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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD); Interview With Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL); Interview With Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; Interview With Former U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired January 17, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): A new chapter. Joe Biden's presidency set to begin behind a wall and thousands of troops, with MAGA terror chatter.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside.
How safe will inauguration be? And what will his first 100 days look like? Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is here exclusively.
And take two. All eyes on the Senate, as the House votes to impeach President Trump with bipartisan support.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We don't have a minute to spare. He's a clear and present danger to the people.
TAPPER: But with the president in office for just three more days, what will a trial even look like?
I will speak exclusively to lead House impeachment manager Congressman Jamie Raskin and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin next.
Plus: three more days. President Trump prepares to leave office having caused the American carnage he railed against four years ago. After all the division, destruction and death, what will his legacy be? Trump's former National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster weighs in.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on high alert because of the terrorists incited by the president.
State capitals are boarded up or altogether closing, Washington, D.C., a veritable fortress, behind fences and barricades, some 25,000 troops authorized, all to prevent any more riots or deaths during this decidedly unsmooth, unpeaceful transition of power caused at least in part by the White House, too many congressional Republicans, and MAGA media.
The contrast of a Capitol that looks as if it's under military occupation to what a presidential inauguration is supposed to look like and symbolizing -- symbolize is, frankly, heartbreaking.
The show of force necessary right now because of the outgoing president of the United States, who does not plan to attend the inauguration and is now the record holder for impeachments, after inciting that terrorist attack on Capitol Hill that led to multiple deaths and attempts to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
This morning, incredible and terrifying new footage from "The New Yorker" shot inside the siege, where the insurrectionists make it very clear whom they are listening to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED RIOTER: You're outnumbered. There's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) million of us out there. And we are listening to Trump, your buss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Quote: "We are listening to Trump."
This impeachment was the most bipartisan in American history, but -- in history, but it remains unclear how the Senate trial will work and whether enough Republicans will vote to convict and put an end to his political career, which is already, of course, in utter disgrace.
We have four significant interviews for you this morning, including the president-elect's incoming chief of staff, President Trump's former national security adviser, and the second highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate.
But we're going to start with the man who is leading the effort to remove President Trump, while also dealing with personal tragedy, lead impeachment manager Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us during this time that is tumultuous in so many ways.
Let's start with impeachment.
The point of impeachment and conviction in the Senate, of course, is to remove a president from office. But he's not going to be president anymore after Wednesday at noon, so why even go through with the Senate trial?
RASKIN: Well, the Constitution, of course, talks about conviction, removal and disqualification from holding further public office.
I don't think anybody would seriously argue that we should establish a precedent where every president on the way out the door has two weeks or three weeks or four weeks to try to incite an armed insurrection against the union or organize a coup against the union, and, if it succeeds, he becomes a dictator, and, if it fails, he's not subject to impeachment or conviction because we just want to let bygones be bygones.
This was the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America, the most dangerous crime by a president ever committed against the United States.
And there are Republicans who are recognizing it, as well as Democrats.
I want to single out my colleague Liz Cheney, who I think perfectly synthesized our situation, Jake. She said that Donald Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, he lit the match that led to the violent insurrection. None of it would have happened without him. Everything is due to his actions.
And this was the most sweeping betrayal, the most terrible betrayal of a presidential oath of office in the history of the United States.
TAPPER: Liz Cheney, of course, the number three House Republican, a very conservative Republican congresswoman from Wyoming.
RASKIN: And the -- she is the elected chair of the House Republican Conference.
TAPPER: Yes. Yes, although she's now under fire by a lot of House Republicans.
You said the president poses a clear and present danger to the nation. So, if that's true, why has the article of impeachment not yet been delivered to the Senate? And when do you plan to do so?
RASKIN: Well, the Senate has not been in session. And so the speaker is organizing the formal transfer of the articles. And it should be coming up soon.
I know the speaker also considers the president a clear and present danger to the republic. So...
TAPPER: When do you think it will be delivered to the Senate?
RASKIN: I don't know. I haven't spoken to this speaker today about this.
And, look, I know that everybody wants to focus on trial tactics and strategy and so on. I want people to focus on the solemnity and the gravity of these events. Five Americans are dead because a violent mob was encouraged, exhorted and incited by the president of the United States of America, which broke into the Congress of the United States, into the Capitol, and came within a hair's breadth of hanging Vice President Pence.
I mean, the ears -- the words are still ringing in the ears of the members: "Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence." They -- they built a gallows outside the Capitol of the United States. There was an assassination party hunting for Nancy Pelosi. So, this cannot be at the level of normal partisan push and pull and just kind of throwing rhetorical brickbats back and forth. This was an attack on our country.
TAPPER: Yes. No, I don't disagree.
I don't want to -- I don't -- I know you want to focus on that. But there are tactical questions I do have to ask just in terms how this is going to work.
RASKIN: Of course.
TAPPER: For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that the last impeachment trial took 21 days. Do you think that's about how long this one will take?
RASKIN: Well, every prosecutor in this case on my team -- and I have got an extraordinary team of prosecutors -- anyone who ends up defending the president, every senator who is a juror in this case is also a witness to these events.
We were all witnesses. Indeed, we were victims to this event. The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, had to flee her office. And thank God that she brought the mahogany box with her that contained the Electoral College votes.
TAPPER: So, you're saying you don't need to call witnesses because they all saw it?
RASKIN: Well, no, I'm not going to get into trial strategy.
But I guess what I'm saying is, if you invade a police headquarters, and you ransack and rampage the place, and you kill officers and people working in the police headquarters, you don't need a six-month investigation to determine what happened.
The impeachment is an indictment. These are the charging articles. And we are going to conduct the trial in the Senate according to the rules that the Senate provides for it. It's not up to the House. It is up to the Senate to define all of those rules.
And I trust that all 100 senators will live up to their constitutional oath of office as senators, but also live up to their oath of office as jurors, because...
TAPPER: Big difference, though, this time, as opposed to the impeachment of last year, which is, this time, Democrats will control the Senate, because Democrats won those last two Senate seats in Georgia.
So, I guess the question is, witnesses were not allowed last time because the Republicans voted against it, with a couple exceptions. Will you want witnesses this time? And, if so, who? Would you want Capitol Hill police officers? Do you want -- I mean, we see a lot of the lawyers representing the insurrectionists, the terrorists are now putting out legal documents saying that they were just -- these people were just following the president's orders, et cetera.
TAPPER: I mean, will you have witnesses?
RASKIN: I have got extraordinary former prosecutors on my team, Stacey Plaskett, Ted Lieu, incredible lawyers, Joe Neguse, just -- Madeleine Dean, the very finest.
And we're putting together a trial plan which is designed to get the truth of all of these events out. Now, obviously, we're not going to be able to tell everyone's story, but we're going to be able to tell the story of this attack on America and all of the events that led up to it.
This president set out to dismantle and overturn the election results from the 2020 presidential election. He was perfectly clear about that. He described it as a fraud, a scam. He said it was a stolen election. And he continued to exhort his followers to do everything in their power to overturn the election result.
TAPPER: Well, it's interesting that you say that, because I was going to ask you.
Obviously, President Trump had been setting the stage for this those for months, even before the election, with these lies, the big lie.
RASKIN: The big lie.
TAPPER: And -- that the election was stolen, that it was fraudulent.
The article of impeachment mainly focuses on the January 6 incitement, the speech that the president gave. It gives a glancing acknowledgement that it wasn't the first time he said it, but it focuses on January 6.
Given the fact that we know some of this was planned now -- we're getting an indication from law enforcement that some of the people were not incited that morning, they were incited in previous weeks and months -- does that affect your case?
RASKIN: Well, of course, the fact that it was deliberated and planned and premeditated underscores the leadership and the complicity of Donald Trump in all of these events.
He was out propagandizing his followers, as you say, for months, first to prepare them that his loss would have to be a fraud, there's no way, otherwise, he could have lost, and then to attack the election results. And some of that took place in utterly freakishly absurd ways, like 61 lawsuits, all of which were thrown out and rejected and repudiated by judges, a lot of them Trump-appointed judges.
TAPPER: But the...
RASKIN: But then it turned to...
RASKIN: ... egging on a mob...
RASKIN: ... as Liz Cheney put it, assembling the mob, convoking the mob, inciting the mob.
TAPPER: But all of it will be part of the trial?
RASKIN: The entire stream of events leading up to this attack on the Capitol.
Now, understand, January 6 is not a random date. It wasn't like the president said, well, maybe we will do it November 11, or maybe I will call everybody in town December 2. Maybe I will tell them it'll be wild for December 9, or tell the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by for December 14.
No, January 6 is the day set in the Electoral Count Act, in coordination with the 12th Amendment of the Constitution, for Congress to meet in bipartisan session, in bicameral session, all of the members there together, to count the Electoral College votes.
And this is supposed to be a ministerial, pro forma kind of action, where we count the electoral votes sent in by the states. We know that the president brought enormous pressure to bear on Vice President Pence to step out of his constitutional oath and outside of his constitutional role, simply to reject the results that President Trump didn't like.
RASKIN: And Vice President Pence refused to do it, which is why there was a mob that came within seconds of catching him, yelling, "Hang Mike Pence."
And then it turned to exhorting the mob, saying, go and fight like hell, or you're going to lose your country.
TAPPER: Yes. No, I hear you. But -- so, it's all of it.
I want to turn now to a different subject, because I think it's -- a lot of people watching know how remarkable it is that you have the energy to do what you're doing, given the fact that you're dealing with a family tragedy.
You lost your son, 25-year-old Tommy, to depression. You wrote a very moving reflection on his -- quote -- "perfect heart, a perfect soul, a riotously outrageous and relentless sense of humor and a dazzlingly -- dazzling, radiant mind."
RASKIN: My wife, Sarah, and I wrote this together.
TAPPER: Tell us more about Tommy.
RASKIN: Well, Tommy, was a remarkable person.
He had overwhelming love for humanity and for our country in his heart, and really for all the people of the world. We lost him on the very last day of that god-awful year 2020.
And he left us a note which said: "Please forgive me. My illness won today. Look after each other, the animals, and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy."
And that was the last act in a life that dazzled anybody who came into contact with Tommy. He was slam poet who wrote these magnificent 20-, 30-minute poems which he, of course, knew by heart, and he would get up and perform them.
He was absolutely devoted to human rights for every person. He was devoted to animal rights and welfare. He was a passionate vegan, and convinced a lot of people to stop eating animals just through the force of his poetry. He was a second-year student at Harvard Law School.
TAPPER: There he is, a beautiful kid.
RASKIN: When we lost him, he had not only beloved friends at Harvard Law School, but he was teaching a course with Michael Sandel, justice, as a teaching fellow at the college. And so he had students of his own.
And he graded all of his papers and exams and wrote many pages analyzing the work of the students, writing back to them. And he made donations in each of their names to different charitable groups that he thought would be consistent with the values of the student.
And so some of them went to give directly or to Oxfam or so on. And I asked him why he did that. And he quoted something that Father Berrigan had said about the great Dorothy Day. He said, well, like Father Berrigan said about Father Berrigan, she lived as though the truth were true.
And he said, I want to show them that the truth is true and we can live that way.
So, people are asking me why I decided to do this. First of all, I don't know if you have ever tried to say no to Speaker Pelosi about anything.
RASKIN: But she's actually been very sensitive and thoughtful.
But she wanted me to do it because she knows that I have devoted my life to the Constitution and to the republic. I'm a professor of constitutional law.
But I did it really with my son in my heart, and helping lead the way. I feel him in my chest. When we went to count the Electoral College votes, and it came under that ludicrous attack, I felt my son with me.
And I was most concerned with our youngest daughter and my son-in-law, who's married to our other daughter, who were with me that day, who got caught in a room off of the House floor. And between them and me was a rampaging, armed mob that could have killed them easily and was banging on the doors, where they were hiding under a desk with my chief of staff, Julie Tagen.
These events are personal to me, Jake. There was an attack on our country. There was an attack on our people. There are thousands of people who work on Capitol Hill, not just members, but staff members and Capitol Hill police officers, who were pushed and shoved and punched in the face, pummeled and hit over the head with fire extinguishers.
And the president of the United States did nothing to stop it for more than two hours, as members of Congress were calling him and begging him to do something. And he continued to watch it on TV and to enjoy their insurrection tailgate party, where they were celebrating the attack on our democracy.
This president has been impeached already twice. And we just want the Senate to conduct a serious trial, where every member of the Senate lives up to his or her constitutional oath to render impartial judgment as a juror.
Congressman, I mean, I can't even begin to express my condolences for what you and your wife and your daughters and family are dealing with.
I can't also imagine having that trauma compounded with this other trauma. You just lost your son, and now you're in Congress worrying about your daughter and your other daughter's husband because of these terrorists who had attacked the Congress.
That trauma on top of trauma just seems so debilitating to me.
RASKIN: Well, I'm not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my republic in 2021. It's not going to happen.
And the vast majority of the American people, Democrats, Republicans and independents, reject armed insurrection and violence as a new way of doing business in America. We're not going to do that.
This was the most terrible crime ever by a president of the United States against our country. And I want everybody to feel the gravity and the solemnity of those events, at the same time, of course, that all of us are deeply invested in president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris moving the country forward to repair all of the wreckage and the damage of last year, on everything from COVID-19 to the economy. But I was thinking on the way over this morning, Jake, about the
preamble of the Constitution: "We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare, and preserve to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, do hereby ordain and establish."
We have to do all of those things at the same time. We have to establish justice, we have to ensure domestic tranquility at the same time we are promoting the general welfare.
But this is America. And the people are up to it. And we have got a new administration coming into town that is ready to lead America back on the road of progress.
TAPPER: As somebody who watched your son deal with this disease of depression...
TAPPER: ... I have to also note that so many Americans right now have been struggling with mental health during this pandemic, and then, frankly, during this time of insurrection, during this time where it seems like millions of Americans, because they have been lied to over and over by the president and his allies on Congress -- in Congress and in the media, believe this big lie.
One in four -- according to the CDC, one in four Americans under the age of 25 have seriously considered taking their own lives in the last 30 days, according to the CDC, one in four.
What is your message to people who are dealing with this horrible disease or to the loved ones they have, as a dad who watched your beloved Tommy struggle with this disease?
RASKIN: Well, we don't want to lose anybody else.
We have been hearing from thousands and thousands of people across the country. And if any of them are out there, thank you for your kindness to our family. And we will somehow get a chance to reply to everyone.
But your messages, your heartfelt messages come as a comfort and a solace to us. And we know how many millions of people have struggled with depression, how many millions of families have dealt with it.
And there are obviously complicated neurochemical and psychological causes to that. And we want to make sure we're investing the resources of the country to deal with it, so, one day, there'll be a year where nobody loses their life because of depression and other forms of emotional and mental illness.
TAPPER: But, on a personal note, if you could speak to the people out there who are struggling or who have loved ones who are struggling, what do you want to tell them? RASKIN: I would say that, as someone wrote me, it's a permanent
answer to a temporary condition and predicament.
And I don't mean to understate it, because we know how much terrible pain our son was in. One of our daughters said that Tommy was, above all, a utilitarian. He wanted to promote the happiness and the well- being for as many people and as many animals as possible and reduce as much pain and suffering as possible.
So, if he did this, Tabitha said, he weighed the pain and suffering that would be caused to us against the pain and suffering that he was going through, the agony that he was going through, and found that that was worse, or, Tabitha said, he committed the very first selfish act of his life. And she didn't believe that he did that. He was not a selfish person.
RASKIN: He lived in honor of the people he loved. He loved his family, and we loved him. He loved his friends, and they loved him.
TAPPER: But, as you note, it's a permanent solution for a temporary problem. The problem can be dealt with. The problem can be treated. The problem can go away.
RASKIN: Yes, well, that's what I meant to say, is that we can get people through this.
You must speak to people in your family. You must speak to your doctor. You must call 911 if you're alone and that's necessary. Don't go down that road. That's very clear to us.
And I'm no expert, but I know that we can address it, we can deal with it together. So, I'm hoping that everybody understands that there's a lot of love out there.
You know, in Tommy's case, the outpouring of love and affection for him has been absolutely astounding.
We set up a memorial fund, the Tommy Raskin Fund, for people and animals, which now has more than like $400,000 in it. His classmates at Harvard Law School raised like $5,000 or $6,000 to put that in, so that the causes he believed in would keep going.
But we don't have to wait for people to die for people to listen to them. We can listen to you right now.
TAPPER: We are. Yes, exactly. We are here. We are here.
RASKIN: We are here for you.
TAPPER: And, Congressman, I want to thank you for coming here and sharing this story.
And anything we can do to help in terms of promoting the Tommy Raskin Fund or anything else. May his memory be a blessing.
Let me just tell our viewers, if you are feeling as though you are in crisis in any way, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It's 1-800-273-8255. That's 1-800-273-8255.
Congressman, again, thanks for being with us.
RASKIN: And thank you for having me, Jake.
TAPPER: May Tommy Raskin's memory be a blessing.
We will be right back after this.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Joe Biden will become the president of the United States in three days.
On Saturday, he announced a flurry of executive orders for his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris climate accord and rescinding the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, all part of the Biden effort to swiftly break with the Trump administration and move forward with his agenda, amid these multiple crises, as well as the impeachment trial.
Joining us now exclusively, president-elect Biden's incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain.
Ron, thanks for joining us today.
So, president-elect Biden has repeatedly said that impeachment will be up to Congress. He's declined to give his personal opinion on impeachment or conviction. The trial in the Senate could start just an hour after president-elect Biden takes office on January 20, on Wednesday.
How worried are you that the trial could derail key priorities, such as confirming Cabinet members or passing coronavirus relief?
RON KLAIN, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, Jake, I think, as the president-elect said, it's important for the Senate to do its constitutional duty, but also to do its constitutional duty to move forward on these appointments, on the urgent action the country needs.
During the last time President Trump was tried, the Senate was able to hold confirmation hearings for nominees during the morning, was able to conduct other business. I hope that the Senate leaders, on a bipartisan basis, find a way to move forward on all of their responsibilities.
This impeachment trial is one of them. But getting people into the government and getting action on coronavirus is another one of those responsibilities.
TAPPER: The FBI is warning about armed protests planned for the days leading up to Wednesday, both here in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals across the nation.
TAPPER: How worried are you about the potential for violence? And how much do you blame President Trump?
KLAIN: Well, I think we are concerned, certainly, about these threats in other places.
I do think the Secret Service and all their assets, the help they're getting from the National Guard, will keep the inauguration itself safe and the official ceremonies in Washington safe. But these broader threats, Jake, are concerning.
The president did incite this mob on January 6, and that's very, very disconcerting. It's an action that Congressman Raskin, I thought, was quite articulate about, the unprecedented nature of that action.
We are obviously getting briefings from the outgoing administration about the efforts to try to secure state capitals, secure Washington, D.C., the National Capital Region.
The president-elect is asked Lisa Monaco, the former homeland security adviser to President Obama, to be on point for him in the final days of the transition. And we will have a team in place in the White House to monitor these actions going forward starting on 12:00 noon on January 20.
TAPPER: You noted that you blame President Trump for the incitement on January 6. Do you blame him for the continued incitement of these radicalized supporters of his?
KLAIN: Well, Jake, I think there's no question we have seen the most divisive four years in over a century from President Trump.
It's one reason Joe Biden ran. As you know, Joe Biden, when he announced for president back in April of 2019, said that what got him into the race were the president's remarks after the incidents in Charlottesville, after the murder of a protester there who was trying to confront these white supremacists in Charlottesville.
He said that was why he ran for president, to restore the soul of America. I remember people in April of 2019 saying, oh, that's exaggerated. What kind of basis for a campaign is that? Whatever.
But I think the events of the past few weeks have proven out just how damaged the soul of America has been and how important is to restore it. That work starts on Wednesday.
TAPPER: Well, on that subject, let me ask you, because former Congressman Beto O'Rourke tweeted -- quote -- "Don't let Senator Ted Cruz attend the inauguration. His attempted sedition and his incitement to violent insurrectionists should result in his expulsion from the Senate. He certainly shouldn't be allowed at a celebration of the peaceful transfer of presidential power."
Ron, is every member of Congress invited to the inauguration, regardless of the role they may have played in the terrorist attack?
KLAIN: Jake, the invitations to members of Congress come from the Joint Committee of the Congress that runs the inauguration.
I believe all members are invited. And I don't know who's planning on -- specifically planning on attending or not.
But, look, I think what's more important than who -- which members of Congress attend is what message Joe Biden will have for the country on January 20. And that's going to be the message of moving this country forward. It's a message of unity. It's a message of getting things done. That's what he will be talking about January 20.
And, as you noted at the outset of this, he's going to come back to the White House after giving that speech at the Capitol and take some immediate actions to start to move this country forward.
TAPPER: I guess the question is whether or not president-elect Biden is being naive.
I mean, if he's out there, he's giving the oath of office, his hand is up, and he looks out in the audience and he sees Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and Mo Brooks and Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise and a bunch of these people whose actions, whose lies about the election led to the loss of life, these are the people you're going to be trying to work with?
KLAIN: Well, Jake, what I will say is this.
Ninety-three senators in both parties, obviously, voted to confirm the electoral results on January 6. Senator Mitch McConnell, a very conservative Republican, stood in the well of the Senate and made it clear that Joe Biden had won and that he opposed these efforts to overthrow the results of the people.
I think there are people in both parties we can work with to move this agenda forward.
Now, look, Mitch McConnell's going to agree with us on -- disagree with us on a lot of things, on tax policy, health care, whatever. But we are going to try to work hard with people in both parties.
The American people voted on November -- in November, and they voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden, no question, but they elected an evenly divided Senate. They elected a closely divided Congress. We're going to have to find ways for Democrats and Republicans to get things done.
TAPPER: The principal deputy director of national intelligence under President Trump, Sue Gordon, recently wrote of Trump -- quote -- "My recommendation, as a 30-plus-year veteran of the intelligence community, is not to provide him any briefings after January 20. With this simple act, which is solely the new president's prerogative, Joe Biden can mitigate one aspect of the potential national security risk posed by Donald Trump, private citizen" -- unquote.
Will you take her recommendation?
KLAIN: We will certainly look for a recommendation from the intelligence professionals in the Biden administration, Biden/Harris administration, once they're in place, and we will act on that recommendation.
So, obviously, we don't have those intelligence professionals in place yet. Hope the Senate moves to confirm them quickly. And then we will look at what they recommend in terms of intelligence-sharing going forward.
TAPPER: And that's Trump's deputy director of national intelligence.
KLAIN: I understand, Jake, but, I mean, again...
TAPPER: I think she probably has an even firmer grasp on it than your people.
KLAIN: Yes, well, again, I want to -- we want to hear from our intelligence professionals their recommendations.
TAPPER: The United States is likely to reach 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus by Inauguration Day. President-elect Biden says things are going to get worse before they get better.
TAPPER: What would success look like for the Biden administration?
What benchmarks should we look for, keeping that number below 500,000, below 600,000? How do we measure progress?
KLAIN: Well, we're going to measure progress by the goal the president-elect set very clearly back in November, 100 million inoculations in 100 days.
That would be a successful vaccination program, unlike any we have seen in American history. It would begin to make progress on the disease. It would begin to get the American people the protection that they need.
He's also, as you know, Jake, called for a 100-day masking challenge, asking all Americans to mask up for the first 100 days of his administration.
The virus is going to -- as you noted, the virus is going to get worse before it gets better. I certainly expect we will hit 500,000 deaths sometime in the month of February. People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month and will add to the death toll in late February, even March. So, it's going to take a while to turn this around. The virus is the
virus. What we can do is act to control it. And that means getting these vaccinations moving. It means getting help to state and local governments to help reopen schools safely, to give people the protective gear they need, and to really ramp up testing.
We have laid out our plans to do this. That's what we're focused on, Jake.
So -- but, Ron, president-elect Biden vowed again yesterday to release nearly all available vaccine doses, instead of holding some back to use as second doses. You just talked about you -- you still think that you're going to be able to do 100 million in the first 100 days.
But the Trump team just told governors, who were shocked, that they have no vaccine in reserves...
TAPPER: ... that there isn't going to be a second dose for a lot of people who got the first dose.
TAPPER: So, can you still really guarantee that any American who needs a second dose will be able to get that second dose?
And will you -- I mean, you're inheriting kind of a mess here, right? I mean, this -- the rollout of the vaccine has been awful.
KLAIN: We're inheriting a huge -- yes. We're inheriting a huge mess here, Jake.
But we have a plan to fix it. And the president-elect laid out that plan on Friday, five concrete steps to move us forward, to make pace with the vaccination.
I want to give the vaccine makers credit. They are producing vaccine. We think there are things we can do to speed up the delivery of that vaccine and to make that vaccine supply go farther.
TAPPER: Like what?
KLAIN: For example, one thing the president-elect mentioned yesterday was using the Defense Production Act to ramp up the production of particular kinds of syringes that allow us to get six doses out of the vials, instead of five, and increase the vaccine supply by 20 percent.
So, we believe there will be adequate supply to give people their second shots. And, more importantly, we believe that there will be continued supply and distribution of that supply to hit that target of 100 million shots in 100 days. TAPPER: President Biden unveiled his plans for a sweeping, massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday, which includes giving Americans an additional $1,400 in direct payments.
But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin indicated to me last week that he's not going to be on board unless payments are targeted to people who have lost their jobs, not just people who make under $75,000 a year.
You're going to need Manchin's vote to pass this, in all likelihood. Is the president-elect open to making these payments more targeted?
KLAIN: Well, I think we want to have a conversation.
We have started one with Senator Manchin and every other member of the Senate to try to get support for this package. It's a bold package. It does what we need to do, Jake. We're in a lot of trouble as a country. This virus, as we have talked about, is raging out of control.
We need money to distribute the vaccines. We need money for testing. We need money to make our schools safer, to slow the spread of the virus there as we reopen schools. We need money for the full range of COVID responses. We also need to help people that are hurting. And those checks are part of that.
So. I have been in this town a long time. I know how it works. The president proposes, the Congress disposes.
We will engage the Congress, members of both parties, in a debate about the president's proposal. We think it's what the country needs. And we're going to try to make that case very strongly, as the president-elect did last Thursday night, and as we will do going forward from here.
TAPPER: All right, Ron Klain, thank you so much, and best of luck in getting this virus under control.
KLAIN: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Obviously, our all of our prayers and wishes are with you and the new president to try to save the lives of the American people.
As the president's hours wind down, many Republicans and Trump officials are now left in the smoldering ruins of his administration.
We invited every single Republican senator to join us this morning. Every one of them declined or failed to respond.
I'm joined now by former President Trump's -- I'm sorry -- by President Trump's former national security adviser, retired General H.R. McMaster. He's also the author of the book "Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World."
General McMaster, good to see you again.
After the attack on the Capitol, you tweeted that President Trump -- quote -- "repeatedly compromised our principles in pursuit of partisan advantage and personal gain" -- unquote.
Five people are dead because of the events of January 6, including a Capitol Police officer. Do you think President Trump has blood on his hands?
H.R. MCMASTER, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Hey, Jake, it's great to be with you.
As I wrote then, I said there are many reasons for this assault on the Capitol, but foremost among them was the president's exhortations, was the president sustained disinformation, what you covered earlier in the show, denying the results of the election, spreading these unfounded conspiracy theories and claims of widespread corruption.
And so I think what we just saw is, we saw the absence of leadership, really anti-leadership, and what that can do to our country.
We are in traumas. And you just talked about these with Ron, right? We have this quadruple trauma of a pandemic, a recession associated with the pandemic, the social divisions laid bare by George Floyd's murder and the aftermath, and now this vitriolic, partisan, political season that we're still mired in.
Now, when you're into trauma, you need a leader to assure the American people, to allay fears...
MCMASTER: ... instead of inciting fears and making them feel even more disenfranchised.
Remember what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said during World War II. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. We have seen a president stoking fears amidst these crises.
TAPPER: President Trump's now the only president in American history to be impeached twice. He faces another Senate trial in the weeks ahead.
Do you think he should be convicted and prohibited from holding office ever again?
MCMASTER: Hey, you know what's great about it, Jake? We have a process for this.
And I will tell you, there's a lot of reasons to kind of -- to be depressed about what we saw past -- across the past week. It was heartbreaking for me. My immediate thoughts were, hey, what does this look like across the rest of the world, right? I spent the vast majority of my career broad.
But there are reasons for us to be confident, right? Confidence is a bulwark against the fear, the fear that's dividing us, that's polarizing us. And so our Constitution, our democratic processes were stress-tested.
And we came out OK, despite even the executive, who's supposed to enforce the law, undermining rule of law.
And so, Jake, I think that what we're going to see in the Congress is the brilliance of our founders at work. We've already had the president impeached.
TAPPER: But how would you vote? How would you vote if you were a senator.
MCMASTER: There will be a trial. And I think we have to have confidence, right?
We need to have confidence ourselves, in our ability to participate in our democracy.
TAPPER: But how would you vote? I mean, John Kelly told me a week or so ago that -- the former Marine general and White House chief of staff -- that he thought President Trump should resign.
How would you vote? Would you vote, if it was up to you, that President Trump should never be able to run for office again?
MCMASTER: Well, Jake, of course, I'm not in the Senate.
And, you know, what I try to do is, I try to steer clear of any kind of partisan politics, because, even as a retired general officer, I think one of the -- actually, the stress test we have seen as well is the efforts of politicians, really in both parties, to try to drag the military into partisan politics.
So, what I would say is, I want the process to go forward.
TAPPER: Is this partisan? An insurrection, an insurrection on the Capitol?
MCMASTER: And what I hope, what I really, really, really hope, Jake, is that this isn't a straight-up partisan vote in the Senate, and that we can come together across both parties, in the spirit that Ron talked about just now.
TAPPER: I get that you're not going to give me an answer for it.
TAPPER: But I will just say it like, I don't know that -- I don't believe that taking a position against a president inciting his fans to stage a terrorist attack on the Capitol that resulted in bloodshed, in an effort to stop the constitutional duty of members of Congress and the vice president, I don't see that as partisan.
And I don't think you do either, sir.
MCMASTER: No, I don't either. I don't either.
MCMASTER: And I agree with you. I agree that's what happened, Jake. I agree that's what happened.
So, I don't want to put myself in the role of a senator voting. But I think that's what happened. Let's watch it play out. And I think we ought to have confidence so far. The president was impeached. There is going to be a trial.
No one is above the law in our country. And I think we -- that ought to bolster our confidence in our democracy.
TAPPER: He might run again, though. He might run again. Would you support him running again?
MCMASTER: Jake, I don't support anybody, any individual.
But, of course, I think it would be terribly divisive for our country for him to -- for him to run again.
MCMASTER: What we need to do is, we need to analyze what the heck happened, right?
We have been talking about the president's responsibility, but it didn't start there, right? This loss of confidence, these large portions of our population which feel disenfranchised, that lack confidence in our common identity as Americans, who lack confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes, how did that happen?
Jake, I write about this a lot in "Battlegrounds." We need to look at education and civics education, a sense of our history and who we are. We have to look at your profession, Jake, the media. Why is it that people who lean in one direction politically watch one cable news station, some who lean in another direction watch yours or another one?
Why do people go to the pseudo-media and believe these kind of conspiracy theories? What is the role that social media plays in further polarizing our society and pitting against -- pitting us against each other?
We have a lot of work to do, Jake.
MCMASTER: And we have to do it, as Ron has said, in a bipartisan, nonpartisan manner.
And that's what all of us can expect of our institutions and expect of our political leadership as well.
I mean, the only -- I don't want to get into a conversation about CNN. We have a whole show that does that called "RELIABLE SOURCES."
But I will say, there are channels in which lies are told, and there are channels in which facts are told, and people who want the lies, they don't come here. They go to a different channel.
But I don't want to talk about...
MCMASTER: Jake, I'm just stating a fact. I'm just stating a fact...
MCMASTER: ... that there is no authoritative source of information these days, information, news, these days. I'm not talking about opinion and analysis.
MCMASTER: I'm talking about news -- that everybody goes to, right, so we have always this basis for conversation.
Hey, this is a fact I think you can agree with, Jake. And we all have a role in addressing this, right?
MCMASTER: We have to....
But I want to ask you about something that you just touched on a second ago about how this looks to the rest of the world, and how the United States, which we like to consider ourselves a beacon of democracy, how what has happened affects that.
Just yesterday, the State Department issued a statement in which they expressed concern about elections in Uganda and the environment of -- quote -- "intimidation and fear."
There was nothing factually incorrect in there, but the fact that it was coming from the Trump State Department, I thought, was interesting.
How much that has the president and his enablers, how much have they harmed our ability as Americans to issue such statements?
MCMASTER: Well, our reputation is harmed, Jake. And there were celebrations across the world among authoritarian regimes. And despots feel as if they can -- they're emboldened and justified. I mean, all you have to do is, if you can stomach it, read the China
Daily, right, the English version of what passes as news from the Chinese Communist Party. And what they have been doing, Jake -- this isn't new, right? This is what they have been doing for years, and especially since China foisted this pandemic on the world, lied about it, suppressed news of the transmission of the virus.
What you have seen is, they have portrayed their system, their authoritarian system, as superior to our democracy.
But what I would say to Americans is, hey, we ought to be confident, right? As I mentioned, we were stress-tested in the worst possible way, right...
MCMASTER: ... with the president of the United States actively undermining our confidence in our democratic process.
And we will come out of this, Jake. We all have a role, I think, in convening our fellow Americans for meaningful, respectful discussions of the challenges we face, and how we can work together to overcome them.
You know what's so sad, Jake, is, I think, on all the issues we're facing, we agree on so much that we can get after together. I mean, we really do.
MCMASTER: But we don't even begin our conversations with that anymore.
TAPPER: I agree.
And I want to continue this conversation with you offline, because this -- what -- you just expressed optimism -- and it is part of your nature, which I appreciate -- about how the guardrails have preserved democracy.
But all I would say is, if Governor Kemp of Georgia or Governor Ducey of Arizona were just men of less character, or if Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were instead Speaker Kevin McCarthy, I don't know that those guardrails would have preserved.
MCMASTER: Yes, but...
TAPPER: I mean, these guardrails only are strong as the weakest person in the structure. And we were lucky this time.
MCMASTER: Hey, Jake, I would just say to everybody, hey, read the Constitution. It's brilliant.
And one of the reasons it's brilliant is, our founders had all the worst-case scenarios in mind. And the reason is, they had paid attention to the bloody wars in England in the 17th century. TAPPER: Yes. I hear you. I hear you.
MCMASTER: They had the specter of Oliver Cromwell in mind, right?
And so we all have a say in how we're governed. If we're unhappy -- and I think pretty much all of us are unhappy to a certain degree in these times -- we can vote people out.
TAPPER: Yes. I get it. We got to go.
MCMASTER: The Chinese Communist Party doesn't allow that to happen.
So, we should look on the bright side, I think, even as we are profoundly disappointed in what we've seen in the past week.
TAPPER: You are always an optimistic person. And I appreciate that, General.
Thanks so much for joining us today.
The cloud of President Trump's disgraced presidency is not going away when president-elect Biden takes the oath in three days. And he's hoping President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate does not push the crippling pandemic and critical public health priorities to the side.
Joining us now, the number two Democrat in the Senate, soon to be Majority Whip Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Congratulations on your pending promotion, sir.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi is expected -- she is expected to deliver the article of impeachment this week.
If that happens by the time the Senate returns Tuesday, the impeachment trial will have to start by 1:00 p.m. on the 20th, one hour after Biden takes the oath of office. Is that your understanding of what's going to happen?
DURBIN: No, I don't think there's any promised date when Speaker Pelosi is going to present the articles of impeachment.
We understand, under the Constitution, we have a responsibility to act as quickly as possible.
TAPPER: President-elect Biden says he wants the Senate to be able to conduct regular business, such as confirming his Cabinet nominees, while the impeachment trial is ongoing. Ron Klain said something similar just a few minutes ago.
That, of course, would require what's called unanimous consent in the Senate. So, all 100 senators would have to agree to allow to hold votes while the trial is ongoing.
What makes you think Republicans are going to be on board with that?
DURBIN: Last Tuesday, America lost 4,200 people who died from COVID- 19, the worst day yet.
Last week, we lost a million workers who filed for unemployment. The situation is grave. And Joe Biden is ready to respond immediately. He wants to break the back of this pandemic with a vaccination program that's going to rescue big parts of America, put people back to work, and let kids go back to school.
He wants to put people back to work and give businesses a chance to survive. I think that's a priority shared by both political parties. And if the Republicans want to join us in giving the president his team and moving forward on that rescue package, I think that's the American way.
TAPPER: Yes, you have met Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz?
DURBIN: Well, of course, I understand there are resistors, and there can be.
But if the overwhelming majority is ready to move, we can get it done.
TAPPER: Senior Republican sources tell CNN that Senate Republicans are torn over whether to convict the president, not all of them, of course, but some of them.
Mitch McConnell's publicly said he's undecided in how he would vote. You need two-thirds of the Senate. So let's assume every Democrats on board. That's 50.
Do you think there are 17 Republicans willing to convict President Trump?
DURBIN: Jake, let me tell you, I have been working in the U.S. Capitol since I was a college student and an intern, then as a congressman, now as a senator.
There was a scene on the evening of -- or the afternoon, rather, of January 6 which hasn't been well-reported, when the Secret Service yanked the vice president out of the chair, literally, and took him off the floor. And we were asked to sit in our seats, Democrats and Republicans.
At that moment, two plainclothes officers came into the Senate chamber and stood in the well. One of them was carrying an automatic weapon to protect the members of the United States Senate from this insurrection mob that the president had sent to Capitol Hill.
That is an image in my mind which will never go away. And I hope some of the Republicans feel the same. This is what you expect in a banana republic. You don't expect it in the United States of America.
TAPPER: You are the Senate Democratic whip. Do you think every member of your caucus will vote yes on conviction?
DURBIN: I don't know the answer to that. We haven't whipped it.
I would agree with Senator McConnell in this respect. It is an issue of conscience. We will, of course, try to find out how members feel. But, in terms of arm-twisting, when it comes to impeachment, you don't do that.
TAPPER: Just for our viewers who aren't familiar, whipping means the majority whip or the minority whip -- in this case, you will be the majority whip -- telling your members, telling Democrats, in your case, how you want them to vote.
Are you going to whip it?
DURBIN: That's the point I just wanted to make.
When it comes to an issue of this gravity and constitutional importance, members really have to follow their own conscience. It isn't a matter of saying, come on, the team has to all vote together. It just doesn't happen.
This is the third time I will have set through an impeachment trial. It's not happened in the previous two times. And I don't expect it this time as well.
TAPPER: There's never been an impeachment trial for a former president before, which means we're truly in uncharted territory.
It's an open question whether the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, would preside, or if it potentially could fall to the vice president, who is the president of the Senate, who in this case would be Kamala Harris.
Are you concerned at all that an impeachment trial presided over by a Democrat, by Vice President Harris, would be perceived as less legitimate?
DURBIN: I think whoever presides will follow the rules, maintain the decorum and let the Senate reach its obvious conclusion one way or the other. It is unusual.
But make no mistake. There was a secretary of war under President Ulysses S. Grant who thought he could escape impeachment by the day before the Senate ruled resigning. It didn't work. The next day, after he resigned, the Senate still impeached him.
So, I think there's precedent to suggest that, even if Donald Trump's left town, he's still going to be held responsible for what happened January 6.
TAPPER: Several of your Democratic colleagues have called on Republican Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas to resign for their roles in spreading election lies and acting as if there was a possibility that Trump actually would still stay as president, all of which helped fuel the capital riots. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said, if they don't resign, the Senate
should vote to expel them. They're not going to resign. Are you considering bringing to the floor an expulsion measure?
DURBIN: I haven't heard that suggested.
But I will tell you that any senator or congressman who was complicit in either planning or executing that insurrection that was aimed at the United States Capitol needs to held -- be held responsible. The matter should be referred to the Ethics Committee, and they should take the necessary action, in light of the complicity of the individual.
TAPPER: And we only have about 30 seconds left.
Do you draw a line between those who directly incited who were on the Mall that day and saying things like, go and kick some ass or whatever, and those who merely spread lies that helped fuel it, but aren't as directly tied to the violence?
DURBIN: Everyone will be held responsible for their vote, and that's what it comes down, to the initial objection in the House, or any follow-up vote in the United States Senate.
DURBIN: But I'm saying that, if a person has crossed the line...
DURBIN: ... complicity in planning or executing the insurrection, that's a totally different thing.
TAPPER: Senator Dick Durbin, thanks so much for your time today. Appreciate it.
DURBIN: You bet, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: For months we have not been able to live normal lives because of the virus, and now it's even worse. Washington, D.C. looks like a war zone right now because of a different virus. This virus is the big lie, the big lie that the election was stolen, spread by President Trump and his allies. And there is already an attempt by those who willingly spread this virus to avoid any accountability, to rewrite history.
Here's House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What we saw last week was not the American way, neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. Let's be clear. Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States in one week because he won the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Unbelievable. Zero acknowledgment that McCarthy himself, for two months, pushed that very same big lie rhetoric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: President Trump won this election, so everyone who is listening, do not be quiet. Do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and 124 other House Republicans went so far as to sign on to that joke of a lawsuit from the Texas attorney general which lent further credibility to the big lie. And where do people like that go to share the big lie? MAGA media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: Get it right. They stole --
UNKNOWN: Oh, we're right.
NAVARRO: We need to take it back for the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: MAGA media, where hosts not only didn't push back on the big lie, they also participated in it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I can factually tell you tonight it will be impossible to ever know the true, fair, accurate election results.
UNKNOWN: We don't know exactly what the Supreme Court will do, but there is precedent for courts overturning the results of elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It was a joint effort by the Trump team and MAGA media, and millions, millions heard lies about election fraud day after day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This happened in the places where it needed to happen, which is why the four metros, the only four where Joe Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton, were Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Detroit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, what McEnany said there is just a lie. Biden's margin of victory outperformed Hillary Clinton's in at least 31 urban counties and it just so happens Philly was not one of them.
But still month after month millions infected with the virus of the big lie. And now according to a Pew Research poll, 80 percent of Trump voters over 50 incorrectly believe that Trump definitely or probably won the election; 67 percent of Trump voters with college degrees believe the big lie; 82 percent of Trump voters without any college education believe the big lie.
Two days before the mob was chanting, "Hang Mike Pence!" because he would not overturn the election, this is Mike Pence in Georgia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know we all -- we all got our doubts about the last election, and I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities, and I promise you come this Wednesday we'll have our day in Congress. We'll hear the objections. We'll hear the evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The big lie that on January 6th the election could be overturned. And then came that day, the MAGA movement and MAGA media were all in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I have friends who have texted me who are not very political saying I'm coming to Washington, D.C. today because I can't handle what's happening in my country. I think it's not an understatement to say we're in a constitutional tinderbox right now.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: Let's have trial by combat.
DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: If you are going to be the zero and not the hero, we're coming if for you and we're going to have a good time doing it.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.
RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
UNKNOWN: Ah! Ah!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And that is how the terrorist attack of January 6th happened. Millions of Americans infected with the virus of disinformation. It was a joint effort by far right hate groups that the president has been playing footsy with for years and radicalized, infected Trump supporters and MAGA media.
Multiple dead bodies later, no contrition, no apologies, no acknowledgment of what they did until those who spread the big lie worked to correct it putting out a vaccine of facts and truth.
I fear that the U.S. will continue to be in this bad and dangerous place even after the inauguration, and I wish in my soul, I wish that I saw any evidence that any of these people had a conscious for this to even nag at.
Before we go, I do have some good news. I have a pleasure this morning of welcoming Dana Bash who will be starting next week as a co-anchor of this show. Dana has been, of course, a beloved part of the State of The Union family for years, but we're thrilled to have her on as an official member of the team.
As always, thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues right now.