Return to Transcripts main page


Insurrections in Washington Following Trump Encouragement; Protester Now in Rotunda of U.S. Capitol; Trump Silent as Pro-Trump Mob Storms Capitol, Multiple Officers Injured in Violence as U.S. Capitol; Entire DC National Guard Has Been Activated; Pro-Trump Protester Breaches Pelosi's Office. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 6, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's a very aggressive crowd. A very violent crowd. And I have to say, Jake, they figured out (INAUDIBLE) and they stormed up and mobs us and pushed us out of there calling us traitors.

Which is just a stunning thing to have happen in your own country from your fellow citizens. So it is a very unfortunate scene, a very dark scene, but there is a feeling right now that finally there is a law enforcement response and that they are about to take control of the situation.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Well stay safe, Alex. This is, of course, one of the final days of the Trump presidency, and this is a moment of Trump's legacy. This is Trump's legacy. A divided people, millions of Americans who have been fed lies about the election. Millions of Americans who have that told journalists those who would defying Trump are traitors, and they are expressing their frustrations and their anger with violence and they are not being discouraged to do so by President Trump.

In fact, the lies have been amplified. The lies have been given credence by the likes of Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Josh Hawley, the leader of the House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy, giving these deranged conspiracy theories credibility by acting as though there is something there. There isn't. Judge after judge, governor after governor, Democrats, Republicans, independents have all looked at it and said there is nothing there. The election was clean, or as clean as elections go in this country, and Joe Biden is the president-elect.

Abby, I have to say, it makes perfect sense that the president would end this way, but it is no less shocking and saddening to witness.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a real tragedy I think for this country that this is what we're seeing now. And it's the result of a president who has instigated this from the very beginning. When months ago he refused to say that he would support a peaceful of power. This is the moment that that would come into play where he can say, I lost the election. Joe Biden will be the next president. Evacuate the Capitol right now. He won's say it.

But what's also really notable about watching this scene, a few months ago in Washington where we live and where we work, you couldn't drive down the street without being stopped by National Guard vehicles, by law enforcement of every type and every stripe. The Bureau of Prisons was here in Washington, every block of this city was in lockdown because of Black Lives Matter protesters.

Now you have thousands of armed protesters who happen to all be Trump supporters who are mostly not Black Lives Matter protesters, they're mostly white, and they're storming the capitol with violence, someone has been shot, glasses being broken, lawmakers are in lockdown wearing gas masks, and looking at these pictures, where is law enforcement?

Capitol police struggling to control this, and you don't hear the president saying, we are sending reinforcement. You don't see him saying, we are sending help to protect this federal building. To protect the lawmakers who are inside of it and the people who work there and the people of this city. That is incredibly shameful.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You're exactly right. And, you know, what we're looking at, you see the scaffolding there. Well first of all, look at this. It's getting violent outside. But --

PHILLIP: I think these are images from earlier.

BASH: They're images from earlier, but part of the reason why we saw scaffolding on the west front of the capitol is because that's where the inauguration for Joe Biden is going to happen on January 20th. And it was four years ago almost to the day, January 20, 2017, that Donald Trump stood in that spot after he took the oath of office and talked about American carnage, and it's come full circle.

After all of the drumbeating, after all of the, you know, unbelievable tweeting and inciting of violence that he has done, both at rallies and on social media. He got what he wanted. And now they're trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

They're trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, pick your analogy, and you can't do it. You can't do it. And I'm not sure -- and I'm not trying to -- Jake, I'm guessing you're going to say you're not sure the president wants to do that, but we do know the people around him are wanting to that. They to stop this from happening.

TAPPER: What I want to ask is, because I saw conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg, who is a critic of President Trump --

BASH: Yes.


TAPPER: -- because he's somebody who actually cares about conservative values, Jonah tweeted something about the 25th amendment. Which is when a president is not capable of carrying out his constitutional duties, the cabinet gets together and basically removes him from power. And I'm wondering if -- you know, I don't think he would tweet something like that lightly. I know he wouldn't. And when you're looking at what's going on, the violence going on, on the U.S. capitol right now, something we have never seen in the United States, I'm wondering whether or not that's something that the cabinet should consider.

But look, we'll talk about that in one second. I want to go right now to the White House where Kaitlan Collins is, and Kaitlan this is absolutely disgusting, and it is entirely President Trump's fault aided and abetted by his supporters. Is he going to do anything to stop it?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So far, he's hasn't, jake. He's only put out two tweeted. His last one said that people on Capitol Hill should remain peaceful, and if you look at that scene, nothing about it is peaceful given that we are seeing armed standoffs, a woman being shot, reinforcements being sent to The Hill. And instead the president is not acting like this is the reality that's happening. Even though he is currently sitting in the West Wing watching this coverage unfold. I am told by multiple people.

And Jake, the president is being encouraged by staff to put out a stronger statement about what is happening with his supporters on Capitol Hill right now. But so far, he has declined to do so. And he had declined to tell them to get out of the building. Instead he only sent those two tweets, including the one asking them to remain peaceful saying we are the party of law and order. But Jake, clearly these are his supporters. They are wearing his sweatshirts and waving his flags, and the president is refusing advice from staff to put out a stronger statement on what you are seeing happening right now.

TAPPER: If wonder if there is anybody with a conscience in the cabinet who is considering doing anything to stop this, because this is a nation of laws and there is a provision in the Constitution, the 25th Amendment, to step in when the president is not capable of governing.

Let me go to Jim Acosta right now. Jim, what are you hearing from people inside the White House? This is an absolutely revolting, in both senses of the word, display, and it is President Trump inspired this, encouraged this, is not stopping it, is entirely responsible.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, he's totally responsible, Jake, no question about it. I should point out in just the last minute, Kayleigh McEnany, the outgoing White House press secretary, she just put out a tweet saying the president at his direction has ordered the National Guard over to the U.S. capitol to get control of the situation.

Her tweet says, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services. We reiterate President Trump's call against violence and to remain peaceful.

That is the totality of that tweet from the White House press secretary, Jake. But I will tell you, this is not sufficient. As you know, Jake, we have a White House briefing room. It has lights, it has cameras, it has people ready for the president of the United States or the White House press secretary or the chief of staff, at the very least, to come in and call for calm. That is not happening. They're putting out tweets. That's it. That is the entirety of their response at this point, and it's just insufficient.

I walked up to the upper press area of the West Wing just a short time ago. That's where the press secretary has her office, other staffers on the com staff and so on. These young press aides, they're the last ones who are here, they're sort of the dead-enders of the Trump organization. They seem dumbstruck. They seem shell-shocked. Looking at their faces, they just don't seem to understand what is unfolding around them, and it is astonishing.

I will tell you I've never seen anything quite like it in my eight years covering the White House. A White House staff that appears to be immobilized, incapable of dealing with the situation. And as Kaitlyn was just saying, part of the reason why is because the president is just watching this on TV. He is now a spectator of the destruction that he has unleashed. He is not acting as a commander in chief anymore, he is just a television viewer in chief watching all of this unfold. And it is -- it's disgraceful. It's just one of the most disgraceful things I think we'll ever witness in our lives.

TAPPER: Absolutely shame on him. Shame on what he has brought to this country, the destruction and the division and now the violence we see at the U.S. capitol stopping the U.S. constitutional duties of the members of Congress from being carried out, to his everlasting shame -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jake, as you said, this is the legacy of Donald j. Trump, and frankly, of every member of his family who has worked around him, who have supported him and enabled him.


His sons, his daughter Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner. This is what they and all the enablers around him have wrought. The administration which has called themselves the law and order administration, the president who liked to call himself the law and order president.

This is what their vision of law and order is. Imagine this was a group of black protesters, imagine this was a group of thousands of Muslims who had stormed the capitol. Imagine what would happen then. How the reaction would have been different. Senator Santorum, you've worked -- you know the Senate building. Seeing these images, what do you think?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's heartbreaking. I understand people's anger. I understand a lot of people feel that the country is at stake. But what I don't understand is how people have lost faith in our country to the point where they feel they have to do things like this. That somehow or another that there's just no other opportunity to deal with the challenges that we have in front of us other than to storm the capitol building. That that is considered to be a rational act by people who say they love America. If you love America, you understand the greatness of our country is

the great institutions we have and we defend those institutions. We defend our constitution. We don't try to overturn through violence and protests the things that you say you value.

And so I see what's going on here. I see people breaking into the capitol and breaking into the Senate chamber and all because they think that, you know, their country is being taken away from them. I would just say that you are adding to the hopelessness of people and you're not doing anything to restore the greatness of America by tearing it down.

COOPER: We hear a lot of talk about, you know, understandably, they are aggrieved. You know, there have been generations of people in this country who have not had rights, who have not had the right to vote, who have not had the right to marry, who have not had the equality that we all -- that most of us are able to take for granted because of the zip code we were born in and the color of our skin or our status in society.

And so the idea that these people feel themselves so aggrieved, I mean, there were generations of people who actually had real grievances. These are wannabe weekend warriors who are all just hopped up and filled with self-righteous indignation based on lies.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is treason. This is resurrection. This is rebellion. Period. I have heard people, looking at small protests in Portland, Oregon where people were teargassed, beaten, kidnapped, and they said, no, no, no, whatever you do to those Portlanders is OK because we have to have law and order. We have to have law and order.

This is rebellion. It is treason. It is lawlessness. It is unacceptable. And we are on a glide path at this point to having -- to look down the barrel of possible civil war. All the things we talk about up here sounds so abstract when we talk about the peaceful transfer of power. It just sounds like something from a book. This is what it looks like when you don't have a peaceful transfer of power.

Abraham Lincoln talked about some people want rule or ruin. If I can't have it my way, I'll burn the whole country down. If I can't have it my way, I will burn the country down. So now -- I don't think that Republicans and conservatives can look at this and say this is OK.

I'm calling on all of my conservative friends, my Republican friends to say, what would I do if Black Lives Matter dropped 30,000 black people on the nation's capital and laid siege to the seat of power in the middle of a joint session of Congress and broke in? What would I say if Black Lives Matter did that? I'm going to say it right now.

If Muslims did it. If Muslims dropped 30,000 Muslims on the seat of government in the middle of a joint session of Congress and ran in there and there was blood on the floor and tear gas, what would we be saying? If you believe that we are all one people, you don't like the hyphenations, if you believe that we're all one country.


If you believe in law and order, if you're against traitors, if you are for patriotism, there needs to be a uniform denunciation from top to bottom of the Republican Party of what we're seeing.

I want to say is this, you know, for Keisha Lance Bottoms, a black woman, who is the mayor of Atlanta, when they started rioting in Atlanta, she stood up and she said, you stop it. You don't do this in Atlanta. You don't do this in America. She stood up to her base and told them to go home. Where is the president of the United States? Where is Donald Trump? Show the wisdom and the intelligence and the strength of a black woman mayor of Atlanta in the middle of this riot and then we can get someplace.

Yes, the difference here is that the mayor did not incite the riot.

JONES: That's right.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And the president of the United States did. Rick, I really respect what you said, but I don't understand how you don't understand how we got here. We know how we got here. We know that words matter, and when the president of the United States says again and again and again that these institutions are corrupt, they're rigged, the election was fraudulent, they're stealing it from you.

When he goes out and addresses these very people today and tells them they have to be strong and urges them to march down to the capitol, I don't understand how you don't understand how this happened. We know how it happened. And he is culpable for this.

You know, Winston Churchill said dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount and the tigers are getting hungry. The president sits in the White House and the tigers are loose at the capitol. I want to say one more thing, gloria. I'm a son of an immigrant who fled a country because of scenes like this and came to the United States because this was a country of law. This was a country of laws, and many of us share that story. I am in tears today to see this scene. This is not an American scene, and this was not a necessary scene. I understand completely why it happened.

COOPER: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm heartbroken. And I spent ten years walking up and down those steps covering Capitol Hill, having a great deal of respect for the people who serve in that capitol. Most of the time, by the way, talking about policy, even with Senator Santorum over there. And I watch this today and I said, that's my capitol. That's my house. That's our house. And these are domestic terrorists. They're ripping it apart.

Then I saw a tweet by Ivanka Trump which she took down which called them American patriots. She said, you know, any security breach is unacceptable, et cetera, but she called them American patriots. That is not what I call them. These are people who march there to do damage. And they march there to do damage in the middle of a constitutional session in which a presidential election, free and fair, was being certified.

And you have to go back to the president -- this is what David was talking about -- what the president said earlier today in his speech. And he said, we're going to walk down to the capitol. We're going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women, the ones who support him. We're probably not going to be cheering because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. So we'll walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, and that was permission. That was permission.

COOPER: And as we speak, the man who is responsible for all of this, Donald J. Trump, is in the White House watching this on TV, as he has been for much of his administration, both a president and just an observer, watching these moments pass by, and this is all part of his grift.

These people have stormed the capitol, have threatened our democracy, have spurred insurrection and treason in order for a grift that's going on being centered in the White House. The grift of the Trump family raising money off of this. Raising money off these lies, and the president is just standing there watching it on television surrounded by his coterie of enablers. I want to go back to Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's hard to believe what's going on here in the United States capitol right now. I've been here a long time. I've never seen anything like this.


I never thought I would see an armed mob like this break windows and get into the United States capitol and do what they're doing. And you can see what's going on. These individuals, they should be arrested immediately. I assume some of them will be. There is videotape. We see their faces. We what they're doing. They are illegally breaking into the United States capitol endangers members of the House of Representatives, members of the U.S. Senate, as well.

You see what's happening on the floor of the Senate and the House, a law enforcement raising their weapons to deal with these mob individuals. I don't want to call them protesters, they're not protesters, they are people who are engage withed in an insurrection that will fail, they will be arrested.

We are now told that members of the U.S. military's National Guard from Maryland and Virginia are on the way. Major numbers are coming in to deal with this enormous threat to the U.S. democracy. Only 14 days left -- 14 days until the inauguration, when Joe Biden will become the president of the United States. I can only imagine the security that is going to be around Washington, D.C. over these next 14 days as we await the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. 14 days until Donald Trump leaves office. Pamela, you're getting some new information.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're told that multiple officers have been injured in the midst of the chaos that we are seeing with at least once offer, Wolf, transported to the hospital. Multiple sources tell me and my colleague Noah Gray, just to give you a sense of what this means, with this officer being transported to the hospital. It seems to be they are only transporting higher priority cases, so, although we don't know what the injury is, that gives you a clue.

We know that EMS is on the scene there. They are triaging, a woman was shot in the chest on capitol grounds earlier today. We don't know the circumstances of that. But what we do know, Wolf, is that law enforcement is simply overwhelmed.

You report that the National Guard is now on its way. But earlier today, one law enforcement officer sent a distress call from inside the capitol building because it was getting so out of hand.

I do know from talking to sources that police from surrounding areas are coming, from Virginia state police, Montgomery County, Maryland police, Prince George's County, and now multiple officers have been injured with at least one transported to the hospital. And we're now seeing police in riot gear there, Wolf, trying to contain the crowds. Trying to bring a sense of calmness to the chaos.

BLITZER: Yes, the entire D.C. National Guard has now been activated, Pamela, and they're going to be joined by Maryland and Virginia military personnel, military troops, they're coming into Washington, D.C. right now.

Manu, you're inside the capitol. We knew that there was a session going on, the vice president was there, the members of the House and the Senate, they had to be evacuated under emergency circumstances. What's the latest?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we don't know yet if the joint session of continue will convene, when it will reconvene, when it will happen. Will it happen tonight, will it happen afterwards? Because, of course, this is a critical step in making sure that the next president of the United States, who got the electoral votes to make him the next president, Joe Biden, is inaugurated by January 20th uncertain.

I've been checking in with top Democrats and Republicans about it, right now, the situation is the one before them. They need to get this under control. There are still protesters in the building who are gone into all corners of the building, in a stunning photo that we are seeing right now, protester actually in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Leaving -- I want to direct you to that manila folder right there, as you can see, look in there, it says, "we will not back down." someone leaving a message for the House Speaker in her suite.

And I can tell you, from spending time -- there's a protester right there, you can see this individual here, this rioter who has broken into the capitol, in Nancy Pelosi's office, there with his feet up, leaving that note, "we will not back down."

And I can tell you, Wolf, in covering this building for many years and covering Nancy Pelosi's office, it is a heavily fortified office. There are details around her at all times, there are police officers nearby, you can't just walk into the Speaker's office, but here, you're seeing a pro-Trump demonstrator, someone who broke into this building with scores of other individuals. This individual coming into the Speaker's office and saying, leaving that message for the Speaker.


Now, the Speaker herself has just put out a statement, along with the Senate Democratic leader, saying, we are calling on President Trump to demand that all protesters leave the U.S. capitol and capitol grounds immediately. We're hearing some concerns, too, being raised by Republicans, as well, not demanding going as far as the Democrats are, but nevertheless, it's uncertain how this get resolved, when it gets resolved. When they'll have that joint session of Congress? But protesters getting into all sorts of inside the building.

But as I reported earlier, there is still -- the Senate's wing of the building appears to be secure at the moment. Protesters have been pushed to the center of the capitol. They are being escorted out. Where else they are in the build building, it's a very big building, big complex, remains to be seen and whether police can get it under control. The National Guard will be the big question next -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a horrible, horrible situation that's unfolding here in Washington, D.C. and we can't overemphasize how dangerous this is right now. Kaitlan, you're over at the White House, I saw a statement that the Vice President Mike Pence, who was evacuated from the U.S. Senate, put out, he went further than the president.

Saying the violence and destruction taking place at the U.S. capitol must stop and it must stop now, anyone involved must respect law enforcement officers and immediately leave the building. He added, peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack -- he used the word attack -- on our capital will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Vice President Mike Pence, Kaitlan, clearly angry.

COLLINS: Yes, and Wolf, he was there as this broke out, as they start started breaching the building and that's why the vice President and other leadership had to be evacuated because of what is going on. And now he has put out a much more forceful statement that we have seen coming from President Trump, who I'm told has been watching all of this unfold. Because Mike Pence is actually telling people to leave the building.

That is a pretty simple request that you have not seen the president carry out, Wolf, and that comes as we are told staff are trying to get the president to put out a more forceful statement, but Wolf, he has so far refused to do so and I'm told is much more focused on the events that were happening shortly before this happened and of course that was the vice President up on Capitol Hill, as Congress was meeting to certify these electors and Joe Biden's win.

When, of course, shortly before, he said he was going to defy the president and not follow through, not try to make any attempts to overturn the results of the election or reject these electors. Which, of course, he did not have the power to do. But the president has been consumed by that. He has not stopped talking about what Mike Pence has done and he is more focused on that than what you are seeing unfold from his own supporters on Capitol Hill, this chaos that is going on.

And the president so far is still watching all of this go on from the White House. But has not come out to the podium. He has not gone on any television or in front of cameras to say that these people, that his supporters waving his flags and wearing his paraphernalia need to get out of the building. Instead he told them to remain peaceful. Which of course, Wolf, they are not. But instead the president himself has been more focused on what Pence did before what all of this broke out than what is actually going on now.

BLITZER: It really an awful, awful situation that the president of the United States is totally neglecting his responsibilities as the commander in chief. He's got enormous responsibilities. He's got 14 days left. He only cares about himself.

John King, what does that say to you, that we have a president here in Washington, D.C., only 14 days left, but clearly has only one thing in mind, how can he overturn a democratically-held election in the United States.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ant it is sad to say, Wolf, but not a surprise to say that the president has been consistent in failing this leadership test when there are obvious questions of right and wrong. Black and white questions of right and wrong before him. You and I covered the White House for quite a long time.

Donald Trump is the president who said there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. No, there were not. Donald Trump is the president who refuses to criticize the QAnon crack pot conspiracy theory, which peddles incredibly reckless rumors about the United States government and people involved in it. Because those people support him, he says, well, he thinks they are good people.

These are his supporters. They are storming the United States capitol. Many of them may have come here for protest, but it has developed into something much worse than that. Dangerous, destructive, illegal, scary, violent and it is his job to call it out as it is.

The fact that Kaitlyn says the vice president is being more forceful tells you quite a bit. The fact that Jim Acosta and others on our White House team say the president has been watching this all day long. He's watching this and doing nothing.

Now, he will say, as he has said in the past, his second tweet was a little tougher than the first tweet. He has authorized the National Guard to go and help. Those are steps that may help a bit, but the challenge of leadership is to stand up to your people when they're doing something that is wrong and tell them they need to back down.

And it begins with the president, but it's not just him. The people in that building who keep saying, let's appoint a commission to look again into allegations of election fraud, that have been brought to more than 60 court cases across the country and rejected out of hand. One of the tests of leadership is to look the people who support you in the eye and say, we are wrong, or, it is over, and we are done.

So, it's not just the president. It's those supporting him in that building, too.