Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

The 2nd Trump Impeachment Trial; House Impeachment Managers Present Case to Convict Trump. Aired 1-1:30p ET.

Aired February 11, 2021 - 13:00   ET


REP. TED LIEU (D-CA), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: And you know, as a veteran, I find it deeply dishonorable that our commander and chief did not protect us. And then later he tries to take credit for something he failed to do.


Shameful. Also on that video you should note what it did not say.

Absent from that entire video was any actual acceptance of responsibility for his actions. Absent form that video was a call to his most fervent supporters to never do this again. And here was his final message in that so call condemnation of attack video.

Here's what he actually said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed. But I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.


LIEU: President Trump not only failed to show remorse or take accountability. He made clear he is just beginning. For days he did not address the nation after this attack. We needed our commander-in- chief to lead, to unite a grieving country, to comfort us.

But what did President Trump do? Nothing. Silence. We were aware that a violent mob murdered a police officer. It took President Trump three days before he lowered the flag of the United States of America. Three days.

And President Trump, who was commander-in-chief at the time, did not attend and pay respects to the officer who lay in state in the very building that he died defending. Now, some people have argued that President Trump made a mistake. That he get a Mulligan [ph].

But we know President Trump didn't make a mistake. Because you see when you or I make a mistake and something very bad happens, we would show remorse. We would accept responsibility. President Trump didn't do any of that. Why not? Because he intended what happened on January 6. And how do we know that? He told us. On January 12, as President Trump was boarding Air Force One to head to Texas, and you saw this video before and I'm going to show it again.

He was asked by a reporter quote, what is your roll in what happened at the Capitol? What is your personal responsibility? And this was his response.


TRUMP: But they vandalize (ph) my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence and everybody to the T thought it was totally appropriate.


LIEU: On January 12, President Trump has seen the violent attack on the Capitol. He knew the people that died. And his message to all of us was that his conduct was totally appropriate.

I'm a former prosecutor and we're trained to recognized lack of remorse but it doesn't take a prosecutor to understand that President Trump was not showing remorse. He was showing defiance.

He was telling us that he would do this again. That he could do this again. That he and future presidents can run for national election, lose the election, inflame the supporters for months. And then incite an insurrection and that that would be totally appropriate.

One week after the attack on January 13, President Trump in response to continuing bipartisan criticism, releases another video. Here is part of what he said. "I want to be very clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement."

President Trump of course had to make that statement. He needed to unequivocally condemn the attack. But he also needed to mean those words. You saw Donald Trump tweet endless attacks. Sometimes 108 tweets in a day. And in public speeches and across rallies; repeating words of fight and stop the steal and never surrender.

You know what it looks like when President Trump wants to convey a message forcefully, loudly and repeatedly he does that. This video sent after a week of the attack was not that.

And we know this because in this video, he again, does not show remorse, does not take responsibility. He again does not acknowledge his role in the insurrection. He does not say in that video, for example, everything I said in the months prior went too far.


And he does not say the one sentence that matters. He does not say the one sentence that would stop future political violence; the election was not stolen. He still hasn't said that sentence. That is why National Guard troops in full body armor still patrol outside.

Reports on the White House also confirm that President Trump believed he was quote, forced by the bipartisan fewer (ph) after the insurrection to acknowledge the new administration.

We know he did not stand behind his belated cognation (ph) because those around him confirmed it. And behind closed doors sources confirm that President Trump still refused to directly acknowledge his election laws to Joe Biden and refused to even attend the peaceful transition of power, the first president in modern history.

President Trump even reportedly while watching the impeachment vote, quote, focus his ire on the Republicans who voted for his impeachment, peppering aides with questions about what he could do to exact revenge.

President Trump has made clear that if he is not held accountable, he will not be accountable. He will not stop. Now President Trump would have his base and the world believe that his conduct was totally appropriate.

It is important to impeach that falsehood to make clear to his supporters and everyone watching that what Donald Trump did was not acceptable. In fact, quite the opposite.

People in his own party; state officials, former officials, current officials, members of Congress have all unambiguously and passionately said that what Donald Trump did was quote; disgraceful, shameful, and have called his behavior existential and wrong.

And they said that his actions gave rise to one of the darkest chapters in United States history. Let's hear what some of these officials had to say. Here are Governors Spencer Cox, Charlie Baker, Mike DeWine, Larry Hogan, and Phil Scott.


GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): People have to be held accountable, and yes, that includes the president.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): It's important to remember that they were the culmination of months of President Trump repeating over and over again that the American electoral system is a fraud.

After he stoked the flames of outrage for weeks leading up to the events of yesterday, he refused to adequately prepare the U.S. Capitol for the possibility of violence and left it nearly defenseless. His remarks during and after the travesty of the attack on the Capitol were disgraceful.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): President Trump's continued refusal to accept the election results without producing credible evidence of a rigid election has stirred a fire that has threatened to burn down our democracy. This incendiary speech yesterday, when he gave proceeding the march that he gave to the protesters served only to fan those flames. GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): I proudly stood by my father's side at age 12 on the floor of the House Chamber as we both took the oath of office, an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. It's clear to me that President Trump has abandoned this sacred oath.

GOV. PHIL SCOTT (R-VT): Seeing our Capitol, a symbol of democracy around the world, stormed by an angry mob was heartbreaking. And let me be clear, these actions were not patriotic and these people are not patriots. The fact that these flames of hate and insurrection were lit by the president of the United States will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history.


LIEU: One of the darkest chapters in our nation's history. Former members of the Trump administration, long standing Republicans also made clear that President Trump incited this insurrection and it went against our democracy.


The president's Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared that "today's violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump." Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also spoke on this as well and I'd like to play an audio clip of what he said.


JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the -- and the fraud.


LIEU: If you couldn't hear that what John Kelly said about President Trump was that "what happened on Capitol Hill was a direct result of him poisoning the minds of people with the lies and their fraud."

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner declared that, quote, "the invasion of our Capitol by a mob, incited by lies from some entrusted with power, is a disgrace to all who sacrifice to build our republic."

This was echoed by former Trump official after former Trump official. Here is what Former National Security Alliances John Bolton, H.R. McMaster, Former White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah, and Former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Let me just ask you, do you think President Trump has blood on his hands?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITES STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think he does. Look, I agree with Bill Barr, I think he did incite this mob with the clear intention of having them disrupt the Electoral College certification and delay it to give him more time. I don't think there's any question about it. H.R. MCMASTER, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: There are many reasons for this assault on the Capitol but foremost among them was the president's exortations (ph), was the president's sustained disinformation. We've seen a president stoking fears amidst these crises.

ALYSSA FARAH, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: And first and foremost I want to say that what happened at the Capitol was unacceptable, un-American, undemocratic--

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER UNITED STATES SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORTHERN IRELAND: I think everybody recognizes that what happened on Wednesday is different. You can go down the long litany of things that people complained about with Donald Trump and I can probably defend almost all of them.

Many of them were policy differences -- differences. Many of them were stylistic differences but Wednesday was different, Wednesday was existential, Wednesday's one of those things that struck too the very heart of what it means to be an American and it was wrong.


LIEU: Mick Mulvaney, President Trump's former chief of staff is clearly saying what we all felt. That January 6th was different, it was existential, it was wrong, it was un-American.

And this sentiment was echoed not just from people outside the administration but from people inside the Trump administration. Perhaps most telling was the flood of resignations from people inside President Trump's administration with first-hand access to President Trump.

His own officials felt so betrayed by his conduct that numerous officials resigned in protest days before the end of President Trump's term. Sixteen officials resigned in protest, 16. They all took this traumatic action of resigning because they saw the clear link between President Trump's conduct and the violent insurrection.

Here is some of what they said. Secretary DeVos, who was in administration entire term, told President Trump in his -- in her resignation letter that, quote, "there's no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is an inflection point for me."

Secretary Chao, who was in administration their entire term explained, "yesterday our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I'm sure is the case with many of you it has deeply troubled me in a way I simply cannot set aside." Deputy Costello told his associates the attack was his, quote, "breaking point," and he hoped, quote, "a wakeup call."

These rebukes and resignations from President Trump's own administration make clear that President Trump's conduct was anything but totally appropriate. They also remind us that this can and must be a wakeup call. As Representative Fred Upton so eloquently put it, "President Trump expressed no regrets for last week's violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution. It is time to say, enough is enough."


Now, no one is saying here that President Trump cannot contest the election, of course, he can, but what President Trump did, as his former chief of staff explained was different, it was dishonorable, it was un-American, and it resulted in fatalities. President Trump spent months inflaming his supporters, spread lies incite a violent attack on the Capitol, on our law enforcement, and at all of us.

And then he lied again to his base to tell them that this was all OK, that this was all acceptable. And that is why President Trump is so dangerous because he had -- he would have all of us, all Americans believe that any president who comes after him can do exactly the same thing. That's why lack of remorse is an important factor in impeachment because impeachment, conviction, and disqualification is not just about the past, it's about the future.

It's making sure that no future official, no future president does the same exact thing President Trump does. President Trump's lack of remorse shows that he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed because he still refuses to account for his previous high-grade crime against our government.

You know, I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years, I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose because he can do this again.

What an unusual situation because despite President Trump's claim that everyone thinks what he did was fine, so many have come out and spoken so strongly and passionately about what happened here.

I'd like to highlight a statement by Representative Anthony Gonzalez, he said, "the vice president and both Chambers of Congress had their lives put in grave danger as a result of the president's actions in the events leading up to and on January 6th.

During the attack itself, the president abandoned his post while many members asked for help, thus furthering endangering all present. These are fundamental threats, not just in peoples' lives but to the very foundation of our republic." And now I'd like to show what members of Congress said leading up to the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history.

Because I do want everyone watching, especially President Trump supporters to see first-hand what I believe we all feel. That what President Trump did was not appropriate, that it was not American, and that it absolutely cannot stand.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): What he has done and what he has caused here is something that we've never seen before in our history.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): All indications and that the president has become (inaudible), not just from his duty, or even his oath, but from reality itself.

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


LIEU: After this trial, I hope you'll come together and cast your vote and make absolutely clear how we as a Congress and as a nation feel about what Donald Trump did by convicting him and prevent this from being only the beginning as President Trump said.

And to deter future presidents who did not like the outcome of a national election from believing they can follow in President Trump's footsteps. It is what our constitutional (ph) requires, it is what our country deserves.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), LEAD IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Representative DeGette will now return to show how extremists were emboldened by the insurrection and planned to attack the inauguration.


REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: My colleagues have showed you the overwhelming evidence of how President Trump's conduct assembled, incited, and inflamed the mob. We showed how and why this attack, this violence as not only foreseeable but preventable. We showed that President Trump knew his conduct could and would result in violence.

And that when the attack occurred he did not fulfill his duty as commander in chief and defend us, instead he was delighted. Donald Trump incited a violent insurrection and he failed to defend our nation, our Capitol, this Congress, and our law enforcement from the attack he incited. Now I want to turn to the impact, the long-term harm of this conduct.

My colleagues and I will walk through the breadth and gravity of this harm. I'd like to start with the effect President Trump's conduct had on our domestic security. We saw first-hand how Donald Trump's conduct emboldened and escalated domestic violence extremists. These folks are known in the law enforcement community as DVEs.

These threats were and are made worse by President Trump's refusal to take accountability and his refusal to forcibly denounce what his own FBI identified as some of the most dangerous elements of our country.

Even as the attack was underway he tweeted words of support to his violent supporters and then in the aftermath on January 7th, President Trump made it clear this was only the beginning.


TRUMP: And to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.


DEGETTE: And he was right. Unless we take action the violence is only just beginning. In the aftermath of the attack, we saw a huge rise in threats to our -- from domestic violent extremists including specific threats to the inauguration in D.C. and also to all 50 state capitols (ph).

Our intelligence agencies confirmed that in addition to these specific threats, President Trump's conduct emboldened the very same violent groups who initiated the attack and sparked new violent coalitions.

These groups believed that they're following his orders. They believe that their acts of insurrection and violence are patriotic. Violence is never patriotic, and it's never American. It's not the democratic way and it's not the republican way.

After the attack, the nation's top defense and law enforcement agencies reported an increase in credible threats to the inauguration from Donald Trump supporters.

On January 13, 2021, a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center found, quote, "since the 6th January event violent online rhetoric regarding the 20 January Presidential Inauguration has increased with some calling for unspecified, quote, "justice" for the 6th January fatal shooting by law enforcement of a participant who had illegally entered the Capitol building."

And another posting that, quote, "many armed individuals would return on 19 January." The agencies also made clear why these threats were escalating, especially regarding the inauguration.

The report explained that a primary motivating factor was, quote, "the shared false narrative of a stolen election and opposition to the change in control of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government may lead some individuals to adopt the belief that there is no political solution to address their grievances and that violent action is necessary."

In other words, President Trump's spreading of inflammatory disinformation about the election incited the insurrection on January 6th and may lead to further violence.


Online just as they did prior to the January 6th attack, Trump supporters took to the internet to organize and document their desire and plans for future violence at President Biden's inauguration. And indeed, in the days shortly after the attack several posters on extremist social media websites made further plans for violence. They posted, quote, "many of us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying our weapons in support of our nation's resolve to which the world will never forget!!!! We will come in numbers, no standing army or police agency can match."

Quote, "we took the building once and we can take it again." Other users eager to participate in additional attacks confirmed that they were waiting on President Trump's instructions about what to do next. Referring to a future planned attack, a user on the online platform known as GAB posted, quote, "I'd like to come do this but want to know, does our president want us there?" Awaiting instructions.

In fact, in the days leading up to the inauguration multiple individuals potentially -- many potentially in attempt to carry out the plots that I just previewed were arrested in Washington, D.C., including on serious weapons charges. One of those men was Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump who took part in the Capitol attack and was also arrested on January 17th. Here's what he said for his -- about his plans for violence.


COUY GRIFFIN, FOUNDER, COWBOYS FOR TRUMP: You know you want to say that that was a mob? You want to say that was a (ph) violence? No sir, no ma'am. No, we could have a 2nd Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally yesterday.

You know, and if we do, then it's going to be a sad day because there's going to be blood running out of that building but at the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.


DEGETTE: "Blood running out of the building," this building, the Capitol where all of us are right now. Now, the name Couy Griffin may sound familiar because he previously faced controversy for a May 2020 video where he said, quote, "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." Hear it from him yourself.


GRIFFIN: When I come to the conclusion that the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.


DEGETTE: Now, when he said this, President Trump actually retweeted Griffin and thanked him for that sentiment. When Donald Trump retweeted this he was no stranger to Griffin. In fact, in March 2019, over a year earlier, Griffin and Trump had spoken on the phone for nearly 30 minutes.

President Trump's conduct without a doubt made it clear that he supported Griffin, in fact, Griffin even said so himself. As Griffin later said about President Trump retweeting his inflammatory comment about the dead Democrats, quote, "it really means a lot to me because I know the President of the United States has my back."

Remember, this is a man who was here on January 6th, who was arrested after threatening to come back here to make blood come running out of this building. Threats like Griffin's have triggered a deployment of forces the likes of which we have never seen.

There were approximately 25,000 National Guard Troops brought in from around the country to protect D.C. leading up to and on inauguration day. As you know, many of those troops are still here. Take a look at that.

These were scenes that played out all over the country. Five days following the siege on the Capitol, on January 11, 2021, the FBI warned that, quote, "armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols (ph) from 16 January through at least 20 January and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January."