Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Soon: Impeachment Managers Present Their Case Against Trump; Soon: House Managers To Use New Capitol Security Footage; Historical Trial For Trump's Second Impeachment Resumes; House Impeachment Managers Present Case To Convict Trump. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired February 10, 2021 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But so much of what you are going to hear from the Trump team is contradicted by what was reported in real-time as this was going on, and also by the president's own actions.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Which raises the question will there be witnesses and we will find out fairly soon. Kaitlan thank you so much. I want to bring in David Chalian. David give us a sense of what we're watching what we're about to see on this day of this trial. What are you going to be listening for?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, a few things to watch for as we watch the Senators sort of file in to the Senate chamber the jurors for this case. Here's what I'm looking for today. Wolf, you see first, the never before seen video from the house managers, we know there's this security cam video. Are we going to actually get to see that today?
Presumably we are and how compelling will that be for people since we haven't seen it? Before we saw a compelling the video we hadn't seen before was yesterday. The jurors are going to be reminded constantly by the house managers in their presentation that they were also witnesses and survivors. This is sort of shocking the--
BLITZER: --a bit I just want to interrupt - I just want to interrupt because the chaplain is now delivering of the opening prayer.
BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Use them to cause justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty string. Lord during this impeachment trial gives our lawmakers the gift of discernment.
So that they will know truth from falsehood inspires them to commit their thoughts and decisions to you. Let your kingdom come and your will be done. On earth, as it is done in heaven. We pray in your mighty name. Amen.
Please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): And Senators will you please be seated? And if there's no objection, I hear none. The journal proceedings of the trial are approved today. The sergeant in arms will make the proclamation.
JENNIFER HEMINGWAY, SENATE ACTING SERGEANT AT ARMS: Hear aye! Hear aye! Hear aye! All persons are commanded to keep silence on pain of imprisonment while the Senate of the United States is sitting for the trial of the article of impeachment against Donald John Trump, former President of the United States.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Mr. President.
LEAHY: The majority leader is recognized.
SCHUMER: Thank you, Mr. President. Now for the information of all Senators, no motions were filed this morning. So we'll proceed to the house manager's presentation. We anticipate to 10 minute breaks and a 45 minute dinner break around 6 pm.
LEAHY: And pursuant to the provisions of Senate resolution 47. The managers for the house representatives have 16 hours to make the presentation of their case. The Senate will now hear you and recognize Mr. Manager asking to begin the presentation of the case for the house representatives. Mr. Raskin.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-WA): Thank you very much, Mr. President, members of the Senate. Good morning, good day. And some people think this trial is a contest of lawyers or even worse, a competition between political parties. It's neither it's a moment of truth for America. My late father Marcus Raskin once wrote, democracy needs a ground to stand upon and that ground is the truth.
America needs the truth about ex-President Trump's role in inciting the insurrection on January 6 because it threatened our government, and it disrupted. It easily could have destroyed the peaceful transfer of power in the United States for the first time in 233 years.
It was suggested yesterday by President Trump's council that this is really like a very bad accident or a natural disaster where lots of people get injured or killed and society is just out looking for someone to blame. And that's a natural and normal human reaction according to president's council, but he says it's totally unfair in this case.
President Trump according to Mr. Castro is essentially an innocent bystander who got swept up in this catastrophe but did nothing wrong. In this assertion, Mr. Caster unerringly echoes his client ex- President Trump, who declared after the insurrection that his conduct in the affair was totally appropriate.
RASKIN: And therefore we can only assume he could do and would do the exact same thing again because he said his conduct was totally appropriate. So now the factual inquiry of the trial is squarely posed for us. The jurisdictional constitutional issue is gone. Whether you are persuaded by the president's constitutional analysis
yesterday or not, the Senate voted to reject it. And so the Senate is now properly exercising its jurisdiction and sitting as a court of impeachment, conducting a trial on the facts. We are having a trial on the facts.
The house says ex-President Donald Trump incited a violent insurrection against congress and the constitution and the people. The president's lawyers and the president say his conduct was totally appropriate. And he's essentially an innocent victim of circumstances like the other innocent victims that will see getting caught up in all of the violence and chaos over the next several days.
The evidence will be for you to see and hear and digest. The evidence will show you that ex-President Trump was no innocent bystander. The evidence will show that he clearly incited the January 6th insurrection. It will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander in chief and became the insider in chief of a dangerous insurrection.
And this was his one of our colleagues put it so cogently on January 6th itself, the greatest betrayal of the presidential oath in the history of the United States. The evidence will show you that he saw it coming and was not remotely surprised by the violence.
And when the violence inexorably and inevitably came as predicted and overran this body and the House of Representatives with chaos. We will show you that he completely abdicated his duty as commander in chief to stop the violence and protect the government and protect our officers and protect our people.
He violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution, the government and the people of the United States. The evidence will show you that he assembled inflamed and incited his followers to descend upon the Capitol to stop the steel to block Vice President Pence and congress from finalizing his opponent's election victory over him.
Who will show that he had been warned that these followers were prepared for a violent attack targeting us at the Capitol through media reports, law enforcement reports and even arrests?
In short we will prove that the impeach president was no innocent bystander whose conduct was totally appropriate and should be a standard for future presidents. But that he incited this attack and he saw it coming. To us it may have felt like chaos and madness. But there was method in the madness that day.
This was an organized attack on the counting of the electoral college votes in joint session of the United States congress under the 12th amendment and under the electoral count act to prevent Vice President Mike Pence and to prevent us from counting sufficient electoral college votes to certify Joe Biden's victory of 306 to 232 in the electoral college, a margin that President Trump had declared a landslide in 2016. When my colleague Mr. Magoo speaks after me, he will set forth in
detail the exact roadmap of all the evidence in the case. My fellow house managers and I will then take you through that evidence step by step so everyone can see exactly how these events unfolded.
But I want to tell you a few key reasons right now that we know this case is not about blaming an innocent bystander for the horrific violence and harm that took place on January 6. This is about holding accountable the person singularly responsible for inciting the attack.
Let's start with December 12. You will see during this trial a man who praised and encouraged and cultivated violence. We have just begun to fight. He says more than a month after the election has taken place.
RASKIN: And that's before the second million mega march, a rally that ended in serious violence and even the burning of a church. And as the president forecast, it was only the beginning. On December 19th 18 days before January 6, he told his base about where the battle would be that they would fight next.
January 6 would be wild he promised, be there will be wild said the President of the United States of America. And that too turned out to be true. You'll see in the days that followed Donald Trump continued to aggressively promote January 6 to his followers.
The event was scheduled at the precise time that congress would be meeting in joint session to count the Electoral College votes and to finalize the 2020 presidential election. In fact in the days leading up to the attack, you'll learn that there were countless social media posts, news stories.
And most importantly credible reports from the FBI in Capitol police that the thousands gathering for the president save America march were violent, organized with weapons and we're targeting the Capitol. This mob got organized so openly because as they would later scream in these halls and as they posted on forums before the attack, they were sent here by the president.
They were invited here by the President of the United States of America. And when they showed up knowing of these reports that the crowd was angry and it was armed. Here's what Donald Trump told them.
President Trump Whip the crowd into a frenzy exhorting followers. If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore. And then he aims straight at the Capitol declaring you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.
He told them to fight like hell. And they brought us hell on that day. Incited by President Trump, his mob attacked the Capitol. This assault unfolded live on television before a horrified nation.
According to those around him at the time, this is how President Trump reportedly responded to the attack that we saw him in sight in public, delight, enthusiasm, confusion as to why others around him weren't as happy as he was.
Trump incited the January 6 attack and when his mob overran and occupied the Senate and attack the house and assaulted law enforcement. He watched it on TV like a reality show. He reveled in it. And he did nothing to help us as commander in chief.
Instead he served as the insider in chief sending tweets that only further incited the rampaging mob. He made statements lauding and sympathizing with the insurrectionists over at 4:17 pm. Over three hours after the beginning of the siege, for the very first time he spoke out loud, not on twitter spoke out loud to the American people. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I know your pain, I know you're hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RASKIN: So you might be saying all right, the president is going to console us now. He's going to reassure America. He knows our pain. He knows we're hurt. We've just seen these horrific images of officers being impaled and smashed over the head. We've just been under attack for three hours. But here's what he actually goes on to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election. And everyone knows it especially the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RASKIN: So you think he's about to decry the mayhem and violence the unprecedented spectacle of this mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. But he's still promoting the big lie that was responsible for inflaming and inciting the mob in the first place. If anyone ever had a doubt as to his focus that day, it was not to defend us it was not to console us.
It was to praise and sympathize and commiserate with the rampaging mob. It was to continue to act as insider in chief, not commander in chief by telling the mob that their election had been stolen from them. Even then after that vicious attack, he continued to spread the big lie.
RASKIN: And as everyone here knows Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes and 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. But Donald Trump refused to accept his loss even after this attack.
And he celebrated the people who violently interfered with the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history and did that at his urging and when he did in this video finally tell them to go home and peace. He added this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We love you. You're very special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RASKIN: Distinguished members of the Senate, this is a day that will live in disgrace in American history. That is unless you ask Donald Trump because this is what he tweeted before he went to bed that night at 6:01pm.
Not consoling the nation, not reassuring every - reassuring everyone in the government was secure, not a single word that entire day condemning the violent insurrection.
So what he says 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 peace. Remember this day forever.
These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots. In other words this was all perfectly natural and foreseeable to Donald Trump. At the beginning of the day he told you it was coming.
At the end of the day he basically says, I told you this would happen. And then he adds, remember this day forever but not as a day of disgrace, a day of horror and trauma as the rest of us remember it. But it's a day of celebration, a day of commemoration.
And if we let it be it will be a day of continuation, a call to action and a rallying cry for the next rounds of insurrectionary justice. Because all of this was totally appropriate. Senators, the stakes of this trial could not be more serious.
Every American, young and old and in between is invited to participate with us in this essential journey to find the facts and share the truth. Trials are public events in a democracy and no trial is more public or significant than an impeachment trial.
Because the insurrection brought shocking violence, bloodshed and pain in the nation's capital and we will be showing relevant clips of the mobs attack on police officers and other innocent people. We do urge parents and teachers to exercise close review of what young people are watching here.
And please watch along with them if you're allowing them to watch. The impeachment managers will try to give warnings before the most graphic and disturbing violence that took place has shown. We believe that the manager is comprehensive and meticulous presentation will lead to one powerful and irresistible conclusion.
Donald Trump committed a massive crime against our constitution and our people and the worst violation of the presidential oath of office in the history of the United States of America. For this he was impeached by the House of Representatives and he must be convicted by the United States Senate.
Before I close I want to address a constitutional issue still lingering from yesterday's argument. The president obviously is still exploring ways to change the subject and talk about anything other than his responsibility for inciting the attack.
We heard a lot yesterday about his claim that this incitement of the insurrection was perfectly appropriate because it's somehow protected by the first amendment. And this little diversion caught my eye because I've been a professor of constitutional law and the first amendment for decades.
And as will demonstrate over the course of the trial, the factual premise and the legal underpinnings of that claim are all wrong. They present President Trump as merely like a guy at a rally expressing a political opinion that we disagree with. And now we're trying to put him in jail for it.
That has nothing to do with the reality of these charges been his constitutional offense. The particular political opinions being expressed are not why we impeach the president and have nothing to do with it.
It makes no difference what the ideological content of the mob was. And if we licensed and forgive incitement to violence, insurrection by militant Trump followers this week, you can be sure there will be a whole bunch of new ideological flavors coming soon.
RASKIN: As we'll demonstrate with overwhelming evidence portraying Trump as a guy on the street being punished for his ideas is a false description of his actions, his intent and the role that he played on January 6 when he willfully incited an insurrectionary mob to riot at the Capitol.
Last week 144 constitutional scholars including Floyd Abrams, a ferocious defender of free speech, Charles Freed, President Reagan's solicitor general, Stephen Calabrese, the co founder of the federalist society released a statement calling the president's first amendment arguments legally frivolous, legally frivolous adding, we all agree that the first amendment does not prevent the Senate from convicting President Trump and disqualifying him from holding future office.
They went on to say no reasonable scholar or jurist could conclude that President Trump had a first amendment right to incite a violent attack on the seat of the legislative branch or then sit back and watch on television as congress was terrorized in the Capitol sacked.
Incitement to violence is of course not protected by the first amendment. That's what most Americans have dismissed Donald Trump's first amendment rhetoric simply by referring to justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is a handy phrase. You can't shout fire in a crowded theater. But even that time honored principle doesn't begin to capture how off
base the argument is. This case is much worse than someone who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theater. It's more like a case where the town fire chief who's paid to put out fires sends a mob not to yell fire in a crowded theater but to actually set the theater on fire.
And who then when the fire alarms go off and the calls start flooding into the fire department asking for help, does nothing but sit back, encourage the mob to continue its rampage and watch the fire spread on TV with glee and delight.
So then we say this fire chief should never be allowed to hold this public job again and you're fired and you're permanently disqualified. And he objects. And he says we're violating his free speech rights just because he's pro mob or pro fire or whatever it might be.
Come on. I mean, you really don't need to go to law school to figure out what's wrong with that argument. Here's the key. Undoubtedly a private person can run around on the street expressing his or her support for the enemies of the United States in advocating the overthrow of the United States government.
You've got a right to do that under the first amendment. But if the president spent all of his days doing that uttering the exact same words expressing support for the enemies of the United States and for overthrowing the government.
Is there anyone here who doubts that this would be a violation of his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States and that he or she could be impeached for doing that?
Look if you're President of the United States, you've chosen aside with your oath of office. And if you break it, we can impeach, convict, remove and disqualify you permanently from holding any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.
As Justice Scalia once said memorably, you can't ride with the cops and root for the robbers. And if you become insider-in-chief to the insurrection, you can expect to be on the payroll as commander-in- chief for the union.
Trump was the President of the United States need sworn to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. He had an affirmative binding duty, one that set him apart from everyone else in the country to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, including all the laws against assaulting federal officers, destroying federal property, violently threatening members of congress.
And the vice president interfering with federal elections and dozens of other federal laws that are well known to all of you when he incited insurrection on January 6, he broke that oath. He violated that duty. And that's why we're here today. And that's why he has no credible constitutional defense.
I'll tell you a final sad story in this kaleidoscope of sadness and terror and violence. One of our Capitol officers who defended us that day was a longtime veteran of our force a brave and honorable public servant who spent several hours battling the mob as part of one of those blue lines defending the Capitol in our democracy.
RASKIN: For several hours straight as the marauders punched and kicked and mauled and spit upon and hit officers with baseball bats and fire extinguishers, cursed the cops in stormed our Capitol, he defended us and he lived every minute of his oath of office.
And afterwards overwhelmed by emotion he broke down in the rotunda. And he cried for 15 minutes. And he shouted out, I got called an n - word 15 times today. And then he recorded, I sat down with one of my buddies, another black guy in tears to started streaming down my face.
And I said, what the f man? Is this America? That's the question before all of you in this trial, is this America? Can our country in our democracy ever be the same if we don't hold accountable, the person responsible for inciting the violent attack against our country, our Capitol and our democracy?
And all of those who serve us so faithfully and honorably are this America? Mr. Joe Neguse will now provide a roadmap, a roadmap of our evidentiary case.
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Mr. President, distinguished Senators, counsel, like several of you, I am a child of immigrants. And as a son of immigrants I believe firmly in my heart that the United States is the greatest republic that this world has ever known. A hallmark of our republic since the days of George Washington has been the peaceful transfer of power.
For centuries we've accepted it as fact. Unfortunately, sadly, we know now that we can no longer take that for granted. Because as Lead Manager Raskin explained on January 6, the peaceful transition of power was violently interrupted when a mob stormed this Capitol and desecrated this chamber.
As you'll see during the course of this trial that mob was summoned, assembled and incited by the former President of the United States, Donald Trump. And he did that because he wanted to stop the transfer of power so that he could retain power even though he had lost the election.
And when the violence erupted when they were here in our building with weapons, he did nothing to stop it. If we are to protect our republic and prevent something like this from ever happening again, he must be convicted.
Now I want to be very clear about what we will show you during the course of this trial as my fellow managers present our case to you today, tonight, tomorrow. It'll be helpful to think about President Trump's incitement of insurrection in three distinct parts, the attack - the provocation, the attack and the harm.
Let's start with the provocation. We will show during the course of this trial that this attack was provoked by the president incited by the president. And as a result it was predictable and it was foreseeable. And of course that makes sense. And this mob was well orchestrated.