Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

House Impeachment Managers Present Case to Convict Trump. Aired 1:30-2p ET.

Aired February 11, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Five days following the siege on the Capitol, on January 11, 2021, the FBI warned that, quote, "armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols (ph) from 16 January through at least 20 January and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January."

[13:30:00]

As a result, at least 21 states activated their National Guards in preparation for potential attacks. President Trump's incitement has reverberated around the country prompting massive law enforcement mobilization in several state capitols including Washington, Illinois, Michigan, and Georgia. Look at these photos, this is what Donald Trump has done to America.

This massive deployment of law enforcement has cost the taxpayers dearly. The National Guard deployment to D.C. alone is expected to cost at least $480 million. The bills are already also racking up in the states. North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin have each spent about a half a million dollars to safeguard their capitols in the run-up to the inauguration.

Ohio spent $1.2 million over the same two week period. And remember, this is at a time when state budgets are already suffering under the weight of the pandemic. Our brave service members showed up. Thanks to their dedication and their vigilance, the inauguration and the days leading up to it mercifully proceeded without incident.

In fact, after news broke of law enforcements preparedness for further attacks leaders of the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters Militia, the organizers of the Million Maga March, they all now told their followers to avoid protest up to or leading up to the inauguration for fear that law enforcement would crush them and arrest rioters who showed up. Thank God there wasn't an insurrection sequel here on January 20th.

But look at the price we've paid, the price that we're still paying. It's not just dollars and cents, this Capitol has become a fortress as state capitols have all across the country. Our constituents no longer have access to the elected representatives.

Every Democrat and Republican, including people who came here on January 6th peacefully, is paying the price and it's not just a loss of access, it's a dimming of their freedom, it's a dimming of all of our freedom.

We must uphold our oaths as the tens of thousands of law enforcement officers have done in the wake of January 6th because if we do not President Trump's mob stands ready for more attacks. Now, this should be no surprise, having a commander in chief who incites violence has given life to the existing violent groups he spent years cultivating and has inspired new coalitions amongst extremist groups who actually view January as a success.

According to the FBI, President Trump's assemblage of his mob was particularly dangerous because, quote, "in-person engagement between DVEs of differing ideological goals during the Capitol breach likely served to foster connections which may increase DVEs' willingness, capability, and motivation to attack and undermine a government they view as illegitimate."

In other words, they all got to talking to each other. This bulletin by our own Intelligence Committee was also confirmed by concrete evidence. Rioters celebrated their roles in the January 6th attack on social media, they boasted about their success in breaching the Capitol and forcing members of Congress and the vice president to evacuate. Take, for example, right-wing provocateur Nick Fuentes. The day before the Capitol insurrection, Fuentes said this on his internet show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK FUENTES, FAR-RIGHT POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What can you and I do to a state legislature, besides kill them? Although we should not do that. I'm not advising that, but I mean, what else can you do, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEGETTE: Fuentes was at the Capitol on January 6th and praised the insurrection on the livestream as "glorious" and "awe-inspiring", he later said, quote, "we forced a joint session of Congress and the vice president to evacuate because Trump supporters were banging down and then successfully burst through the doors."

Fuentes was not the only provocateur to revel in the violence. According to Mike Dunn, a member of the Boogaloo Boys, an anti- government movement whose adherence helped to lead multiple groups in storming the Capitol, the Boogaloo Boys will be, quote, "working overtime to capitalize on the January 6th riots and hope it will lead to more action."

[13:35:17]

They said, quote, "just know, there's more to come." Proud Boys members were bragging about the attack on the Capitol. One post on the Proud Boys telegram channels said, "people say -- saw what we can do, they know what we're up to, they know and they want in."

The leader of the Proud Boys himself sent the same message. Enrique Tarrio said the Proud Boys would be active during Biden's presidency. Tarrio stated, "you're definitely going to see more of us."

Extremist groups are also boasting that the attack on our Capitol is a boom for their recruitment efforts. Three Percent security force leader Chris Hill (ph) says he's been contacted by several people interested in joining since the insurrection.

And as an expert who focuses on domestic extremism, Jared Holt explained, "by all measurable effects this was a far-right extremist, one of the most successful attacks that they've ever launched. They're talking about this as the first stab in a greater revolution." And as indicated by Mr. Holt, their perceived success has given them an encouragement to continue and to escalate attacks.

Intelligence agencies have also noted that these extremist groups will, unfortunately, be targeting vulnerable minority communities in the U.S. A January 27, 2021, DHS bulletin warned, quote, "longstanding racial and ethnic tension of the sort that led to a man killing 23 people at an El Paso Walmart will continue to grow and motivate further attacks."

The January 13 Joint Intelligence bulletin report stated that in addition to the other types of violence listed, "DVEs may be incited to carry out more violence. Including violence against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, and associated institutions, journalists, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other targets common among some DVEs."

These prejudiced elements could be seen visibly in the attack -- in the crowd that attacked the Capitol. Pictured here is Robert Packer, Robert Packer is an avowed white supremacist and holocaust denier who proudly wore that sweatshirt which states, quote, "Camp Auschwitz." These prejudiced (ph) elements could also be heard from the crowds.

As you've heard, the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol on January 6th hurled racial slurs, including at black police officers.

One officer described the trauma he experienced when the rioters seized the Capitol. He said, quote, "I'm a black officer; there was a lot of racism that day. I was called racial slurs and in the moment I didn't process this as traumatic. I was just trying to survive; I just wanted to get home to see my daughter again. I couldn't show weakness. I finally reached a safe place surrounded by officers. I was able to cry, to let it out, to attempt to process it."

These extremist groups were emboldened because President Trump told them repeatedly that their insurrectionist activities were the pinnacle of patriotism. Well, let today be the day that we re-claim the definition of patriotism. Impeachment is not to punish but to prevent. We are not here to punish Donald Trump; we are here to prevent the seeds of hatred that he planted from baring anymore fruit.

As my colleagues showed, this was not the first time that President Trump invited -- inspired violence but it must be the last time that he's given a platform to do so.

This must be our wakeup call; we must condemn it because the threat is not over. President Trump refused to condemn this type of violence; instead, over and over again he's encouraged it. Our response must be different this time. We simply cannot sweep this under the rug.

[13:40:00]

We must take a united stand, all of us that this is not American. Think back to August 2017 when a young woman was murdered during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, West Virginia. Her name was Heather Heyer. Her mother's name is Susan Bro. Mrs. Bro has been a steadfast advocate for her daughter's memory.

In a 2018 interview, she expressed concern that people had rushed too quickly to reconciliation without accountability.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: If you rush to heal, if you rush to everybody grab each other and sing Kumbaya, then we have accomplished nothing and we'll be right back here in a few years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEGETTE: We will be right back here in a few years. Those were her words in 2018, three years ago. Her daughter's murderer, he was held to account. But our nation did not impose any meaningful accountability on a president, who at the time said that there was -- there were very fine people on both sides.

And now where are we three years later? I'd argue we're not just back where we were. I would argue things are worse. In 2017, it was unfathomable to most of us to think that Charlottesville could happen, just as it was unfathomable to most of us that the Capitol could have been breached on January 6.

Frankly, what unfathomable horrors await us if we do not stand up now and say no, this is not America. And we will not just express condolences and denunciations. We won't just close the book and try to move on. We will act to make sure this never happens again.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), LEAD IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Representative Cicilline and Lieu will now come to show the harm done and the damage done to Congress and our democratic process. Mister Cicilline.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Mr. President, distinguished senators, you just heard from my colleague manager DeGette how the conduct of Donald Trump dramatically increased the threats to our security and emboldened violent domestic extremists. I'd like to now turn to the harm that was caused here inside these walls as a result of the conduct on January 6.

The harm to us, to Congress, to those who serve our country and to the constitutional processes as the Trump mob tried to stop the election certification process. The attack on January 6 was one of the bloodiest intrusions in the Capitol since the British invaded in the war of 1812 and burned it to the ground. And you've heard in painstaking detail that the president's mob posed an immediate and serious threat to the continuity and constitutional succession of the United States government, as the first, second and third in line to the presidency, the vice president, the speaker of the house, the president pro-tem were all together and faced a common threat in the same location.

And we've seen the first and second were purposefully targeted by these attackers. These weren't idle threats. The mob, as you have heard, chanted "hang Mike Pence."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. (repeated)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CICILLINE: The charging documents show that the rioters said they would have killed Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi had they found them. Dawn Bancroft and Diane Santos Smith, two of the rioters charged in the attack were caught on tape discussing the brutal violence that they hope to inflict on Speaker Pelosi had she not been rushed out to safety.

They said "we broke into the Capitol, we got inside, we did our part. We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin' brain but we didn't find her."

[13:45:00]

Senators, simply put, this mob was trying to overthrow our government. And it came perilously close to reaching the first three people in line to the presidency.

It wasn't just the vice president and the speaker, rioters were prepared to attack any member of Congress they found, Thomas Edward Caldwell, Donovan Ray Kroll and Jessica Marie Watkins, three militia members, were also charged for their role in the attack.

They discussed trapping us inside the underground tunnels. The indictment quote social media chatter with Caldwell "all members are in the tunnel under Capitol. Seal them in. Turn on gas. All legislators are down in the tunnel, three floors down. Do like we had to do when I was in the core and start tearing out floors. Go from top to bottom."

Never did any of us imagine that we or our colleagues would face mortal peril by a mob riled up by the President of the United States, the leader of the free world. But we did, all because Donald Trump could not accept his election defeat.

Trump chose himself above the people, of our institutions, above our democracy, above all of you. You know, we've heard Trump espouse for years now this America first policy. But his true North Star isn't America's well-being, it's not country first like our dear departed colleague John McCain, no his directive is Trump first, no matter the cost, no matter the threat to our democracy.

But each and every one of us in this room must agree on one thing, we can never allow the kind of violent attack that occurred on January 6 to ever happen again in this country. In the immediate aftermath, we heard really disturbing accounts from many members of Congress about what they experienced that day.

Here are some of those reactions. Following the attack, Representative Dusty Johnson expressed concerns that we had gotten to the point where so many of us had sown the seeds of anger and division.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): We were barricaded and there was some fear, to be sure, but overwhelmingly the emotion that I experienced was one of anger. I just could not believe that this was happening.

I could not believe we had gotten to this point where so many of us had sown these seeds of anger and of division and we had the built this powder keg and really, we were starting to see this powder keg light up, and it was -- frankly, I was furious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CICILLINE: Representative Jason Crow compared the events of this day to a time in Afghanistan as an army ranger, something Senator Reid knows something about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP):

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): And what I saw and the capital behind us is something that I haven't felt since I was in Afghanistan as an army ranger. And to think that as a member of Congress in 2021 in the U.S. Capitol on the House floor that I was preparing to fight my way out of the people's House against a mob is just beyond troubling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CICILLINE: Representative Pat Fallon was humbled by his experience on January 6 and described the events as surreal as they unfolded here in the Capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP):

REP. PAT FALLON (R-TX): It was something that I just never though--

UNKNOWN: Thank you.

FALLON: -- I just never thought I'd see this in -- in our nation's Capitol and particularly in the House chamber. It was an -- it was surreal when it was unfolding.

Well, you know, and -- what was interesting was the bravery and the courage of some of my fellow members. When we got to a point where the mob was banging on the doors and that all that kept them from reaching that -- the chamber itself was the doors and then some furniture that we had moved and some Capitol police and they needed to be augmented.

And so Tony Gonzales, a new freshman rep from Texas and Ronnie Jackson and Troy Nehls and Markwayne Mullen stepped in. And we broke off furniture, some of the hand sanitizer stations are what -- on these big giant poles, the wooden poles, and we turned them upside down and we were ready to actually have to street fight in the House chamber. It was unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CICILLINE: Many members that day wondered if they would ever see their families again, as the rioters breached the Capitol and they were outnumbered and trapped inside. They were calling loved ones to say goodbye. Representative Dan Kildee was one of them.

[13:50:01]

Listen to how he described the impact of the riot on him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): I was laying on the floor trying to protect myself behind this little wall. And you know we all took our pins off because we were certain that if this mob were to come in that that would not be a good thing, (inaudible) -- easily be able to identify us as members of Congress.

And I called my wife and, you know, it wasn't until I heard her voice that I thought, wow, this is like one of those calls you hear about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CICILLINE: While most coverage is focused on the extreme danger posed to members and the Capitol police, who were targets of this attack, there were lots of other people in the Capitol working on January 6 as well. From personal aides, to floor employees, cleaning staff, food service workers; we can't forget all the people that were in harm's way that day.

These employees experienced trauma, some cowered hiding in places just feets -- feet away from where this rabid crowd had assembled. Many were just kids, 20 somethings who came here to work because they believed in their country and they believed in working to make it better.

Others were dedicated food and service workers, all of work (ph) incredibly hard to make sure that we can come here and do our jobs. These workers and the life blood of the legislative branch. They deserved better.

You've already heard from Speaker Pelosi's staff, the staff that was hiding under the conference table, cowering in the dark, making sure that the attackers couldn't hear them. But I'd like to share with you what some other staffers went through. Listen as two staffers recall what they experienced that day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: But then we were seeing on Twitter, on our phones, and then in hearing from some of the police officers on the floor that -- that the building had been breached. You know building breached, those were two words I had never heard.

UNKNOWN: That was particularly stressful being in a room close to -- to where things are happening and not really knowing what was happening and seeing it come in live and getting text from people, you know, are you OK. And truthfully I didn't know what -- what was happening.

I heard shots fired, shots fired, shots fired. Show me your hands, show me your hands. Then I did not know if they were right outside. If they were lots of people with weapons. If there were one shooter. If they had -- you know I didn't know that it looked like. I just knew that there were shots fired outside of the House Chamber.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CICILLINE: According to reports, one Republican Senate staff whose office was not far from the floor, quote, took a steel rod and barricaded his door as the rioters banged on his door trying to break in.

The New York Times also reported that a senior black staffer was under lockdown for six hours during the insurrection. It was so disturbed about these events that she quit her job. Another staffer who was on the floor of the House that day described that what happened on January 6th still echoes in his mind. Listen to him describe the moments just before this indelible image.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: I hear the glass break and I could see the -- the window panes on the House -- on the main door start to pop and I figure that obviously I knew they were at the door and they figured out a way to break the glass.

And -- and the last thing I remember before I walked off the floor was several of the police officers had drawn their guns and had their guns trained on the door. You know clearly it was -- I didn't think there was anything else I could do and I didn't want to be there for whatever was about to occur.

So I got to the top of the stairs. The stairway was pretty packed and right about that point -- I don't know whether it was a police officer or somebody else said they're right behind us, run.

For me, the thing that I keep thinking about, and again there isn't a day that hasn't gone by since January 6 that at some point in the day I haven't kind of gone back and -- and picked at some little thing. But the sound of those window panes popping, you know, I won't forget that sound.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CICILLINE: I won't forget that sound. How long will the sound of window panes breaking haunt the staffer? And he isn't alone; there are countless people who are still living with the trauma of what happened that day.

[13:55:04]

This includes, by the way, another group of people who were with us in the capital on that day and that's the press.

They were in danger particularly after years of being derided by President Trump as fake news. Kristin Wilson, a reporter for CNN, recently tweeted about her experience. She said I have 14 people on my team. We were scattered everywhere. Two of them were on crutches and couldn't have run if they had to. They had to anyway.

One was trapped in the House chamber and had to crawl out to hide. Four of us barricaded ourselves in a room off the Senate chamber. Every bang on the door of them trying to come through I can still hear in my head.

The janitorial and custodial staff of the Capitol, the people who day after day tend to our home away from home were also traumatized. But we don't talk about them and the harm they suffered often enough.

One janitorial worker recounted how he was so scared that he had to hide in a closet during the attack. He said quote, I was all by myself, I didn't know what was going on, end quote.

Another employee, a mother of three said the insurrection shattered all my sense of security at work. And then an employee of the Capitol said quote, I hope nothing else happens because these people were talking about killing us, killing federal employees, killing police.

Another employee who was afraid to work on inauguration day said quote, I honestly fear for my life. I've got two children at home, end quote. For many of the black and brown staff, the trauma was made worse by the many painful symbols of hate that were on full display that day.

Insurrectionist waived Confederate flags and hurled the most disgusting racial slurs at dedicated Capitol workers. Then, after all that, these same workers, many of them people of color were forced to clean up the mess left by mobs of white nationalist.

One member of the janitorial staff reflected how terrible he felt when he had to clean up feces that had been smeared on the wall, blood of rioter who had died, broken and other objects strewn all over the floor. He said, I felt bad. I felt degraded.

Let's also not forget that this violent attack happened in the middle of a global pandemic. Social distancing was impossible because we were hiding for our lives in cramped quarters for long periods of time.

Since January 6, at least seven members who hid with other members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. At least 38 Capitol police officers have either tested positive or been exposed and nearly 200 National Guard troops who were deployed to our nation's capital to provide all of us protection have tested positive.

The Capitol police and the National Guard came here to keep us safe, to serve. And they put their lives in danger. They deserved better than this. We all did.

That brings me to the next harm. Now all of us in this room made it out alive. But not everyone was so lucky; three law enforcement officers tragically lost their lives as a result of the riot on January 6.

These officers -- Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, Capitol Police Officer Howard Leibengood, and Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffery Smith all honorably served to protect and defend.

My colleague, Mr. Swalwell, told you about Officer Sicknick. He was a 42 year old military veteran who dedicated his entire life to public service. On January 6 he fought a mob of rioters as they streamed into the Capitol and ultimately lost his life protecting us.

Officer Leibengood was a 15 year veteran of the Capitol police. His father served as sergeant in arms here in the Senate, and Officer Leibengood followed his extraordinary example of public service.

Officer Smith served for 12 years with the Metropolitan Police Department. He headed the call of duty on January 6 by coming to stand with the Capitol police to help secure our democracy.

Earlier my colleague, Manager Swalwell, showed you terrible videos of the police being physically abused and injured. You remember what happened to Officer Fanone and Officer Hodges of the MPD. But there was scores of other officers whose names we don't know who were also brutalized that day.