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FBI Requests Public Tips; Interview with Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ); President-elect Biden to Nominate Merrick Garland as Attorney General. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 7, 2021 - 10:30   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Federal law enforcement agencies, now pushing for arrests and charges after Wednesday's riot at the U.S. Capitol. This, as lawmakers call for investigations into the chaotic federal response.

The scene of lawlessness, beginning with mobs breaking through police barricades and storming the halls of Congress with very little resistance.

Rioters vandalizing offices, prompting evacuation of lawmakers as the joint session of Congress met to certify Joe Biden as the next president. A Capitol Police officer saying, quote, "Everything went wrong" because these terrorists broke through windows, overwhelmed law enforcement officials. Four people died, several police officers were injured.

CNN's Evan Perez joins us now from the Justice Department. So the FBI, now asking the public for help identifying those who instigated the violence at the U.S. Capitol. What more are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. Look, there was a lot of embarrassment about what happened yesterday. It's clear that there was a failure at the Capitol, the fact that they were not prepared for this onslaught.

But today, we know that the FBI is asking for tips from the public. They want people to report any information they have about some of the people that you see on those images that we've been showing.

The FBI spent the night -- the overnight hours getting video from the Capitol complex, from surveillance cameras in the buildings as well as the buildings that are around there, and they're trying to match them up to some of the images that are already on social media.


Some of these people posted on social media with their intentions of what they wanted to do, so that's going to be helpful to prosecutors who are planning to bring charges. We're expecting as many as 15 cases, charges against people in the coming days related to some of the people who led the insurrection into the building there.

We also know that there are dozens more that are going to be charged with the municipal courts as well, Anderson.

One of the big questions obviously is what happened here, and so we're expecting to hear in the next couple -- in the next few weeks, we're going to hear hearings, we're going to see people being questioned as to whether or not there was proper preparation from the Capitol Police and coordination from people here at the Justice Department.

COOPER: I mean, if they're looking for insurrection leaders, I mean, I guess they're not talking about -- and maybe should be talking about Rudy Giuliani, who, that morning, told this crowd, you know, to wage trial by combat. You know, Donald Trump Jr., who addressed this crowd, revving them up --

PEREZ: Right.

COOPER: -- going -- you know, talking about going after senators. I mean, you know, it seems, yes, there's people who were on the ground leading this, but there's also a lot of other people who were egging these people on.


COOPER: What about the bombs that were found yesterday across Washington?

PEREZ: Yes, that's -- you know, that's one of the major cases that they're working right now, I'm told by the prosecutors are preparing charges against one many who was found with a vehicle, with a rifle as well as as many as 10 Molotov cocktails. We're expecting to hear more about that today.

Obviously, that's one of the scarier, one of the more serious cases that happened yesterday, because those were real bombs. They had to be detonated by the bomb squads, and people could have -- more people could have been harmed, more people could have died as a result of that.

As far as your other question, I think you raise a very good point, which is, you know, despite the fact that this is a police failure at the scene yesterday, there's also a political failure because you know that there are members of Congress, including Louie Gohmert, people like Andy Harris who represents a district just across the bay here from Washington, who were encouraging some of this behavior, they were encouraging some of this conduct.

And so I think the bigger question for the FBI is what to do about that. It's not really clear that you can do anything about the political speech by the political leaders.

COOPER: Yes, Louie Gohmert. Evan Perez, appreciate it, thanks.

PEREZ: Sure.


COOPER: Terrifying hours for lawmakers as Capitol Hill was placed on lockdown following deadly insurrection. A Democratic lawmaker who was there joins us next.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Twelve hours of chaos, violence, insurrection a mob storming and desecrating the hallowed halls of the Capitol in Washington, leaving lawmakers to take cover, fearful their lives were in danger. And by the way, had there been sort of mass weapons in there that were used, you could have seen slaughter. I mean, that's the reality here because it was undefended.

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey who was barricaded on lockdown for hours inside the Capitol yesterday. So, Congressman, you know, first let me start with this. You know, we're just starting to see more videos coming in from offices of some of your colleagues, of the destruction of congressional offices this morning, things stolen, you know, what was left behind.

Tell me what happened to you during the attack, what you saw. What happened?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): Sure, thank you. I was in the House Chamber when we were forced to evacuate. I guess our first sign was seeing the speaker of the House, the majority leader, taken out by their security details. Shortly thereafter, we could hear banging on one of the doors, police frantically urging one another to barricade the doors.

We were asked to take out our gas masks, which are found under the seats in the House of Representatives, there was a wailing siren made by each of these gas masks, which contributed to an atmosphere I have not seen in this House in my time here.

And then our wonderful House chaplain, as we were being escorted out, comes to the microphone and starts making a prayer to Almighty God, which also, I thought, was a lovely thing to do and yet also contributed to the sense that we were on a ship that was rapidly going down.

We were safe, of course, we were taken to a safer location, there were staff in the Capitol who I've spoken to who literally had to barricade doors with furniture, who hid in darkened offices under tables as these terrorists were banging on the doors.

This was an incredibly difficult situation for a lot of people. And, look, I'm proud that despite all of this, we did our job last night --


MALINOWSKI: -- we were not intimidated. But I do not think it is enough, I do not think we can simply say we certified the election and we can go home.

BURNETT: So let me ask you about this, because, you know, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who obviously you know, you know, was -- testified during the impeachment. He was on earlier, and said, you know, so many countries saw this and they didn't actually just see that the United States was like other countries in terms of something like this happening, that was shameful and embarrassing, they saw that.


But he was emphasizing that what they really saw was the after part, right? Was that Congress came back last night and you all did your job. And he's raising the same point that you're raising, which is that isn't enough.

The question is, though, then what is, Congressman? I mean, I know you're calling for impeachment. Do you have concrete Republican support for this, is this anything that could actually happen?

MALINOWSKI: Well, let's back up for a moment. Right now, the executive branch of the United States is in complete disarray, it is led by a man who is borderline deranged, who is responsible for having incited a violent attack against the United States Congress, to stop us from doing our jobs.

The most important thing right now is for the legislative branch, for Congress to remain in session. I think it was a mistake for our leadership to send us home last night. Although people are frazzled and tired, we need to be in these buildings, we need to be working.

Absolutely, we should be considering everything from impeachment to censure to Congress doing its part to invoke the 25th Amendment, which the Constitution allows us to do. We need to be reckoning with the role of law enforcement in our country, in dealing with white nationalist, far-right extremism and terrorism. We have been lackadaisical about that. There's legislation we could come back here on Monday and pass.

There are a whole host of things that we can be doing and we should be doing because they are right, and because we want to show the American people this institution is functioning even as the president is degenerating into whatever he may be right now.

BURNETT: Well certainly he wasn't running, hasn't been for quite some time. But yesterday, obviously, even -- I'm just talking on a very practical, logistical basis -- Mike Pence was running the country, right? In terms of the National Guard and those things.

But I understand you want impeachment, I understand your point about the 25th Amendment. Do you think censure would be enough? If that's all you could get, would that send the statement to the world, to the president? Do you think censure is a reasonable outcome here or you actually believe you've got the support to go further?

MALINOWSKI: You know, it has to be tested. I spoke to several of my Republican colleagues yesterday -- I'm not going to speak for them, that wouldn't be fair to them -- but there are significant members of the Republican Party who not only had the integrity to vote against this charade yesterday, but I think would be ready to support action against the president of the United States.

I don't know how far we could go, whether it's censure, impeachment or the 25th Amendment, I just know we need to be here, working on that.

Right now, the legislative branch is the only branch of our government that can govern, that is led by sane and competent people. We need to be doing our jobs.

BURNETT: All right, Congressman Malinowski, I appreciate your time and thank you very much.

MALINOWSKI: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: Nice to see them back, you know, from their main (ph) cameras there, all these things signal a return to American power being run the way it should be running.


The insurrection, of course, did fail. President-elect Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, right in front of that Capitol that was sieged yesterday. Ahead, Biden's response to the siege and more of his transition moves, because we're learning more just this morning.


COOPER: Well, despite an attempted coup, a deadly insurrection and a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, Congress has officially certified Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. The news came just hours after Biden condemned his predecessor for inciting the chaos that unfolded. Our Jessica Dean is in Wilmington.

Jessica, have we heard from the Biden team this morning?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We have not heard from the president-elect this morning, Anderson, but we are expecting to see him later this afternoon, when he introduces Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general. And it remains to be seen if he will talk more about what happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday.

He did give remarks on this yesterday afternoon, which you saw right here on CNN. The president-elect was originally supposed to be talking about COVID-19, the economy, and changed course to be able to address the violence that was unfolding at that moment in Washington, D.C., calling it an unprecedented assault on our democracy, saying this is not who we are as Americans or America. Here's more of what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


DEAN: And, Anderson, it is worth nothing that yesterday, as this was unfolding, the president-elect came out and offered some words of comfort to Americans, condemned the violence and also called on President-elect (sic) Trump to step up.

Over the last four years, when there have been moments where people wanted President Trump to condemn violence, he hasn't been quick to do that, if at all. And so this was quite a departure from what we've seen from the president, who's currently in the Oval Office, to the one who's going to be going into the Oval Office -- Anderson.


COOPER: Yes, a departure from the current president, also a return to what presidents in the past would normally do.

DEAN: Right.

COOPER: Buried yesterday, as you mentioned, in all that went on yesterday, was Biden's announcement of who he chose to nominate as attorney general.

DEAN: Right, and that was supposed to be the big news yesterday, but it did get somewhat buried. He has chosen Merrick Garland, Judge Merrick Garland, to be his nominee as attorney general. Of course that was President Obama's Supreme Court choice, he never made it through that process because he wasn't allowed a vote.

And so he has been sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals. There was concern that if he vacated that to become attorney general, would Democrats be able to fill that slot if they didn't have a majority in the Senate. Well, we now know that they will. Biden, Anderson, had originally said he would not be waiting around to make this decision until after the Senate races, but that is of course what indeed did happen.

We will hear from Biden and Merrick Garland later today.

COOPER: Jessica Dean, appreciate it, thanks very much.

We have much more on the breaking news of the deadly insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol, next. Stay with us.