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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, January 11, 2021

Guests: Denver Riggleman, Daniella Gibbs Leger, Sherrod Brown, Russ Feingold, Juanita Tolliver


Senator Sherrod Brown speaks out. Congress formally introduces one article of impeachment charging Donald Trump with inciting insurrection. Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman discusses what to do about what he sees as the violence inside part of the Republican Party. Can Congress restrict President Trump from ever running for office again?



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.

We begin with breaking news on Congress' move to impeach Donald Trump. Top House Democrats now warning this, they say, is no time to back down. This is no time to seek healing or to pretend anything would be normal anytime soon.

Congress formally introducing one article of impeachment charging Donald Trump with inciting insurrection for fueling his fans' crime spree at the Capitol, the House pressing forward with a planned impeachment vote that will be this Wednesday.

This, of course, makes history as the fastest impeachment process ever and tees up the prospect of Donald Trump being the only president to be impeached twice.

Meanwhile, Republicans blocking a call that demands Vice President Pence would invoke the 25th Amendment as an emergency measure to remove Donald Trump.

We're also seeing tonight late-breaking news on more resignations coming from the Trump administration, the acting homeland security chief resigning today, although his resignation letter does not cite this riot as a cause. All we know is, he's leaving. This is the third Cabinet secretary to resign.

Two Capitol Hill police officers are also now suspended over Wednesday's events. One has even been arrested. We have more on that this hour.

I want to be clear as we begin a new week. These events on Wednesday are looking factually even more grave as new evidence pours in. There's new video evidence from inside the riots that show it was actually even worse than how terrible it looked in real time, worse than even some of those first viral clips.

And we are still, given the nature and scope of this insurrection, dealing with a fraction of video evidence of what happened. I want to give you a larger context. We have more on that later in the program, including a special report.

But consider tonight that, despite this attack on the United States Senate, Donald Trump has not even reportedly spoken to Mitch McConnell, not since Wednesday, not since, in fact, December 15, when McConnell publicly acknowledged Biden's victory, which, of course, is the thing that Donald Trump, in an authoritarian manner, was trying to stop, that that mob was trying to stop.

Now, this mob rule has continued to pressure one of Donald Trump's other most loyal allies, Senator Lindsey Graham. You may have seen the video going around of him confronted by MAGA members who were upset with him as he was basically protected by a retinue of security.

He is learning that four years of craven loyalty to Donald Trump is not good enough for Donald Trump or for those fans, just as Vice President Pence's extraordinary and long-running fealty to Donald Trump did not diminish the calls for his literal execution when these people learned that Pence's loyalty did not include going to overthrow American democracy on demand and try to create a slingshot dictatorship.

Pence and Graham and others are learning that, if you hunt with wild wolves, it does not matter how many days you have fed them. The first day you do not is the day they will kill you and eat you.

I want to bring in now a former Democratic senator who served in that building who understands what has become of this, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. He's also the president of the American Constitution Society. And Juanita Tolliver, Democratic strategist and analyst.

Senator, having served in that building, your view of what happened, what is evolving now that we're learning more -- I know you're familiar with more of the evidence that's coming out -- and what must be done tonight.

FMR. SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): Well, Ari, thank you for having me on.

I'd be less than honest if I didn't say I'm shaken, like so many Americans. It is even worse, not only knowing all of the intricacies of the building there, but what you just said in the introduction about the information that's come out.

You know, people were kind of -- it looked at first they were kind of dressed like people that were going to a tailgate at a Packer game, sort of. What we didn't understand, though, was there were all kinds of people who were ready to basically take military, violent action who were sort of being -- we were sort of distracted from them.

And so for me to think about people like Representative Jason Crow having to turn to his colleagues who were ducking and saying look, when you leave, you have got to take your congressional pin off, so they don't figure out who you are and hurt you or kill you, that's a terribly tragic moment.

And, you know, this is not just an insurrection. The oath they just took, Ari, was to defend against all enemies domestic or foreign. And these people were enemies of our country, domestic enemies who were trying destroy our government


MELBER: Let me ask you, Senator. You mentioned what Congressman Crow said.

We have lived through four years of being lectured about not taking Donald Trump literally or seriously. We have been told that with regard to his attacks on democracy, his attempt, very real, to overthrow the election, to turn America into an authoritarian country, with his attacks on black and brown and Muslim people and many others.

What you're saying -- and I want to ask you point blank -- does that mean you take it as quite serious and literal that these Trump fans were out to kill members of Congress, to kill Vice President Pence?

FEINGOLD: I don't think there's any question. They were egging each other on. It would have taken very little for somebody to try to up the ante and actually hang Mike Pence or kill somebody who they could get their hands on.

And, yes, somehow this idea that we're supposed to not take it seriously when a guy who's running for president says that he'd kill somebody on Fifth Avenue and his support would go up, he's been telling us for years what his attitude is about that and what he's willing to encourage.

And, Ari, I have got to say that I simply don't understand how anybody voted for Donald Trump in the first place. But I have to put that behind me. Now is a time when we have to ask everybody, whether they voted for him or not, to join together to try to restore our democracy and deal with this threat.

We have to be sort of a big tent for whoever's going to be willing to help us.

MELBER: Juanita?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, NATIONAL POLITICAL DIRECTOR, SUPERMAJORITY: I think hearing what Senator Feingold mentioned as far as the need to hold Trump accountable also includes the GOP members of Congress who perpetuated and furthered his lies, continued to question the credibility of our democracy, and for the past four-plus years refused to hold Trump accountable, and instead making excuse after excuse for his behavior, saying he didn't mean it, when we know, back to his rallies starting in 2015 he incited violence in those audiences.

We have a constant drumbeat of violence and rhetoric, dangerous rhetoric, from Trump that has just come to fruition. So, looking at the footage that you replayed, yes, absolutely, it's horrific.

But am I surprised? No. He's been speaking this way for years. And the fact that he had veteran members of the GOP fall in line behind him to question this election in the way that they did, the 40-plus days that it took someone like McConnell to recognize vice president-elect Biden, or even seeing GOP members support his futile claims that had already been dismissed in courts across the country that there were fraudulent votes or any type of mishaps with this election, shows that their cowardice truly, truly knows no bounds.

And if they do not step forward in this moment to stand and hold him accountable, then that oath of office that they took is absolutely nothing. It's null and void.

MELBER: Both of you are speaking to what it is we're facing as we begin this new week, as the evidence still mounts.

Our panel stays.

I want to make something very clear in our role here as journalists speaking to the country with what's going on now. I think we have to remember this insurrection is not a political debate between competing views in America. We are dealing with a crime against the nation.

So, as journalists, we should not be covering two legitimate sides of what happened on Wednesday. We're covering a crime scene. We're covering the investigation of the crime scene and the prosecution. The defendants have a right to due process. They have a right to deny the charges against them.

But both for those of us working for the information for the nation and all citizens who have to then discuss this and figure out what a democracy, which we still are, what we want to do about it, we have to treat this more like the grave crime scene that it is and less like another political matter.

I just wanted, Senator, to put that on record, and I'm curious your response, your thoughts.

FEINGOLD: Well, I think that's a very appropriate way to talk about it.

And, of course, the little piece of good news is, there's all kinds of Republicans or conservatives who are essentially agreeing with you. They don't want this characterized as Republican vs. Democrat either, because that's not really even accurate.

And so there should be a welcoming attitude about using the constitutional remedies and considering the constitutional remedies that exist. It's appropriate to consider impeachment. And, most importantly, it's appropriate to consider the remedy I remember being discussed during the Clinton trial, impeachment trial, which is the banning of the president from ever seeking federal office again.

That should only take a majority vote. That should be in the interests of every Republican and every Democrat to simply know that this guy could not come back and mount a movement to run again.

He's already trying to call this his first term, even as he admits that he won't be sworn in on January 20. So, yes, I think the way you're phrasing it is very appropriate and it actually allows people to come in.

MELBER: Juanita, I'm curious your views on that, because this is a difficult thing. Any time you ask everyone to get out of the mode we're in, even before you get into politics and ideology, it's human nature to continue the way we were.

And so people see a headline, even a bad one, and then they go back to process it the way they did the week or the month before.

But what happened Wednesday and the accountability for this political violence, for this attempted terrorism, violence pursuing a political goal, the intimidation of the government, the overthrow of the government, requires everyone who's serious about this or factual to get out of the usual metrics and understand, if you think and understand what happened, then what do you want to do with civic power, including we have got a new government coming in, a new administration coming in?

What do you want to do about it?


TOLLIVER: I think, Ari, the big point you that mentioned here is behaving differently, which requires people to admit they did things wrong in the past. It also requires people to get very uncomfortable in understanding what the intention and the energy was of this mob, which was comprised largely of white supremacists who were looking to overthrow the election results, incited by Trump.

And that willingness to state the uncomfortable truth that this isn't new in our country, this is exactly a reflection of Americans, and that they actually have to confront it, so that behavioral shift that you just -- that you mentioned, Ari, I hope, I truly hope that we can see members of Congress do that, because what we need is this accountability.

Nothing else happens without truth and accountability first. Don't talk to me about unity. Don't talk to me about turning a page. Don't talk to me about moving forward. Literally, what are you going to do to prevent this from happening again and to holding the individuals who incited this accountable?

MELBER: Yes. And I appreciate your point there, Juanita.

And I want to play a little something from Jim Clyburn for the senator.

But unity is a concept in politics. And there's reasons for that. Unity is not a concept in a murder investigation or a murder trial. We don't speak of unity, because it's irrelevant. Either there was a murder, and you punish it or -- and I'm a lawyer -- if you find that the facts change, the evidence changes, the person you thought was involved wasn't, mitigation, let's deal with the facts.

But at no point do you ever say, well, having gone through the murder evidence, we do need to talk about unity between the accused murderer and others, whoever they may be. That doesn't compute. That doesn't scan. And so the categories we use in the days ahead, I think, matter a great deal.

And I say that, again, in my role, my job, keeping an open mind, if the evidence changes or certain individuals are accused and they are found by a jury that appears to be not guilty, so be it. I'm open to the rule of law, unlike, obviously, those individuals at the crime spree.

But it's that taxonomy, Senator, I'm thinking of and not politics. I want to play before I lose you Jim Clyburn in the House on the impeachment process. Take a listen.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): It just so happens that, if it did go over there for 100 days, it could -- let's give president-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running. And maybe we will send the articles some time after that.


MELBER: Senator, we have a House vote as soon as Wednesday. Speaker Pelosi believes she has the votes.

Your view then on what is the right substantive course after that? That's one view from Clyburn.

FEINGOLD: Clyburn's a great leader. And I think this could have real merit to it. They should make a political judgment.

And it's a political act, the impeachment act. What would be the right time for the Senate to receive this? They don't have to receive it right now. As you remember with Clinton, it was actually one Congress that impeached and another Congress that tried him. It jumped over to two Congresses.

So, I believe this can be done. I do understand the desire to, of course, give Biden a chance to have his first 100 days. But I think people should especially think in terms of what is most likely to lead to a serious opportunity to vote on the question of whether Donald Trump should be disqualified permanently from running for federal office in the future?

But, you know, Clyburn's got a good point there.

MELBER: Senator Feingold and Juanita Tolliver, because I have a lot of breaking news and guests, I'm going to fit in a break here. Thank you to both of you as we begin our coverage.

We have our shortest break of the hour, just 30 seconds.

When we come back, Neal Katyal on the different multiple road maps the Constitution may provide to do what Senator Feingold was just discussing, punish Donald Trump and bar him from office.

We also have updates tonight, police departments nationwide investigating their own officers, some of whom may have been at that rally.

Plus, Senator Sherrod Brown.

We're back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Congress moving towards impeaching President Trump for summoning his followers to the violent and riotous insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday and urging them on.

Now, for all the divisive debates across America, I can note one thing tonight that we haven't gotten to yet. There isn't actually a mainstream debate in the Congress about that being an insurrection. Mitch McConnell, the highest ranking Republican member of Congress, called it an insurrection himself that night.

Now, the Constitution provides for impeachment and conviction for a whole range of high crimes, and insurrection is a more specific offense. House Democrats have been talking up other parts of the Constitution besides impeachment as a possible way to deal with this as well.

You may have heard about the 25th Amendment, which has generally been understood to deal with medical incapacitation. But Speaker Pelosi mentions it in her new letter, as well as the 14th Amendment's ban on insurrectionists from ever holding office again.

Now, the precedent for that has been traditionally to deal with people already convicted of related crimes. It bars a person who's engaged in insurrection from holding office. Now, some members of Congress, including AOC, have also been bringing up whether the 14th Amendment may apply here in addition to impeachment.

We have the perfect guest for this right now. Neal Katyal is a former acting solicitor general from the Obama administration. He's also the author of "Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump."

Neal, good evening.


MELBER: Let's start with impeachment, which is, of course, huge news amidst everything else that the Congress is going forward with this, a vote as soon as Wednesday. And then we will get to the other parts of the Constitution.

Your analysis substantively of the case for impeaching Donald Trump based on Wednesday.

KATYAL: I think the case for impeachment is incredibly strong.

And, Ari, you started the show by talking about new tapes and new evidence. And things are moving so fast, I think it's important to remind viewers of some of the old evidence. And, most particularly, I think folks should look at what Gabe Sterling, who was the Georgia election official, said on December 1.

Here's what he said: "Mr. President, you have the rights to go to the courts. What you don't have is the ability to do -- and you need to step up and say this -- stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to get shot. Someone is going to get killed."

That's chilling to see in the light of what obviously happened on Wednesday. So, I think the case for impeachment is, frankly, slam-dunk, and I think the Congress, the House of Representatives has a tremendous amount of velocity behind it in terms of getting now a majority member -- a majority number of votes.

Even Republicans are jumping on impeachment this time, which is different from last time. And, really, Ari, between the veto override of the president last week and Republicans who now support impeachment this week, Trump has done more for bipartisanship in the past month than he's done in the last four years.

MELBER: Yes, but, as you emphasize also, at such a bloody cost.

Neal, words, as you know, have meaning in English, and then they have legal meaning. And so it's understandable that a lot of people when they hear about impeachment or conviction in the Senate, they just think of if as removing Trump, which is about to happen -- quote, unquote -- "anyway."

Could you walk us through that other piece you alluded to and that your book discusses, which is, in this instance, which is different than a criminal trial, the Senate would ultimately have, in addition to convicting Trump, have the option to vote to bar him from ever holding office again, a vote that, if presented, there may be Republican senators who see that for a range of reasons -- if they never were responsible for other reasons, they may also see it as a chance to once and for all cut him off, as Twitter and other entities are doing, and say, oh, well, if that's my choice, just not ever have him run again, some Republicans in the Senate might cotton to that in a different way.

KATYAL: Yes, our founders were so wise.

What they said -- and this is George Mason and others in Philadelphia -- is, we need an impeachment mechanism that does two things, one, takes someone out, removes them from office, but, number two, sometimes, we're going to want to disqualify them, a lifetime ban on future officeholding.

So it's both of those that are at play here. And even if you don't have the time to remove the president by next week, you have the ability to bar him and disqualify him from future officeholding, which is I think more a statement about the rule of law than anything else.

Donald Trump's never going to win an election for dogcatcher again. But the point is, we need to set the rules and what our red lines are. And, you know, it's outrageous to me that Republicans like Jim Jordan are saying, oh, an impeachment process would be too divisive and destroy unity and stuff like that.

I mean, listening to Jim Jordan talk about divisiveness is like asking David Duke to run your implicit bias training. I mean, where was this guy for the last two months? He was out there saying, there's election fraud and ginning all of this stuff up and helping create the conditions we're in now.

These people aren't patriots. These people are insurrectionists.

MELBER: Well, and, to your point, there's a question about insurrection and traitors. And these are questions that people have to be on record for. People died this week, this past week.

So, Congress can certainly -- they made a big point of coming back in that night to hold a vote on what was a soundly defeated sham final challenge to the rightful election. They acted like doing that was somehow standing up to the mob. Of course, there was a tension there, because, while I understand while they wanted to restore order, it was in conjunction with the mob and the so-called stop the steal that they were initially working to hear that challenge.

So, it would seem to many that going back to the Senate and actually having a vote on whether the -- where do you stand on whether, after all this, Donald Trump should be allowed to seek office again or not? And, as we all know in modern society, him even seeking office, even pretending to run another campaign has repercussions itself.

I want to get you on the other piece of this, Neal, which is very important. Folks who are following the news or saw, as I mentioned, Ocasio-Cortez or Pelosi or others, we have heard more and more talk about the 14th Amendment.

I'm curious what you think about this rather new potential interpretation, where some are suggesting that maybe you could invoke that Civil War era ban on insurrectionists or supporters of rebellion from public office. And to keep it simple, let's focus on just as potentially applied to Donald Trump.

KATYAL: So, Ari, first, you asked, do I support the idea that the president would be qualified to run for future office? And the answer is absolutely not. This guy is not capable of running for office. He shouldn't be. He should be barred. He has as much claim to running for federal office as Vladimir Putin at this point.

With respect to the 14th Amendment I think Section 3 bars people from running -- bars people from serving in federal office if they have -- quote -- "engaged in insurrection or rebellion or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

And I do think that looks like it's been met here. And it would require probably -- it's never really been kicked in against a president. But it would probably require a majority vote in the House and the Senate. It's not clearly in the text. What is in the text of the Constitution is, once there is that, that disqualification imposed on you, you need a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to remove it.

But the amendment doesn't tell us in clear language what's supposed to happen. It was kicked in, in 1919, when Victor Berger, who is a member -- was a member of the Socialist Party, was barred under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

The bottom line is, I think it's available here, and it's mutually reinforcing to these other things. Indeed, the articles of impeachment that were introduced today, or the article of impeachment, actually referenced Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. So I don't think we need to think of them as mutually exclusive.

I think we could see them as all getting toward the same thing; 25th Amendment, impeachment, Section 3, all of these are different mechanisms our founders gave us for precisely this moment, to remove someone who's 100 percent utterly unfit for federal office.

MELBER: And so, as you say that, I think viewers, anyone listening to you would say, wow, well, maybe we have heard less about this in the past four years, but, boy, after Wednesday, the idea that there is this provision on rebellion and insurrection sounds very on point.

As always, and as regular viewers may know, I want to give everyone all of the information we have gathered. People will make up their own minds. You're very esteemed. I think people know that. President Obama literally picked you to make his case at the Supreme Court.

But I want to show Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe, who takes a different view than you on the law.

So, let me read, so viewers can hear both sides, Professor Tribe telling THE BEAT tonight: "The 14th Amendment disqualifies anyone found in court, in court to have participated in insurrection," he goes on to say, "not anybody Congress names as inciters of insurrection."

And he goes on to say, Neal, "Congress claiming powers for simply -- quote -- 'labeling' Trump an inciter of insurrection would be constitutionally prohibited. The court would slap the effort down in a New York minute. Don't try it. It won't work."

A different view there. Your response?

KATYAL: Well, I love Larry Tribe, and we have written many articles together.

My sense is, I think that might be a bit overstated. I don't that think there's anything requiring a court. And, indeed, in the Victor Berger case, I don't think a court determined that. But, in general, I don't see that in the text. And I do see Section 5 in the text of Article 4 -- of the 14th Amendment, which gives Congress the power to implement the 14th Amendment by appropriate legislation.

And then with respect to the slapping it down in a New York minute, what Larry's referring to is the Bill of Attainder Clause in the original Constitution, which prohibits Congress from kind of passing a law that targets you or me by name or effectually by name.

I'm just not sure, again, that that applies here. The 14th Amendment was passed well after the bill of attainder in the Civil War. Almost, in some ways, you could think of it as an exception to the bill of attainder. At least, that would be the argument. I don't think we need to go down this path, because I think impeachment is so clear and obvious.

And what the language of the 14th Amendment does is, it gives ammunition, it gives a kind of theoretical basis for the article of impeachment, or at least one theoretical basis. So, I think all it is, is a mutually reinforcing mechanism. I don't think it needs to be a stand-alone 14th Amendment remedy, the way some have proposed.

And so, to that extent, I very much agree with Professor Tribe.

MELBER: Really, really important, for folks wondering, why are we discussing this level of history, it's because a lot of scholars, people who know their way around this, as well as the speaker of the House and other leaders of the nation, view the moment we're in now as raising the questions of whether the Congress will go to Civil War era remedies to deal with rebellion.

That's how serious it is, as well as the point where I see a little bit of overlap between you and Larry, that you both see impeachment as the place to start, and then you see whether you also use these other severe measures.

Neal Katyal, we're always indebted to your clarity. Thank you tonight, sir.

KATYAL: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Up ahead: Senator Sherrod Brown is calling for Senators Hawley and Cruz to be expelled. He joins us live.

We also have a former Republican congressperson who's speaking out candidly and directly about what to do about what he sees as the violence inside part of the Republican Party.



UNIDENTIFIED RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!


MELBER: More and more video emerging from the insurrection on Wednesday. That was one of the ugly chants from during the riot.

As each day passes, we see more disturbing videos, including this emerging, underscoring just how horrific this riot was.




MELBER: That disturbing video there is part of what's emerged.

Our colleague Chris Hayes did an extensive report on this with that and other videos on Friday night. We're tracking all of it.

What you see there legally is a crowd. That's multiple people engaged in the assault on that federal official, that federal law enforcement official. That is a serious felony of a group nature with a lot of conspiring leading up to it.

And I want to bring in our panel now. We have several experts from different aspects of this.

Denver Riggleman was a Republican congressman from Virginia who is critical of where the party is headed. His book is "Bigfoot... It's Complicated." It examines how different parts of the nation accept conspiracy theories. Daniella Gibbs Leger is from the Center For American Progress. And Juanita Tolliver rejoins the conversation.

I want to start with Daniella on what is captured on these videos, which, again, may present an evolving picture from what happened when we had this very disparate real-time report or clips that went initially viral for various reasons, but may not have been at all the full proportional picture, and what you see here in what was in many ways a very seriously executed act of attempted political terrorism, as well as murders.

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: These videos are shocking and disturbing and just infuriating.

And you look at the pain and anguish in that officer's face, and you think about all the things that led up to that, all the failures that led up to that, that we still don't know the full story of why they were so undermanned, and all the incitement that led up to that from Donald Trump from his cronies in Congress inciting this white supremacist-led mob to overtake the Capitol.

As an American, as a citizen, everyone should be outraged. As a black person in this country, I look at the scenes of what happened and I just -- if those rioters were of a different color, is that the same response that they would have been met with?

It just -- it boggles my mind and it just adds to sort of the trauma of watching all of this unfold. And I think about my friends and colleagues who were fearful for their lives up there. And I think what we're going to see, as more information comes out, hopefully, more people will be held accountable.

But I just have to second what Juanita said earlier, is that there has to be accountability. People have to know that they can't get away with this. These people were taking selfies and showing their faces on camera, because they didn't think that there would be any consequences to their action.

And so we, as a society, have to send a very clear message that that's not the case.

MELBER: Juanita?

TOLLIVER: That's exactly right, Daniella.

I think the other piece here is that this mob literally hearkened back to some of the same mobs that we have seen throughout American history that bring nooses, that name names, that exclusively targets individuals who they want to hang, that they will fight their way through doors, through police, through anybody to get their hands on.

And I also think of the Capitol Hill police officers who are black men and women who literally had to use their bodies also as shields and how that evoked an immediate fear in myself of, OK, being in the middle of a mob comprised largely of Trump supporters, comprised largely of white supremacists, comprised largely of individuals who believe in the lies that Trump and members of the GOP have been spouting, what are they going to try to do to me?

And so the fear that I felt that those officers probably had in real time, but still able to do their jobs and keep people safe and drive the mobs away from, in this example, the Senate floor, it's remarkable. It's remarkable, Ari.

MELBER: Former Congressman Riggleman, should President Trump be ashamed? Should the members of Congress who incited, to a degree, and reinforced these attacks and stop the steal to the point that this happened, should they be ashamed? Are they responsible?


And I can't imagine not being ashamed. It's in the data. And listening to everybody here, I want to just stress this very clearly, that when you look at those that organized this and you look at how it happened, we do know there was a minimum of seven white supremacist groups that were actually identified.

Either they were part of the planning or they were in there when it happened. And that's why, when a lot of people think, hey, maybe we're overstating this or maybe we're being a little too hyperbolic with this, what we can actually say is that, no, we're not because it's actually in the data.

And when you look at this the way through the Network Contagion Research Institute, we were really frightened what we saw and very concerned.

And, by the way -- and I want to tell people this -- it's not stopping. The rhetoric is still out there. The hyperbole is still out there. Now that you see the rise of some of these sort of fragmented groups, the oxygen is already there with the group -- and I'm going to say this, and this is going to stun some people -- without President Trump. They're oxygenated.

They're moving toward this sort of path, where there are some radical elements that believe only in fantasy. And I want to say this also. Can you imagine that we would ever in the United States of America have a siege that happened based totally on fantasy and on conspiracy theories? I think that should really bother people today.

MELBER: And so, given your study of this, and as viewers are hearing you, you're a former member of this Republican Party -- you rose to be in the Congress. You're looking at some people that are your former colleagues.

What is the most important thing, do you think, in the civic quest ahead of us? Because, as we have discussed tonight, the talk of putting things aside so that Joe Biden can have infrastructure meetings seems as ridiculous as discussing building new trains in the shadow of the Civil War and the 14th Amendment, as if that wasn't the pressing business, as if it's even a choice, given what is going on out there.

RIGGLEMAN: I would ask my colleagues to look at this a little bit differently.

You have heard people say that impeachment might be divisive. I want to say it's the other way around, because you have to look at it from the people who believe in these conspiracy theories. If President Trump is to get off with no accountability, they're going to believe that those conspiracy theories are true.

It's a completely opposite way of looking at this, because if they say -- listen, this is almost a messianic conspiracy theory now. So, if they believe that there's some kind of blessing there or they believe that President Trump got off scot-free, that means he had something on other members of Congress.

It means he had something on the deep state. This is exactly why you have to have accountability in these type of situations, because you have got to get into the minds of people who believe this. And if there's no accountability, I think it actually is going to be more divisive going forward.

MELBER: It's interesting to hear you put it that way. I think some people need to hear that.

And, Daniella, I give you the final word in this conversation about both Congressman Riggleman's point and the larger point that, of course, there's so much hypocrisy, we could fill hours with that, and we wouldn't give people new information.

But I will mention the hypocrisy of talk of law and order, which, properly conceived, when not pursued as a strategy or as racist, but just the reference to law and order, right -- it's a TV show because it doesn't have to be held with other connotations -- involves justice, right, which is punitive, because, if people do wrong, there has to be accountability, and deterrence.

We hear a lot about law and order and deterrence, because the idea is obviously what the congressman just alluded to. If people get off with a slap on the wrist or nothing here, obviously, they're not deterred. They will be back at inauguration and worse.

The fact that I have to in the middle of a newscast in America in 2021 say that feels absurd, but I'm growing accustomed to some of the sad and bloody absurdities. I give you the final word.

GIBBS LEGER: Yes. It's a very awful place that we are at right now. But we predicted this several years ago, that we would be right where we are.

And the hypocrisy -- like you said, the hypocrisy knows no end. Blue lives matter to this group, until it doesn't. They're the party of law and order, until they don't like the law and they don't like the order.

So, you know, what needs to happen is that the people who perpetrated this need to be punished. The fact that I'm reading about police departments across the country who are now worried about who they're sending to the Capitol to help defend, that there might be people in their ranks who were storming the Capitol, that goes into the problem of policing that we have and white supremacists infiltrating policing in this country.

There's so much to unpack here. There's so much that we have to handle. But, first and foremost, the people who are responsible for what happened last week must be held accountable, and it must happen now.

MELBER: Daniella Gibbs Leger, Juanita Tolliver, and former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman, who's been studying these issues, thank you to each of you.

We're going to fit in a break.

When we come back, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown on the impeachment, the conviction, the possible barring of Donald Trump from ever holding office again. He has a vote, if it comes to that -- after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they're going in. Go, go, go, go, go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go! Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!


MELBER: More of this new evidence, criminal legal evidence, videos emerging from inside the insurrection and riot on Wednesday.

We're joined now by United States Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio. He is on track to be chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs when Democrats take control of the Senate. He has spoken out forcefully about the culpability of several Republicans in all this.

Good evening to you, and, obviously, a bad time for America. I ask you, Senator, what is to be done?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Well, what is to be done is, we move forward on impeachment.

I appreciate what you said earlier in the show when you said this is a crime against the nation. Every day, we see, almost every hour, we see another video that's even more troubling about terrible things these rioters have done.

We see continued acquiescence by far too many senators. We need to move forward on impeachment. We need to -- I called for the resignation of Cruz and Hawley. Of course, they're not going to. We need to move forward on expulsion.

And then we consider, what do we do -- after Senator Schumer becomes majority leader, what do we do with the six senators who sided with the terrorists after the attack on our country and on our Capitol and on our democratic government? And we decide what we do with the 139 (AUDIO GAP) who voted with the terrorists after the attack?

MELBER: So, you're advocating the possible expulsion of some of those Republican members of Congress?

BROWN: Yes, I'm advocating expulsion, absolutely, of the two ringleaders, Cruz and Hawley, in the body I sit in.

The House should do it -- whatever they think best. But I think, what do we do with those other six senators that voted with the terrorists after the attack, after House members' lives were saved by courageous police, after the police officer you talked about kept people out of the Senate chamber?

After we had, for five hours, then quarantined or kept in a safe room in the Hart Building, they come back and they still vote for -- voted for siding with the terrorists who had just attacked our country.

So, we need to figure -- we need to figure, what do we do with those senators also? But the first thing is impeachment. The first thing is expulsion of the two senators and impeachment. I don't particularly care the order. And there needs to be accountability, without a question.

MELBER: Speaker Pelosi has detailed how this went. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark.



PELOSI: Under the table for two-and-a-half hours.


During which time, they listened to the invaders banging on that door, as you can hear on a recording from one of the staffers' phones.



MELBER: The evidence that's pouring in suggests this horrific attack could have been far, far worse.

Do you believe, in some sense, that it also may be working if there are Republican senators or others who are afraid of these people who are, as advertised, in their base?

BROWN: I'm not clear what you mean working, by -- say what you mean again, Ari?

MELBER: Do you think -- sure.

Senator, do you think that people like Senator Graham, who was mobbed at the airport, people like Senator Cruz, they may have played with fire, but are they now afraid of political blowback or violence from these individuals if they reside more on the right and more on the Republican MAGA side than anywhere else?

Are they intimidated?

BROWN: I don't...


BROWN: ... learned anything.

Yes, I heard, when we were -- when the 100 -- when the 75 senators were confined in a room with about 75 staff people, Lindsey Graham with his mask off started screaming at the officer -- one of the officers -- I think it was one of the captains -- saying: "How come you didn't protect us? It's your doing, your job."

This is the same Lindsey Graham that, for five years -- or for fours years -- he didn't do it at the beginning -- defended and argued for and encouraged and aided and abetted this president and all of his followers who were perhaps as extreme as the president.

MELBER: You saw -- Senator, you -- while you were still in the emergency of it, you saw Senator Graham yelling or berating an officer?

What was he getting at? What can you tell us about that? Do you think he was wrong to do that?

BROWN: Yes, I have not said this publicly yet.

But when I hear Graham and these others say these things, and he -- he was screaming at an officer. He had his mask off screaming at this officer from five feet away. I was maybe 10 feet on the other side -- and that the officer didn't -- didn't -- that the police didn't do enough to protect us.

The same Lindsey Graham that aided and abetted the same number of senators. the -- that then a number of them -- Lindsey wasn't one of them, but they came back and still sided with these terrorists after the attack on our Capitol.

So, I don't know what they have learned, but I know what we have learned. And we learned we need to make all of them accountable. We also need -- every Republican senator has to stand up and say, this was a fair election, there was no fraud, Joe Biden is legitimate, because, when I watched senators speak after all this happened, before and after, many of them said, yes, I recognize Biden's president, but there was fraud, and this happened 20 years ago and 15 years ago, when the Democrats did it.

No, it didn't. It's total false equivalency. There was no fraud. If we're ever going to fight our way back as a country, we need to make Trump and Giuliani and all the inciters accountable.

We need to make senators and members of Congress accountable. And then other senators who may not have been quite as guilty in aiding and abetting Trump, not quite, need to stand up and say, this was a legitimate election.


BROWN: That's how we're going to govern next year. That's what we need as a country.


Senator Brown, thank you for your time. You made a little news there, sharing some of that. And I appreciate you being with us.

We will be right back.


MELBER: We are seeing new pushback on Donald Trump in the corporate sector, from Twitter, to the PGA now pulling its 2022 championship from Trump's golf course, saying it's detrimental to their brand.

The Trump Organization claims this is somehow a contractual violation.

It's another example of the pushback against Donald Trump, far outside of the governmental or political arena.

We will be right back.


MELBER: Thank you for watching THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER. I'm signing off.

I will be back with you tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.



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