IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, January 8, 2021

Guests: Hakeem Jeffries, Dan Goldman, Matt Fuller, Malanie Zanona, Russell Honore, Alex Wagner, Dorian Warren

Summary

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivers an ultimatum to President Trump to expedite his removal from the White House. New videos of the violent mob during the Capitol insurrection came out. Speaker Pelosi asks the military to limit President Trump's nuclear authority in wake of the Capitol insurrection.

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: They got voted out by 81 million Americans. So, you may be scared about what happened on Wednesday and what it all means for our country and for your security, but they're scared too. And in 12 days, their leader will not be in the White House anymore. And that's tonight's REIDOUT. Have a great weekend. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, on ALL IN. Pelosi to Trump, resign or be impeached, a dramatic ultimatum from the speaker to the president in the wake of his MAGA insurrection. Tonight, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on what Democrats are planning and when.

Then, as the president is permanently suspended from Twitter, and a Republican senator calls for his resignation, the scope of the Trump-inspired assault on democracy comes into focus.

A shocking new footage of the MAGA insurrection. New arrests of the mob that stormed the Capitol and a new murder investigation as a Capitol Police Officer died when ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has tonight issued an ultimatum to President Donald Trump, resign or face impeachment proceedings for incitement of insurrection starting Monday. "It is the hope of members the President will immediately resign. But if he does not, I've instructed the rules committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin's 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment. Accordingly, the House will preserve every option including the 25th Amendment, a motion to impeach or a privileged resolution for impeachment."

Democratic lawyer Mark Elias who warded Trump's every post-election legal challenge explains that a privileged resolution for impeachment suggests that bringing impeachment directly to the floor without any committee activity, is on the table. It would move on a very fast track. Two things to note here, that no president has ever been impeached twice. And should Trump be successfully impeached and removed, which is an if, he would be it would appear, barred from holding federal office going forward.

Now, this push for impeachment comes as Trump's support among Senate Republicans appreciably erodes Nebraska's Ben Sasse saying he would definitely consider any articles the House passes. Alaska's Lisa Murkowski flatout calling for Trump to resign immediately. In fact, threatening to switch sides in the Senate.

And multiple senators are also calling for their colleagues Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to resign as well for their roles in urging on the agenda and inciting the mob attack on the Capitol. And if you think Pelosi is bluffing about Trump leaving, today, she said she spoke with the Chair of the Joint Chiefs about "preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike."

Meanwhile, Twitter has also heard enough from the president saying they have "permanently suspended Trump's account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. The big question now is what legal steps can be taken as quickly as possible in the next 12 days, which could be 12 of the most dangerous days the country has ever faced.

As the chair of the Democratic caucus in the House, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York has been privy to the impeachment discussions today, and he joins me now. Congressman, explain to me what the message of the speakers today and what timeline are we talking about here?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, the message of the speaker and the broad consensus amongst the House Democratic caucus is that the president needs to be removed immediately, because he presents a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the American people and the health of our democracy. That should be obvious to everyone at this particular point in time, given the violent insurrection that he just incited.

Now, we're exploring the different ways to bring that about. There are really three different pathways. There's impeachment, of course, conviction and removal, there's the 25th Amendment. And we're going to move forward, as I understand it, with Jamie Raskin's legislation, which is important because that would expedite our capacity to avoid having to go through the cabinet to allow Mike Pence to take over the reins of the executive branch.

And then his resignation, there are growing calls for it. Whether this is a president was willing to accept reality, that's probably an eventuality that will be difficult to bring about. HAYES: I want to talk about this 25th Amendment aspect. I actually don't quite understand the legally. 25th Amendment, and I believe that it's the fourth section of that amendment, which is quite complicated, which has to do with the President's -- the possibility of a present being incapacitated.

Now, the thing that it contemplates I think most obviously is say the president is in a coma or, you know, he has -- he is on life support or something like that. In this case, it would be the declaration of its incapacitation against his wishes more or less. And there is a stipulation, I believe, in that section that it's the cabinet or such body as Congress constitutes. And that the idea here is that you would constitute said body under Jamie Raskin's legislation. Am I following that correctly?

JEFFRIES: That's exactly correct. Because otherwise, in order to change an amendment, you've got to go through two thirds of the House, two thirds of the Senate, the President has to sign it into law, and three fourths of the states have to ratify it. That's not going to happen. That's hard to happen under normal circumstances.

And so, because the 25th Amendment does say, or such other body that Congress may constitute by law, that gives us an opening to form a commission that Jamie Raskin has set forth in his legislation, which essentially would be a 17-member commission, where you would have eight members of the medical profession, four doctors and four psychiatrists appointed by the four different legislative leaders. Then, you would have an additional eight former high-ranking members of the executive branch, which could include a former president, vice president, Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, and so on. Four would be appointed by Republicans, four would be appointed by Democrats. That would be a total of 16 members of the Commission, and then they would select the 17th.

We could constitute that commission. And then if a majority of them, as opposed to having to go through the cabinet, determine that the President was incapable of performing his duties, then the 25th Amendment could be invoked in our view.

HAYES: OK, that -- I mean, that's an untested constitutional theory. I'm not saying you're wrong. Obviously -- look, the most straightforward thing would be the president to tender his resignation. I think we all agree on that.

JEFFRIES: Correct.

HAYES: And I don't think that the President wants to do that. Although the one thing, the one argument one could make to the President is that while self-pardoning is very questionable, legally, it is the case that presumably Mike Pence could pardon him, and perhaps that would be an inducement for the president to resign.

I can't see any other inducement in the next 12 days. And I just don't think he could be trusted with power in the next 12 days. So, barring this 25th Amendment, barring resignation, impeachment, there's articles today, which I want to read from drafted by Raskin, Leiu, and Cicilline that Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by wilfully inciting violence against the government of the United States. I guess the question to you is, how quickly can you move that to the floor?

JEFFRIES: Well, we took an important step today to go in that direction because the speaker needed to constitute the Rules Committee, which she did, and was ratified by the caucus. What the Rules Committee constituted, Jim McGovern, who's the chair could immediately or at such time as appropriate, over the next few days, convene the Rules Committee, which could take up a privilege resolution which would allow us to move on impeachment without having to go through the traditional committee approach.

Now, under ordinary circumstances, Chris, a privileged resolution would be tabled or sent to the committee of jurisdiction, in this case, judiciary. These aren't ordinary circumstances. In my view, insurrection, sedition, treachery, incited by the President is the classic extraordinary circumstance that would justify it privilege resolution on impeachment.

HAYES: I want to read to you something that Kevin McCarthy said, the highest-ranking member of the House of Republican Party. Now, this is an individual who after a marauding mob of seditionists riled up at the President took over your offices in the Capitol and led to the death of a Capitol Police Officer, smashed windows, and ransacked the place. After that happened, when you came back in Kevin McCarthy voted against seeding the rightfully elected electors to make Joe Biden the president. He voted against that.

His -- this is what he says about impeachment. To deliver a better America for all, partisans of all stripes must first unite as Americans and show our country that a peaceful transition of power has occurred. Impeaching the president with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more. What's your reaction to that?

JEFFRIES: McCarthy is not just a joke at this point, he's a caricature of a joke. And his rhetoric and his behavior and his activity over the last several days have been the height of irresponsibility. He has no interest in doing anything other than continuing to lick the boots of Donald Trump.

That's what he has been doing for whatever reason he's made the determination that that is his pathway toward leadership because he's got so many out of control members of the House Republican conference who continue to peddle conspiracy theories. And on the floor of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy was right there voting with them.

HAYES: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, I imagine you have a busy weekend ahead of you. And thank you for making a little time for us tonight.

JEFFRIES: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Daniel Goldman is one of the few people in this country with first-hand experience in putting together an impeachment against a U.S. president, specifically this president. He's a former majority counsel for the House Impeachment Inquiry, former Director of Investigations for the House Intelligence Committee. He joins me now.

Dan, let's talk about -- I mean, look, there's an urgent national emergency. The president of the United States is the president of the United States with full command and control of the United States Armed Forces, and all the power that adheres the presidency, including the pardon power for 12 more days, in the wake of having conspired in public and private on a seditious conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected government. Those are the facts.

How quickly -- like we've never encountered anything like this before, except for maybe Nixon who resigned. Like, how do you see this in terms of the match between the urgency of what we need and what the law allows?

We may have lost --

DAN GOLDMAN, FORMER MAJORITY COUNSEL, HOUSE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY: Well, the urgent -- unfortunately, the law as it stands right now does not -- can you hear me?

HAYES: Now, we have you. Yes.

GOLDMAN: Can you hear me now? Sorry, Chris. Yes. What I was saying is that the law doesn't really match the urgency of the moment. And that is a problem that Congress is facing. On the one hand, it's a good problem to have because there are only 12 more days of Donald Trump as president, and that's what's presenting these problems.

To take a privileged resolution to the House floor to vote on it and without any kind of process for a president to defend himself would be completely unprecedented. You can make good arguments for it. This is unquestionably the worst conduct any president has committed, certainly in the last 100 years. And I'm not a historian, but I would venture to say throughout history.

But you are sort of trampling on the ordinary process of impeachment just to get as -- to try to remove him. But that's not going to happen before January 20th. But everyone needs to be clear, he will not be removed by the Senate before January 20th. So, what are you trying to gain through impeachment? It's unclear to me that it's worth the time and energy, practically speaking, because it's not going to work.

HAYES: Because there's just no way -- if they pass it on Monday, McConnell is just going to sit -- there's no way McConnell will move that.

GOLDMAN: Right. Schumer doesn't take over until January 20th. McConnell has some issues with his conference, and everyone is all over the place. And even if it were to pass Monday, which it wouldn't pass Monday, it would have to be probably -- it could pass Monday, I guess. But let's just say it passes Monday in a very hastily organized impeachment. You know, then it goes to the Senate. And it's just -- there needs to be a trial, there's all sorts of process that needs to occur in a trial to allow for the President to defend himself one way or another.

HAYES: Yes.

GOLDMAN: And so, it's not going to happen. I mean, the 25th Amendment is the appropriate course of action now. And, you know, rather than resign, I wish cabinet officials would gather together and recognize that their patriotic duty is to remove this person so that he doesn't bomb Iran or he doesn't create some wag the dog scenario that could distract and can, you know, abuse his power further.

But impeachment is all that Congress can do. And that's why they are trying to do it because they feel something needs to be done. And I certainly understand that. But I don't know that that's ultimately going to meet the objective here.

HAYES: Yes, that's -- it's useful to hear your sort of clear-eyed thoughts on this in terms of the process because it's true. Like, we you know, it's an urgent emergency but process exists for a reason and we don't just jettison it because it's there and it's there for a reason. The 25th Amendment is the process.

But ultimately, I mean, what about resignation? I there's no way the guy is going to resign. The only thing he fears though is legal exposure. And I do wonder if someone -- if Pat Cipollone went to him and said, pardoning yourself is really dubious and might actually get knocked down. You should resign and let Mike Pence pardon you.

GOLDMAN: That's certainly -- a lot of people have been suspecting that all along. Look, when he issued his video yesterday, released it, and it was so contrary to his video the previous day which was only done under somewhat duress, it does -- it was clear at least from reading reporting of people who really know him over the last four years that he is afraid of being prosecuted and going to prison.

HAYES: Yes.

GOLDMAN: And that is actually a check on him for the next 12 days. If he does anything more, it is just going to be additional evidence that might push this over the precipice into an investigation and a prosecution. So, if I'm the leaders of Congress, I am talking to the military, I am talking to the cabinet members, I am trying to rally everyone around containing this man for the next 12 days. And it will also occur naturally because it does sound like he is afraid of being prosecuted, and allow Joe Biden's cabinet picks to have hearings, allow the Senate to go through its ordinary business. Let's move on to the next administration as quickly as we can.

And by the way, Donald Trump, of course, can be investigated and prosecuted for this or other crimes (AUDIO GAP).

HAYES: All right, Dan Goldman who has a lot of experience on this. That was very, very helpful and useful. Thank you so much.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: As the fog of Mayhem dissipates, the full picture of the terror of the crisis that took place in the nation's capital Wednesday is coming into focus. First of all, we should say this. There is a death toll which now stands at five. And we should note, that is one greater than the number of Americans who died the attack on the U.S. government buildings in Benghazi over eight years ago, the last time in American government building was overrun by rampaging and violent mob.

And that led to more than two years of investigations, dozens of congressional hearing. Four of the people who were killed as a result of the capitol attack appear to have been rioters themselves. One of whom was shot in the neck by police as she and others attempted to break into the speaker's lobby just outside the House chamber as you can see in this video.

The most recent casualty of the mob that the President and other Republicans incited is Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. He's a 42-year-old veteran. According to reporting, officer sick neck was struck with a fire extinguisher amidst the chaos on Wednesday. He succumbed to his injuries last night. And that means, the U.S. Capitol is now the site of a homicide investigation among other things.

What we saw happen on Wednesday was the apparent murder of a police officer by members of a mob incited and directed to the Capitol by the President of the United States who hoped they would successfully intimidate members of Congress out of certifying the rightful democratic victory of his political opponent.

We all watched this terrible spectacle unfold live on television. The images broadcasts were largely not the most horrifying ones of the day. Much of what we saw silly costumes, people taking selfies, and grabbing the speaker's lectern, looked kind of like a group that might even attend to Trump boot parade.

But there was something way, way darker, more violent, more sinister and more organized happening in that Capitol on Wednesday, and it's time we see clearly. Those crowds were gathering on the east side of the Capitol in the early afternoon, you'll remember, that Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri walked by giving a supportive fist bump on his way in to object to the Electoral College results, to vote against Pennsylvania ceding their electors who voted for Joe Biden.

And after the rioters broke in, we got eyewitness accounts of people marauding through Capitol Hill, looking for the Vice President. A Reuters editor saying, he heard at least three different rioters at the Capitol say they hope to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from Capitol Hill tree as a traitor.

Indeed, one of the insurrectionists erected a gallows with the news right outside the Capitol. This is a video of a crowd chanting "Hang Mike Pence" while Pence, the vice president, was in the Capitol, had to be taken to a secure location because he had failed to do the thing that Donald Trump told that crowd of people, that mob that Mike Pence had to do or face consequences or face their wrath.

Here's some more footage. This is of an AP photographer being attacked as he covered the riots. He gets shoved around the crowd as it descends on him. Eventually, he's pulled to safety by a cooler headed Trump supporter, luckily, or Lord knows what would have happened to them.

We're also hearing firsthand accounts of the terror from other members of the press. Erin Schaff, staff photographer The New York Times writes that she was in the Capitol rotunda when suddenly two or three men in black surrounded me and demanded to know who I worked for. Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said the New York Times and I became really angry. They threw me to the floor trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them. They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke a lens on the other and ran away.

And then there are the deeply unsettling images of this guy in the Senate chamber, dressed in full tactical gear, carrying plastic zip ties. As Dan Kois writes for Slate, "those are actually flex cuffs the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They went into the Capitol as Congress was counting electoral votes equipped to take hostages, to physically seize officials, and presumably to take lives."

It is entirely possible that there were people in that crowd looking to apprehend and possibly harm and possibly murder the leaders of the political class that the President and people like Mo Brooks, and even to a certain extent, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, have told them have betrayed them. And if you don't believe me, listen to them in their own words. I have to warn you. This video, which was licensed from a self-described civil rights activist is disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want you to go home. I'm recording and there's so many people. It's just -- they're going to push you away up here. Bro, I see people out there get hurt. I don't want to see you get hurt. We will make a -- we will make a (INAUDIBLE). We don't want -- those who are (INAUDIBLE), make a path, please. Just let us make a path. Just let us make a path. I want you to go home. Go, go, let's go. This way.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there's a gun. There's a gun. There's a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Another extremely disturbing video. It shows a crowd of Trump supporters trying to force their way in as officers including one who is in serious distress trying to hold their ground.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Push.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: The death toll from Wednesday's rampage stands at five. (INAUDIBLE) was killed. There's now an active homicide investigation into who murdered him, who the accomplices might be in that murder. The scale of evil that might have been done, the scale of death and destruction that might have been visited is almost impossible to comprehend. What would have happened if they had gotten to Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer or Mike Pence do you think?

And this was unleashed by the president in no uncertain terms. Let's go back on December 19th. Donald Trump tweeted "Big protests in D.C. on January 6th. Be there. We'll be wild." Speakers at that protest on Wednesday riled up the crowd. Rudy Giuliani called on them to settle the election via trial by combat. Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama said it was time to start, "Taking down names and kicking ass. And then Donald Trump spoke to his supporters and laid it all on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have to fight much harder, and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country. But we're going to walk down to the Capitol and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.

And we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: You hear that threat to Mike Pence? He's going to have to come through for us. A mob that went on to breach the Capitol and search for Mike Pence saying they wanted to hang him, well, at the same time that Donald Trump tweeted that Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done. They were roaming through that Capitol.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska reported that Trump was delighted by the chaos as it unfolded at the Capitol. And The Washington Post reports the Pentagon stood in the way of the National Guard being sent in to help. The President incited and facilitated a violent assault on Congress that resulted in five deaths, including the death of a Capitol Hill police officer. He must face legal consequences for those actions.

Even though very few people were arrested on that day, we do know that some of the marauders and insurrectionists are now being apprehended by law enforcement, like this gentleman who put his feet up at a desk in Nancy Pelosi office, and this West Virginia elected Republican delegate who live-streamed on Facebook as he joined the mob storming through the Capitol. He was not the only professional Republican politician who is there.

Here's former Pennsylvania congressional candidate Rick Saccone, you may remember is the guy who lost a special election in 2018 in the district that Trump won by 20 points, also posting on Facebook about storming the Capitol. But tonight, more than 48 hours after that mob stormed the Capitol, we still haven't gotten a full briefing from the Capitol Hill police on what the hell happened and who was injured and who was hospitalized and how. Everyone is piecing this together from reporting and video and it's hard to put the full picture together.

I want to bring in two reporters were inside the Capitol when the mob attack, Matt Fuller of HuffPost and Melanie's Zanona of Politico, two of the best Capitol Hill reporters around. Matt, I want to start with you and I was following your dispatches. It strikes me that there's a kind of stunness and a little bit of shock that is through everyone that has -- and people have a kind of stiff upper lip. But the more video I see, the more genuinely terrifying and dangerous the entire situation seems to me. And I wonder how you are processing it as the days go on?

MATT FULLER, REPORTER, HUFFPOST: Yes, I mean, that's absolutely right. The video that you showed of (INAUDIBLE), I'm not so sure he's a civil rights person, but there's a 40-minute version of that video. And he certainly participates in the protests. But you can I was able to sort of backtrack and sort of reverse engineer where those people were, where the protesters were, and where -- what we were doing in the chamber.

And I can tell you, when they reach that door -- or certainly there have been like what's called the Will Rogers stakeout area there. There may be 20, 30 feet away from the chamber. And I think the house is in session at that moment. When they reach that door, there's still probably 100 members in the chamber.

When that -- when that gunshot went off, I was maybe 20 feet above where that happened. This was -- I don't think that it's really appreciated how close this was. I mean, you know, the Washington Post put this -- put that video together and they can show in that same clip Jim McGovern walking by. Members where -- this is like -- we're talking a matter of a couple of minutes. This was so close.

HAYES: Yes. I want to zoom in on this in a second. I'm going to come to you in a second, Melanie. But just that moment, this is -- it's not this moment, I think. It's the first moment that ends in the gunshot. And that's when you see the rioters essentially negotiating with the police telling them we don't want you to get hurt, telling them, when the country didn't have your back, we had your back. And basically, there's no us standing in front of this door.

The police then move aside and they start to break through that glass door which is barricaded. And there's a police officer on the other side. What you're saying is at that moment, if they breach that, they are in a chamber with 100 members of Congress.

FULLER: I don't know if it was 100 at that particular moment. I kind of remember when that gunshot went off. I can tell you that probably most of the members had evacuate on the floor. There was still a good number of members in the gallery because you remember there was actually sort of rules that you're supposed to have 11 members on the floor from each side. Republicans were certainly breaking that, but there were a good number of Democrats out on the gallery.

I think that gunshot happens, if I'm, you know, just trying to reverse-engineer it, around 2:44 p.m. And I'm telling you that I didn't get out of that chamber until maybe 2:50, 2:55. So, I know that this was -- I mean, there were members on the floor still, there are members in the gallery, their feet away.

HAYES: Melanie, what was your experience like and how are you thinking about what almost happened -- what could have happened on this day?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, I mean, it was crazy because earlier in the day, I was sort of telling loved ones who were sending worried text messages. As the protests were getting out of hand outside, I said, don't worry, I'm in the U.S. Capitol. This is the safest place that can probably be right now, as opposed to the office buildings that had gone under lockdown for bomb threats.

And I was in the chamber when a Capitol Police officer came on the microphone and said, there has been a breach in the Capitol. And those are just words that sent a chill down my spine. And that's when I knew we were in potentially a lot of trouble.

They also started passing out escape hoods, because they said tear gas had been dispersed. The chaplain got on the microphone and started praying over us while this is happening. But I still think it didn't really set in until as we were about to be evacuated. They started reaching the door and they start pounding on the door. And that's when the police officer said -- we were up in the balcony at this point, but they said, get down, duck for cover.

And we saw they erected a barricade and the officers had their guns drawn at that point. And we just had no idea what was on the other side of that door. We didn't know if they had guns. We didn't know if they had bombs. Obviously, there's reports that there had been pipe bombs and stuff on the campus. So, we just -- we really had no idea.

You know, there were some members up there that I was with that were praying. There were other members who were calling their loved ones. You know, I had my cell phone and I was kind of caught between, do I try to look out for my own safety, do I try to document what's going on. I was trying to look around my surroundings. And it didn't quite even hit me until we finally escaped, and were evacuated to safety. And I think it was in that moment that we all kind of looked at each other, the members and reporters, and were like, holy crap. We -- that was really, really close.

And even at that point, we weren't totally out of the woods yet. So, we were kind of just holding our breath waiting to get to this your cure location.

HAYES: I mean, the thing I -- again, Matt and Melanie, I've been digging into -- like, looking at this footage and reading the reconstruction of the timeline, the thing I come away from is A, there was an unbelievable once in a generation security failure clearly.

ZANONA: Absolutely.

HAYES: B, it is a miracle that there are not -- there were not dozens dead. I mean, a miracle that members of Congress were not slayed, that police didn't end up shooting dozens of people. I mean, a miracle. Like, this close to something that would have had the Capitol washed in blood. I think the further we get from that, Matt -- and Melanie, I want to hear if you think this is a correct judgment. Like, it becomes clearer that's how close we got.

ZANONA: Absolutely. I mean, Matt would probably feel the same way. But it could have been so much worse. If these people actually had guns and they wanted to do damage, they could have done whatever they wanted. We were sort of at their mercy. It was very clear that the Capitol Police were on, you know, understaffed. They didn't have enough reinforcements. And it just -- it could have been so, so much worse.

FULLER: Yes. And I would just say, if the protesters knew what they were doing, if they knew sort of the escape routes of this whole situation, that confrontation would been unavoidable. And certainly, you know, I think what we see in this video is a woman who tries to come into the Speaker's office and she's the one who gets shot. They made a decision that people weren't going to cross that line.

And if the protesters had crossed the line earlier, it's more decided to cross the line, there would have been more deaths. There's -- that's just a certainty.

HAYES: Matt Fuller and Melanie Zanona, I'm obviously both happy you guys are safe and still reporting because you're both kick-ass Capitol Hill reporters who I really rely on. So, thank you both.

ZANONA: Thank you.

FULLER: I appreciate that.

HAYES: Next, what happens to the chain of command when the President is considered a clear and present danger? Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore on who is running the country exactly at this moment, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The Speaker of the House is taking steps to stop the president from using the nation's nuclear arsenal, telling members "I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike."

Later on the call of the Democratic caucus, Speaker Pelosi said she had been assured safeguards are in place. Retired Lieutenant General Russell Honore is someone steeped in understanding of the chain of command, a 37-year veteran oaf the United States Army, who led the elite force in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and author of the book Leadership In The New Normal. And General Honore joins me now.

What is your reaction to this news that the Speaker of the House is talking to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about essentially interrupting the chain of command or keeping certain military abilities away from the president.

LT. GEN. RUSSELL HONORE (RET), UNITED STATES ARMY: I think it showed her concern based on some of the instructions that's been coming out of the White House and how they responded to this act of sedition at the Capitol. There's always a check and balance in the chain of command. I used to work in J-3 and oversaw the National Military Command Center that has a lot to do with the passing of information associated with and tracking nuclear weapons. And there's always a check and balance. It's not just one person that can do something and does it independently.

There are many people in that chain of command between the president and somebody setting out at a weapon system and execute it. So, the American people can rest well in that regard. That authority was given to the President. I think it goes back to sometime around Cuba nuclear potential, or what we're fooling around with Cuba and the Russians, had the President had direct codes to be able to launch and that law changed after that, and gave to the president where you didn't have to go through a long or procedure acting Congress and consulted with Congress.

But I think this situation is well in hand. And for whatever reason, the speaker has access to the chairman anytime they want. And I wouldn't read too much into that. I think we all know what the situation is. And it's obvious what has happened over the last two days. And everybody tried to work the way towards the 20th of January.

HAYES: So, I want to --

HONORE: The people can rest easy tonight.

HAYES: Yes. I want to -- you're sort of saying things by implication that I think I want to draw out from you. I mean, what I'm hearing from you is the people at the highest levels of U.S. military understand the instability and the danger of the president and will act accordingly when you say people will -- can rest easy. Is that what you're saying?

HONORE: Yes. I mean, with any president. I mean, this President has acted out, but the system have checks and balances in it because who knows what President in the future. The system is set on a series of checks and balances. There's no one person can do lunch the 3,700 nuclear weapons we have. No one person can do that.

It is set up with checks and balances. It's got the POTUS at the authority to launch, but that procedure is very scripted. But he cannot do that not based on threat, not based on incoming missiles. This is well scripted. And as I said, American people can rest well tonight.

HAYES: So, the President, obviously, there was this very strange thing that happened in December, right, which is that he, in an unprecedented fashion that's never really happened, at one sort of purge the top appointed civilian leadership at the Pentagon, replaced them all with acting. Many of whom were these sort of very low-level junior staffers who had no sort of business taking on the roles that they have.

We now have some really disturbing reports about the possibility that the Department of Defense was standing in the way of National Guard. Are you confident in the current appointed leadership at the top, these gentlemen here who have been installed by the President?

HONORE: Yes. They just need to be walking out of the Pentagon on the afternoon of the 20th. But they need to be walking. And we need new leadership. And they're political appointees and they need to walk. They need to go. And they could cause a serious problem because they will do what the President tell them to do.

HAYES: Have you encountered anything quite like the situation we're in right now in your very, very long career?

HONORE: I've watched it in third world countries in the tutorial situations, and I won't name the company -- countries because we're a part of that club now, but where dictators give orders to the military to do unreasonable things and kill the people in mass. That didn't happen this week, but it sure came close. It could happen. And we lost one of our Capitol Police officers who appeared to have been killed by some of these so-called patriots coming in to save the nation and kill one of our Capitol Police Officer.

That whole Capitol Police, they need to be relooked. The sergeant at arms in both houses and the Capitol Police need to be fired, not allowed to retire but fired and investigated because they give the appearance of having been complicit in allowing this soft defense of the Capitol. It's no way the Capitol should have been this soft in their defense with that many people headed toward the Capitol. That where the complicit piece came in. They did not treat these people as a potential threat.

HAYES: General Russell Honore who has seen a lot in his long and very storied career, thank you for making a little time for us tonight.

HONORE: And may God bless America. Help somebody.

HAYES: Still to come, as the Republican Party collapses around their unhinged leader, Democrats are about to take control the federal government after taking back the Senate on Tuesday. Remember when that happened? We'll talk about what that means and what they need to do ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: You're forgiven if you don't remember it now, but the week began with the revelation that Trump had called Georgia Secretary of State and pressured him over an hour to just recalculate the presidential vote in his favor, to find the votes, just one more in the margin to flip the state. And on Tuesday, we had the Georgia Senate runoffs which resulted in the improbable victories by Democrats John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Today, Republican David Perdue actually conceded the closer of those two races and congratulated Ossoff on this victory. The two wins in Georgia mean that Senator Mitch McConnell will lose his job as majority leader because the Senate will be split 50-50 and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris will hold the tiebreaker. So, that's a bummer for Mitch.

Now, there's a pretty urgent question given the possibility of a second impeachment trial, and generally about the agenda for the Biden administration and confirming cabinet members as well of when Warnock and Ossoff will be seated. After all, the point of impeaching the president isn't just to impeach him a second time to get him out of office. It requires two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict which is a tall order and Dan Goleman thinks they wouldn't even take it up. But two new Democratic senators would certainly help the cause.

Now, Georgia counties have until January 15th, one week from today, to certify the election results. After that, the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has another week until the 22nd to certify statewide. And then, finally, the two incoming Democratic senators can be sworn in.

Now, Raffensperger says he's aiming to have the votes certified by Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20th. So, that's no short thing. No matter what happens, Democrats will not have the Senate majority in the Senate until after the inauguration because again, the Vice President holds a tiebreaker. And for what it's worth, if Mike Pence somehow becomes president in the next 12 days, he gets to choose his new VP. That spot does not automatically go to Nancy Pelosi or anyone else.

Now, House Democrats are looking to vote on articles of impeachment next week. If they pass by simple majority, they would then go to the Senate. Remember, Trump's last Senate impeachment trial lasted for weeks. So, it seems unlikely we would see a Senate vote anyway before January 20th.

There is a twist here, which is that Trump could potentially still be impeached after he leaves office. There's some legal debate on that question. Impeachment conviction doesn't just remove a president, it can also bar him from holding office in the future. Politico reports Democrats believe that possibility could woo Senate Republicans, some of whom are eyeing a 2024 bid themselves.

No matter what happens, the reality is that as bad as the week has been for the country, and it's been one of the worst I've seen, we lost another almost 4,000 people to Coronavirus today. It's also been a disastrous week for the Republican Party. As the dust clears, Democrats are about to take full control of the government, House, Senate, Presidency, and they have their work cut out for them.

With me now, Dorian Warren, president of the progressive organization Community Change, co-host of System Check podcast at the Nation Magazine, whose recent piece for NBC's Think is titled Capitol Police Treatment of Trump Rioters Underscores America's Racist Reality. And Alex Wagner, co-host, executive producer of Showtime's The Circus, who is down in Georgia covering the Senate runoff.

Alex, actually, let me start with you on that note. I was looking at pictures of you down in Georgia covering the race. Were you surprised -- I was shocked by that result. We haven't had time to process it because of everything that's happened. Were you surprised by the -- by the victories?

ALEX WAGNER, CO-HOST, THE CIRCUS ON SHOWTIME: I think everybody sort of expected that this wouldn't go Democrats' way. But if you were down in Georgia, what would have struck you is the ferocious amount of discipline that both Ossoff and Warnock have had on the campaign trail for months, right.

Like, the rest of the country has been talking about Trump. The rest of the country has been, you know, had their finger in the wind to see which way the national news was going and where Trump's, you know, sort of Twitter feed was hour by hour. But down in Atlanta, down in Georgia, two candidates were running with a remarkable amount of message, discipline, and focus.

The only thing -- the only thing that Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff we're talking about we're issues that Georgians care about. And those issues were racial justice, health care, COVID, education and jobs. As someone who tried to interview John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock about other things over the course of the last five months, you could not get them to talk about anything else.

And that was born of a really specific strategy that had its roots in the New Georgia Project and in Black Voters Matter. They basically came up with a playbook about how to turn out Georgia voters, how to talk to them, how to get where they are. And Ossoff and Warnock ran that playbook like nothing I've ever seen, given the gin that was coming from Washington D.C. and the sort of way that Trump kind of vacuums up the spotlight.

HAYES: That is -- that is such a great and central point with I think, profound ramifications because, you know, the power -- agenda setting is a huge power you have in politics. Its power you have, right, like whether you're on a campaign trail when you're governing.

And Dorian, now the challenge is as we think about, like, there are too many things that need attending to. Again, it reminds me of 2009, right? Like, the last republican president left the country in ruins in the midst of a once-in-a-century economic crisis, you know, and a million fires to put out. This one is going to leave the country with 4,000 people dying a day from a once in a century plague tremendous economic misery, and a ton of things. And you can't govern -- it's hard to have message disciplining and governing when there's so many problems.

DORIAN WARREN, PRESIDENT, COMMUNITY CHANGE: Yes, but there's an important part of this story, Chris. And Alex already mentioned the name-check some of the grassroots organizations, because it's that outside pressure from the grassroots that will matter and will help with the agenda-setting.

And just to say, it's not lost to me, by the way, that when a confederate flag made its way into the Capitol building this week, you know, that did not happen during the Civil War. Georgia as a state is at the heart of the old Confederacy. So on the same week where you see confederate flag and side, you have this political earthquake in this what was formerly a deep red state.

And so, organizations on the ground that Alex mentioned, this has been a decade long effort, right? This isn't demographics. It's just destiny. This is the plate tectonics of community organizing for a decade that erupted this week, and in November, by the way, in terms of what we see.

So, that is one of the lessons here in terms of agenda-setting is how will the base of voters, particularly black voters, but also this multiracial, progressive coalition, how will that base stay motivated to put wind, you know, behind the wings of the Democratic Party now that it controls. This is a reconstruction moment meets a new deal moment for the Democratic Party.

HAYES: Right. Although I would say that the reconstruction, they had a veto-proof majority because the traitors were kicked out of Congress. And in the New Deal, they had an enormous super majorities too. Like that's exactly the problem that you -- like, the challenges are at the level of reconstruction new deal, Alex, the majorities are not, right. Let's be very clear-eyed about what we are walking into politically.

The reason reconstruction new deal happen in many parts is because they have these enormous majorities. That's not what Democrats are facing, though they did manage to win control, Alex.

WAGNER: Yes, yes. And a lot of people look at the fact that it's a 50-50 split and say, man, that could be actually even harder in some respects, because McConnell is going to have his eyes trained on the next election cycle and realize that is just a hair's breadth that separates him from becoming Majority Leader before, so his incentive to actually cross the aisle or have any of his members cross the aisle is close to zero.

Having said that, it's still better than not that the two guys that they're going to get seated. And I will say, I don't think, to Dorian's point, it is a coincidence that the moment -- the fact that black voters and specifically black women helped organize and mobilize a candidate who is a son of Georgia, the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a kid who grew up in the Savanna Housing Projects, the first black man to be elected to the Senate from the deep south state of Georgia. It is not a coincidence that the next day a white mob goes to storm the Capitol and puts a noose up on the west side of the Capitol and gets the Confederate flag inside the halls of Congress.

Those are two parts of the same hole. And that is changing in America and a resistance to a new America.

HAYES: How does that, Dorian -- I mean, the challenge here, right, is you got to deliver. I mean, there's certain technical things that have to happen. Like, you have to vaccinate people. I mean, there's I think, 300,000 new cases today. I haven't even covered COVID one-tenth of the amount I wanted to this week because democracy is on fire. But there's certain technical things you have to do.

And then there's a question of like, what can you do and what do you focus on delivering to the people, the entire country, people that voted for you or didn't vote for you, in the immediate short term?

WARREN: COVID relief, COVID relief, COVID relief, whether it's cash, whether it's legalization of essential workers, whether it's an equitable distribution of vaccines. There's also democracy reform, right, in terms of actually shoring up our democracy in this moment. And then there's just a range of other thing like childcare, racial justice, racial justice, racial justice.

HAYES: Yes.

WARREN: Black votes delivered the majority for the Democratic Party in the Senate. So, as you said, though, there's delivering, Chris, but then there's making it visible, making it visible. So, people feel it, right. They feel the material effects in their -- in their families.

HAYES: This is the thing about the $2,000 checks, which you know, was that -- I know we talked about, Alex, in the campaign trail. And there were wonk debates about it's targeted. It's simple, it's clear, and you can claim credit for it. Like, everything you do should pass those three tests, Alex.

WAGNER: Yes. And that's the last thing -- that was a closing argument from both Warnock and Ossoff is elect us, you're going to see the $2,000 check. But the fact is, you have people like Joe Manchin today saying, well, I don't know if we're going to pass a $2,000 federal stimulus plan. I mean, I think that it's an open -- look, it's going to be a jungle in the Senate. And a lot of people who are in the middle have a lot of power.

And defections are going to be threatened and it's going to be a really precarious series of negotiations. But I think, you know, there's a lot of momentum to get something passed immediately because the country is in pain and people are dying at record rates. That is a fundamental reality that you can (AUDIO GAP) no matter what.

HAYES: Joe Manchin said, well, we got to figure out the vaccination. I don't know about the checks. And I thought, well, here's a compromise. Pay people $2,000 to get vaccinated. How about we do that? Let's just pay everyone to get vaccinated. I like that idea. Dorian Warren, Alex Wagner, thanks for making time tonight.

WARREN: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Friday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

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

Content and programming copyright 2021 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2021 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.