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Transcript, The Beat with Ari Melber, 1/6/22

Guests: Katie Hobbs, Zoe Lofgren


One year is marked since the failed attempt to overthrow American democracy. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren discusses the one-year anniversary of the insurrection. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs speaks out. Are the people responsible for January 6 getting away with it?


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Our special coverage continues now with Ari Melber.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good to see you, Nicolle. Thank you.

I want to welcome everyone to this special edition of THE BEAT.

Today marks one year since the failed attempt to overthrow American democracy, a violent insurrection that ripped open so many wounds and continues to divide this nation even in ways that in every other modern terror attack we have not been as politically divided.

With that in mind, we look at how moments ago members of Congress walked down the steps of the Capitol to hold a vigil.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We prayerfully walk one year since the insurrection and patriotically honor the heroes who defended the Capitol and our democracy that day.

Let us all here join in a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives and sacrificed so much for our democracy that day.


MELBER: President Biden also addressing the nation today, discussing the threat of political violence, going quite hard at the person who was the beneficiary and, according to so much evidence, the inciter of the insurrection, the former president, who Joe Biden lawfully defeated.

This was an unusually blunt speech at times, especially given the tendency with these kinds of anniversaries for public officials to really stick to a general or even kind of generic script.

Well, it wasn`t that today. It went beyond the kind of usual and quotidian language of American pageantry or politics. It said something that clearly this president thinks people in this country need to hear on this particular day.

With that in mind, we have here at the top of our special coverage tonight on THE BEAT an extended portion of the president`s remarks.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.

He`s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country`s interests and America`s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.

He can`t accept he lost. He built his lie over months. It wasn`t based on any facts.

He`s not just a former president. He`s a defeated former president.

I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either.

I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy.


MELBER: Strong words from the president at a time when so many Americans continue to see the facts of what occurred a year ago today, the facts which are on tape, people see them differently.

We will get into some of that tonight as our special coverage. We have some things planned for you that are both illuminating, what`s happened since then, and also the facts of that day.

I also want to show you lawmakers who did live through this harrowing violence who were the target of intended violence, who were so close, as we learned in the videos and the impeachment trial, to a mob that was stampeding and demanding their assassination, their death.

They shared some of their reflections.


REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-DE): Those of us trapped in the Gallery, we lived it, ducking, crawling, under, over railings, hands, knees, the sounds, the smells.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Two Republicans came up to me. One of them said: "You can`t let them see you. I know these people."

REP. ANNIE KUSTER (D-NH): We were all terrified. And we thought that we would die.

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT): And I wanted to call my husband, just said: "I`m all right. Tell the kids I am all right."


MELBER: We begin our special coverage tonight with the former RNC Chairman and former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Michael Steele, who supported Joe Biden`s election, and Maya Wiley, a former civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York and former mayoral candidate.

Your thoughts tonight, Michael?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s it`s a humbling day in many respects.

It is a day of reflection. It is a day of acknowledgement. And it`s also a day in which I think there`s a growing pressure now on the country. Forget the politicians, who we oftentimes fixate on.


I think it`s a pressure on the country now, on citizens to ask themselves, what do you think about this? Do you really believe this was just some random dudes who showed up at the Capitol because they wanted a tour, that these were just -- this was a sort of explicitly political outcome, that there was no constitutional or underlying concern for the nation?

And I`m hoping Americans are reflecting on that, because, if they`re not, we`re in bigger trouble than we may realize. This day was very sobering in so many respects. And I hope people take it seriously.

It is a shame. I`m embarrassed as a Republican for a whole lot of reasons, but especially given today. Republicans decided, we don`t need to participate in this. It`s no big deal. This is all politics.

It`s not all politics. In fact, it`s not politics at all. And I think the president today made that very clear, Ari. He leaned into this moment. And he called the thing what it was, what we all know it is. He called out Donald Trump. He called out Republicans who support and perpetuate the big lie.

And I think that`s something the country should take notice of.

MELBER: I hope people take notice. I`m really listening to you.

And, as you were speaking, we`re looking at some of these images new from today, the president`s speech, the ceremony on the House floor. We will be joined later by a member of the January 6 Committee. And it is a time where people across the country, Maya, they will have a moment to see this.

Between television and the Internet and the images, it will be a thing that people do know what tonight is, even if they`re not people who always follow the news closely.

And they may even be reminded of some of what happened right after the terrible attack, when there were a few moments where people in both parties, and thus including the Republicans who were not participating today, seem to say, whoa, this is worse than some braced for, and this must be stopped, and this was a Republican insurrection.

Take a look at some of how that sounded then.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The president`s language and rhetoric crossed a line.

MCCONNELL: The mob was fed lies.

CRUZ: and it was reckless.

MCCARTHY: He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.

GRAHAM: All I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough.


MELBER: Maya, it is a fact of public life that, within one year later, most of those individuals have counted themselves back in.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: And, unfortunately, it didn`t take a year. It wasn`t long after those speeches that they counted themselves back in.

And one thing -- I think what Michael said was so dead on. And I can`t help but feel that we have a Michael Steele as a Republican saying what he`s saying, and, unfortunately, he feels too much like a unicorn. That`s actually the problem for democracy, not that we have different parties and different views and different beliefs and different experiences, is that, when we have a simple factual truth, we do not all accept it.

And that`s the greatest danger to democracy. And what we experienced today was a reminder that the trauma of that day, one, it is not over for the members of Congress that survived it. It is not over for the Capitol Police officers who defended them.

It is certainly not over for the families that lost loved ones, because people did die that day. But it`s not over for a nation traumatized by the fact that what we believe to be the strongest democracy on the planet saw a kind of violence and insurrection.

And what we really heard and what has been unfolding from the January 6 Committee is really a message that`s like, violent overthrow is bad; peaceful coup, even (AUDIO GAP) theft of the election, that`s OK.

And that`s what I hear now when I think about those words from Republicans shortly after the violence, and really what we`re hearing today, including your interview with Peter Navarro. It`s just the violence that made it a problem, not the fact that it was a coup.

MELBER: And the president spoke about that today and the ongoing open efforts to suppress the vote and otherwise end democracy. Take a look, Michael.



BIDEN: The former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections.

It`s wrong. It`s undemocratic. And, frankly, it`s un-American.

You can`t obey the law only when it`s convenient.


MELBER: Michael?

STEELE: Yes, he`s absolutely right about that.

And, again, for the president to reframe the narrative of this past year the way he did today stands in stark relief against the backdrop of what Republicans are promoting and what they`re refusing to acknowledge, certainly flies in the face of everything that Donald Trump is saying.

And, again, I go back to the point, how is the country receiving this? How`s the country looking at this? Yes, I get it. We`re concerned about inflation. We`re concerned about gas prices. And we`re concerned about all these other things, COVID. Our lives are -- have been turned upside down over the past year.

But nothing pales, nothing stands up against, nothing overshadows the idea that all of this could get stripped away like that if we`re not careful, that the last thing you will be concerned about is the price of gasoline when you can`t vote. The last thing you`re going to be concerned about is whether or not you got health care here or not there, when you -- when the government is telling you that you`re not favored by President Trump.

What do you do then? And for all those folks who are dancing around that burnt-up Christmas tree of Trump, right, all of you who are just like, oh, hosanna, hosanna, what do you do when they come after you? What do you do when you step over the line and say something the wrong way, or Trump, in his maniacal fashion, decides he didn`t like the way you said something, Lindsey?

What do you say then? What do you do then? Were you lying to us when you stood in the well of the Congress and said the things that were just played in the clip, or are you lying now, lying to yourself?

That`s where we are. And the question is, how are you, those folks out here watching and listening and taking all this in, what are you thinking? What are you going to do about it? How do you respond to it?

Because every sign tells me, Ari, these people are about to reelect these Republicans and put them back in charge of the House, potentially put them back in charge of the Senate, and are damn sure lining up to go bring Donald Trump back in.

And what are you going to say on January 23 or October of 2023 when Donald Trump is purging people in retribution for the big lie he told?

MELBER: I will let that sit for a second. I hope people are listening. Those are the questions.

I want to thank Michael and Maya for taking this seriously on a tough day for America and joining us. Thank you both.

As I mentioned, we have a member of the January 6 Committee standing by, as we turn to the next chapter of our special coverage tonight. We`re looking at how Congress also marked what was, of course, an attack on its very workplace.

There was the standard moment of silence today on the House floor. And, traditionally, representatives come down together to mark any attack on the U.S. on an anniversary like this. It`s a bipartisan tradition. It`s been carried out in Processions and ceremonies from the Oklahoma City bombing to 9/11.

But it is a tradition that Republicans notably chose to break today. Republicans broke it today. No members of House GOP leadership or any of the rank-and-file 212 Republicans showed up for this. The only current House Republican there was the one who was actually purged from leadership because of her criticism of the insurrection, Liz Cheney, who appeared with her father, Dick Cheney.

The hawkish former vice president broke with current Republican leaders also when asked about their partisan and minimizing approach to the insurrection.


QUESTION: What is your reaction to the Republican leadership`s handling of this, of the reaction to January 6?

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.


MELBER: There you have it from Dick Cheney.

We are joined now, as promised, by Zoe Lofgren, a Democratic congresswoman from California, a member of the January 6 Committee, who also served as an impeachment manager in the first Trump trial and has extensive investigative experience.

Thanks for being with us here on this tough day for Congress and for America.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Yes. Yes. Happy to do it.

It is a tough day. To go back through the memories of that day and then to think about what`s happened since then is distressing, really.

MELBER: I have questions for you. But let`s begin by giving you the floor to tell us anything you can about the work product, the status of what is coming out of the investigation you`re doing.


LOFGREN: Well, as you know, we have had hundreds of interviews with people with firsthand knowledge. You have got more than 45,000 documents that have been produced.

We`re eagerly awaiting the release of a trove of information from the Archives. We hope that the Supreme Court will see through the delay tactics that the former president is engaging in, really a frivolous lawsuit.

We have -- the picture is emerging, but we`re not done yet. And, as our chairman has said, we will be having public hearings later this year. But we want to make sure we have got all of the facts nailed down, we can present them in a way that is a coherent and comprehensive and credible.

This has to be a presentation that speaks to Americans across the board of every political stripe that is credible, and people will see it and say, yes, that`s what happened.

MELBER: One of our earlier guests, Maya Wiley, mentioned some of the public statements by people who served in the Trump White House or were high up about their view of wanting to overthrow the election, but, as they put it, without violence or through means that they say they were prepping.

Here is what Peter Navarro told us at MSNBC about that type of plan.


PETER NAVARRO, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: First of all, the election was still in doubt, and would be until it was certified.

We were going to challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states. They were Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada.

We were following the Constitution and rules of the Senate to simply get a recount of what the votes were. It was prescribed by the Constitution.


MELBER: Navarro publicly asserts that he, Steve Bannon and Trump had this plan, that that would then cancel out the loss that Trump experienced.

Is that type of planning under investigation in your committee? And what is your response to it?

LOFGREN: Well, let`s just say that what he said is complete bunk.

There is an opportunity to challenge electoral counts. And that happens before the Electoral College meets. That was done by the former president repeatedly, and courts and election officials couldn`t find any evidence, and no evidence at all to this moment has been uncovered.

So, that`s a coup by any other name. I do think that we need to remove any ambiguities from the Electoral Count Act. And we`re doing some work on that in the committee. I mean, we have had work in the House Administration Committee that I chair that has now been transferred over to the January 6 work force, with our lawyers from House Admin assisting. And I`m hoping they will have a bipartisan bill that we can move forward.

But that tightening it up, so people can`t do wrong and engage in mischief, is not the same as saying that this is a lawful procedure. It isn`t.

MELBER: Do you think that the committee investigation will include these people who weren`t physically present at the insurrection a year ago, but may have been otherwise involved?

You have sought Bannon`s cooperation. He`s defied to the point that he`s indicted for it.


MELBER: But he wasn`t -- he didn`t set foot there. What is he under investigation for?

LOFGREN: Well, we`re looking at the whole picture.

If we focus just on the riot and the violence, it wasn`t just pointless violence. There was an intent to this.


LOFGREN: The intent was to prevent the person who was elected president from taking office and to install the loser that campaign as president. That`s what the intent was.

And so we have to look at the day, but we also have to look at the plot that led up to that day, and we`re doing all of that.

MELBER: Understood.

Congresswoman Lofgren, thank you.

LOFGREN: You bet.

MELBER: Absolutely.

We`re going to fit in a break, our first of the hour. We have special coverage coming up. Earlier, we talked about last year. My next special report for you is about right now, brand-new information about what`s happening inside the DOJ prosecutions. That`s my special report for you with Neal Katyal next.

Later, we have a state official who is looking at the attacks on democracy for the next elections.

This is THE BEAT`s special coverage of January 6 one year later.



MELBER: As the nation marks January 6, one question endures really more than any other. Did they get away with it? Where`s the justice, the accountability, the arrests and the punishment?

After all, this was a violent attack to overthrow an election telegraphed in public, brazenly carried out, with cameras rolling.


JENNA RYAN, CONVICTED IN JANUARY 6 RIOT: We`re going to be up here. And we`re going to be breaking those windows. We`re going to be having to deal with the tear bombs, with the gas bombs.


MELBER: Our special report right now is about the prosecution of the insurrection.

There are three layers to this large case, one, what law enforcement did with those rioters during the unfolding emergency on January 6, a year ago tonight, two, what they did after, and, three, what law enforcement did after to any other powerful figures who were not rioters, but may have helped.

For door number one, the answer is very little. Police were overwhelmed. The Trump administration stalled the backup they desperately needed from the National Guard. And so most potential defendants got away that day. They did a crime spree for hours and then left.

As we reported, last January 7, D.C. police arrested more peaceful protesters at a BLM rally the previous year than at the insurrection. Now, for door number two, afterward, there were many crimes on tape to choose, from trespassing and disorderly conduct to obstructing an official proceeding.


We`re marking this anniversary tonight. And it was exactly one year ago tonight, as this unfolded, that we covered the horror, and Rachel Maddow and I reported on the potential charges to come.


MELBER: There is evidence of a great many crimes committed today. This journalism performed in real time, a sad day for America, also I think provides very legal evidence that could be used in future prosecutions, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And what type of prosecutors are we talking about here? Obviously, you`re describing federal crimes because we`re talking about federal property.

MELBER: Any of these could be pursued either now or later by the Justice Department in the U.S. attorney of the District of Columbia.


MELBER: The Justice Department and those U.S. attorneys did kick into gear afterward, rounding up and charging hundreds who stormed the Capitol, launching what`s now the largest investigation in FBI history.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Justice Department began its work on what has become one of the largest, most complex and most resource- intensive investigations in our history.

MADDOW: There have been charges brought against dozens of people so far.

WALLACE: DOJ and the FBI have opened up 170 cases related to last Wednesday`s insurrection, and they expect that number to grow into the hundreds.

MADDOW: Various charges, including unlawful entry, assault, theft. Eight people facing gun charges.


MELBER: The charges are adding up.

law enforcement has now indicted 700 people to date out of an estimated 2,500 who stormed the Capitol, committing at least a trespassing crime, according to authorities.

So what`s happening in those many cases? Well, that`s our report right now. Over 150 have now pled guilty; 71 have been sentenced. So that`s part of this process.

Legal experts say the DOJ is now pursuing this somewhat more assertively than the approach the Trump DOJ had taken in comparable cases, but lean a little closer, and it gets worse. Many arrests were from fairly minor offenses. So while there are literally hundreds of crimes, there`s actually very little punishment to date, as Politico reports from reviewing and extensive database of these cases.

Given the low-level offenses, it`s an approach that some judges are criticizing. Now, a year later, the question is, what`s the punishment for joining an insurrection to overthrow the government?

We have the answer. The majority of January 6 convicts got no prison time at all. Let me repeat. Of the 70 who have been sentenced, most got no prison. And of those who were sent to jail, the median time for trespassers and insurrectionists is about 45 days. That`s it.

And this is America. There are people sitting in prisons for years for drug charges, while most people who stormed the Capitol have never been arrested. Most of those who`ve been convicted got no time. And even those who did get jail time are serving less time than the thousands of Americans hit for charges that are more minor than -- were more minor than trying to overthrow the government on behalf of the loser of an election to end American democracy.

So many of those Trump fans acted like they were above the law, acted like they had no fear of prosecution, let alone a fear of being beaten or killed by police that day. It`s an attitude other Americans cannot have even for a moment because of reality.

And now a year of these cases shows why. This is what I`m telling you tonight from our special report and these numbers, this evidence. Many are getting away with it.

So, were they right? That`s what DOJ has to answer through the rest of this investigation. Take one convicted rioter who got a two-month sentence, Jenna Ryan, who we showed you before. She reflects a certain type of elite, rich, thug mentality. She literally took a private jet to her insurrection, then publicly told the media she had no guilt about her now convicted crimes because she says she followed Trump`s request.


RYAN: So, me personally, I do not feel a sense of shame or guilt from my heart from what I was doing. I thought I was following my president. I thought I was following what we were called to do.

Do I feel like a criminal? No, I am not the villain that a lot of people would make me out to be.


MELBER: This is America.

The entire probe is not over yet, but a year is a decent start, which is why legal experts are making assessments here. A judge who oversaw one of these cases shared this conclusion on the record.

"Those who orchestrated January 6 have in no meaningful sense been held accountable," based on the cases thus far.

In the justice system, punishment is designed for justice and deterrence. A year later, who can say this is justice? Who could say these cases I just told you about, this record of jail time would deter motivated would-be criminals next time?


Allies of the Garland Justice Department stress that the early results are a reflection of the smallest minor cases, where people pled to minor offenses. They say the big stuff is yet to come and that fully 75 percent of the indicted insurrectionists are still awaiting trial, so their sentences would come later and may be longer.

They also note that heavier crimes do bring potentially heavier bids, the highest sentence thus far, five years for Robert Palmer, convicted of assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon.

And others are still at large, authorities still trying to find the terrorist who put pipe bombs at both parties` headquarters. Just tonight, Politico reporting that Kamala Harris was actually at the DNC at the time that one of the bombs was believed to be outside.

Twenty other trials also scheduled for this year, starting with a man indicted for assaulting officers with dangerous chemical spray. And then, in our report, as I told you, there`s door number three.

Should anyone who helped plan, organize, fund, or foment the insurrection also be charged, even if they did so at a distance, following a long and cowardly tradition of thugs and criminals who get other people to do their dirty work?

Lots of Trump allies talk pretty openly about the thrust of January 6, about overturning elections, about actions that amount to coups. If you have been paying attention, you may have heard it. Should the DOJ investigate any of that?

Well, a leading member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate just told us this probe won`t be complete if the DOJ doesn`t go up the line to the kingpins.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): So far, it has been a very large array of trespassing and glorified trespassing prosecutions of people actually broke into the building. But it has not gone into the various rings that might have supported that or into the key fund-raisers and ringleaders behind the whole thing.


MELBER: That`s true.

So, let`s take it in together, since we deal in evidence, and tonight is the night to do it. They led an insurrection a year ago today. They planned a coup a year ago today. No leader has been charged at all. Most of the trespassers have not been charged at all.

Most of those charged have not been convicted yet. Most of those convicted have not gotten a day in jail. And now some are openly talking about stealing the next election.

It is past time to wake up.

A veteran of the Justice Department, Neal Katyal, is here when we`re back in one minute.


MELBER: I`m joined now by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal on this important day.

We just walked through the evidence that, while all of the entire probe is not over, the majority of people convicted for January 6 trespassing and other offenses got no jail time.

Is that a scandal?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I don`t know that it`s a scandal yet.

So I think there are two buckets of prosecutions, Ari. One is the prosecution of the rank-and-file people, the low-level people who were involved in the attack on the Capitol. And from my perspective, actually, the Justice Department`s been amazing with respect to that, as you said, 700 people indicted. The Justice Department prosecutors are pushing very hard on those sentences.

And what`s actually happened is that the judges in D.C. have been giving lower sentences than what the Justice Department`s been asking for. And that might sound a little unusual, but, to me, the reason is because these initial cases are often pleas.


There are people who are agreeing, yes, I did it, and I will forego a trial in exchange for a lower sentence.

They`re admitting their responsibility. And often these are cases in which the people are less culpable. They`re not the people who were directly engaged in as much of the violence and the like. And there`s a lot left to go. So it`s kind of like our friend Lin would say. Just you wait.

I think there`s a lot of prosecutions left.

Now then there`s...


MELBER: Let`s pause on that, because I know your expertise well enough that I figured you would say that. I want to get to up the line.

But on that point, I`m going to say, I hear you. That`s usually true, for all the reasons we know with plea bargaining. And yet whether you whether you call it the criminal justice system and the judges, or you call it whether the DOJ should have started even more aggressive in terms of how they let people plea, if people go in for marijuana offenses and driving offenses sometimes and tax offenses, even less culpable trespassing pursuant to an insurrection, doesn`t that get you at least a couple weeks?

KATYAL: Well, I think, Ari, what you`re pointing to there is not as much a fault of the Justice Department or the judges in D.C., but our sentencing laws, which are so out of whack, particularly when it comes to drugs.

And so I just think those kinds of comparisons can be done all the time in all sorts of things, but I don`t think they`re answering what`s really going on here. I think the Justice Department and indeed the judges in D.C. are being, I think, pretty careful and applying them pretty strongly, these laws strongly.


KATYAL: It`s just that the laws themselves, I think, reflect some disparity.


MELBER: Right. And you`re giving a -- well, let`s go -- I want to go the other, but I want to put a button this, which is, you`re giving a very nuanced legal breakdown of what we diagnose.

Here`s the facts. People can decide what they think about it, and you`re attributing to where that goes. I will let the viewers decide. Obviously, we welcome all of views on the show. So we`re showing why some of that evidence looks really concerning. You`re giving people legal context for how that works.

And one thing that is not up for debate, because it`s a fact, is 75 percent of the trials are yet to come. We will see where they go.

Now I want to turn to something else you have been writing about that I think is very important. I`m just going to read Katyal to Katyal: "To fail to investigate government officials, including Trump, who had to know the attempt was to interfere with the counting of the vote, to say nothing of its potential for violence, is itself," you write -- quote -- "fantastically dangerous."

Explain, Neal.

KATYAL: Yes, and I think this picks up on the quote that Judge Mehta that you just flashed a few moments ago said, which is those responsible for the coup haven`t been brought to justice.

And there`s not even necessarily any signs that that is an investigation that is happening right now at the Justice Department. So it`s not just Trump, but all the coup plotters around him, like Steve Bannon, like Jeff Clark, the Justice Department official who tried to maneuver to become attorney general, John Eastman, all of those folks.

Yes, Congress is looking at them to try and figure out what`s happened, and subpoenaed and so on. But we don`t have any evidence thus far that the Justice Department has opened an investigation into that.

And from my perspective, that`s what I worry so much about. It may be that that`s happening. We have a great attorney general, who`s, I think, running this investigation hard. But there aren`t any signs right now that that investigation is reaching those higher-ups.

And without that, to me, Ari, that, to me, is the doomsday scenario, to basically tell all these coup plotters, hey, we will arrest those people who you sent there and conspired with, but, you all, you can do it again. You can do it in 2022. You can do it in 2024. You can keep doing it, and not just relitigating the way they tried to with their court cases, but fighting in an armed way, because they didn`t get the result they wanted at the election booth.

MELBER: Is a nonviolent coup illegal?

KATYAL: Absolutely.

I mean, the statute, indeed, that the Justice Department has been using against some of these folks already, 18-USC-1512, isn`t about violence. It basically just says, if you are attempting to obstruct an official proceeding -- and the counting of the votes is an official proceeding -- that`s a felony punished by 20 years in jail.

And my question is, it sure looks like there`s evidence that people like Bannon and Clark and others were in on exactly that. I just want to make sure that there is an ongoing investigation into that, and we don`t put that in the too hard, too political box.

MELBER: All important points, more than one perspective on the evidence there, so folks can make up their own mind, and definitely you writing and sharing here on the program your view of the legal and constitutional import of dealing with the so-called higher-ups, if they are brazenly trying to overthrow democracy.

A fitting night for the conversation.


And, Neal, always good to have you.

KATYAL: Thank you, my friend.

MELBER: Absolutely.

Coming up, we turn to how this all unfolded in reality. We have done some law. We have done some investigations. What really happened? We`re going to show you that, including some of our own coverage.

But we begin before that with what`s happening in the next election.

A top elections official, the secretary of state Arizona, is on the front lines, and joins me next.


MELBER: America marks this sad anniversary of an insurrection tonight, but it`s not about the past.

Unlike most other exposed domestic attacks, violent or on government itself, this is an anniversary that serves as inspiration to some. That is just a sad public fact when you look at the right.

In fact, in 13 states, supporters of the so-called big lie are running to oversee elections. Their grievance is also a plan to use the lie to justify stealing future elections.

And at least 57 people who played some type of role on January 6, meaning they at least attended the Save America Rally, which doesn`t mean they`re all criminally culpable, but they were a part of that, gathering at the Capitol, as well as some who breached the Capitol itself, are running for office. The people involved in all that want to run the government.

Meanwhile, up to two-thirds of Republicans now say the election was stolen; 40 percent of Republicans will tell pollsters, to some degree, some type of violence can be justified, if it is against the government.


With that in mind, we look ahead, not to the past. We`re joined by the top elections official for the state of Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

Thanks for being with me tonight.


MELBER: How much has this become a part of your work? And what are you doing to safeguard nonpartisan elections?

HOBBS: Well, in Arizona, we have been kind of ground zero for this fake audit movement, which is part of this whole front of attacks on our democracy from January 6 and the insurrection, to hordes of bills across the country that are working to make it harder for Americans to exercise their freedom to vote, to continuing to undermine the integrity of our elections with these fake audits, threats against election officials.

So we have really been at ground zero here. And it`s affecting how we go into the next election year, in our preparation. We have had immense turnover of staff as a result of this because of the constant barrage of harassment at our office.

And then I`m worried, a lot of us across the state are worried about how it will affect even poll worker recruitment, because folks are worried about the potential threat on elections.

MELBER: How much power does a secretary of state have to try to change or reverse the actual voting tally outcome?

HOBBS: We have no authority to do that whatsoever.

Our office certifies the canvass results that are provided to us by the counties. And the counties, they have an obligation to certify the results as an accurate reflection of the will of the voters as cast up to and on Election Day.

MELBER: When we hear people like I played earlier, a Trump official, claim that you could try to get decertification or get states back to sort of say, the voters did something different, how real is that as a threat?

In other words, it may be wrong. Neal Katyal just walked through why it may break federal law. But if somebody had enough people installed -- we just talked about the people running -- is that something that you think they can programmatically do?

HOBBS: Well, I mean, that is the concern, right? What kind of constitutional crisis would we be in if there`s enough of these folks that are actively working to overturn the will of the government?

Laws that we saw -- bills and laws that we saw introduced in the past legislative sessions that would allow legislatures to overturn the electors, there`s no constitutional remedy for that. And so these kinds of things are extremely concerning.

MELBER: And when you say extremely concerning, that is secretary of state- speak for, if enough of these people get in charge, we could lose our democracy?

HOBBS: Well, democracy prevailed on January 6 because people of both parties did their jobs to ensure that the will of the voters was upheld.

And we`re going to continue to do that. And I think we`re all really well aware of what`s at stake, and we`re not giving up the fight on this.

MELBER: Secretary Hobbs, thank you for joining us tonight.

Let me tell everyone that, coming up, our BEAT producers have been working on something explicitly for this special coverage. We`re going to show you that next.



MELBER: Anniversaries come and go, but this is the first ever anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, which is the kind of thing that we will be remembering for a long time.

It`s more than a stain on our democracy, because we continue to live through aftershocks that are actually worse, as I think we have shown tonight, than it might have even seemed the night of the 6th, which is really saying something.

We want to show you how it unfolded on the air and what we would later see from inside as key evidence, including from, among other things, an impeachment trial of the beneficiary of this insurrection, Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will never give up. We will never concede. We`re going to walk down to the Capitol. If you don`t fight like hell, you`re not going to have a country anymore.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: Things are happening very quickly there on what appears to be the east side of the Capitol. People now are -- have moved past the police and into the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Massive amounts of what appears to be blood on the ground here.

HOLT: This is a disturbing scene, to say the least.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have pushed back the barricades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never seen anything like this.

HOLT: Taken the extraordinary step of now setting siege to at least part of the Capitols here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tear gas has been used inside the Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States has encouraged people to do this.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: In their minds, they own this country.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: The Capitol steps are now jammed with people, flag-bearing people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump`s supporters had erected a gallows on the lawn in front of the Capitol Building.

RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: This is like some -- watching some scene from a bad movie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see, Vice President Pence and his family quickly moved down the stairs.

TODD: Multiple members of Congress are tweeting that they have been told to shelter in place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They barricaded with furniture. The staff then hid under a conference room table.

HOLT: I certainly feel the loss of words to describe what we`re seeing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officer Goodman passes Senator Mitt Romney and directs him to turn around in order to get to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States, where is he?

TRUMP: Go home. We love you. You`re very special.

REID: Guarantee you, if that was a Black Lives Matter protest in D.C., there would already be people shackled, arrested or dead.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, FORMER MSNBC HOST: Day 1,448 of the Trump administration was disgraceful and dark and sad and humiliating and embarrassing for our country.


MELBER: That`s just some of how it happened.

The insurrection failed. But an insurrection without serious consequences can become a training exercise.

We will be right back.


MELBER: Here`s a look at the United States Capitol right now on this anniversary. Here`s a year ago tonight, how it looked then.

As we mark this time for the nation, it was an attack on the Congress, on the House.

And, today, here is what the speaker of the House said about the riot.


PELOSI: It breaks your heart.

It`s as if the -- somebody in the White House dropped a bomb on the Congress of the United States, that these people -- and they believed the president of the United States.

I have great respect for that office, more respect than the previous holder of that office.


MELBER: That`s the word from the speaker.

Our special coverage continues now on MSNBC with "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID."