Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Pro-Trump Rioters Storm Capitol Building; DC Curfew Now In Effect Until 6 A.M.; Pelosi: We Have Decided To Proceed Tonight Once Capitol Is Clear. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 6, 2021 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:02]

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: There is this long line of Metropolitan Police -- so, that's the Washington, D.C., police -- who in the past half-hour have slowly, methodically, peacefully pushed these Trump supporters back from the Capitol.

You can see the western side of the White House -- of the Capitol Building -- excuse me -- that has been entirely cleared. Wolf, that entire lawn this afternoon was filled with people. Now, as we have gotten closer to the curfew, we have seen that area cleared.

So, a lot of this crowd, the vast majority, I would say, of this crowd that was out here this afternoon has melted away. But there is still a large number who have gathered down here. If you know Washington, D.C., this is the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

And at least for now, Wolf, they show no sign of going home. There has been some tear gas fired. Our colleagues have seen that. We have seen that throughout the afternoon. There are a lot of riot police in full riot gear with gas masks.

The ones that you're looking at now do not have that same sort of gear. So it's a bit of a mix. This has been a cooperative effort between local police departments, not just from Washington, D.C., but also from Virginia and Maryland, as well as their federal counterparts, U.S. Capitol Police up in the Capitol, as well as various federal agencies, and, of course, the National Guard that we now know has been fully mobilized by Mayor Bowser.

This curfew now in effect. Wolf, you have been asking about arrests. If we go by past precedent, when we've seen curfews in the past, that doesn't necessarily mean they're just going to start arresting people on sight because they're out and about.

But that certainly could happen as the evening wears on and people stay out. So, the curfew is in effect, but these Trump supporters, many of them, still out here, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, it's an awful situation. The curfew now is in effect, but I don't see the police going about starting to tell these people they're going to be -- about to be arrested for violating the curfew. They should not be on the streets of Washington, D.C., right now. They

should be heading to their hotels or their homes or someplace else or just get out of the area, because the curfew, D.C. curfew, is now in effect.

John King, just got a statement, let me read a sentence or two, from the former President George W. Bush.

Actually, you have it, John. Go ahead and read the statement for us.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I will read it. And it is striking, just the contrast of the last Republican president, George W. Bush, compared here to the current president, Republican president, Donald Trump.

"Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our nation's government in disbelief and disarray" -- "dismay" -- I'm sorry -- President Bush says.

"It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.

"The violent assault on the Capitol and disruption of a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.

"To those who are disappointed in the results of the election, our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. May God continue to bless the United States of America."

Now, again, George Bush is not a perfect man and he was not a perfect president, but, Wolf, someone who understands, a man who himself lost the popular vote, won the presidency. It was a controversial time, lived through the Iraq War, a very controversial time, but served two terms as president

In the middle there, he doesn't mention President Trump, but he says this assault today undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.

We know who he's talking about when he says that.

BLITZER: Yes, and he says let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. We know one person who was elected by the people. That would be the president of the United States, who's clearly not fulfilling his duty as commander in chief and as president of the United States. It's interesting, John, that the statement released by former

President George W. Bush is entitled "A Statement on the Insurrection at the Capitol."

That's a very strong word, insurrection.

KING: But it's a fair word. He's calling it like he sees it.

And George W. Bush, again, whether you supported him or not, whether you agreed with him or not, he was always plainspoken. And he's calling -- and it's also true, look, there's -- it's just a fact there's no love lost between the Bush family and President Trump. And so there is some history, if you will.

[18:05:03]

But, remember, George W. Bush, the president for two terms, the son of a president who also served as vice president, a man who, again, there can be a debate about his faults and policy, and people can have that debate -- he so respected the office, he so respected the building, he so respected the institutions of government, he so respected the relationship, he so respected, even when he sparred with it, the news media, a president who understood because of how he was raised, because of the family he came from, because of his public service in Texas and his public service in Washington.

He understood there are lines, there are ways to protest, there are ways not to protest. Look, there's a debate about this president. There's a debate in the Republican Party about what to do now that this president is leaving. George W. Bush largely silent since he has left office -- he speaks very rarely and he speaks when he thinks he is compelled to speak, and so a very important statement here talking about the mayhem, insurrection, as you say.

He doesn't mention President Trump, but there's just no question, falsehoods, false hopes, and then essentially calling on other Republicans to step up. That's the main point of this statement, calling on the other Republicans who will get back in that Capitol Building as soon as the security forces tell them it is secure and it is safe for them to go back in it.

The former President George W. Bush hoping, hoping -- look, the Bush name has become a dirty word in the Trump era of Republican politics -- but hoping that people, I will say, look to their better angels and get it right when they come back in that building.

BLITZER: Yes, this is a sick, sick situation that has developed here in the nation's capital. And you have got to quickly and directly point to the president of the United States for failure to do his job.

Presidential historian Doug Brinkley is joining us right now.

Doug, give us a little historic perspective on what is unfolding in Washington. I have been a reporter here for a long time. I haven't seen anything like this.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Nothing like this at all, Wolf.

I mean, this is the siege of the U.S. Capitol. We usually have had the word siege in a war like the Civil War, or perhaps the Democratic (AUDIO GAP) 1968 in Chicago.

But here we are watching American citizens, fellow citizens, break in and vandalize our U.S. Capitol, rioting in the streets of Washington, disregarding public and federal property.

It's a heinous moment. And, usually, when you think of being attacked in Washington, you tend to think, remember, the War of 1812, when the British attacked us, or 9/11 and the scare that the Capitol was going to be a target, and you had an anthrax scare going on now.

This group of Trump supporters who refuse to accept the outcome of this election are now terrorizing the entire Washington, D.C., metro area and are ostensibly shutting down other aspects of our government and country.

The good news is there are surveillance cameras in the Capitol. People are going to have photographic evidence. And some of the faces that we have been watching on TV today will end up doing serious prison time for their crimes against the United States today.

BLITZER: And what's your perspective, Doug, on the behavior of the current president of the United States, who has 14 days left in office?

BRINKLEY: I think Donald Trump is ill. He's -- we have known he's an autocrat. We have known that he has a dictatorial bent. We know he has no sense of history.

But since the election, his ego has been so bruised that he has organized an insurrection against the U.S. federal government. He has now burned his bridge with Vice President Pence, who could have perhaps pardoned him if Pence had become president for a day or a week.

And now there's talk of the 25th Amendment. People at the Department of Defense or CIA, State Department, is Trump stable for the job? It appears not, not from the little video that he did on the White House lawn today saying he loves -- how wonderful, he loves these people that are breaking into the Capitol and turning people to flee in a sense of terror.

We have two people that are shot. We have a curfew going. And Donald Trump will be implicated in this. This is a day of sedition. It's a word you usually use with the John Adams era or something in American history. And, here, we're witnessing it in real time.

I think that you almost have Mike Pence right now is serving as the commander in chief of our country, while anybody in any federal bureau has to be keeping a close eye on Donald Trump, because he's acting and thinking in an irrational way.

BLITZER: And in order for the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Doug, to be -- really go into effect, it's the vice president who has to initiate all of this.

[18:10:04]

The vice president has to insist that the current president is simply unfit to be commander in chief, to be president of the United States. Tell us a little about that.

BRINKLEY: Well, that's exactly right, Wolf.

And Vice President Pence now, if he chooses to, could start trying to organize that 25th Amendment. Our country's being held hostage right now by Donald Trump.

Mitch McConnell and Speaker Pelosi can't even meet on the Capitol today. It was supposed to be the day of our great coronation to celebrate the beginning of a new presidency for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

So, I think we now have to go into our Constitution kit bag and find what we can do to contain Donald Trump. And, certainly, the 25th Amendment is there. It's an extreme measure. I never thought, Wolf, I'd even think that could even occur in our lifetime.

But we're living in very weird and strange times, as always the images of mayhem going on in Washington, D.C., shows us.

BLITZER: Yes. And if you want to he appreciate how, let's say, unstable the president is right now, with only 14 days to go, look at this tweet that he just posted.

And let me get your quick reaction, Doug, before I move on. This is what the president of the United States just said. Hard to believe, but I will repeat it: "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever."

We will remember this day forever, Doug, but it's not the way the president wants us to remember it, because this is an awful day in American history. This is not a glorious moment.

BRINKLEY: No.

Well, President Trump's right. It is a day that will live in infamy, as Franklin Roosevelt said at the time about Pearl Harbor. But it's about going to be what happens in a democratic society when you have a totalitarian as president.

We at CNN have had pundit and speaker and expert for the last four years trying to warn the American people about who this man was. And here today we have watched his behavior. He incited this rally and riot and he will pay a very high cost in history and hopefully in the law -- in law also.

BLITZER: Yes, and he's praising these rioters. Let's go to Pamela Brown. She's getting more information.

Pamela, this -- the curfew went into effect, what, 22 minutes or so, 12 minutes or so ago. But give us a little bit more information that you're learning.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have just learned that what we saw today, there has been a death.

I just got off the phone with a spokesperson for MPD, who tells me that the adult woman who we reported was in critical condition earlier today, she has now been pronounced dead. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

And now I'm told that D.C. police will take the lead in investigating this. We don't have any information about the circumstances of this or the identification of this woman. But there is video circulating that we are not showing right now, a disturbing video of the woman being treated inside, apparently inside the Capitol Building today on the Capitol grounds.

She is being treated there. She was transported to the hospital. And she has been pronounced dead.

Wolf, there have been multiple injuries amid the mayhem today from not only the rioters, but also police officers there who have been injured. Some have been taken to the hospital. We know of at least one.

But this is the first death that we know of from what we have seen unfold there today, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, a deadly day, in addition to everything else.

Alex Marquardt, we see these individuals who are still marching. They're still moving around. There's a curfew, supposedly, in effect here in the nation's capital. They don't seem to care.

MARQUARDT: No, they don't, Wolf.

We have to say that the number of Trump supporters, of rioters has dramatically decreased, but there's still a very strong contingent. They are being pushed back forcefully, aggressively, but not violently, by members of the Metropolitan Police department.

As we have been saying, this long line of MPD officers, some in riot gear, some not, have been slowly and methodically pushing them away from the western side of the Capitol, which is where much of this riot started this afternoon, this incursion into the Capitol Building started this afternoon.

So, we have seen over the course of the past hour or so, as we built toward this curfew that, as you mentioned, has now been in effect for about 15 minutes, we have seen them slowly and methodically pushing people away. One interesting thing, Wolf, we just saw a group of around two dozen

FBI agents heading toward the Capitol. That is one body, one law enforcement body that we had not seen earlier today. So far, it was mainly limited to different other federal law enforcement agencies, as well as local law enforcement agencies.

[18:15:17]

But what you're looking at now, Wolf, are the remnants of these rioters, at least from this side of the Capitol -- I don't have visibility on what's happening on other sides of the Capitol, who continue to chant and shout obscenities at law enforcement. They have been calling them traitors. They have been calling them sellouts.

And they have been very, very angry. So there has been -- a large number of rioters have left, but there is still a strong presence. And I want to say something quickly about the symbolism. Of course, there are a lot of American flags out here, but I would say that those flags are outnumbered by Trump flags.

And that really does give you a sense of where I believe the allegiance lies of so many of these rioters, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. It's a really, really dangerous situation that's unfolding. And I suspect, in the days to come, 14 days until the inauguration, it's going to become even more tense here in the nation's capital.

Donie O'Sullivan is still with us. He's in the midst of one of the crowds that's still there. They're refusing to obey this 6:00 p.m. Curfew.

What's the latest there, Donie?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Wolf.

Yes, we have been moved back about 100 feet beyond where the Trump supporters, members of this mob, broke through a barrier. That's where the police have moved them back to 6:00 p.m., when the curfew came in place. And a few minutes after 6:00 p.m., they began pushing the crowd back.

The crowd did cooperate. It was peaceful. But as we were moving, you could hear instigators, people telling members of this crowd here, saying, make the police move you, make them move you, almost trying to provoke some form of confrontation here.

The crowd is thinning out a little bit, and, behind me, we can see some people who are taking down barriers and moving barriers around. There seems to be some commotion.

It is quite a tense scene here, Wolf. The police seem -- more police are actually -- seem to be coming down the steps of the Capitol that I can see. So it's possible that these people who are now in breach of the 6:00 p.m. Washington, D.C., curfew will be moved further away from the Capitol. And we may see -- just -- sorry, just one second -- yes, we do see more people now moving in behind this police line. So we may be moved here in the next few minutes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: People moving in, what, closer to the police? They're refusing to move away? Is that what you're saying, Donie?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, we see -- we're seeing sort of some backup coming in for the police. But, yes, as you can see, you see there are some Trump supporters here who are trying to get in the police's face.

Another thing, Wolf, is there's a lot of guys who are playing soldier here. They're dressed up in khakis. They're dressed up in camouflage and armor. But they don't serve their country. They're here. They think, I guess, that it's all a game.

And that's the thing, Wolf. All the people here, the folks that I have been speaking to here, they all just believe in this conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory taking over a not insignificant part of the American population.

And we're being moved here a little bit again, Wolf. I think we should just move down this -- the street here. You can see, some police with shields have been brought in here. And there's a sense, I think, in the next few moments that the police will try to push these Trump supporters further away from the Capitol.

And, of course, they have been here all day. They have been here from a few minutes after Trump finished speaking, that speech, which was, again, full of lies and conspiracy theories, and when those supporters breached the Capitol and breached through those barriers.

So, this is finally clearing the mob out after many hours -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are these people that you're speaking to over there -- you have done excellent reporting over these past many months on some of these fringe conspiracy groups, QAnon, among others, in various parts of the country.

Are you seeing those kinds of people where you are right now, Donie?

O'SULLIVAN: You know, Wolf, what we have learned from traveling the country over the past few months, speaking to many Trump supporters, is that so many people who support this president buy into these conspiracy theories.

[18:20:02]

And although right now I can't see anybody with a sort of QAnon sticker or flag, what I have found -- and it's unfortunate -- that, as you begin talking with any -- many of these folks, that is, they begin echoing these lines from QAnon, these conspiracy theories that get bopped around in the right-wing media circles online, on Trump media networks, alternative networks.

Some folks that I have spoken to here today say they no longer watch FOX News because FOX News called the election for Biden. So that is sort of how far down a sort of rabbit hole of misinformation and mistruths that many of these people have gone down.

And we are moving now, that we're -- the police, as you can see there, are beginning with shields to gently and slowly try and move this line further away from the Capitol, and, as you can see, these Trump supporters taking baby steps. They're going nowhere in a hurry, even though we're now well beyond the 6:00 p.m. curfew, Wolf, and we're moving down a little bit from the line.

BLITZER: I just want you to be very, very careful over there, Donie, because this looks like potentially it could get even more ugly and dangerous in the coming minutes, as we see the police beginning to move in.

Are the police telling these rioters over there -- do they have a bullhorn? Are they saying, you must be off the streets, there is a curfew in effect, you will be arrested if you refuse to obey the law? Supposedly, these are individuals who claim they support law and order. Are they hearing these instructions from the police?

O'SULLIVAN: So, no, the police -- not at least from our position here, we haven't heard those sort of announcements come out from police.

But there has been a lot more movement in the buildup and after that 6:00 p.m. curfew hour. I spoke to some folks here asking them, did they care that they were breaking this curfew? And some folks asked me sort of sarcastically, oh, what time is it? Oh, should I get out of here?

People didn't seem too bothered by this. These, of course, the folks, many of these folks, some of them are actually holding, Wolf, pro- police flags and things like that, while they create disruption here in the Capitol for the police.

So, there is no end to the irony, which is very often the case when talking to a lot of these folks. The people here today, some of these folks who caused the destruction, who drove through these barricades, they told me earlier they view themselves as patriots. They view any person who views -- who lives in the real world and sees Joe Biden as president-elect of the United States, they view them as the traitors.

And so folks are so far down these rabbit holes of misinformation.

As we see, the police are now moving forward here just a bit again, Wolf. And folks -- as we have seen all along here, we haven't seen so much the demonstrators -- the Trump supporters pushing back on the police line, but just taking those baby steps, and, of course, past curfew here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. The president just moments ago in that tweet called them great patriots. Really, a sick, sick situation unfolding.

Alex Marquardt, where are you?

MARQUARDT: We're a little bit not too far away from Donie O'Sullivan and what he is seeing as well.

And what you're really getting a sense of right now, Wolf -- so we're 23 minutes after the curfew -- is a sense of significantly dwindled enthusiasm. These are not the fired-up Trump supporters, not the fired-up rioters who we saw protesting for much of the afternoon.

This is much more muted. They are now being pushed westwards away from the Capitol toward the Washington monument. The police line is encircling that group of protesters in their reflective vests with their helmets on, batons at the ready, pushing what is -- what has been an aggressive crowd, but not a violent crowd, at least for the past hour or so.

We're not necessarily seeing violent altercations taking place as the police push them back. In the time we have been back over here on this side of the Capitol, and certainly since the curfew has gone into place, we have not seen the police having to use things like pepper spray, tear gas, some of those pepper balls that we have seen in previous protests here in the nation's capital over the past year.

[18:25:06]

But you are very much seeing this large crowd -- and it still is a large crowd. No matter how much it has dwindled, there are still significant numbers out here of Trump supporters being pushed away from the Capitol.

I spoke to what appeared to be a senior police officer as they were asking us to move as well. He said the intention was very much to clear the area, to make the Capitol a safe area, after an incredible, surreal afternoon of violence.

We have been using that word over and over again, surreal, because it simply is. To watch Americans breaking into the Capitol Building, scaling the walls of Congress, has just been absolutely extraordinary to witness.

What you're looking at now, Wolf -- I'm going to ask my cameraman Ronnie (ph) to point over to the right. This long -- that line of police that we were talking about, they now have riot shields, tall plastic clear riot shields, that will help them in their efforts now to push back these protesters, these rioters.

As you know all too well, Wolf, things can change very quickly when darkness falls. It is now dark out here. There is now a curfew. I would imagine that many of these people out here know that there is a curfew, and are still resisting going home.

So, this is, if you will, a more hard-core element that has yet to melt away. But, given the sheer magnitude of law enforcement out here, I would imagine that they will be rather effective in getting these rioters to leave this area.

As we speak, Wolf, you can see them moving forward and pushing them away. And we're going to have to move out of the way very soon as well, Wolf. BLITZER: Yes, this curfew is -- has gone into effect, almost half-an-

hour, but those rioters, they have no intention, apparently, at least not now, of honoring the law and agreeing to leave.

You know, Manu Raju, this information that we just got that a woman who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol during the riots earlier today was now pronounced dead at a local D.C. hospital.

You're there. You're inside the Capitol. Give us the latest on what's going on.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you that senior law enforcement officials in the Capitol, along with some key officials who deal with how the Senate floor operates just had a meeting. And they walked into a meeting with a larger group of senators, presumably to brief them about what the plans are going to be tonight.

And I can tell you that leaders on both sides of the aisle are pushing to continue with what they tried to do when these rioters trespassed and broke into the Capitol, is to continue with the electoral vote certification process.

The goal is to get that done tonight. Also, the goal among Republicans in particular is to persuade those Republican objectors, the ones who have been dragging out this process that's inevitable that Joe Biden will be presidential, they have tried to urge those objectors to drop their plans to drag out the proceedings.

And right now, behind the scenes some of those key senators are meeting. That includes Senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Braun, among others. They are having a private meeting to discuss their strategy.

No word yet about whether they will continue to push ahead with their objections. But that's going to be a big question going forward.

Also, Wolf, outrage building among a lot of Republican senators and Democratic senators about what just transpired. A very, very strongly worded statement just came out from Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Utah Republican senator, saying that -- he said he was going to deliver this speech on the floor of the Senate today to say that they are gathering to deal with a selfish man's injured pride, that he has deliberately misinformed his supporters.

And he goes on to say that: "What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States. Those who continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy."

Very, very strong words from the Republican presidential nominee from nine years -- from 2012, nine years ago. And, Wolf, it just shows you the real -- the raw emotions that a lot

of members are feeling on both sides of the aisle, trying to appeal to some of these Republicans who have been objecting to drop their objections, move forward quickly, show some unity after what we have all witnessed here on Capitol Hill today, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, and the acting -- Manu, the acting attorney general of the United States, Jeffrey Rosen, just issued a statement saying: "The violence at our nation's Capitol Building is an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy."

[18:30:02]

The words continue to flow right now, Dana. But I don't know what's going to happen in the coming hours. Will these Republicans who want to try to block the democratically held election here in the United States, whether Steve Scalise or Kevin McCarthy or Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley, will they now recognize -- they were going to lose anyhow. Just get it over with and move on.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is the question we're waiting to know the answer to, Wolf. In the meantime, we are getting some dramatic pictures of what happened in the moments, the minutes when these rioters came to the outside of the House chamber.

And on the phone is Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado.

And, Congressman, we have a photo that's on CNN.com and we're going to put up right now that shows you reaching out on the floor of the House chamber, reaching out to Congresswoman Susan Wild, and you are -- there you go. And you are -- it looks like you're trying to comfort her.

Take us in that moment. What was going on?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO) (via telephone): Yeah. That was a very, very difficult time. I haven't been in a situation like that since frankly I was in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Ranger. We were actually trapped in the House chamber at that time. A mob had descended and broke through the security cordon of the Capitol.

They had already evacuated the leadership and the members who were on the floor. But those of us who were up in the gallery watching the debate had been trapped because the mob closed off the stairwells and had surrounded the chamber.

So, the police were unable to get us out. So they actually closed and locked the doors and started to take furniture and barricade the doors and the windows with furniture as the mob tried to ram them down and were breaking through the windows. The police had their guns out and were prepared to defend us on the floor.

We were told to lay down. My friend Susan, of course, a dear friend, I wanted to make sure we were comforting each other.

BASH: That's interesting. Now that I look at it, it makes sense. You were up sort of looking down on the House floor in the gallery.

You mentioned you were a U.S. Army Ranger. You did three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. You were an 82nd Airborne platoon leader. You were awarded the Bronze Star.

How did that experience play into the moment that we're seeing now and what you just described in the beacon of -- the home of democracy, the U.S. Capitol, as an elected member of Congress?

CROW: Well, when I was an Army Ranger, I was trained to fight. And I joined because I love America and I love our country and I've always wanted to defend her.

And I went abroad and served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to do that. I never thought that I'd have to be in a situation of having to fight, certainly as a member of Congress, at the United States Capitol on the House floor in the year 2021.

It's surreal, and to be honest with you I'm still processing that experience and coming to terms with it. But we have some very serious questions that we need the answers here in the days ahead about what this means and what we have to do to respond to it.

BASH: And as we were speaking Speaker Pelosi announced that the process is going to resume tonight. Do you know anything about what the plans are and how quickly that is going to begin?

CROW: Well, I think it's important that we do resume it tonight. It's my understanding that they are clearing or maybe they've already cleared the Capitol at this point. We have to go back as soon as we can and we need to complete this work, certify this election, and move our country forward.

We will not be intimidated and we will not be browbeaten. We will keep up doing our work. It's the people's work.

And the vast, vast maintain of Americans are good, decent hard-working people. Their voice will be heard. Their votes will be counted. And they will either be counted tonight or they'll be counted tomorrow. I believe we'll get this work done.

BASH: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you so much for calling in, and thank you for everything that you've done there.

And you're absolutely right, there are so many questions that I know you're asking, everybody's asking about how this happened, these pictures. That's one of them. Lots of other pictures of these rioters sitting at desks they should never be sitting at on the House floor, on the Senate floor. Thank you so much.

Jake, I know you have a lot of relationships with members of Congress who were in the military.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.

BASH: And they come to Congress as the next step in their service to this country and just a different form of service. And you don't expect that this would happen in the United States Capitol as an elected official, that they have to call on that service, on the battlefield, to help protect the people around them.

[18:35:01]

TAPPER: Yeah. And we talked earlier, we talked to Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both Republicans, both combat veterans from Iraq, and both of them talking about how they haven't seen any images like what we saw today since they were in Iraq. We also need to acknowledge, look, members of -- veterans run the gamut politically. And for every Crow and Gallagher and Kinzinger you also have a Crenshaw or a Mast, combat veterans who served honorably who are part of this big lie, who are objecting to a free and fair election.

So I wish I could say there was some sort of through line on all the combat veterans. But no, some of them are part of this monstrosity. People who have been fed lies by the president and his supporters.

And again, as we've talked about many times, I don't know if the president believes it or he doesn't understand what happened or there's some sort of psychological issue I'm not capable of diagnosing. But whatever it is, he keeps lying and you see the domestic terrorism that results, which is exactly what this is, domestic terrorism by Trump supporters.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And as all of this is happening, you're hearing almost parallel conversations unfolding in Washington and elsewhere among elected officials. You have Democrats talking openly about even at this late stage with 14 days left bringing articles of impeachment against this president, top Democrats, not, you know, lower-level rank-and-file members but people in senior leadership talking about that.

And you also have Republicans, several of them, now talking about whether the 25th amendment should be invoked.

The Vermont Governor Phil Scott just a few minutes ago tweeted that President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his cabinet or by Congress. He is a Republican, an anti-Trump Republican but a Republican nonetheless.

And that is a very significant statement. This is a president who only has days left but clearly people -- people in positions of power, in positions of government in this country are more alarmed now than they have been in the past.

And the reality is we very well could be facing the darkest 14 days of this presidency yet. We just have a few weeks left, but this is a president who's becoming increasingly desperate and you're hearing from his staffers. Mike Pompeo has tweeted condemning the violence. The national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, tweeting condemning the violence. Also tweeting in support of what Mike Pence did in carrying out parts of his duties today. It suggests people around the president, even the ones still working

for him, want to distance themselves from what he's doing today, which is inciting this violence, in this last tweet encouraging this violence, patting his supporters on the back for this violence.

So there's something happening here. What it will amount to is really unclear. And of course time is running short.

TAPPER: Yeah, I mean, those are all really excellent points.

And look, we have the former chief of staff of the department of education under Trump, Josh Venable, he posted on Facebook: If the cabinet is not right now preparing to invoke the provisions of the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office, it is a complete dereliction of their duty and a betrayal of their constitutional oath of office. But I won't hold my breath.

That is the former chief of staff to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He's sending a message to her: you need to be invoking the 25th Amendment.

BASH: He sure is.

TAPPER: And I posted that on Twitter and Barbara Comstock, former Republican congresswoman from northern Virginia, former Department of Justice official under George W. Bush, agreed. There is a real movement by conservatives -- we shouldn't overstate the case. Most of them are still pretty cowardly. To just acknowledge that like oh, my God, I don't know if the United States is going to be able to survive two more weeks of this guy.

BASH: I spoke to a very close ally of President Trump earlier today after he put out that video, and this ally called it a piece of you know what, a piece of shit, literally called it that, was so angry at that. Because he was completely and totally, you know, energizing, even though he was saying go home, he was continuing to energize and repeat all of the lies that led to this situation.

And this person said you know what? Maybe we can at least, at the very least, convince him to go to Joe Biden's inauguration. Maybe that can save him from being the worst president of the United States.

[18:40:03]

Don't hold your breath.

TAPPER: Well, I don't know. Historians will weigh in on that.

But we should point out the curfew in Washington, D.C. which was imposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., the curfew was imposed, it started at 6:00.

At 6:40, you still see lots of people in violation of the curfew.

Let's go out to Brian Todd, who is among them reporting. Journalists are exempted from this. But it really is, Brian, pretty remarkable. I don't see a lot of

action against people violating the curfew.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up, guys?

TODD: That's right, Jake. We're going to walk you down toward this crowd a little bit.

Eddie, let's go down a little -- okay. Some of these people are starting to harass us a little bit as we go down toward the crowd.

These are people who were pushed back, way back in the perimeter from the capitol toward the reflecting pool by some of the riot police. And you're right, a lot of these people probably are at risk of possibly being arrested at this point. And what you have over here to the left --

TAPPER: Brian. It sounds like you're -- it sounds like you're in a hairy situation there. So we're going to let you escape. People who believe in the -- people who believe in the First Amendment only for their point of view is always an interesting situation.

One of the -- Manu Raju is also reporting from the capitol for us -- Manu.

RAJU: Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, soon to be Senate majority leader, walking in to meeting with senators and other key staff. We asked him what is next here in the electoral vote certification? He said, 8:00. 8:00, meaning 8:00 Eastern, is when they expect the Senate to reconvene to begin to continue with the process that was interrupted by these rioters who trespassed at the Capitol, to continue with the electoral vote certification process. Schumer said 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

So, he walked into his meeting, didn't answer any other questions. We'll see if we get any more clarity coming out, especially if some of these objectors on the Republican side still plan to drag out the proceedings. We know there's a lot of pressure put on them to drop their effort. Uncertain if that's going to be the case.

But at the moment, House and Senate leaders plan to move ahead. Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to all house members saying they planned to move forward tonight. More details about to come out on that as well. So expect this to reconvene tonight.

It could be a long night. Maybe it will be a short night and a show of unity. But nevertheless, at least by 8:00, Jake, we should expect these proceedings to continue.

TAPPER: Al right, Manu Raju.

And we should note, President Trump has not had one word of criticism, not one word, for any of the activities by these Trump supporting domestic terrorists who stormed the capitol today. Not even for the individual who left the pipe bomb outside the Republican National Committee headquarters.

Kaitlan Collins covers the Trump White House for us.

And, Kaitlan, what is going on inside that building? I know there's a lot of ride or die folks there. But even they must be shocked and dispirited at what they're seeing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think they are. And I think the president is feeling very isolated right now. Because he has been hearing all day from staffers who said he needed to put out a more forceful statement. Of course, the president then put out that video and then later tweeted defending what we saw happening on Capitol Hill today.

His national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, who is incredibly closely allied with the president and typically is a pretty fierce defender of his, is tweeting that he is in agreement with the vice president and the actions he took today, saying it took courage to do that. Of course as the president has been criticizing him and complaining about him all afternoon and focusing more on what Pence did than what has been happening with his supporters on Capitol Hill.

And right now, the president is still in the West Wing, we are told. And, Jake, I'm learning that the president does not want his Republican allies to drop their efforts to challenge Biden's win, to object to his win. What we're expecting to play out for several hours on the Senate floor today before, of course, the pro-Trump mob breached the building.

And the president does not want them to stop. There's been some discussion, our colleagues reported, among Republican senators about abandoning those efforts but I am told the president wants them to keep fighting, he wants them to keep going and does not want them to drop those efforts even though despite what the president did earlier today, holding that rally, of course resulted in what we saw this afternoon on Capitol Hill.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

Again, President Trump has spent so much of his presidency accusing his critics of what he is, of what he has done. And I would just like to remember -- remind our viewers that President Trump for years has referred to journalists as the enemy of the American people. Ask yourself who's the enemy of the American people right now.

[18:45:02]

It pretty clearly seems to be President Trump, who's encouraging a mob, an insurrection to storm the Capitol, threatening Democrats and Republicans alike. Somebody left a pipe bomb outside the Republican National Committee headquarters today. President Trump has not had one discouraging word to say about any of this.

And in many ways we should not be surprised. This is somebody who had a supporter, Cesar Sayoc, who mailed pipe bombs to Democrats and media organizations. This is somebody who both sides in terms of the white supremacist march in Charlottesville.

Jim Acosta also covers the Trump administration, the Trump White House for us.

And, Jim, I think there are a lot of calls right now from Republicans including a former Republican congresswoman, for the cabinet to meet and invoke the 25th Amendment.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Jake. And I think that talk is only going to continue. The head of the National Association of Manufacturers has also put out a statement suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence somehow put together an effort to remove the president from office using the 25th Amendment.

I will tell you, Jake, I talked to a source, a GOP source close to the president who speaks with him regularly and I take no pleasure in reporting this, but this source tells me that he believes the front president is out of his mind. The quote used by this source is he is out of his mind.

And the source says the president is so traumatized by his loss in the election, it is all he can talk about, it is all he can think about, it's all consuming for him in this source's opinion, he is out of his mind.

Now, I talked to a separate source close to the White House, an adviser to the president. When I asked this adviser about the prospect of invoking the 25th Amendment and forcing the president from power with his cabinet coming together and saying he's no longer fit to be president of the United States, this adviser said because the president has installed so many lackeys on that cabinet.

Of course, the president always has loyalists on his cabinet but there are lackeys on his cabinet, including acting secretaries who have been installed recently, that it's just unlikely the probability of that happening is just not going to happen. And in the words of this adviser, I just don't think the cabinet is going to invoke the 25th Amendment.

But it is interesting, Jake, and according to this adviser, aides and allies of the president have been having these kinds of conversations about whether or not the 25th Amendment's time has come when it comes to Donald Trump.

But you don't want to get into that kind of conversation when talking about the president of the United States. You don't take pleasure in that as a reporter, using that kind of language. But when a source close to the president, and this is a source who has known the president a long time, talks to him a lot, says he's out of his mind, I think that is serious, Jake.

TAPPER: Well, and beyond that assessment is the fact that the president is inspiring his supporters to commit acts of domestic terrorism against the U.S. Capitol, against Republicans and Democrats alike. And, of course, this is not just shameful behavior by President Trump. It is a shame in front of the world. It is an embarrassment in front of the world.

And let's go to Clarissa Ward right now, who is in London.

Clarissa, what is the reaction from world leaders to this?

Let's start with American allies. What are they saying?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's a mixture of shock, disbelief, horror.

We are hearing very strong words coming from world Boris Johnson, the prime minister here in the United Kingdom. He said disgraceful scenes in the U.S. Congress, the United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.

That sentiment also echoed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who said, Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbors. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the U.S. must be withheld and it will be.

And we're definitely seeing as well, Jake, the gloves are coming off. If any one of the U.S.'s allies had tried to adhere to diplomatic norms, had tried to avoid calling President Trump out by name and laying this blame at his feet, we're now seeing a change in that. You're seeing the Irish foreign minister saying, a deliberate assault on democracy by a sitting president and his supporters. The world is watching, Jake.

TAPPER: And, of course, it's not just our allies that are watching. It's our enemies as well. Countries that do not stand for democracy, do not stand for human rights, do not stand for the freedoms that America tries to serve as the shining city on a hill, as Ronald Reagan once said.

What are they saying about this, those who wish United States ill?

WARD: Well, it's interesting.

[18:50:00]

Quite a few of them are remaining circumspect at this stage. Presumably, they don't want to be seen as gloating.

But what I found very interesting, Turkey, which is not necessarily an enemy of the U.S., or anything like that, there have certainly been strong disagreements particularly in recent years with President Erdogan, they released a statement saying: We invite all parties in the U.S. to temperance and commonsense. We believe that the U.S. will overcome this domestic political crisis in maturity. We recommend our citizens in the U.S. stay away from crowded places.

Jake, this is exactly the kind of language that we are used to reading in a U.S. press release, to American citizens who might be in a city in the Middle East during a crisis and riot of this nature. It is astonishing to see this sort of language being used by a country like Turkey, warning its citizens of dangers of walking around the United States Capitol.

TAPPER: All right. Clarissa Ward in London, thank you so much.

That is so discouraging to hear, but it is not unexpected. We have been talking about this for weeks. How can the United States, and look, the United States doesn't always live up to the standards we hold for ourselves or impose upon the world, but how can the United States issue a statement about an election in Belarus or an election in Venezuela when the United States is experiencing this right now because of President Trump and his enablers?

PHILLIP: I mean, look, the United States is not as you said always right about everything or always doing the right thing in accordance with our values. That's clearly not the case.

But in this particular case, when it comes to the fundamentals of democracy from beginning to end, this has been an embarrassing chapter in American history, from the point at which President Trump even before the votes were counted was calling for the count to stop because he didn't want additional votes to be counted that might come in for Joe Biden, to the point where he continued to talk about fraudulent votes that he just claimed were fraudulent because they weren't for him.

These are all things that in another country would be signs of, you know, a democracy that was not strong, that was failing and that was back sliding. And here we are now with our capitol building having been vandalized by violent mobs. That's something we have not seen, we have not seen that in this country in a very, very long time. We've never seen American citizens charging our capitol and barging in and putting lawmakers in a lockdown.

I think the significance of that is obviously going to be historic but it's going to have lasting impacts on the United States and our ability as a nation to export democracy around the world, which is a key pillar of foreign policy.

TAPPER: A horrible day for America, a horrible day because the president of the United States is not able to acknowledge reality and because he has inspired his followers to commit an act, many acts of domestic terrorism -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jake, we're almost an hour into the curfew in the nation's Capitol in D.C. But there's plenty of folks are still out there, ignoring the law and curfew.

Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill.

An hour from now or so, Phil, I take it leadership of the House and Senate are going to convene again to try to deal with certification of what the electoral college has already decided, that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's exactly right, Wolf, in the Senate making clear 8:00 p.m. start time. Speaker Nancy Pelosi putting out a letter to all members of the U.S. House, making clear she's spoken to the Pentagon, to the Justice Department, and to Vice President Pence's team, and they're going to restart and the plan according to multiple people involved is to finish. There will not be any stopping. The question is, how long will it actually go?

And Manu and Dana reporting a lot of this as well, what I've been hearing from Republicans there's been pressure and effort to get those Republicans that plan to object to stop, not do it any more, to take what they've seen in the last six, seven, eight hours, accept the reality of what's happening, reverse course, and certify that Joe Biden is the next president of the United States. We haven't heard from the Senate objectors. A group of them have been meeting behind closed doors.

What they're going to decide is still open question. We are seeing some movement. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, a Washington Republican who told her hometown paper yesterday that she planned to object to several states has now changed her mind. She changed her mind based according to her statement on Facebook what she saw today. She will now vote to confirm that Joe Biden, to certify Joe Biden's electoral count.

[18:55:04]

And she also called on Donald Trump to condemn what occurred the last several days.

This is the thing we have been trying to figure out, Wolf, you and I spoke about it earlier, what kind of effect, tangible effect will this have on proceedings we know were going to restart tonight.

Every lawmaker we spoke to said absolutely, we're getting back to it as soon as we can. We now know the time of that. We now know both chambers are going to do it.

The big question is are the Republicans that are going to object, they knew they would object to at least three states, do they still plan on doing that, are they going to try to make this quick.

And I can tell you right now, from talking to Republicans, while they're not on the side of the objectors, they are pushing the objectors, see what deal can be made to end it as quickly as possible. As one Republican aide told me, this is for the good of the country at this point. What we've all seen is horrifying -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because everybody knows what the end result was going to be, whether it was in a one hour discussion or a 12-hour discussion, they didn't have votes to block what the Electoral College has already certified. They were going to lose. So, why bother, especially at a dangerous moment like this. That's the argument.

I assume a lot of Republicans who originally wanted to object will come around, say let's get it over with.

MATTINGLY: That's exactly right. Look, I think if there was any level to understanding what was going to happen today in terms of objections, it was that you have 12 to 15 hours, you get your forum, you get your five minutes to make your case, you get your publicity, you represent what you said the constituents wanted you to represent.

And it will take awhile. It will be a long night, going to need a lot of coffee, we'd get through it. And reality would remain the same.

Now after what everybody has seen, lawmakers had to go to undisclosed locations, lawmakers on the floor as capitol police were pulling guns to keep people banging on doors from breaking in, there was significant pressure and significant move to get people to say look, we get it. We understood what the objections were, you spent the last seven days laying it out.

This is different now. It is time to change course. I will make clear, we don't know anybody is changing course. Keep in mind when this all happened, when two chambers were shutdown and lawmakers were evacuated from House and Senate floors, we were in the middle of the objection to Arizona. We have to see how it plays out, what the plan is.

The key thing we're waiting for now is not when it's going to start. We know it starts at 8:00. It's not what leaders are going to do. We know they're pushing forward until it is done. It's what are the objectors, specifically, the senators are going to do in the wake of everything we've seen in the last seven or eight hours.

BLITZER: But don't these senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, they're both very intelligent. They have a lot of experience. Don't they understand what they're doing and words they're uttering, they are simply encouraging these terrorists, these rioters go out, storm the streets of the nation's capitol, and do more of what we saw today.

In effect, they're telling them it is great, go ahead and do that. Don't they know how dangerous their words can be?

MATTINGLY: You know, I can't speak for where the senators are, they put out tweets and statements condemning violence and what we've seen today. I think the one thing that today rips the veil off of is senators who were involved in the objection process, wanted to be objectors that said this has nothing to do with overturning an election, this has nothing to do with what the president is saying, ignore what the president is saying. We're doing this just to raise the issue, just to have the conversation, just like Democrats may have done in the past.

I think it was specious to begin with, without question, given the fact the president was calling to overturn the election, but now in the wake of what we've seen in the course of the last several hours, it is particularly specious. So, I think everybody is cognizant of that.

But I don't have the answers in terms of what they'll do. They were serious about the challenges. They laid out the plan and strategy, how they were going to layout what their thoughts were on the process during the allotted five minutes. How they change course, if they change course now, still waiting for answers. BLITZER: I want to go to John King.

John, it would be different if there was a chance they might succeed these -- you know, Ted Cruzes and Josh Hawleys, they have no chance of succeeding. Get it over with and move on.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They no chance of conceding, Wolf, because the president lost the election convincingly. Lost the election convincingly.

They challenged the results in court after court after court, and presented zero evidence. It is over, which makes this a moment of choosing for these Republicans. The president of the United States today again failed the leadership test, again, embarrassed the United States on the world stage and lied to his own supporters. To me, that's the more reprehensible leadership failure, lying to your supporters saying, we won -- we won in a landslide, keep at the fight, I love what you did at the United States Capitol.

It was an insurrection. It was domestic terrorism, it was violence, it was illegal, and the president of the United States said he loved it.

So, now, what does Senator Cruz do? What does Senator Hawley do? What do these House Republicans do? What's more important, the country and Constitution or Donald Trump and his ego and your fear of his voters in the next election? Moment of choosing.

BLITZER: The president's behavior underscored why he lost this presidential election, why he is now a loser.

Our special coverage continues right now with Erin Burnett.