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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Congress Certifies Joe Biden's Win After Capitol Attack; Trump Says There Will Be an Orderly Transition on January 20th; Pro-Trump Mob Invades U.S. Capitol in Act of Domestic Terror. Aired 4:30-5a ET
Aired January 7, 2021 - 04:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump suddenly CLAIMING this morning literally about 35 minutes ago that there will be an orderly transition. This on the day that he fomented an insurrection at the citadel of our democracy, the U.S. capitol.
Think about that. Think about what that takes. Think about what that says about this man. Four people died today, the woman that has been seen in this video all over the place, her life ended. Somebody shooting her. A veteran. Why did this have to happen? Only he can answer that because he is at the core of it.
And remember, he said that this would be peaceful after throwing his own vice president under the bus today. He said it after three members of his staff just resigned tonight. I want to bring in CNN election law analyst Franita Tolson, national security and legal analyst, Susan Hennessey, and former U.S. attorney Harry Litman. Good to see each and all.
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thank you.
CUOMO: Let's talk about this. Hennessy, I'll start with you, the idea of what was wrought today by these people entering the U.S. Capitol, federal felonies all other the place for the people who trespassed with intent to commit crimes as they did so. But in terms of who is to be blamed if this is to be seditious conspiracy, where do you see that going if anywhere?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so it's a question of who might be sort of prosecuted for this. So obviously first and foremost, the responsibility lies with the president of the United States, President Trump actively incited this behavior. You know, and really, we should place the blame directly at his feet.
That said, whenever we're thinking about criminal liability, prosecutors will be thinking about how to identify sort of the organizers of this. Now, ordinarily over the past four years people have thrown around terms like treason or sedition, and it doesn't actually fit within the technical legal definition. This is one of these rare moments which actually this does fit the textbook legal definition of a seditious conspiracy.
Now that doesn't mean that that's what we're going to see prosecutions for. I mean it's more likely that we'll see prosecution for things like trespassing, looting, assault, ordinary crimes, and we might see more limited numbers of prosecutions because one of the really astonishing failures yesterday was the lack of arrests, and it's going to be very, very difficult for law enforcement to now identify proactively, all of these individuals that they have allowed to leave.
And that said, one of the features of what happened yesterday, is that it was organized on the internet, and so there is sort of a paper trail. There's a record of people communicating. Communicating about their intention, live stream creating actual documentation of themselves, committing crimes, explaining sort of their mental state and the reason for committing these crimes. And so I do think it's possible, and even likely, for some of the ring leaders of these efforts and some of the individuals who were participating in sort of the most egregious and serious acts of violence, we will see things like a prosecution for seditious conspiracy.
CUOMO: Franita, I want to come to you about what supports and doesn't support what we saw among all of these Republicans saying I today to the objections. I'm going to get to that in one second.
But I just want to button this up with the idea of, counselor Litman, the idea that the consequence for Trump maybe is impeachment or maybe is a censure or maybe is the 25th amendment. I dismiss all of these things because it seems like, one, it's going to give the American people another introduction to a process that's ends in a dissatisfying way, especially the 25th amendment. And it will look like he beat you again, and it kind of doesn't get you anywhere. What am I missing about these calls that they're talking about the 25th amendment or whether to impeach him?
LITMAN: What you're missing is exigency of having him removed from political office and all of political society going forward. The 25th amendment, I agree with you, and I agree with Susan, will be a nonstarter. Impeachment, I think there will be pressure on Pelosi to do, and then 17 Republicans will be in a pressured situation.
But I want to go back to seditious conspiracy. It's not just likely. It's certain that all the ring leaders who did go in and film themselves undertaking crimes, some of them with explosive devices will, without a doubt, face serious repercussions. But from there, you go right up the ladder to Trump. And were he to be indicted for seditious conspiracy, that would also, or even just straight out insurrection, that would also disable him going forward.
It would have been farfetched before today, I among others thought the Department of Justice would be moving on. But this was an insurrection against the cradle, the physical cradle of the democracy, the capitol and the ideological cradle of the democracy, the peaceful transition of power. I don't see how the department just cavalierly lets that go without an investigation.
CUOMO: So Franita, we heard from representative Gohmert, Republican, big "Retrumplican," you know, big Trumper, said today what seemed to be the motherload of BS about reasons to object to Pennsylvania specifically or Wisconsin or any of the states. He was citing that we know that 10,000 votes were changed. That we know that a illegally they created voting opportunities that shouldn't have happened. That we know that no court would hear any of the merits on any of these matters. Is any of that true?
FRANITA TOLSON, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: It's not. Right? We know that sunshine is the best disinfectant, and we have that. A lot of claims just have no merit, no basis in anything. But even more importantly, let me chime in on the need for some sort of sanction for the president here. And Chris, your point is well taken about maybe it will come to nothing, but I think given the events of today, we really do have to make a decision as a country, right, we can't let things like this go unnoticed. We can't just turn the page, right.
Because what's striking to me is the fact that two days ago millions of Georgians turned out to cast ballots in a special election which historically, special elections have very low turnout. Because they were trying to use their ballots in order to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. They wanted to change things.
And not 24 hours later, we had terrorists storm the capitol in order to change things through violence. And so in some ways we have to change a decision about who we are as a country. Because I think that duality is very American. Right? We love to say this is not who are. But the reality is we are both of those things. And every time something like this happens, we have to make a choice.
Post reconstruction, we had legal governments all across the South that people were pushed out of office through violence, and fraud. And so in some ways, the 25th amendment or impeachment proceeding will basically say who we are as Americans and determine whether we are patriots like the people in Georgia or if we treasonous like the people who showed up at the capital today.
CUOMO: We have to make a decision about what part of ourselves we want to emphasize going forward. We are exactly what and who we saw today. We are exactly also what and who we saw tonight. The resilience to come back after an insurrection and go right back to the same place, do your duty, even though it was stained by a lot of perfidy, by people with their votes tonight. But they got the job done. We are both things. Which do we want to emphasize? That's the question going forward.
One thing we know for sure right now, you three guys are amazing at 4:38 in the morning Eastern time. Thanks to each and all, God bless for the new year. Our live breaking news coverage of the Congressional confirmation of our next president, Joe Biden, continues.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: As we see Congress this morning finally affirms the Biden victory, we cannot forget about those images of the riot. But there are some that you may not have seen. OK. A British reporter on the ground with the mob as it storms inside. This is how our country, our democracy, is being viewed around the world. Watch what ITVs Robert Moore captured.
CROWD CHANTING: USA, USA, USA, USA, USA, USA.
ROBERT MOORE, ITV NEWS WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For four years we have witnessed turmoil in America, but nothing quite like this. The pro Trump crowd fought with the police. Trying to breakthrough their lines, intoxicated by the unlikely prospect of reversing America's election outcome.
We watched as a standoff continued for at least an hour. Tear gas canisters were fired from the very stage on which Joe Biden will be inaugurated. But the Capitol Hill police officers, this was a losing battle.
MOORE: This is exactly what was feared, but in no way is this a surprise. It has been fueled by the president's rhetoric. And it's increasingly clear this election has not healed the wounds. It has simply amplified them.
MOORE (voice-over): We follow the aggrieved and infuriated Trump supporters as they storm the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I swear that's CNN and they just said we can't --
MOORE (voice-over): Through broken windows and doors they had forced open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, we're home, we're home.
MOORE (voice-over): And for a few heavy moments, they felt they had won their precious victory.
CROWD CHANTING: USA, USA, USA, USA, USA, USA.
Stop the steal, stop the steal, stop the steal, stop the steal.
MOORE (voice-over): They were now in the very heart of the Congressional building.
MOORE: What's the purpose of storming Congress itself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they work for us. They don't get to steal it from us. They don't get to tell us we didn't see what we saw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We respect the law. We are good people. The government did this to us. We were normal, good, law-abiding citizens, and you guys did this to us.
We want our country back. We are protesting for our freedom right now. That's the difference. MOORE: What's the purpose of storming Congress?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do I know that?
MOORE (voice-over): They reached and entered the speaker's office itself. Although Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers had already been evacuated to safety. As we filmed, protesters tore down Pelosi's name plate.
MOORE: And so here we are right now inside the halls of Congress. This is exactly what so many anticipated and yet the Capitol Hill police are doing their best but failing to control the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all know they changed the rules mid game, and they're not being held accountable and that's a shame.
MOORE: What's your message to the Capitol Hill police and to lawmakers here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our country, and this is our house. That's it. This is our house. This is our country. This is our country.
LEMON: Do you really want me to react?
CUOMO: Yes, I do.
LEMON: The first word is ass, and I won't say that --
CUOMO: That's enough. That's enough.
LEMON: Dumb, stupid, marks, terrorists, seditionists, un-American.
LEMON: Racist. Backwoods. You want me to go on?
CUOMO: No, that's enough.
CUOMO: My initial reaction was --
CUOMO: Are you done? No, I can guess they're entitled.
LEMON: I'm ready. We have 14 minutes.
Angela said it right, you are going into a house that slaves built, and you're going to say this is my house, you work for me. Who told you that? Who told you that bull crap? CUOMO: I have no problem with people seeing our government as an
extension of service to them, and the men and women who we give power to in elections do work for us. However, it's about how you respect that relationship and obviously, they're committing felonies they're on the wrong side of this.
But first was good for ITV, brave reporting, dangerous because they see you as a problem. But it is so embarrassing to be connected, be a member of a country that looks like a banana Republic. I haven't seen scenes like that since we -- you know when they invaded Saddam's castle. That guy was talking like he could have been in some third world country.
LEMON: You know what that looks like, America under Trump.
CUOMO: That's what it is.
LEMON: That's what it is.
CUOMO: This was inevitable and that's going to be the problem for people and the challenge for all of us is you can't let this end. You have to hold people to account for how we got here, or we will not get to a better place. So.
LEMON: Those are the people that you want to somehow work with that type of mentality.
CUOMO: I believe that the future of this country is only found in harnessing its diversity and identifying common cause. If you don't do that you're going to be splintered.
LEMON: I have no common cause with those people, none.
CUOMO: That is one little slice of people in this country.
No, it's not. Every time we say that Chris, we have to stop it. It's not one little slice, Charlottesville, that's one little slice.
CUOMO: No, no, no.
LEMON: This, that's one little slice.
CUOMO: Charlottesville is about white hate. That's what that is. That was prejudice on display.
LEMON: What was that?
CUOMO: I think that that is that element of that, but that is not all of what you have in this country and it's not all of people who identify with this president. Look, look at Alice on the panel, she's not one of those people.
LEMON: Yes, but listen, this is not about Alice. It may not be all of what there is, but you're condoning that behavior.
CUOMO: Absolutely not. LEMON: So does that --
CUOMO: I say they're felons.
LEMON: And so does that --
CUOMO: I say they're felons.
LEMON: No, no, no. But if you are a supporter of this president, then you are condoning that behavior. So does that make you no better than that element.
CUOMO: I totally understand the argument.
CUOMO: Because you are saying it is OK because we support -- if you support Donald Trump you are supporting the same person who the K.K.K. votes for.
CUOMO: Yes. True. But as we say every time, and it's good because repetition has value. I don't believe that a lot of Trump voters see themselves that way, and you say too bad, I get it. But politics is persuasion, and you're going to have to find a way. this obstacle, which is they don't see themselves like that. We have to go to break. We're being yelled at 4:49 in the morning.
LEMON: We've got to get to break at 4:49.
CUOMO: So let's get to break. Time is precious.
LEMON: Wolf Blitzer does that happen to you, did you have to get the break in this afternoon? I don't think so.
CUOMO: Wolf Blitzer gets all of his breaks in, of course he does, he's the team captain, we love him. Thirteen days until the transition of power, we hope.
Donald Trump, to the extent that you trust his words, says it will be orderly. But he said this whole process would be. There was an insurrection today. We'll be right back with our political analysis A- team.
CUOMO: John Avlon, please come in and help us understand what happens when the sun comes up on the nation's capital today.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's going to be a reckoning. There needs to be accountability. Those thugs who stormed the capitol, those right wing rioters who stormed into the citadel of democracy need to be held to account. I think there's a lot of questions not only about how they were able to overwhelm the Capitol Hill police, but where was the National Guard, and why were they just released this way, sort of the Kyle Rittenhouse in terms of the treatment day got. That there needs to be accountability for. There needs to be arrests that's separate and above the questions of
political accountability for the president or the people who voted to try to deny the reality of Joe Biden's election even after the capitol was stormed. But there's a lot of accountability to occur. And a lot of, I think, soul searching we have to do as a nation because this happened on our watch. It did not come out of the blue. The fires were stoked by the president, but we need to confront the factors that led to this horrific moment in our history.
CUOMO: Are you impressed by the statement Trump put out?
AVLON: No, not at all. First of all, he continues to insist that the facts show that he won the election in a landslide, that's transparent self-serving BS. He shouldn't get too many props for acknowledging the reality that there will be a peaceful transfer of power because it's not actually his decision to make. There's a larger constitutional process.
But what's amazing is how much one man's lies, one president's lies persistently echoed through politics and hyper-partisan media can lead to the kind of violence we saw yesterday. The president is clearly a sick man. He watched the capitol burn, and he was not inclined into the anything to stop it. That's a special kind of malignant narcissism.
CUOMO: Understood and appreciate it. John Avlon thank you very much. He'll be on the TV is a couple of minutes.
LEMON: Yes, he's not done.
CUOMO: No, no, he's just getting started.
LEMON: And who's that other guy we had last night.
CUOMO: You got the A-team. You got J.B., John Berman. Superstar, Alisyn Camerota.
LEMON: Alisyn Camerota, super-duper star.
CUOMO: And John Avlon.
LEMON: Super-duper star.
CUOMO: It's like the mod squad.
LEMON: Yes, I know. People are going to be happy we're gone.
CUOMO: You think so? I think they like it us. I don't think they believe we like each other though.
LEMON: We're getting yelled at.
CUOMO: I'll tell you who doesn't like it. If you knew what they were saying to us while we're on television. LEMON: Does Wolf Blitzer get rushed to break.
CUOMO: Thank you for being with us. We got to laugh, otherwise we'd be crying. Too much.
LEMON: I really did enjoy -- I really enjoyed working with you, and this was great to be able to cover. This was history, and to be able to do it in an authentic way we do it, it is indeed an honor.
CUOMO: I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else, I love you D. Lemon.
LEMON: I love you as well, brother.
CUOMO: Time for "NEW DAY," CNN's will continue. Stay with CNN. Will you sit down?