today, I don't really understand in that context.
CAMEROTA: So, Senator, today, a year later, on a scale of one to 10, how worried are you about democracy?
DURBIN: I'm very worried.
I don't know if I could put a number on it, but I can tell you this. When I see so many people across America questioning whether January 6th really happened, whether President Trump was any provocation in terms of it happening, and whether or not violence is acceptable in political life in America, I'm very concerned.
Violence is never acceptable in a democracy.
There are mechanisms where you can reconcile differences through votes and through legislation and through your own words and speeches.
But turning on violent conduct that kills policemen, injures law enforcement officers, and imperils this capitol, never acceptable by any political party.
CAMEROTA: Senator Dick Durbin, thank you for your time. We really appreciate checking in with you. DURBIN: You're welcome.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Let's bring back John Avlon, Gloria Borger and Olivia Troye. She was an adviser to Mike Pence when he was the vice president.
Gloria, let me start with you.
The numbers that Alisyn just read from that "Washington Post" report are remarkable. And 163 candidates at the state level who are running on the Big Lie.
So whether former President Trump is the nominee in 2024 or not, the Big Lie, the distrust of the electoral system, the threat to democracy has metastasized.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and he's the puppeteer here. He's out here picking these candidates.
The irony for Mitch McConnell, of course, is that Donald Trump is also taking sides in Senate races, endorsing some candidates that Mitch McConnell would rather not have run for the United States Senate.
He would like to be the majority leader again. But he's got Donald Trump out there.
And there's one litmus test now for the Republican Party. It's not about taxes. It's not about budget. What's the one litmus test? Do you believe the Big Lie?
If you don't believe the Big Lie, Donald Trump will not be on your side. You will not be able to raise a lot of money.
If you are in office, you can be primaried by somebody who does believe the Big Lie.
Ad so, you know, you could potentially wind up with a Congress that doesn't just have four or five Marjorie Taylor Greene-like people and at the local level, more people like that, and it could be very dangerous as Senator Durbin was saying.
So, you know, Donald Trump is still running the show here.
CAMEROTA: And that leads us to you, Olivia.
Because earlier, on CNN, on "NEW DAY," Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary, was on, and she talked about this group that is forming and getting together for the first time next week.
She said it's about 15 former Trump officials and staffers. Your name was on that list.
And about how you all will attempt to try to stop Donald Trump and try to stop the extremism that has seized our country.
And so, what's the plan? I mean, what will you do to try to break through to the true Trump believers?
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: That's a great question. And, look, this is an initial discussion.
I think that we -- those of us who lived this firsthand, who were witness to what Trump was capable of, we know there were no red lines he wouldn't cross. We have experienced this.
And I think what we're seeing right now is that he is still out there, and he is still a big influence in our political system, whether we like to admit it or not.
And, look, case in point, all of these candidates that are running that are more on the extreme side, who are continuing to run on a platform of the 2020 election being stolen, a platform that firmly undermines our democracy and our electoral system at whatever cost.
And so I think this is just a preliminary conversation to say, OK, how do we counter this? How do we -- we talk to people? How do we tell them what we've lived firsthand, collectively?
And how do we reach the voters out there to really explain to them that this is the man who actually doesn't care about any of them?
I mean, I've been in the room when he has said -- I know what he calls these people.
And to me, regardless of whether you're politically aligned with me or not, I care about America. And I care about what's happening to our country like many others do.
And so what we want is we want to kind of break through this echo chamber and just reach people and try to push back on what is happening here.
BLACKWELL: And we've seen efforts like this before. We've seen the Lincoln Project. There was a long list of former Republican officials, who said, you know, change this party or we'll create an alternative.
And those went nowhere in separating the former president from the -- from the base of the party.
Not saying they were unsuccessful. Donald Trump was not re-elected in 2020, John.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and I think it's important --
BLACKWELL: Oh, let me hold you there.
Adam Schiff is coming out. We're going to listen to him and come right back to you. REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you, Jason.
Madam Speaker, my colleagues.
One year ago, I was on the House floor when the mob attacked our capitol.
As one of a few members the speaker had asked to manage the opposition to efforts to decertify the results of the presidential election, I had six arguments and six rebuttals to make on the challenges to the electors from six different states.
And so I wasn't really paying attention to what was happening outside the building, to the growing mass of rioters, to efforts to break into the building.
It was not until our leadership was swiftly removed from the chamber and police announced that we needed to take out our gas masks that I understood the full extent of the danger.
When the order came to evacuate, I stayed behind for a while until two Republicans came up to me. One of them said, you can't let them see you. I know these people. I can talk to these people. I can talk my way through these people. You're in a whole different category.
Thanks to the courage of the police officers that day, we were safe. And we returned to the chamber that night to finish the work and certify the results.
And our democracy moved forward, weakened, yes, defiled even by the shameful action of the insurrectionists, but as ever, resilient.
I pray that this solemn anniversary be a reawakening of our devotion to our democracy.
That it serve as the most potent reminder that the freedoms we enjoy are not an inevitable birthright bequeathed by our founders but a treasure to be jealously guarded.
As Americans, we have a very proud legacy to cherish. It's time we remember that.
It's time we defended our democracy like our lives, our liberties and our very happiness depended upon it. Because they do. Because they do.
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Thank you, Adam Schiff.
I now recognize Val Demings from Florida.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Madam speaker, Mr. and Mrs. Sicknick, to my colleagues and other special guests, I stand before you today as a 27- year law enforcement officer.
A police officer's oath of office says that I do solemnly swear that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and government of United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
That I will bear true faith, loyalty, and allegiance to the same. And that I am entitled to hold office under the Constitution.
And that I will faithfully perform all of the duties under the constitution, so help me god.
When the police officers reported for duty one year ago today, they came as they always do, ready to faithfully perform all of the duties, but they had no idea what they would face.
It seems a lot of people, at all levels, knew or should have known just how far this violent mob and their enablers would go.
But the officers were ambushed by this violent mob who had total disregard for the officer's oath, their records of service, their families, and their safety.
As a former police chief, I shall never forget what I witnessed one year ago today. And America should never forget either.
I know the Capitol Police offers and others took their oath seriously, because I saw them fighting with every ounce of strength, courage, commitment, and energy that they could muster up.
But you know what? As members of Congress, both in the upper chamber and the lower chamber, we have taken an oath too. But some have forgotten that oath.
Some, the oath is overshadowed by their quest for power and their pathetic fear of election officials counting every vote.
I want to thank the police officers for defending and protecting us that day. But they did so much more. They also protected our democracy.
Many people call themselves patriots, but true patriots don't lie. They don't steal. They don't cheat. They aren't cowards. They don't push lies for political or financial gain.
But out of the ashes, good things can rise. The bright spots, one year ago today, the police officers who defended us and the certification of the electoral ballots.
Our democracy stood, and the enemies of our democracy lost.
I will support, protect, and defend because America is worth it. God bless you all.
CROW: Thank you, Val Demings.
And now I recognize my friend, Colin Allred from the state of Texas. REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Madam speaker, my colleagues, the Sicknick
family, I have to tell you a little bit how I came to be in the Congress.
I took the normal route. I was raised by a single mother, played in the NFL, went to law school and became a civil rights lawyer.
I thought when I left the NFL as a linebacker, where my job was to put people on the ground, that those abilities and the need to do that were over.
On January 6th, along with my friends and colleagues, Hakeem Jeffries and Ruben Gallego and Eric Swalwell and others, Pete Aguilar, we took off our suit jacket coats on the House floor, the first time I've ever done that.
And we were ready to try and defend our colleagues from whatever was going to come through those doors.
And we saw the mob at the doors. As we were exiting the House floor, I saw the glass breaking. I saw the officers staying behind with their guns drawn.
And I thought about the opportunity they had given me. Because as I said, I was raised by a single mother, but I'm a father now. I had a 23-month-old son at home, and I had a baby on the way in two more months.
Had those officers not held that line, I would not have met my son, Cameron.
So, for me, January 6th, I don't see it as a member of Congress so much. I see it as a father. As somebody who, because I didn't know mine, have always been committed to making sure that my boys knew me.
And so to the Sicknick family, I'll say to you, your son's sacrifice allowed me to meet mine.
The overwhelming feeling I felt on January 6th was one of sadness. Sadness for our country, sadness for the country that I thought I might have to leave to my boys.
In the time since then -- and I really mean this -- my sadness has become a resolve. I'm determined to do whatever I can to save our democracy. Because it's worth saving.
For my boys and the country they'll inherit, for their children and their children's children, we cannot let the mob, the authoritarians, people who, in President Bush's words, "reject pluralism, reject modernity, reject our way of life," win.
And that brings me to my final point, which is that, as so many of us have said, however long our republic stands, I don't think people will remember that we had to evacuate the House floor. I hope they won't. Or not only that, maybe.
I hope they'll remember that we came back. While there was still blood on the walls, still broken glass on the floor, while we ourselves were shaken, we came back.
And we voted to certify an American presidential election.
It's my honor to serve with every single one of you. I'm sorry that we have gone through this together. But I can tell you, our country's worth it. Our democracy is worth it.
And the people in this room, to Mr. Meachum's words, are the ones who are standing in the breach. And I'm proud to stand with you.
Thank you so much.
CROW: Thank you, Colin Allred.
And now I'm proud to recognize Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut.
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT): Madam speaker, Mr. And Mrs. Sicknick, thank you.
A thank you to Congressman Crow for presiding over this somber day of reflection and remembrance as we commemorate the one-year anniversary of the January 6th assault on this institution and the assault on our democracy.
Just a year ago, Congressman Crow, you fought to keep the protesters out of the House chamber. And you gave the rest of us in the gallery direction and strength and helped us to protect ourselves.
And for that, we are grateful.
Keep your head down, take your pin off. You are a remarkable leader, and we thank you.
On January 6th, 2021, our nation gazed into the abyss and understood more fully than ever that our democracy is fragile.
A year later, it is difficult to comprehend the gravity of this attack on our democracy.
But I will never forget that, amid this insurrection, it was the Capitol Police who told us to, quote, "hit the floor, grab the gas masks under our seats." I had no idea there were gas masks under our seats.
As the mob headed for the House chamber, and when they said the capitol had been breached with tear gas in the Statuary Hall, and they were on the way to the chamber doors - and that's a long walk, the chamber doors. Trapped in the gallery with my colleagues, I hold dear today, we held
onto one another. We watched out for one another. We made sure we could get over the railings or under the railings.
And I'll never forget Marcy Kaptur, who said, this is a little bit about the limbo, over and under. We had a little bit of levity.
But we did, we look back to say, are you with us? Let's go, as we made our way around the perimeter of the capitol.
And I will never forget lying on the floor behind those seats, and when the officer said, hit the floor, there are gunshots.
We saw the chamber doors smashed. We saw police with guns drawn. We heard the shots from the speakers in the lobby.
I remember, I was laying on the floor and I had just a very little bit of juice left in my cell phone. And I wanted to call my husband, I wanted to call stan. I was afraid to say I love you because it hearkened back to September 11 and those last calls.
So I just said, I'm all right. Tell the kids I'm all right. They are going to get us out of here. And I hung up the phone.
And then when they did get us out through those ceremonial doors, we saw the rioters spread-eagled on the floor with the Capitol Police with guns standing over them. And they got us to safety.
As my colleagues said, they saved our lives at risk of their own.
But we mark this day by also recognizing the resilience of our democracy. On that day, our institutions withstood the threat. We overcame the chaos.
And let it be a reminder of just how remarkable America is.
Together we stood up for the union, and we protected the basic functions of our democracy. We continue the quest to build a more perfect union.
And the principles of our Constitution not only survived this crisis but proved once again that our democratic system works and remains a beacon of hope for the world.
And that is why it is so important that we continue to have a full investigation of those events one year ago, so that they never happen again.
We seek the truth, recognize what happened so that we can move forward.
It is why we must safeguard our elections bypassing voter rights legislation that will protect that right to vote.
The right to vote is the ultimate defense against insurrection. It is why we must continue the work of the January 6th committee, led by Congressman Bennie Thompson and Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
And that is why those of us who have the capacity, whatever committees we serve on where we passed into law almost a billion dollars to fund the Capitol Police and to secure the U.S. capitol, the citadel of democracy.
One year ago, our democracy was tested, but we prevailed. Our institutions and the rule of law triumphed on January 6th.
And despite rioters and protests, we performed our constitutional duty. Yes, we were delayed, but our efforts were undeterred.
We pray for the officers and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We honor their sacrifices by taking a hard look at just what happened on that dark day and what we needed to do to ensure such an alarming breach in our capitol security never happens again.
We must never forget January 6th. We must never lose sight of what happened, and we must never stop fighting for our democracy.
In the immortal worlds of Alexis De Tocqueville, and I quote, "The greatness of America lies in not only being more enlightened to any other nation but enlightened to her ability to repair our faults."
Let that be the enduring lesson of January 6th.
Thank you, my colleagues, and god bless this institution.
BLACKWELL: Representative Rosa DeLauro there.
We'll continue to monitor the reflects on the Congress and the insurrection.
Let's bring in former Trump White House press secretary and communications director, Stephanie Grisham. She was the first official to resign as a result of the insurrection.
And she met with the January 6th committee last night. We'll talk about that in a moment.
Stephanie, good to see you.
Let's start here with what we're hearing from members of Congress. It's not just reflections on the day but the preservation of democracy.
And before we went back to that, we were talking with Olivia Troye about this new group that you've announced now to try to do that, preserve democracy, by stopping former President Trump from gaining power again. Is this -- do you ever have a specific formula that you think will
work, or is this that you have to do something to try to preserve democracy so this is your best effort?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thank you, guys, both, for having me. I appreciate it.
I was watching earlier and I know kind of the question was, what will make this group different. We're going to meet next week to go over that and over what different tactics and things will work. If we need to go to the state level or local level or stay focused on him.
I think what will make this group different and ultimately successful is that it is all former Trump administration officials. So it is all people who have worked around him, for him.
I have seen different things in different capacities. And I think being able to understand him and talk about maybe why he's doing some of the things he's doing at the time or being able to explain to people why he did things in the past and what really was going on in the background, I think that will help us, I hope, reach people who are true believers.
I was a true believer. I would argue that some of the people that will be in this group believed in him. That's why we joined that administration in the White House.
And I want to talk to people, just truly about who he really is, which is a selfish man who does not care about anybody. He wants people to do his bidding.
And it's why he is sitting back at Mar-a-Lago right now while people are rightfully being punished and going to jail for one year ago, the horrible insurrection at the capitol.
CAMEROTA: And speaking of that, Stephanie, I know that, last night, you met with the House Select Committee that's investigating exactly what led up to January 6th.
And I know you don't want to get ahead of any announcement they're going to make or their investigation, I totally understand.
But do you believe, in your heart of hearts -- now having met with them, you know the questions they asked you.
Do you think that they will reach conclusions or hold people accountable that will in any way move the needle? Do you think they'll have an impact?
GRISHAM: I do. I believe that they are being so thorough and meticulous in putting a timeline together and all these different names and how things came together.
And I think that it will be some pretty irrefutable proof. I think there will be a lot of people who will have to, you know, be criminally charged. But, again, I'm going to let the DOJ deal with that.
But I do believe it move people. I think people are going to see exactly what happened that day, minute by minute.
And not only him not doing anything for two hours and some change, but just all the people who were involved.
As you know, the texting has been released slowly from different members of Congress, from seen Hannity, et cetera. I think it will move the needle.
I'm very, very hopeful and I think they're doing a great job.
BLACKWELL: We heard earlier from the vice chair of that 1/6 committee, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, and putting into context what sees seeing your party do the impact on democracy.
Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The threat continues. Former President Trump continues to make the same claims that he knows caused violence on January 6th.
And it's very important, if you look at what's happening today in my party, the Republican Party, rather than reject what happened on the 6th, reject the lies about the election, and make clear that a president who engaged in those activities can never be president again.
Unfortunately, too many in my own party are embracing that former president, are looking the other way, are minimizing the danger. That's how democracies die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: I wonder, you know, you talked about the true believers and being an impact from this committee.
Do you see what happened to Congresswoman Cheney? Jettisoned from her state Republican Party.
I just wonder the confidence that you have.