Return to Transcripts main page

Reliable Sources

Trump Silent As Lawmakers Pressure Him To Resign; The Pro-Trump Media Part Of The Equation; The Moment A Pro-Trump Mob Turned On A CNN Crew; New Accounts From Inside The Capitol; How Reporters Stayed On The Air And Online During The Riot. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 10, 2021 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brian Stelter, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES, beginning with breaking news from Washington.

President Trump heading toward impeachment for the second time. Democrats moving to begin the proceedings on Monday. Some Republicans even urging the president to resign in the wake of Wednesday's attack.

Let us take stock of exactly where we are this Sunday.

The nation is reeling from Wednesday's assault at the U.S. Capitol. The president, who incited the attack, is completely missing in action. Big technology companies believe he poses a threat to the public, so they have cut him off from their servers.

He is invisible. He is not delivering statements, holding press conferences. He's silent. The executive branch of the American government seems paralyzed.

Some White House aides have quit and others are thinking about quitting.

The vice president who was targeted by the president's mob is also remaining quiet. The cabinet is invisible. A second impeachment of the president looks inevitable unless Trump resigns.

Meantime, some of the attackers from Wednesday are being arrested and charged. Manhunts are underway for some of the others. Extremists are threatening more violence in the coming days. State capitols are on high alert.

And there is now a giant wall encircling the U.S. Capitol in D.C. That's our capitol. So Trump did get a wall built.

Trump's cheering section in the right wing media is desperately trying to downplay Wednesday's crimes. They are trying to move on and stuff it down the memory hole. They would rather complain about Twitter and why they are losing followers.

That's what's going on. America's two parallel universes of reality still very much in effect.

So how did we get here? And will the people on platforms who fanned the flames of fury be held accountable? What will accountability even look like?

We're going to address those tough questions tonight.

Online radicalization doesn't just stay online. Crazy talk on TV doesn't just stay on TV. It shows up at our nation's seat of power.

A web of delusion had real life consequences on Wednesday. And it will continue to have real world consequences.

Now, you already know the lies that led up to the riot, the lies about the election being stolen from Trump. But do you know how deep it goes?

The more research I did this week, the more I realized that Fox News shows and Facebook groups are just part of the pro-Trump fantasy land. They are the part that exists above the water, visible for all to see. But you dive deeper and it gets worse.

Shows on Fox spread lies about voter fraud, while more extreme shows on Newsmax and One America News and the radio, they went further, pushing mass conspiracy theories and demonizing anyone who stood in the way of Trump's second term. If you keep diving deeper, you can barely even see light at this point and now, you're on fringe message boards and weird video streaming websites that claim the government has been hijacked and that even Mike Pence is in on it.

These forums and social web sites, they are really antisocial websites. They peddle racism and anti-Semitism and hate and fear- mongering and all sorts of garbage.

And when you're down here, when you're suffocated by lies, you can see how people wind up being radicalized enough to believe they have to storm the Capitol and attack police officers. Their brains have been poisoned by this stuff.

They claimed they had to go fight the fraud, fraud that doesn't actually exist. It's this mix of grievance, victim, a profound sense of loss and alienation and, of course, a leader who enables it all and lies with abandon. This is radicalization in America. It's happening every single day.

These extremist networks are right under our noses. There is a lot of blame to go around. When we talk about the security failures, that's really important, but we also have to talk about radicalization.

Today's "Washington Post" reports that, quote: Some Americans have traveled a path to radicalization that reminds current and current former U.S. national security officials of the indoctrination of Islamist militants, of ISIS terrorist. That's new reporting from "The Post".

Go online, go deep in those trenches and there is already talk about further protests based on the lies that GOP peddled for two months. One Trump forum, one commenter describing it as hopes for a round two, saying, this time no mercy.

Let's go back to reality now. You can see the front pages all across the country talking about a second impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment or pressuring the president to resign. This is radicalization. We are seeing the effects today.

So I'd like to begin our conversation. We're going to bring in five or six guests here in the first half hour.


But I'd like to start with two people in Washington who know this story so well.

Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of "The Atlantic", was there, walking along the National Mall on Wednesday, interviewing people who attended the Save America March before it became a riot.

And Susan Glasser is here with me as well, staff writer for "The New Yorker", who was there last night, at what has become an impromptu vigil at the Capitol Hill, and I think we should talk about that story as well.

Jeffrey, you described Wednesday's attack on the Capitol as a mass delusion event. I've never heard that phrase before. Tell me what that means and what you heard from people there.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ATLANTIC: Right. Well, I mean, there are so many delusions in this crowd of thousands that I was with on that day. And obviously superficially, the thing that you hear the most, obviously, is the violent rhetoric and you see the violent rhetoric on signs and in behavior even.

But what struck me initially was that the crowd, thousands and thousands of people were maskless, right? Maybe 5 percent of the people were wearing masks.

What I mean by mass illusion is that somehow the message has been received by these thousands of people that there is no virus, right? There is no pandemic. You know, it was almost in a kind of way -- I mean, maybe this is too much. But it is a little like a mass suicide event.

In other words, it was a -- it was a -- it was a rally against reason and reason, you know, reason when it comes to science, reason when it comes to observable reality, reason when it comes to the election results that have been certified and recertified and recertified.

What struck me was the comprehensiveness of the fantasy land, as you would say, that people were completely untethered, many in their own ways, different obsessions. But many people I talked to were completely untethered from observable reality.

STELTER: And that notion about the masks being off, let me take that a step further. Beyond they're not wearing a mask to avoid getting sick and dying from pandemic, they were happy to be photographed.

Think about 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, these folks were not afraid to be photographed. They were recording themselves, taking selfies. They wanted to be seen committing these acts of terrorism.

So, Susan, what is the media's responsibility in the days ahead?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, the media has already played a crucial role in identifies many of the perpetrators of this insurrection at the capitol. They have asked important questions and will continue to do so around the massive security failures that led to this, about the political crisis that has resulted from it, all of which have enormous outstanding answers.

I think the bigger challenge for the media, Brian, as it has been, in some ways all along with Trump, is that part of the reason that he's continued to go on and to succeed is because the unthinkable becoming reality is actually very hard to cover.

STELTER: Yes, yes.

GLASSER: Since the election, Donald Trump has been engaged in not just a mass delusion event. I think Jeff's term is really a good one. But also in a direct attack on the constitutional system itself, which now was made physical and manifest in his supporters smashing the windows of our democratic symbol.

But how do you cover that? Were there enough front page stories that opened up the possibility that a violent attack was being planned? You know, what -- how do we write about something that's never happened before in advance?

STELTER: Yeah, yeah.

GLASSER: I think that's really a big challenge.

STELTER: And then the next challenge is the language we use in describing it.

Jeffrey, CNN decided that domestic terrorism was an appropriate phrase to describe what happened in the Capitol on Wednesday. We heard words like insurrection all week long. Of course, you know, on Fox News, they don't call them pro-Trump riots. They just say riots.

But where do you come down on this issue of the words, the language?

GOLDBERG: Well, what we need now going forward past January 20th is a commitment to plain language.

And Susan is right. The novelty of this movement domestically really caught us on the back foot. And our language and our plain description never fully caught up to what was going on. And so, you know, what I mean by this is something very specific.

Like when you are describing what happened this week, it probably should be described simply as the president of the United States incited a mob to go sack the Capitol and lynch the vice president, his vice president. I mean, that is -- that is a fair way of describing what happened or what could have happened had the mob broken through and got to the vice president or the speaker of the House or other members of the Congress.

They were -- they were looking for violence. And so, you know, with that and many other ways, we have to describe things as they are.


And one lesson --


GOLDBERG: -- very quickly that we could learn from our profession is that we need to -- we need to almost be like foreign correspondents in our own Capitol at some point. It's easy for us to describe the Arab spring. It's easy for us to describe coups in Turkey and other places.

But we have to import some of that language into describing what's going on domestically because that is what's happening domestically.

STELTER: Right, sad but true.

Susan, you and I talked for much of the past four years -- actually all three of us, actually, Jeffrey, you, too -- about Trump's fitness for office. It's been the story ever since 2017. We knew it in 2017 after Charlottesville. We knew it deep down inside. This has always been about his mental health, his mental fitness.

Was the press strong enough about talking about this, Susan?

GLASSER: You know, look, Brian, you can find examples not just in our conversation but many, many great journalists, thinkers, writers, leaders, psychiatrists, you know, breaking with the cannon of their profession in order to warn us about this.

So, it's not that this wasn't a public debate, but it was never able to either, one, overcome the enormous barrier of rigid partisanship in the United States which has now caused people to see even basic facts through this lens. And then, number two, the incredible challenge of writing about a topic that is -- has no precedent. And what is there to do about it?

Donald Trump has never been held to account. And unless and until there is a way for the political system collectively to do so -- remember, the same people who were excusing his behavior right now, literally spent four years saying elections have (AUDIO GAP). And then when there is a consequence they said, never mind. Let's override the election.

STELTER: Jeffrey, it's been almost 96 hours since the attack, why have the Republican leaders of the Congress not walked or driven to the White House and told the president to step down? GOLDBERG: Fear, opportunism. I mean, your guess is as good as mine. We

have to ask them. They're not interested in being interviewed obviously because there are no good answers. But --


STELTER: But, that's an important point. Mitch McConnell is not on TV. Kevin McCarthy is not on TV. These guys won't even show their faces right now.

GOLDBERG: No. It's really quite amazing. What is interesting is that at least a few Republicans or more than before this disaster happened, a few are coming out and saying enough is enough.

But, you know, we're ten days from the end of the Trump presidency, and I think people knew years ago that the man was unstable, and to go to your previous point. You know what private conversations on the Hill have been like for years. They all know that this was a terrific mess and it was going to lead to disaster, but very few people said it.

STELTER: Very few did.

GOLDBERG: Susan, you wrote for "The New Yorker" last month, before all of this, before all of this happened, about the danger of forgetting, forgetting the scandals and the abuses and indecency of the Trump years. You said there is going to be a lot of pressure to forget. You recognize a lot of people are going to want to move on.

Why is it important that we never forget?

GLASSER: Look, Brian, if there is one thing that history teaches us, it's that without a reckoning and without accountability, a society can't move on from a traumatic, divisive and criminal event such as what we just witnessed.

And until the real nature of the Trump presidency is taken into account in some important way, there is no possible way. So when you listen to -- there are politicians on both sides of the aisle, I should say, Democrats as well as Republicans who have an interest at this point in moving on.

Democrats want Joe Biden to have a successful beginning to his presidency. Republicans want to escape any culpability for their role in inciting this attack on American democracy. So, there is an enormous and understandable pressure. I wrote that in my column at 4:00 a.m. this Thursday morning when the House and Senate finished the process of certifying the Electoral College results, that people would already be beginning the process of forgetting.

There are different forms that accountability can take. But mystery shows us very clearly that there must be accountability or the United States is not going to be able to successfully move on from these events.

STELTER: I agree. Susan and Jeffrey, thank you. Please stick around. I will bring you

back later on in this hour.

Let's look back at Wednesday's mass occupation of the Capitol through the lens of a television spectacle because while history was unfolding, I couldn't help but notice all the TV terminology people were using. Yet, Trump told his fans he would be watching, right?

Wednesday morning started as a protest along the National Mall, the so-called "Save America March". The entire Trump speech was aired live on Fox.


Look, all protests are stages. All protests are stages in order to drive attention, to draw attention. And Trump wanted that attention.

Here's what he told his fans. He told them he'd be watching on Capitol Hill.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we see a very important event, though, because right over there, right there, we see the event going to take place, and I'm going to be watching because history is going to be made.


STELTER: Okay. Now, he said that in the context of what are the (AUDIO GAP) he said that in the context of what are the congressmen going to do. Are they going to brave? Are they going to be cowards?

But he was saying, I will be watching. That was 12:20 p.m.

By that point, some of the rally-goers started to walk toward the Capitol. They already started to move toward the Capitol.

Now, in the 1:00 p.m. hour, we're watching the certification in the Congress.

And listen to the way Ted Cruz talked about this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I want to urge my colleagues don't take perhaps the easy path, but instead act together, astonish the viewers and act in a bipartisan sense.


STELTER: Do you hear that? He said viewers. He wasn't talking about voters. He was talking about viewers.

And, of course, millions of people were watching the certification as it happened. Then the coverage shifted to what was happening outside as the Capitol was swarmed by the mob.

Later in the evening, I want you to look at one of the other insurrectionist senators, Josh Hawley, and how he made his comments directly to the camera. Do you see how he's looking straight at you? That's not normally how senators talk on the floor. But he was looking straight at you during his speech.

And lastly, look at the language in this statement from the brother- in-law of the woman who lost her life in the riot who was shot. The brother-in-law said Trump lost four of his biggest fans.

Fans. That is the right word, fans.

It goes to show how the crowd was primed to take part in what would be a televised spectacle. The stage was the U.S. Capitol. People, as I said, I they wanted to be filmed. They wanted to be seen doing this.

So, what other factors led up to the moment of this attack?

Well, the president was tweeting many days at a time, encouraging people to come to Washington on January 6th. And it wasn't until Friday night that his Twitter account was finally banned. Banned permanently.

Of course, he's been de-platformed by Facebook, by YouTube, by practically every technology service. It's too little too late, but it is still a historic moment for big technology companies.

So, let's dig into that next with Adam Sharp. He's the former head of news and politics at Twitter.

Adam, you long defended Twitter not taking action against Trump's account. And then you changed your mind this week. Tell me about that.

ADAM SHARP, FORMER HEAD OF NEWS AND POLITICS AT TWITTER: Well, I think for a long time, there were two main reasons why I felt it was important that Twitter not suspend the account.

Number one, I didn't think that Twitter or any private company should be whitewashing the record of this president. I think, just as if CNN were to edit every speech to make the president seem like a, in his words, a very stable genius, it would not be an accurate reflection of the record, no more should a private company in the case of Twitter or Facebook or anyone else be altering the public record to put a false picture of his statements there. His public statements should be out there for the public to digest and inform their vote when they went to the polls next time.

The second piece were that the president is a unique figure. If I threaten my neighbor, it's a crime. If the president threatens our neighbors, it is a statement of foreign policy. So there are things that the president can do and is uniquely permitted to do that are not the case for other Americans.

Wednesday, on the other hand, was a different circumstance. The Constitution, when it comes to the president and Congress, almost the main focus of the document is to keep the president at arm's length from the Congress.

So to the extent that there is an exceptionalism to the presidency, it actually goes the other direction this time. The president's violations of the law and of Twitter's policies when it comes to threatening Congress are so flagrant because he is the president and because he crossed that very specific constitutional line on Wednesday.

STELTER: What's going to happen now? Parler, we'll put the headline about Parler. It's this, you know, Twitter with no rules, popular among right wing radicals. It's being deplatformed as we speak. They're crying censorship.


Where is the outgoing president going to go?

SHARP: Well, it's a tough call. I mean, these are private companies, and the law says they can choose who they have on their platforms, who they don't have on their platforms, and the law is on their side in that regard.

And part of the philosophy there has always been that if you're not allowed on that platform, there's other places where you can go and have a voice, like Parler.

Now, Parler is having particular challenges right now. It has been kicked off the Google Play Store. It has been kicked off the Apple Store. Amazon, which hosted its infrastructure on its Amazon Web Services, is saying that they're kicking them off.

So the question is, is there a place for it to go?

And I think that's where Google and Apple may be in a more difficult spot than Twitter and Facebook legally, because if you look at the precedent of antitrust laws, for example, the Microsoft case in the '90s, when these companies are the gateway through their operating systems, the operating systems from your mobile phone in this case, there is some precedent for requiring access to that platform for these minority entrants, like in that prior case, Netscape.

And so, the question is, if this does involve into a court case, will you see some court action requiring the App Stores to carry Parler or something like that?

So there would seem to be a little more legal precedent in the App Store case than perhaps there would be in Twitter or Facebook having to reinstate a Donald Trump or his allies.

STELTER: That's the future. But let me ask you one question about the past given there is a lot of folks at Twitter. This mob was whipped into a frenzy by so many lies. Many of which spread on Facebook and Twitter and other platforms.

Is there a responsibility for -- on the part of these companies? Do you feel that, you know, your former colleagues have a lot of regrets? Do they feel partly responsible?

SHARP: I think there is surely responsibility on the part of the companies. I think there is surely responsibility on the part of everyone. I think -- you know, these companies each share a common history in that they were founded on lots of idealism and very little business model.

And then when investors and Wall Street started pushing for double digit quarterly returns and growth, the algorithms had to start shifting to feeding the beast, to feeding that growth, to turning a blind eye a little bit to the health of the platform and instead focusing on what gets you to click more, what gets you to stay on the platform more, to engage more.

Facebook's own research showed that two-thirds of the time, a user joined an extremist group on Facebook, it's because Facebook's own algorithms recommended it.

So I think one hope right now is that perhaps we're entering a few phase, that perhaps there is a new maturity, perhaps a new understanding of where we are as a society both by the companies and by the market to allow a bit more of an equilibrium, to accept that, you know, growth can slow a little bit. We don't need to be doubling every couple of months to be a successful company, and that the health of the societies we created in this digital space is as important as the gigantic growth in revenue and user growth that we're delivering to Wall Street.


Adam, stay with me. I want to bring in Julie Roginsky. She's the former Fox News contributor and now, Democratic strategist -- back then and now, Democratic strategist.

Julie, I just asked Adam about social media's responsibility. Let's talk about pro-Trump media responsibility, TV networks responsibilities. Here are just a few examples of the rhetoric on Fox News and Newsmax and OANN in the run-up to Wednesday.

Listen to the word that keeps getting repeated here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is still fighting for us. He's fighting for us. And we have to fight for him, folks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The society is rigged right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is going to do his part to, quote, fight like hell for the White House against this stolen election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you think the election was rigged, and I absolutely think that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's hyperbole to describe this moment as a sort of constitutional tinderbox. (END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Right. It was a tinderbox that you helped start.

OK. So you hear that, Julie. You hear them saying we have to fight for him, we have to fight for Trump.

How much responsibility should we be assigning to pro-Trump media?

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: A tremendous amount of responsibility.

This is -- you know, I want to almost speak directly to my old boss, Rupert Murdoch, to say, you can stop this madness. The revolution will eat its young always and it will eventually eat you because the beast has to be fed, as Adam said, consistently.

It is never enough to spread all sycophancy, to spread all the obsequiousness that you've seen on Fox News over the past six, seven years for Donald Trump going back to his "Fox and Friends" days, it's still never going to be enough for him.

And, so, Fox News can stop this.


They can stop this by speaking truth to power and saying that we are going to put the well-being and the common well (ph) of this nation ahead of an unhinged man who, by the way, they know is unhinged.

STELTER: Yes, they do.

ROGINSKY: Some of these people are continuing to be my friends --


STELTER: Julie, that is so important. That is so important.


STELTER: My sources at Fox, they knew the truth. They knew it years ago.

ROGINSKY: Of course.

STELTER: I'm sorry. But they've known.

ROGINSKY: Listen, I can tell you firsthand, of course, they did. I was there when he got elected. I could tell you that in private conversation, half the people that you see today praising Donald Trump to the stars, making excuses for him, they knew then and I suspect they know today even more that he's unhinged.

I suspect that the Murdochs know that he's unhinged.

But what they don't understand, they seem to not grasp, is that no matter how far they go for Donald Trump, no matter how far they excuse his awful behavior, as Mike Pence has proven, there is no amount of sycophancy that will be enough for this man.

And so, they can reason with their viewers and they say, listen, we might have supported him on individual policies. We might have supported him on tax cuts or judges or other conservative priorities, but this is not normal and we are reasoning with you the voters and the viewers to say this is not normal behavior.

They can -- they can do much more to let the Ted Cruzes and the Josh Hawleys off the hook, even though I believe they should never be left off the hook. But they should -- they can do enough to end this cycle of insanity on Capitol Hill.

STELTER: They can, but they're not. They can, but they are not. The through line between what Adam said and what you said is profit. It's about profit.

The narrative on Fox now is all about big tech bias. They are obsessed with this issue. They are trying to bury the riot down the memory hole.

And I fear that is what's going to continue for the days to come. They're going to talk more about Twitter than they are about the attempt to massacre lawmakers.

Julie and Adam, thank you both for your thoughts and your time.

ROGINSKY: Thank you.

STELTER: After the break, I want you to show a perspective you have not seen before from the Capitol riot -- video from one CNN crew when the mob came for them. We're going to play this in its entirety, two minutes. You're going to hear the audio two minutes inside the mob. That's next.



STELTER: What happens when a president declares the press the enemy of the people over and over again? This is what happens. Murder the media, it says on the wall. There were numerous assaults of reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. And two Washington Post reporters were arrested just for doing their jobs.

And in one minute, I'm going to show you a new video that contains a lot of explicit language. So, I just want to warn you, if you have kids in the room, Jamie, go grab the remote. You're going to want to mute the TV when we play this two-minute-long video coming up here.

But first, let me set it up by explaining to the brutal scene, obviously for lawmakers, obviously for law enforcement, also for the journalists who were America's eyes and ears on Wednesday afternoon. These journalists deserve a special thank you for their bravery, for their courage that day. Nobody on Capitol Hill went to work planning to cover a riot.

In one case, the Associated Press crews were forced away from the area outside the Senate. They had set up their cameras there, trying to do live shots. But as you can see in some of the videos, this area was also attacked. Some of the equipment was destroyed. You heard rants and raves from these -- what word should we use, right? They're not protesters. One reporter captured the camera record that rioters had tied into a noose and hung from a tree.

Now, again, if you have kids in the room, please mute the TV. I'm going to show you a video. It's two minutes long. It is what happened to one of our CNN crews when the mob realized that they were members of the media. There's very graphic language in this video but you need to watch it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here, motherfuckers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Let's go. We got to go.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Let's go. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the fuck out of here.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you with?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You fucking pussy. You fucking piece of shit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's more of us than you. There's more of us than you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the fuck out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can fucking destroy you right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the fuck out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You fucking pussy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is with the media. This guy is with the media.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the fuck out.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the fuck out of here.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN sucks. CNN sucks. CNN sucks. CNN sucks. Get out of here you fake media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, we're not that type of people. If you want to get through them, you got to come through me. That is not us. You get the fuck out of here before you get hurt. This is not us. This is not us. This is why we're different.


STELTER: Let's bring in Alex Marquardt who you just saw there, the CNN Senior National Security Correspondent who was walking with photojournalist Ronnie McCray out of there. Alex, I want viewers to know, news crews did have security at the Capitol on Wednesday. We don't -- we don't talk about that. That is part of the reality.

And yet even with security, even with your experience as a foreign correspondent, you were in the middle of this mob, did you feel that you could be hurt or killed in that moment? ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Oh,

absolutely. It was very scary. It was a very hairy moment. We're all very rattled afterwards. We knew, Brian, going into this crowd that this was a hostile crowd, both towards journalists in general, and CNN in particular. So, the entire day, we had to walk this line of how close to we get to actually witness the events and do our jobs, but also stay safe.

And at this point, what was going on inside the Capitol was already well underway. So, we wanted to get a little bit closer to get a sense of what was going on. And at a certain point, I still don't know how they figured out that we were with CNN. And that's when the crowd really turned on us.

And Brian, there was this wave of aggression and anger that just rippled through the crowd. You could see everyone start looking at us and turning on us. People are calling us traitors and chanting USA, and saying, get the F out of here. That was kind of the best of it. And then there was this a lot more of an aggressive element.

You saw guys there saying, there are a lot more of us than you. We could absolutely destroy you. So, at that moment, the singular focus for my team, for my producer Jamie Crawford, Ronnie McCray, the photojournalist, as you mentioned, our singular focus was to get out of there unscathed. We put our heads down and tried to get out of that crowd.

You saw at the end there, there was a big guy in an orange sweatshirt who, who said -- who basically pushed some of the people back saying this is not us. And to him, I would say, thank you for trying to block any sort of physical violence against us. But respectfully, many of the people out there, that was exactly them.

And I think we were lucky to have gotten out of there without any sort of physical assault. But it was a very hairy moment, Brian.

STELTER: People need to see these videos. There's still more of them coming in as the days go by. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for accountability for the attacks against the media on Wednesday. And let me just double -- let me just second that call. There has to be accountability for the violence in in Washington.

Alex, you cover the Arab Spring in the Middle East years ago. There you are covering us in D.C.? Did you ever think you'd see it in Washington or in the United States?

MARQUARDT: In short, not really. Certainly not when I got back to the states over three years ago. But there was a moment, Brian, during all of that on Wednesday when our colleague Jake Tapper was saying that he felt like he was speaking to foreign correspondents.

And I did feel like I was a foreign correspondent again. What I was seeing, what I was hearing, what I was hearing from the people on the ground and witnessing, I felt like I was a foreign correspondent again. And it was shocking to see this happening in my own country, in the city that I live in just two miles from my house. But at the same time, you know, we are taught to believe that, you

know, America is exceptional, that America has an exceptional democracy. And I really do you think that this is a reflection of where we are right now. That, you know, these -- the people who are out there and millions of people across the country have been told that their country was stolen from them, has been stolen from them, their votes have been stolen, that the press is the enemy and the people. So, it's no real surprise when this kind of thing happens.

This is where we are as a country, the divisions, the tribalism, the sectarianism. Those are words that we use when we cover other countries as foreign correspondents. This is where we are. So, when we see scenes like this, when I witnessed that, we should be stunned and shocked. But if you've been paying attention, we really should not be surprised.

STELTER: I absolutely agree. Alex, thank you. I'm glad you're OK.

MARQUARDT: Thank you.

STELTER: To hear another firsthand account from outside the Capitol, look up our podcast. My guest this week is CNN's Elle Reeve. She's an expert in covering far-right extremism. She says Donald Trump takes extremism to the masses. Look that up on the RELIABLE SOURCES podcast.

Next, let's move from the journalists who captured the chaos of the Capitol riot outside. Let's move inside and understand what it was like to be locked down. Three of CNN's congressional correspondents join me next.



STELTER: Pro-Trump rioters inflicted terror at the Capitol on Wednesday. Honestly, the riot was even more violent than it looked on live TV because so many of the camera angles were from far away and the cameras in the House and the Senate were turned off so we couldn't see. As time goes on, new camera angles, new videos of the episode become available. And they show us, for example, terrorists chanting hang Mike Pence and crushing a Capitol police officer in the door.

We've seen from the outside. Let's go inside the lockdown now and hear what it was like from three CNN correspondents who became eyewitnesses to this event. Manu Raju, Phil Mattingly, and Lauren Fox are all with me.

Lauren, you're a congressional reporter. Have you been able to process this yet? Are you still trying to process what it was like?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, Brian. I think a lot of us, you know, kept doing our jobs not just on Wednesday, but on Thursday, and on Friday. Obviously, now, we're talking about a potential impeachment in the House of Representatives.

Yesterday, I kind of tried to log off for a little bit and, you know, listen to music and try to process what had occurred and it's starting to sink in. You know, I walked into work this morning into the Russell building and there are Army National Guard outside of the capital where I work every day. You know, people in fatigues walking around the Russell office building where I work every day.

And I think, you know, that is really starting to sink in that not just what happened Wednesday, but this is really going to change how we operate up here moving forward for a long time. So, there's an emotional piece of this but there's also a logistical piece of this that I think everyone is still trying to process and work out right now.


STELTER: Let's go back to Wednesday and how it unfolded. Manu, let's show some of the photos you took of the damage afterward. It was really difficult to report inside the Capitol when it was on lockdown. So, tell us about those difficulties.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we really didn't have a good sense of the danger that we were all in. In fact, when I first went on air to report that the Capitol was in lockdown, which is very rare. I've only been in two lockdowns in my entire time covering Washington's since '02 and the better part of that covering Capitol Hill. This was the second time I'd ever been in a lockdown.

I reported that it was probably unlikely that protesters would get into this building because never would I have imagined that we could see an enormous amount of people or even a single protest or breach a such a heavily fortified building. And the first sense we got that things were really serious was when our congressional producer, Ted Barrett, told me that the capital was in lockdown. He tried to leave the building. And he came back, and he told me that we came up, and we reported that on air.

And then later, just moments later after I was about to go live, our other congressional producer Ali Zaslav, who is here in this booth where I was reporting from, showed me a picture from Twitter of reporters shooting these mob, these members of the mob in the Capitol just steps from the Senate floor. I could not believe my eyes. And we were able to confirm that and then report it.

We're also seeing an internal security alert from Capitol Police saying don't leave your offices, lock your doors, don't make a sound, showing how serious this was. And still, as we're reporting to the course of the day, we were relying on pull reports, we're relying on our sources, we're witnessing things while we're putting things on there. But it was impossible to really sense things.

And Brian, I really got a real sense of how devastating things were when I was evacuated out of this location to a secure location. When I was walking around the Capitol, it was almost like a war zone. Things knocked over. It smelled like smoke bombs in the air, riot police everywhere. It was a surreal experience to see the halls of the Capitol turn into a war zone. STELTER: Well, it was like prior terror attacks in that information came out drip by drip. You know, scattered information drip by drip from different perspectives, different vantage points. And Phil, you just recovered from major knee surgery. So, you're barely off crutches. What was it like?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it wasn't super ideal. Look, Manu makes a great point. I think we were also laser- focused on the proceedings, right? This was a historic moment. You had objectors to electoral votes. And when we first found out and I think we saw the notices we're hearing from sources that two of the house buildings had been evacuated -- look, evacuations occur, suspicious packages occur, we don't pay a lot of attention to them. We're in a pretty heavily fortified area.

So, I was actually tied to a camera in the Russell building across the street from the Capitol on the Senate side. Once they started the debate over the Arizona objections, I thought I could unplug and kind of go see what was happening. Mostly, I wanted to connect with Manu and Ali and Ted and Lauren and try and figure out how to divide and conquer to separate stories. So, I went underground in the tunnels over to the Capitol Building, no sense whatsoever of what was happening outside.

I got to an elevator, hit the button to go up, and a Capitol Police officer said absolutely not. Turn around, go back now. And I told him, look, I'm fine. It's good. I'm just going to see my colleagues. He said you don't understand. Turn around and go back now. So, I kind of hobbled my way back over to the Russell building, went up to where our camera is. And right next to that there's kind of a patio that you can open the doors and walk out into.

And I walked out into the patio, and this is the East front of the Capitol. And it was the only -- the best thing I could liken it to, Brian, was kind of a sci-fi movie where the protagonist gets the first sense of like the alien spaceship blocking out the sun. You see how many people there were. And not just that they were through the initial security fences, but they were up the steps, they were banging on the doors, they were breaking through the windows.

And at that point in time, I think all of our phones were doing two things. One, blowing up from sources, particularly those in leadership offices who were on the second floor who were barricaded in, who were very, very scared for their lives. And then second, I think it was -- it was checking in with one another. You know, we've got a team text chain. We are a very, very tight knit team. We're all good friends. And I think we all wanted to make sure everybody was in a safe place. And you couldn't really pin that down because things were moving so fast.

STELTER: Lauren, I thought you're on crutches too, aren't you?

FOX: I am on crutches. And I mean, that was one of the things that was so tough and scary about Wednesday for me personally was, you know, I kept seeing police officers saying, why aren't you in an office right now? Because I was trying to figure out how to potentially get back to the Capitol and they essentially were saying, you know, you're kind of vulnerable. You are on crutches. You're not going to be able to get away very quickly. You know, you need to find a place to stay.

So, I eventually found an office where, you know, I could sit for a little while. But it was difficult to kind of find that balance between wanting to report, wanting to see what was going on, and also trying to protect herself.

STELTER: Having to hide.

FOX: I think that that's always one of the tough -- one of the tough balances.


STELTER: Right, having to hide from the mob. Manu, I think it's fair to say that we were minutes away from a massacre and that now we know that?

RAJUA: Yes, look --

STELTER: If these guys -- if these guys have gone a different direction, they would have broken into the Senate or the House floor during proceedings where we were so -- we were so close. And I don't think people know how close we were.

RAJU: It's terrifying to think of that because if any of them wanted to detonate an explosive or open fire an AR-15, it could have been a mass, mass, mass casualty event. And I can tell you, in talking to some of these House members who were in the House chamber, during that armed standoff, it's just surreal to hear the accounts from those members themselves. One of these rioters broke a window to get into the House floor. that prompted an armed standoff with several Capitol Police officers.

These members who were in the gallery were told to wear masks, put on their masks. They were hiding under their chairs. One congressman, Raul Ruiz, told me that I thought I could die. It's the first time in my life I thought I could die.

Members of their group calling their staff or calling their family members, they're telling them what was happening very quietly while cops were screaming at this person who was trying to get in and stand up the glass. And people really say it's a blur how long it lasted. But it just showed you how serious precarious of a situation and how it was escalating so quickly out of control, Brian.

STELTER: I'm glad you all are safe, and I'm thankful you're there every day. But I'm really thankful that you're all there on Wednesday to be eyewitnesses. Thank you to all three correspondents.

Coming up here, editorial boards are calling for Trump and for some GOP senators to resign. Analysis from Jeffrey Goldberg, Susan Glasser, and Oliver Darcy next.


STELTER: We are all still processing what's happened in the past few days. If you feel overwhelmed by it, if you feel anxious about it, I get it. I do too. Let's look at some of the front pages from this morning's major papers all across the country. Here's Minneapolis, a powerful headline, A Nation Left Violated. The sub-headline says, "America is forced to face a threat from within."

Now, here's San Diego, Momentum Builds to Impeach Trump. And in Florida, Impeachment On The Fast Track. Some papers owned by advanced publications are even publishing the draft articles -- the article, the new one article of impeachment on the front page.

Let's go to St. Louis. The headline says, "All Eyes Are On Hawley: Support Crumbling For The Senator After The Assault." Multiple local papers have called for their GOP senators to resign or be removed. Oliver Darcy is with me and Jeffrey Goldberg and Susan Glasser are back as well.

Oliver, what -- as a media story, what was the story of this week?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Brian, I think that the story this week was bringing our informational crisis to the forefront, right. It's a national emergency. You have corporations and people that are profiting off of lies and conspiracy theories, whether that's big tech, whether that's Fox News, whether that's the T.V. providers, (INAUDIBLE) OAN, or Newsmax into homes or Rush Limbaugh, there are a lot of people profiting off of lies and conspiracy theories. And I don't really see how things get better, how we move on as a country until this informational environment is cleaned up.

STELTER: Right. This is poisoned information well. That is the big story here. Jeffrey, let me show you the least surprising newspaper headline I saw today. It's from Beckley, West Virginia. It says, Trump Fans Remain Loyal. Let me tell you also some news from the White House in the past few minutes. The White House has caught a lid, which means the press should not expect to see the president.

Once again, today, he is in hiding. Have we ever had a situation like this, Jeffrey, where the president of the United States is in hiding like this?

GOLDBERG: Actually, you know, I've been thinking a lot about this. We're in an unprecedented situation in which we don't know what the President is doing. And we don't know what the Vice President is doing. And moreover, we are not sure about the President's mental stability.

Let's put it plainly. We do not know what condition the president is in mentally and he's the president of the United States. And that's a very frightening place to be for this country.

STELTER: And there are so many enablers still. I mean, Oliver, Fox News, the Murdochs, they're still enabling this stuff because they're obsessing over big tech bias, that's what they call it, and trying to ignore the riot.

DARCY: Right. Where are they? They need to be held accountable as well. We're talking a lot about people like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch, they need to be held accountable for the lies that they have peddled to this country, not only in the past two months about the election either, but in the past, you know, several years that have really brought this to the forefront.

STELTER: Susan, you went down to the Capitol with your husband, Peter Baker, last night. Let's show the photos because there's a little bit of a vigil there. There's, you know, District of Columbia residents who have gone down with signs. What did the signs say? What did you see there?

GLASSER: Things like, fascist go home. You know, we love you. Welcome, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. But the theme really was that this was an attack on American democracy. And I would point out that the capital is a symbol of democracy around the world, as well as in the United States.

My first job out of college was covering Congress for Roll Call Newspaper. I worked there for eight years. Every day that I went to the U.S. Capitol, I was awed and overwhelmed by the grandeur of the place. It is literally the physical symbol of this unique experiment in democracy in the world.

And I think that, you know, looking at the pictures this week, it was a shock upon the system. In some ways, the horror of that grows over time rather than diminishes. I saw people bringing their children yesterday to the Capitol to take pictures and it was almost like (AUDIO GAP).

STELTER: Absolutely. Thank you all for wrapping this hour up. Before we go, a reminder to subscribe to our RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter, Oliver and I will be out with a fresh edition later tonight. Sign at We are T-minus ten days until the inauguration of Joe Biden, I promise. And between now and then, we'll see you right back here this time next week.