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

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 1/6/22

Guests: Mary Trump, Val Demings, Ryan Reilly, Bob Woodward


Rep. Liz Cheney says the January 6 Committee is investigating if Donald Trump broke the law. The nation marks one year since the deadly Capitol insurrection. Plus, no Republican Senators attended the Senate`s Jan. 6 event. Rep. Liz Cheney said that the January 6 Committee is looking at the possibility that Donald Trump`s conduct was criminal on January 6th. Author Bob Woodward said that whatever ability Trump had to control himself vanished on election day.



And there`s been some breaking news tonight from Liz Cheney who said that the committee is looking at the possibility that Donald Trump`s conduct was criminal on January 6th. She said they`re not sure whether it constitutes a crime or simply dereliction of duty, which is not criminal but they are definitely focusing on the possibility of Donald Trump committing a crime on January 6th.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": You know, it`s an interesting -- Liz Cheney`s role in the January 6th commission, which itself is Shakespeare, which itself is a novel, not with standing, the investigation is proving to be so -- aggressive isn`t the right word but comprehensive and energetic. I feel like that alone is sort of restoring a lot of people`s faith in what Congress can do when they set their mind to it.

The professional staff they hired, the energy and diligence and sort of persistence with which they are approaching this task. I don`t know what the ultimate resolution of it is going to be, but all these historians and other people who I talk to tonight, people are really looking to them to get it right, to get this moment right and to get their remit correct. They are inspiring confidence in the way they`re approaching this.

O`DONNELL: I`m sure one of the things that the staff of the committee did, one of the things they began with, was a blueprint laid out in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa`s book "Peril" before they were able to collect evidence themselves there was that book. So, I`m sure, most if not all of the staff read that book. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are going to lead us off tonight as our first guests tonight.

MADDOW: Well done. Well done, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

Well, we have new information tonight about what Donald Trump was doing during the insurrection one year ago that put democracy in peril. Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham testified to the committee last night and this morning she revealed some of what she told the committee.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All I know about that day was that he was in the dining room gleefully watching on his TV as he often did, look at all the people fighting for me, hitting rewind, watching it again. That`s what I know.


O`DONNELL: And unnamed Trump White House official told CNN today that Donald Trump was, quote, letting it play out. Letting it play out.

Today, standing in the Capitol rotunda, which one year ago was under the control of a Trump mob, the president of the United States said this --


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can`t love your country only when you win. You can`t obey the law only when it`s convenient. You can`t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.

Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.


O`DONNELL: Last year, Mitch McConnell spoke even more forcefully about the attack on the Capitol, which he specifically called terrorism and Mitch McConnell left no doubt about who held that dagger at the throat of American democracy.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop us, specific piece of domestic business they did not like.

Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the center floor. They tried to hunt down the speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president.

They did this because they had been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth. Because he was angry he lost an election. Former President Trump`s actions preceded the riot for a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.


There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.


O`DONNELL: And today, Mitch McConnell said nothing. Until the January 6th committee holds public hearings and issues a final report, the most authoritative account we have of the Trump White House on January 6th is in the best-selling book "Peril" from our guests tonight, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Quote, President Trump called Pence around 10:00 a.m. on January 6 as Pence met with Short and Jacob. Pence excused himself to take the call upstairs alone.

I`m heading to the Capitol soon, Pence told Trump. I told you I`d sleep on it and I`d take a look with my team. I`ll hear any objections and evidence. But when I go to the Capitol, I`ll do my job.

Mike, this is not right, Trump said, calling from the Oval Office. Mike, you can do this. I`m counting on you to do it. If you don`t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago.

As Trump kept pushing Pence, the president`s body man, Nick Luna, entered and handed the president the note. They were ready for him at the rally outside. His people were waiting. You`re going to wimp out, Trump said.

Donald Trump then delivered a speech to his fanatical followers, telling them to go to the capitol and, quote, fight like hell.

One of the many lies in Donald Trump`s speech was that he was going to go to the Capitol with them. When the capitol was under attack, the top Republican and the House of Representatives called the man who sent the attackers to the capitol. Quote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was calling into the White House, asking aides to connect with him and the president. McCarthy`s office on the second floor of the capitol was being vandalized. His office windows were shattered. His detail had rushed him out. Trump came on the line.

You got to get and tell these people to stop. I am out of the Capitol. We`ve been run over, McCarthy said. He was intense. Someone just got shot.

I`ll put a tweet out, Trump said. I`ve never seen anything like this, McCarthy said. You`ve got to tell them to stop. You`ve got to get them out of here. Get them out of here. Now.

He never asked about McCarthy`s safety. And one remark stood out. Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.

Donald Trump`s fifth and final national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, is quoted in "Peril" giving Donald Trump similar advice to the man Stephanie Grisham says was gleefully watching TV.

Sir, the vice president is secure, Kellogg told Trump. Where`s Mike? Trump asked. The secret service has them. They`re down in the basement. They`re okay and he`s not going to get in the vehicle.

He knows, Kellogg said that they put your ass in the vehicle, they`re going to take you somewhere. Mr. President, he added, you really should do a tweet. On Capitol Hill, nobody`s carrying a TV on their shoulder. You need to get a tweet out real quick.

Help control the crowd up there. This is out of control. They`re not going to be able to control this.

Sir, they`re not prepared for it. Once the mob starts turning like that, you`ve lost it. He said. Yeah, Trump said. Trump blinked and kept watching television.

Kellogg looked around and realized the West Wing was nearly empty. Meadows was in his office, but Trump was essentially alone.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Bob Woodward, two time Pulitzer Prize winning author and associate editor of "The Washington Post" where he worked since 1971 and Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post". They are the co-authors of the book "Peril."

Thank you both very much for joining us tonight on what is a sad and historic night in this country.

Bob Woodward, as we gather more detail to the very detailed account you already have in "Peril," what strikes you as the most important thing for people to know about what the president was doing on January 6th?

BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there`s more in the book about Trump threatening Pence. I want to be very accurate and quote accurately. He said, you can`t do this. In other words, certify Biden as president.

I don`t want to be your friend anymore. You`ve betrayed us.

[22:10:01] I made you. Your career is over.

And another point in all of this, Trump said to Pence, I picked the wrong man four years ago. And then you did the -- you`re going to wimp out.

And so, I mean, think about it, put yourself in pence`s shoes. Here he is, the loyal man for four years doing everything -- I mean, I remember being in the Oval Office with interviewing Trump and he had, you know -- they always bring people in. And there`s pence standing there at attention, almost eyes glazed over.

And this was the routine. So here Trump says these things to pence and is pushing him in a way rarely I think and perhaps never a president has pushed a vice president. And then Pence, the wobbly at a number of points here, he no doubt -- you know, we lay it out. It is a pretty -- you could almost write a book and somebody suggested there should be a Broadway play written about Pence from our book and what`s on the record and what else can be found out.

And it would be the story of an internal, political and moral struggle, which Pence went through.

O`DONNELL: And as we see in polls, nothing has made Mike Pence more unpopular with Republicans than doing what he was legally required to do on January 6th.

Robert Costa, Donald Trump was asking Mike Pence nothing less than to commit a televised federal crime for Donald Trump and for Mike Pence`s own benefit to retain the vice presidency. And Mike Pence, of course, refused to do that. In Washington, apparently that can be portrayed as heroism, refusing to commit a federal crime on TV?

ROBERT COSTA, "PERIL" CO-AUTHOR: I`m not here to declare heroes or villains, but what we see at the end of the day in this story is Donald Trump was trying to use Mike Pence to weaponize a lie, a lie about the election. And this took Pence to the brink on January 5th in the Oval Office.

And when Trump didn`t get what he wanted there, he called up Bannon, he called up Giuliani and he said let`s issue a statement and say Pence agrees with us, even though he didn`t. That happened on the night of January 5th, the badgering continues on January 6th in the morning and it`s so revealing Pence doesn`t even go to the White House on January 6th. He goes -- works from his home then goes to the Capitol, avoiding the Oval Office.

Once again, he`s huddling with his lawyers, some on the phone. He said, let`s get this letter out. Let`s go to the Capitol. That doesn`t make him a hero.

It makes him someone who resisted Trump for the first time really in an entire vice presidency. And he was being told you will shake the constitutional core of this country if you go up to that lectern on January 6th and walk away. You would have a sitting president and sitting vice president refuse to endorse the incoming president.

O`DONNELL: And, Bob Woodward, we know that when Donald Trump was not watching TV gleefully, according to this new report, or when he wasn`t just staring at it blankly, according to Keith Kellogg, he was continuing during the attack on the Capitol to try to influence senators and House members.

WOODWARD: Yes. I mean, again, you know, we look at this and let`s put this in the context of President Biden`s speech today. I thought it was the strongest speech that Biden has ever given. I`ll say to you, Costa and I talked earlier today, and somebody who helped Biden write that speech or wrote it read our book.

And one of the key elements, and it`s hard to pick out and say, oh, this is the key or there are only five key elements because it`s a coherent portrait of -- in my view a crime on the Constitution to look at the system we have and the certification process which the president of the Senate, that is the vice president, according to the Constitution, has to get up and before the Congress certify and count the votes.


That is in the Constitution.

Everything Trump did in this alleged, you know, stolen election where there`s no evidence is a part of that. I wanted to read something, Costa and I continued some of our reporting after -- even after the book came out. But, a former senior Trump cabinet officer that we talked to said the following -- because inevitably you`re looking at how did this happen? What is the why?

And this former cabinet officer said, my basic feeling was that whatever ability President Trump had to control himself, vanished on Election Day. And in an important way I think that says it. Not that Trump was an expert at controlling himself, but any particle of self control and that ability to kind of strategize and so forth evaporated on Election Day when he realized he had lost. And so, all of November and December were spent trying to manufacture and enhance and support it`s called the big lie. I don`t -- I don`t really use that term.

But what is important -- there`s no evidence, there is zero evidence as Biden said today, as we show in the book, that Trump supporters investigated and ran it to ground as they say. Lindsey Graham of all people had his chief counsel investigate Rudy Giuliani`s memos. I brought them here. It`s half inch thick packet of allegations and none of them check out.

And at the end, somebody said to Senator Graham, well, look they`re making these allegations. And Graham, who can at times have sense of humor, look, I can get a sign and sworn affidavit today declaring that the world is flat.

And so that`s what Trump had. That`s what his lawyers produced. And that does not add up to any fraud. Zero.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to more of what President Biden said today, which does rely on reporting that first appeared in your book about the president watching television in what Chairman Benny Thompson of the January 6th committee focuses in on as those 187 minutes when Donald Trump did nothing about the attack on the Capitol.

Let`s listen to the way the president put that today.


BIDEN: We didn`t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, and nation`s capitol under siege.


O`DONNELL: And, Robert Costa, we now have Liz Cheney tonight saying that those 187 minutes of doing nothing are the focus of a possible criminal offense by Donald Trump.

COSTA: As a reporter, I have a slightly different take on all of this. Was Donald Trump idle during that period? Yes, he was. But there`s -- the base in our reporting, this is not someone who was having some kind of idle episode that comes out of nowhere. This is more like a football coordinator sitting in a box watching a team on the field. This is someone who along with John Eastman, the conservative lawyer, Bannon, Giuliani was cooking up a strategy to do one of two things -- either overturn the election or delegitimize Biden`s entire presidency, essentially try to convince the country that Biden was a fraud president and make it impossible to govern.

And that Eastman memo, you read those two pages we unearth for the book and read it again, this was a coordinated pressure campaign with intent. So while he was idle on the day of and that is an area of scrutiny to be sure, it`s the days prior and the intent to overturn the election that to me as a reporter is almost a bigger story.


O`DONNELL: Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, thank you very much for your invaluable reporting in "Peril" and thank you very much for joining us on this important night. We really appreciate it.

COSTA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, both.

And coming up, judging by the insanity level of Donald Trump`s written public statements today, it was another agonizing day for Donald Trump in exile in Florida. Donald Trump`s niece Mary Trump will join us next with her insights about what was going through what`s left of the mind of Donald Trump today.


O`DONNELL: In the breaking news of this hour, Donald Trump has a new worry tonight about a possible criminal referral by the January 6th Committee to the Justice Department about what Donald Trump was doing on January 6th.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It`s absolutely clear, we know from firsthand testimony that he watched television while the attack was under way. He watched the attack happen on television. We know that he did not walk the very few steps to the White House briefing room, get on camera immediately and tell the people to stop and go home.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: As people were begging him to do, including Ivanka Trump.

CHENEY: Exactly. Right.

So, you know the president of the United States is responsible for ensuring that the laws are faithfully executing. He`s responsible for the security of the branches. So for a president to through either his action or inaction, for example, attempt to impede or obstruct the counting of electoral votes, which is an official proceeding of Congress, the committee is looking at that, looking at whether what he did constitutes that kind of a crime. But certainly it`s dereliction of duty.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Mary Trump, the niece of Donald Trump. She is the author of "The Reckoning: Our Nation`s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal". Her new podcast is the Mary Trump show.

Thank you very much for joining us on this important night. And on days like this, I for one wonder about the fragile mind of your uncle. And I think you just heard Bob Woodward possibly talk about a source telling him high Trump administration source telling him that whatever was left of Donald Trump`s ability to control himself, whatever particle was left of that, disappeared on Election Day.

MARY TRUMP, "THE RECKONING" AUTHOR: I think that`s probably true. As you know, and as we discussed before, that was a narcissistic injury, the likes of which he never had suffered before and probably never imagined he would. And there was no way for him to recover from it. The only way he could mitigate the effects of that was to pretend that it hadn`t happened, which was the beginning of the big lie. And why he has so desperately tried to peddle it.

Unfortunately for us, practically every other elected Republican has bolstered his ability to believe in it because they have allowed him to perpetuate it. They have perpetuated it themselves. And that is in part what led to the insurrection last year.

O`DONNELL: The news that Liz Cheney made tonight coming at the end of this day with your uncle watching all of it. And he hates a lot of people, but Liz Cheney has to be right up there at the top of his list right now.

How do you think he reacts to the possibility that this committee will make a public finding and referral to the Justice Department on the belief that he committed a crime?

M. TRUMP: Well, first Representative Cheney should consider that a badge of honor. I think that -- I don`t want to overstate this because we`ve seen Donald get away with so much, but even he at this point must be feeling the walls close in. If he has any sense, he would feel that way.

The January 6th Committee is doing an extraordinary job of putting the pieces together, of putting a case together and there`s no doubt in my mind if they are discussing making such a referral, they have everything nailed down.

O`DONNELL: So, your uncle issued three written statements today. He`s banned from Twitter, and so just filled with madness. The one coherent sentence that I could extract from it is the Democrats want to own this day of January 6th so they can stoke fears and divide America. I say let them have it, because America sees through their lies and polarizations.

This from a guy who planned to seize this day for himself and have a live TV event today which I think at some point he realized no one was going to carry on live TV.

M. TRUMP: Yeah. I think again, most of that is just projection. Almost everything Donald says recently is some form of projection or another which suggests that there`s some level of knowledge about his own guilt here.

But I think his canceling that event is significant. It sort of reminds me of the circumstances that led to his video last year that clearly he did not want to make.


Somebody managed to convince him that he had serious legal liability and he did not have a choice, which is why in part I`m guessing he cancelled today.

But nobody can stop him from making those appalling written statements. And I have to be honest with you, I prefer them because they don`t get as much play. Certainly I don`t think they have as much impact on the people who still follow him. And yet it gives the rest of us an insight. We really very much need into his state of mind, since he still is the de facto head of the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: The president today kept talking about how Donald Trump lost, it didn`t say Donald Trump`s name, but he kept saying, in effect is always talking right to him, you lost, you lost, you lost. He use that word lost multiple times.

And it made me think about the way the intelligence community briefs the president before talking to people like Vladimir Putin about what might irritate them, if you want to irritate them, what might make them feel more comfortable, what might make them feel very uncomfortable, if that`s your strategy. And this seemed to have some passages in there that were absolutely true and important for America to hear. But that -- but the White House and the President had to know would go straight into Donald Trump`s heart.

TRUMP: Yes, I thought it was masterfully done. And exactly, as you say, along the lines of OSI up (ph), if you will, it was designed at least in those parts. It was designed to make it clear to everybody listening to that speech, what the reality of the 2020 election was that Donald lost badly. And Joe Biden is the legitimate president, but also to make it clear to Donald that nobody is fooled by his laws, except maybe, himself.

O`DONNELL: Mary Trump, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. We always appreciate it.

TRUMP: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, even after 27 years as a police officer, nothing prepared Congressman Val Demings for what she experienced at the Capitol one year ago. She spoke about that in the house today and she will join us next.



O`DONNELL: When our next guest, Congresswoman Val Demings spoke in the house today, she remembered the people who were protecting her life there exactly one year ago today.


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): I stand before you today as a 27-year law enforcement officer. The officers were ambushed by this violent mob, who had total disregard for the officers oath, their records of service, their families and their safety. As a former police chief, I shall never forget what I witnessed one year ago today, and America should never forget, either.

I know the Capitol police officers and others took their oath seriously. Because I saw them fighting with every ounce of strength, courage, commitment and energy that they could muster up. But you know what, as members of Congress, both in the upper chamber and the lower chamber we have taken an oath to, but some have forgotten that oath.

I want to thank the police officers for defending and protecting us that day, but they did so much more. They also protected our democracy. Many people call themselves patriots. But true patriots don`t lie. They don`t steal. They don`t cheat. They are cowards. They don`t push lies for political or financial game, our democracies stood and the enemies of our democracy.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. She served as an impeachment manager in the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump. She`s not running for United States Senate in Florida. Thank you very much for joining us tonight on this important night.

You talked today about people who have forgotten their oath. What did it feel like to have no Republicans come to the House today other than former House member and former Vice President Dick Cheney, and his daughter, current House member Liz Cheney?

DEMINGS: Lawrence, it`s great to be back with you. And let me just say this, it`s been a year, but it feels like it was just yesterday. What happened on January 6 a year ago, I don`t think any of us who really care about this country and love this country, and really call ourselves true patriots will never ever forget that day.

I was extremely disappointed that there were only two Republicans there. You know, I spent 27 years as a law enforcement officer and I could not tell you the political party of the overwhelming majority of men and women that I worked with, we had a mission to fulfill. And we were laser focused on that mission.


And in the worst of times, that`s when we are supposed to come together. So to see no Republicans there, when we are commemorating one year after the most vicious attack on American soil since 1812, was absolutely a shameful.

O`DONNELL: In the first segment tonight I showed how a year ago, Senator Mitch McConnell blamed Donald Trump personally for the attack on the Capitol. Kevin McCarthy did to a year ago, let Kevin McCarthy was silent today. But let`s listen to what Kevin McCarthy said last year.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) MINORITY LEADER: Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There`s absolutely no evidence of that. And conservatives should be the first to say so. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action of President Trump, except to share responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President Elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. And the president`s immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact finding commission and essentially a resolution would be prudent.


O`DONNELL: So he was opposed to impeaching the president at that point, but he wanted to censure the President of the United States, who he is now in service to every day of the former president.

DEMINGS: Lawrence, you know, sadly, I talked about people like Kevin McCarthy, today, those who have forgotten their oath, those who will push the big live for political or financial advantage. So a year ago, when Kevin McCarthy gave his first speech, I were hopeful, because what was coming out of his end was exactly where he should have been. But where has he been since then, where is he today?

You know, President Biden said today do we want to basically be a nation that lives in the light of truth, or in the shadow of lies? I can only believe that Kevin McCarthy, because it`s politically advantageous for him to do so has chosen to live in the shadow of lies.

O`DONNELL: Marco Rubio a year ago did not have the courage, the temporary courage that Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy had. He actually said on the Senate floor. I think politics has made us crazy. Everybody in this country has lost their minds on politics. That`s what Marco Rubio said after the attack on the Capitol. It was Republicans and Republicans only who lost their minds and attacked the Capitol and attacked and tried to kill police. And we`re trying to hang Mike Pence.

DEMINGS: Well, even though what Marco Rubio said last year, made no sense. What has he said today? What has he said since then we`re talking about a United States senator who voted against an independent commission to investigate to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, so we can make sure that it never happens again.

Marco Rubio is certainly not going to get in this fight. He does not have the courage I talked about him today to true patriots are not cowards. They have the courage to stand up for what they know is right. Florida can do better than Marco Rubio.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Val Demings, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, as I`m showing you, no one has publicly laid out the case against Donald Trump and the terrorism. That`s what he called it the terrorism at the Capitol better than Mitch McConnell did one year ago. What is the state of the criminal case against Donald Trump tonight. Neal Katyal and Ryan Riley will join us next.




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: There`s no question done. President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believe they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump called us. Trump called us to DC. If he`s the Commander in Chief and the leader of our country, and he`s calling for help -- I thought he was calling for help.

MCCONNELL: We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. Solicitor General and a law professor at Georgetown University. He is an MSNBC legal contributor. Also with us, Ryan Reilly, senior justice reporter for HuffPost.


Neal Katyal, those a case laid out there of sorts by Mitch McConnell. You have Liz Cheney tonight with the breaking news that the committee is examining the possibility of criminal conduct in what Donald Trump did and did not do on January 6.

NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Exactly. So, you know, Lawrence, I wrote a piece in The Atlantic today, which basically started with those two McConnell quotes that you laid out. And I think Liz Cheney is absolutely right. She didn`t refer to the statute by name, but it`s 18 USC 1512. And it forbids the conspiracy or decision to try and obstruct an official proceeding.

And at this point, it`s very clear that there needs to be an investigation into higher ups, not just Trump, but the other coup plotters around him, like Bannon, like Jeffrey Clark, like Johnny Eastman, and yes, Congress has been looking at this, but we don`t know yet whether the Justice Department hat is and, you know, that`s my concern.

You know, Merrick Garland gave a great speech yesterday, talking about how nobody`s above the law, but there`s still no sign that there is an official law enforcement criminal investigation against the higher ups it might be going on in secret. But if you`re into this, you know, there`s reasons to suspect that it probably isn`t going on right now.

O`DONNELL: And Ryan Reilly, you`ve been covering the over 700 foot soldiers in the Trump attack on democracy on January 6, Danny Rodriguez is one of them. That was the person we saw in that video between Mitch McConnell had to say in his interview with the FBI saying clearly, what Mitch McConnell believed, which is that Donald Trump sent those people to the Capitol, they believed they were being sent there by the President of the United States.

RYAL REILLY, HUFFPOST SR. JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that`s right. And I mean, actually, there`s an interview with one of the detained defendants, I believe, that aired last night, from his jail cell, NBC, talking about how Trump had called them to come to the Capitol, and he didn`t understand why Trump wasn`t speaking out for him.

This was an individual who was caught on camera jacking law enforcement officers that day, and thought that that`s why he was there to basically stand up for what Donald Trump had said. You hear this in case after case after case, it`s just people saying over and over again, that they were told that the election was stolen. And this was what they saw as the logical reaction to that. They were told that there`s this massive crime be committed. And this is how they responded.

I think, you know, I think the legal question is a really tough one, because we have the First Amendment in this country. So that sort of has a path -- there`s a path that sort of is blocked off to a certain extent about pursuing Trump for, you know, inciting a riot effectively. You can go back to Brandenburg versus Ohio, to look at that case, in terms of how, you know, there are restrictions around other protections by the First Amendment even in terms of inspiring violence. And as long as it`s not directly related to the sort of things but there are other pathways. I think that the one that Neal mentioned here where we could see potential charges going forward.

O`DONNELL: Neal, Ryan`s been covering these defendants in these cases so closely, he could he could quote from every one of the cases and so many of them say Donald Trump sent me there, Donald Trump sent me there. You have the video of Donald Trump sending them there, telling them to go up to the Capitol, and to fight like hell and lying to them and saying that he was going to walk up there with them. Can that be linked up in in some criminal action against the president?

KATYAL: Yes, absolutely. And I think the key fact adding to everything you`ve just said is after while these riots are going on, what does Trump do? He sits on his hands for 187 minutes. And so I think both for Trump and for the rioters themselves. I don`t think there`s any First Amendment defense with due respect to what was just said a moment ago. I mean, there is no -- the First Amendment does not protect that kind of conduct.

And to me, the most heartbreaking thing, Lawrence, is that a year ago tonight, we had Republicans and Democrats both condemning not just the rioters, but condemning Donald Trump, or at least as an action and indeed, his action as well. And I remember some commentators said, Oh, this will be whitewashed and forgotten. And I said, No, you know, this is a turning point. This is when people have stared into the abyss and with the Republican Party has realized what Donald Trump has wrought. And I was unfortunately wrong, because they`ve doubled down on this time and again, and we`re now at the point where a year in. There haven`t been an investigation against the higher ups to our knowledge, and none of the higher ups had been, you know, really singled out in any law enforcement.

O`DONNELL: Neal, no one can blame you for believing what you saw, Kevin, you know, see what the Republican leaders of both the House and the Senate said in their respective bodies about Donald Trump being responsible for this.


Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy both said it to believe that they were going to run away from that position in a short time, would have required some mind reading that none of us were capable of.

Neal Katyal, Ryan Reilly, thank you both very much for joining us on this important night.

KATYAL: Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

REILLY: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: And tonight, President Biden made some very important phone calls to some members of the House and Senate staff who as the President put it sprang into action to defend the Capitol and our democracy. On this very day last year, the President said that those House and Senate staffers are some of the quote unsung heroes of that day. And the President just wanted to thank them. Tonight`s last word is next.



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Former president`s supporters are trying to rewrite history.