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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Rioters Storm Capitol Building; President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired January 6, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it'll be fascinating for me to see, A, will the president wake up here and say something publicly with a camera pointed at him?
And then, B, what will his supporters in that Capitol -- when they resumed the debate about certifying Joe Biden's election as president, will some of these Republicans realize what they're doing is not only a fantasy, but it's a dangerous fantasy and they need to back down?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, we're told that the entire, John, the entire D.C. National Guard, thousands of troops here in the nation's capital, the entire National Guard, has been activated by the U.S. Department of Defense, following this mob that has attacked the U.S. Capitol.
Phil Mattingly is up on Capitol Hill right now.
You're getting more very disturbing information. What are you learning?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, I was talking with a couple sources aligned with the Capitol Police who were trying to kind of walk me through what's occurred over the course of the last hour-and-a-half.
And in the words of one, they were -- quote -- "simply overwhelmed." They did not suspect that the outlying barriers, the ones that are 100 yards away from the Capitol Building, would be breached.
Once those were breached, they were stunned that the protesters, in the words of this individual, that the protesters actually walked up the steps on both the House side, on the Senate side, on the centers steps, and then were willing to break through the windows.
Now, what's been going on inside the Capitol is a couple of things. The first priority for Capitol Police and for law enforcement inside is to secure leadership, make sure they are in a safe place.
I'm told they are in the safe place, the leadership as well as the Senate pro tem, Chuck Grassley. I'm also told that, based on everything that I have been talking to you up to this point, all lawmakers are safe as well. They are in an undisclosed location. And we're going to keep it that way for the time being.
Now, the process is what's been, I think, most unusual as the Capitol Police have tried to get their arms around this is how to actually get the protesters out of the Capitol Building right now.
They have been moving, kind of starting with the floors, the House floor and the Senate floor, and trying to push the protesters into a single place.
Not going to call them protesters. Push the rioters, trespassers into a single place, where they can then escort them out of the Capitol. Slowly, but surely, I'm told, they are making progress.
I heard Manu report earlier. They believe the Senate floor is clear, believe they're on the path to that on the House side as well. They're making progress with that. And it appears, according to my sources that, once that is complete, they will start to move on in terms of what's going on, on the outside of the building.
But, Wolf, I will tell you right now, from my vantage point on this side of the Capitol, you can still see the steps on the Senate side, on the House side and the center steps -- you guys have camera footage of it as well -- are still packed with individuals, some of them still moving towards the doors right now.
So, as the words of one source of mine inside the Capitol, this is not under control yet, but we feel like we're starting to get our arms around it.
Obviously, it's a very, very fluid situation. And the most interesting thing, or one of the more interesting things, Wolf, I'm mostly getting text messages from lawmakers asking me if I know what's going on. They have been moved into secure locations. And, at this point, they are just looking for information, because they are seeing less and know less than pretty much everybody else on the outside, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of these, I don't want to call them protesters. I want to call them rioters or mobsters. They're going to be arrested.
One thing about Capitol Hill, as we all know, there are closed-circuit cameras all over the place. They have video of these rioters, these mobsters. They will be arrested if they broke windows. If they stormed the floor of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, they will go -- they will be going to jail, many of them, for what they are doing right now.
They probably are too stupid to know that they're heading for jail at some point down the road.
Brian Todd, you're up there on Capitol Hill. I want you to be safe, but tell you what you're seeing.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf.
I will set the scene for you, as we walk a little bit toward the center steps of the Capitol here on the east side, where the crowd on the actual steps themselves has thinned out a little bit in the last few minutes, not as many people packed on the steps there.
We saw two groups of riot gear-clad police coming in about 20 minutes ago, probably not more than about 30 of them. And they did not come in with any sense of urgency, but they came into the plaza. And they moved kind of toward the South that way a little bit, again, but not with any sense of urgency.
You have also seen Capitol Hill police up there on the balcony to the left side. Now we don't see them. Now you see more protesters up there on the balcony on the left side.
There were some Capitol Hill Police up there a short time ago, but they have since pulled back. You do get the sense that whatever police have come so far have probably gone inside the building to try to address the situation there.
They have not come in force to this plaza of the east side of the Capitol. We also know there have been confrontations with police and others on the west side. That situation has been very tense. Earlier today, we saw a lot of flash -- heard and saw a lot of flashbangs going off. So that got very intense, as some people, as we have reported on CNN, have gotten injured as well and at least one woman shot in the chest, very seriously injured.
We also know that a police officer has been injured and taken to the hospital.
But let's have our photojournalist Eddie Gross go past me here. And I can kind of set the scene too. Look, this -- this was the most densely packed set of stairs. This is the center steps of the Capitol on the east front.
And, as you can see, still a lot of protesters there. And they don't seem to be too worried there. They may get pushed out of there soon. We don't know. We don't know when larger groups of police or National Guardsmen will show up here and what they're going to do when they do.
But we can tell you that this crowd as thinned out a little bit.
And, Eddie, if you can just move to your right, to our right.
You see some police over there on that side. That's the Senate side of the Capitol Building. You see some police officers standing there. There were more people on that set of steps earlier too and going almost up toward the top.
But they have kind of contained that group over there. There was another set of protesters here on the House side steps.
And, Eddie, let's go forward here a little bit.
BLITZER: All right, hold on a minute, Brian.
The president-elect is about to speak. (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: ... an inconvenience, but I'm sorry for the reason we have delayed, I have delayed coming out to speak to you.
I initially was going to talk about the economy.
But all of you, all of you have been watching what I have been watching.
At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we have seen in modern times, an assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself, an assault on the people's representatives, on the Capitol Hill Police, sworn to protect them, on the publish servants who work at the heart of our republic, an assault on the rule of law like few times we have ever seen it, an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of the people's business.
Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are.
What we're seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.
I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.
You have heard me say before in a different context, the words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.
Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.
To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, the floor of the United States Senate, rummaging through desks, on the Capitol, on -- the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials, it's not protest. It's insurrection.
The world is watching. Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment.
Through war and strife, America has endured much, and we will endure here, and we will prevail again, and we will prevail now.
The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law, just plain, simple decency, the renewal of the politics that's about solving problems, looking out for one another, not stoking the flames of hate and chaos. As I said, America is about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That's
who we are. That's who we have always been.
The certification of the Electoral College vote is supposed to be a sacred ritual to affirm -- the purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy.
But today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile, and to preserve it requires people of good will, leaders with the courage to stand up who are devoted not to the pursuit of the power or their personal interests, pursuits of their own selfish interests, at any cost, but of the common good.
Think what our children watching television are thinking. Think what the rest of the world is looking at.
For nearly two-and-a-half centuries, we, the people, in search of a more perfect union, have kept our eyes on that common good. America is so much better than what we're seeing today.
Watching the scenes from the Capitol, I was reminded, as I have prepared other speeches in the past, I was reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln in his annual message to Congress, whose work has today been interrupted by chaos.
Here is what Lincoln said. He said: "We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope on Earth," went on to say: "The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just, a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless."
The way is plain here, too. That's who we are. It's the way of democracy, of respect, of decency, of honor, and commitment as patriots to this nation.
Notwithstanding what I saw today, we're seeing today, I remain optimistic about the incredible opportunities. There has never been anything we can't do when we do it together.
And this god-awful display today is bringing home to every Republican and Democrat and independent in the nation that we must step up. This is the United States of America. There's never ever, ever, ever, ever been a thing we have tried to do that we have done it together and we have not been able to do it.
So, President Trump, step up.
May God bless America, may God protect our troops and all those folks at the Capitol who are trying to preserve order.
Thank you. And I'm sorry to have kept you waiting.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. He will become the 46th president of the United States in two weeks from today. He asked for President Trump to step up, to have a televised press conference, to stop the violence being committed in his name for his conspiracy theory-fed cause that the election was somehow not fair.
I do think, Abby, as you noted, when Biden said that, that probably will make Trump even less likely to do it, even though, of course, it is the right thing.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: To do the right thing in this moment.
And as our colleague Kaitlan Collins has reported, the president is preoccupied with other things. He has not done what many of his aides want him to do, which is to be more forceful on this.
And it's because he doesn't want to. The people who are in the Capitol right now are his supporters. They are doing this in his name. And if there's one thing that President Trump doesn't want to do, it is to condemn people who love him.
And the nation is kind of in a catch-22 moment right now. President Trump could come out and say something, but I guarantee you it is not going to be the right thing. But if he says nothing, this madness will continue.
So there's really not a great way forward here. But I do wonder if the members of Congress who were at some point in that building who were standing up and backing up this ridiculous coup attempt will have a moment of reckoning for themselves and think about what the consequences are of humoring this kind of misinformation and these kinds of lies.
That might be the really important question as we move forward, because, at some point, Congress has to reconvene and finish the work that they started this morning, so that the country can move forward.
TAPPER: I think one other point that we need to make here is, this didn't just happen, right? These aren't just people who are -- who decided to take matters into their own hands. They were encouraged to do so...
TAPPER: ... Today at the rally that President Trump spoke at.
Rudy Giuliani, his -- whatever he is -- attorney, said that they would engage in trial by combat. Trial by combat was the term he used. Donald Trump Jr. said about Republicans who were not going to -- we're going to go to Manu Raju right now.
He's being evacuated from Capitol Hill.
Manu, tell us what's going on.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) in our office (AUDIO GAP) the news from the Senate side of the Capitol.
We're being taken to an undisclosed location here. (AUDIO GAP) As I'm walking through (AUDIO GAP) police officers in riot gear and wearing gas masks.
And I can tell you, it smells like there's pure gas that came off into building (AUDIO GAP) smell (AUDIO GAP) in this building. As I'm walking through the tunnels here, there's debris everywhere.
The rioters clearly have gone Hart -- We're going to Hart. Oh, sorry.
These rioters clearly have gone -- have gone -- breached all elements of this building. You're seeing debris, trash all in the -- in the elevators, things knocked down, posts knocked down.
And this is clearly a sign of how they have gone into all parts of this building. But, as I can tell you, walking through here, there are no -- there are no -- none of these rioters I have seen as we're walking through.
The Capitol Police have struggled, but they have clearly gotten -- made sure that some areas of this building are secure, as they have gotten ahold -- trying to get ahold of this situation.
And they're escorting a bunch of us to an undisclosed location to ensure that, as they try to get ahold of these protesters and arrest them, these rioters, trespassers, get them out of the building, and trying to make sure that all these locations in the Capitol can be secure, guys.
TAPPER: Yes, well, stay safe, Manu.
And you're right to change. It's not -- they're not protesters. They're insurrectionists. Or, I mean, we have a name for people who commit violence in the name of various political ideology. We call them terrorists. That's what we call people who commit acts of violence for a political or religious cause.
In any case, Dana, what I wanted to finish saying was, Rudy Giuliani this morning at that rally called for trial by combat. Donald Trump Jr. said to members of Congress who were not going to join this deranged attempt at a bloodless coup -- well, now it's not bloodless anymore.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No.
TAPPER: Said -- quote -- "We're coming for you, and we're going to have a good time doing it. I suggest you choose wisely."
Now, I'm sure that Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump Jr. will say that they were merely speaking figuratively or they were talking about engaging in political combat. Maybe they were, maybe they were not. I think it's pretty clear that a lot of people took a different message from the rally in general.
BASH: Because these are people who have been completely fired up.
I mean, there was a tinderbox. They were sitting in front of a tinderbox. And with those comments, they lit a match. And then they lit another match, and then they lit another one, and then they just threw it on.
And they're not -- Rudy Giuliani is not a dumb person. They know what they have in front of them. They know what they have created, fomented for all of these months. They're very well aware of it.
The irony is so rich. It's, frankly, disgusting that this is a campaign that at one point veered into the law and order messaging, we're the law and order campaign, I'm going to be the law and order president.
That's the opposite of law and order. And I'm also thinking. Jake, I think you were up on Capitol Hill around 9/11, were you not?
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely.
BASH: And so -- and I was too.
And this is very, very different in a million ways. The way it is not is the fear. I remember being where Manu is and having to walk -- having to run and having to be told by people who are there to protect you that they can't protect you, that they're not equipped for it because of something that they didn't expect.
Now, this, they probably should have expected, at least to some degree. But it is a frightening thing when that happens when you were in the belly and the symbol and the center of our democratic institution, the United States Capitol.
And that happens. And that has happened. And it continues to happen. And you have the people who are elected by Americans all over this country just a couple of months ago in that Capitol in undisclosed locations, because it is not safe for them to go out.
And I will just say one little glimmer of hope, I was told that there are some House -- top House members in an undisclosed location together, Republicans and Democrats together. And I was told that Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic conference chair, Liz Cheney, the Republican conference shared, jointly said to these members who are gathered there -- they had a defiant message, saying: We're not going to let them stop us. We're going to get back out there as soon as it's safe and go back to the House floor as soon as we can and continue the business that is constitutionally mandated.
TAPPER: Yes, this is not going to end in anything other than Joe Biden being sworn in, in two weeks...
BASH: Exactly. TAPPER: ... and Kamala Harris being sworn in, in two weeks.
But I want people out there to remember how they feel right now as they watch these images live, because there is going to be an attempt by the people who were part of this effort. President Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Hawley, et cetera, there is going to be an attempt to whitewash what's going on right now.
President Trump has delivered a message. It has been taped. And we're going to bring that to -- are we ready to go with that live right now?
OK, we're going to go to that right now.
Here's a message from President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know your pain. I know your hurt.
We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election. And everyone knows it, especially the other side.
But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order.
We don't want anybody hurt. It's a very tough period of time. There's never been a time like this, where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election.
But we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace.
So, go home. We love you. You're very special. You have seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.
I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, we brought that to you because President Trump on the tape says to his supporters who are right now conducting an armed insurrection the U.S. Capitol, he tells them to go home.
But I also want to note that, in that video, he lies about the election being stolen and pours more fuel on the fire. He continues his shameful behavior of lying to his supporters about what happened.
It is absolutely disgraceful. I hope they listen to the part in which he said for them to go home. But, to be completely frank, there were mixed messages in that video.
And I feel ambivalent about the fact that we even aired it, to be honest, although I certainly understand and support the idea that we did.
But the idea that the president is not even capable of saying, please go home. He continues to lie to his supporters.
And what I wanted to say before, Abby, is, I want people to remember how they feel watching these images of the United States Capitol being taken over, and this -- these clear acts of sedition and violence and terrorism by Trump supporters, because there's going to be an attempt to whitewash and pretend this didn't happen.
PHILLIP: People might attempt to do that.
But what we're seeing is pretty clear, what is happening. And I think now we have to ask the question, is President Trump capable of leading this country even for the next 13 days? He is inciting violence against the government itself, lawlessness, vandalism.
And he's also completely MIA in terms of his principal job, which is to keep this country safe, to protect Americans. Let's not even talk about the fact that we're in -- still in the middle of a pandemic. We haven't talked about that today.
TAPPER: Yesterday, the deadliest day of the pandemic so far.
PHILLIP: But this is a president who is not paying attention to the job and is focused on just one thing, which is his own sense of grievance.
That video was a disgrace. The idea that today, on the day that Congress intends to count the electoral votes for Joe Biden, who will be the next president of the United States, Donald Trump still refuses to say that he lost a democratically held election in the United States of America is a profound shame.
And it makes us a mockery in the world. As we go around the world talking about democracy, we have a president who is inciting violence at the Capitol and won't acknowledge that he lost an election.
TAPPER: No, I don't understand how the United States, which regularly objects to elections taking place in other countries...
TAPPER: ... Pakistan, Russia, Hong Kong, I mean, Taiwan, regularly engages in criticism of other countries' elections.
What is Senator Hawley or Senator Cruz going to say when Vladimir Putin says, it's interesting that you're faulting us for this because you yourself objected to an election, and you yourself helped inspire an armed insurrection on Capitol Hill?
BASH: You're exactly right.
And the notion of consistency and clarity of message and purpose is, unfortunately, so far behind us with these issues. And we just have to say over and over again, because what we just heard from the president was so -- aside from the fact that he said go home, which was the appropriate thing to say, he said that the election was stolen from us.
No, that is what you're seeing on Capitol Hill right now.
BASH: What you're seeing on Capitol Hill right now are people, to quote you, Abby, in his name, going to the Capitol trying to steal the election for Donald Trump, the election that Mitch McConnell stood on the Senate floor just hours beforehand, not even hours, minutes before this happened, and said: This wasn't even close. This wasn't even close. Donald Trump didn't even come close to winning this election.
That is the reality. That is the top Republican in the United States Senate saying that, and saying it for a reason. And the Republicans you were talking about -- Josh Hawley, I don't know yet about him. But Senator Cruz, I'm already hearing from an aide to him, this is not what he wanted.
I think he also tweeted, violence is not the right way to go, so on and so forth, that he was doing his constitutional duty, which might -- not duty. He's doing what is allowed in the Constitution.
TAPPER: No. No, but he wasn't.
BASH: Well, and...
TAPPER: He was calling for something else.
Well, Democrats in the past -- this is almost besides the point because of what's going on here. But Democrats in the past -- and you have pointed this out -- have objected during this process. But they haven't done it at the behest of a candidate who refuses to concede the election.
That has never happened. And that is the big difference here, because that is what these people, these rioters are responding to. They're responding to the president and his enablers on Capitol Hill.
PHILLIP: You know, I think about how we started this day.
And I -- not looking back too far, but just as to recall that, hours ago, we were talking about the way in which Republicans had fed these conspiracy theories and coddled them for many, many months and even years, living in this imaginary world created by Donald Trump, and they'd lost control of that, not knowing that, hours later, we'd be looking at this incredible scene.
But this is the consequence of years of people in Washington refusing to have the courage to stand up and say, right is right and wrong is wrong, and there are facts and there are fictions in the world.
And there was a time in this town when the differences between the two parties were about policy. They were about taxation. They were about the role of government.
Now the differences between the two parties are about who believes in facts and who doesn't.
TAPPER: Ulysses S...
PHILLIP: That should not be the case, but that is what we are dealing with right now.
And I know, because I talk to Republicans all the time, who privately will say that they want to get back to that time where they were talking about things that really mattered. But they can't, because they have nurtured this monster, and now it is devouring them.
TAPPER: Ulysses S. Grant said in 19 -- said in 1861, there are now but two parties, patriots, patriots and traitors.
And it is time for the Kevin McCarthys and the Josh Hawleys of the world to decide which party they're in. I have my idea about what that might be -- Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks very much.
BLITZER: ... to say, in the midst of all of this, all of this horrendous news that's going on here in Washington, something that none of us ever expected we would see in the nation's capital, I just want to make it official right now.