Stark warnings and demands from the top Democrat in the House and Senate that the cabinet and the vice president must act immediately to remove the president from power using the 25th Amendment, and if he does not, the House, at least, will move forward with impeachment proceedings to move quickly and try to force him out of office. Interview with Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": I guess there's some breaking news that Betsy DeVos resigning. These got only a few days left.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: "The Wall Street Journal" is in fact reporting that Betsy DeVos has resigned. We are working to confirm it at this moment, but so far that's a "Journal" report.
And, you know, who knows, Chris, at which point do you bother counting the dominoes or you just put them back in the bag and wait to start the next game?
HAYES: Yes, and whether this is like -- this is serious, and this means something's going to happen or whether people have had enough vacation days saved up that they're ready to head to the beach.
MADDOW: Yes, the idea that they just had -- straw broke the camel's back. Thank you, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
Tanks to you at home for being with us this hour at this remarkable time in our country's history. The sergeant at arms in the House is responsible for security concerns at the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today demanded the resignation of the house sergeant at arms, and he complied with that demand, and he has now resigned.
The Senate sergeant at arms is responsible for security concerns at the U.S. Senate. The majority leader in the Senate, of course, is Republican Mitch McConnell. Just in the last hour, he too asked for the resignation of the Senate sergeant at arms, who then resigned immediately. Senator Chuck Schumer, who is the Democratic Senate leader, he had said earlier today that if the Senate sergeant at arms didn't resign by the time Schumer and the Democrats take over with the majority two weeks from now, Schumer said that he would fire the Senate sergeant at arms on day one. Well, now McConnell has asked for that resignation, and the Senate sergeant at arms has resigned effective immediately.
Speaker Pelosi today also called for the resignation of the head of the U.S. Capitol Police. After some sort of unexplained dithering over that, over the course of the afternoon and then a statement by the U.S. Capitol Police Union blasting their own leadership, ultimately the head of the U.S. capitol police also announced that he too will be resigning.
Oddly, he says he will resign next weekend, next Saturday, four days before the inauguration. Why then? I don't know, but that's when he says he would like to go. We'll see.
But the house sergeant at arms, the Senate sergeant at arms, the head of the Capitol Police, all their heads are apparently going to roll. And we've heard from multiple members of Congress, including on the relevant oversight committees that the catastrophic security failures that allowed the mob of Trump supporters yesterday to storm through the U.S. capitol, looting, reportedly shooting, vandalizing some offices, ransacking others, menacing members of Congress, attacking outnumbered police officers, all of that which the mob was bent on but which adequate security preparations should have been fairly easily able to fend off, we are being told by multiple members of Congress that those security failures that led to this will be investigated.
And now we know we'll have new leadership for security around the Capitol, et cetera, et cetera. Let's hope they get their ducks in a row by 13 days from now for the inauguration.
So on the security side, narrowly defined, we've got firings and resignations and some recrimination. But it's kind of starting to look like that might be it. Like maybe those will be the only recriminations. Like what happened yesterday on Capitol Hill was equivalent to a spate of purse snatchings or maybe some cars that got broken into, or maybe there was some vandalism.
I mean just listen to this. Listen to Maryland's governor, Larry Hogan, today explaining what happened during the height of the rioting at the U.S. capitol yesterday. Larry Hogan is a Republican. He's actually one of three Republican governors now, along with Phil Scott from Vermont and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, who have called on President Trump to resign immediately or be removed from office now, before the end of his term.
But just -- this didn't get a lot of widespread attention today but listen to what we heard today from Maryland's governor, Larry Hogan. Listen to what he described happening in the middle of his day yesterday. He was at work in Maryland, which of course is just outside of Washington, D.C.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Right in the middle of that meeting with our security team, I got a phone call from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who was calling me, saying that he and Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer were all together in an undisclosed bunker they'd been spirited off to at some undisclosed location, that the U.S. Capitol police was overwhelmed, that there was no federal law enforcement presence, and that the leaders of Congress were pleading with me, as the governor of Maryland, for assistance from Maryland's National Guard and state police.
I informed Speaker Hoyer and the other leaders that a force of specially trained riot police equipped to respond to civil disturbances, along with members of allied and local enforcement agencies were already en route to the capitol. I also told them that I authorized the mobilization of the Maryland National Guard and that I was ready, willing, and able to immediately deploy them to the Capitol. However, we were repeatedly denied approval to do so.
Under federal law, the mayor of the District of Columbia does not have authority over the guard, and we must receive approval from the secretary of defense before we're able to send our Maryland national guard across the border into the federal city, into the District of Columbia.
So, we had a little back-and-forth trying to get that authorization. Approximately an hour and a half later, I got a call on my cell phone from the secretary of the army, Ryan McCarthy, who gave us the authority that we needed to be able to move into the city.
Now, the initial contingent of Maryland national guard members were the first to arrive in Washington from out of state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Okay. So that's a remarkable window into what happened yesterday, for which we have to think about what recrimination, what repercussions there will be, what consequences there will be. I mean here's a congressman, the number two Democrat in the house under Nancy Pelosi. It's Steny Hoyer. He happens to be a congressman from Maryland, which happens to be the state right next to Washington, D.C.
Steny Hoyer is in hiding with the other leadership in the House and Senate while an armed mob has taken over the capitol. The Capitol Police are overrun. There's no federal law enforcement presence that they can see at all.
And, Steny Hoyer, because he happens to be from Maryland, he happens to have the phone number on him of the governor of Maryland. So that he's hunkered down in hiding, under fire, and that's who he calls for help. Governor, can you please send some troops or something from Maryland? And Maryland says, sure.
The Maryland governor says, yes, we have civil disturbance-trained police. We've got hundreds of guard troops that are ready to go. Yes, just say the word.
But he can't just say so on his own, right? You can't just send them into D.C. on your own say-so. You need federal authorization. You need the Trump administration to authorize it, and the Trump administration is AWOL. They won't authorize it. Nobody can get a call returned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, what did the secretary of defense say in denying authorization to the Maryland National Guard? What was the reason given?
HOGAN: Well, none of us really spoke to the secretary of defense, but we were repeatedly being told by the National Guard at the national level that we did not have authorization. I was actually on the phone with Leader Hoyer, who was pleading with us to send the guard.
He was yelling across the room to Schumer, who -- and they were back and forth saying, we do have the authorization. And I'm saying, I'm telling you we do not have the authorization. And so, we had multiple times the general was -- we were running up the flagpole. We're ready. Don't have authorization. Don't have authorization.
Then I got a call an hour and a half later out of the blue, not from the secretary of defense, not through what would be normal channels. You know, I got a number I don't recognize on my phone. I pick it up anyway.
Larry Hogan. And it's like, this is Ryan McCarthy, secretary of the army, governor. Can you come as soon as possible? It was like, yes, we've been waiting. We're ready.
I can't tell you what was going on, on the other end, on the decision-making process. There's been lots of speculation in the media about that, but I'm not privy to what was going on inside the White House or inside the Pentagon.
REPORTER: Governor, should the president resign? Should we invoke the 25th Amendment? Where are you at with that discussion?
HOGAN: Look, here's where I am. I -- I think there's no question that America would be better off if the president would resign or be removed from office and if Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, would conduct a peaceful transition of power over the next 13 days until President Biden is sworn in.
Now, how the details of -- if that's going to happen or how that should happen, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As I mentioned, that's a Republican governor, the Republican governor of Maryland. He's one of three Republican governors who have now called on the president to resign or be immediately removed from office before the end of his term. But think about what Governor Hogan is describing there in terms of how this went, right?
An angry and apparently armed mob is overrunning the capitol. The leadership of the Congress calls him to say they are in hiding. They are under assault. There is no visible federal law enforcement response as far as they can see, and the capitol police are overrun. And at that point, the governor of Maryland says, yes, I've got assets to deploy. I just need the secretary of defense. I just need the administration to okay it, to give me the authorization.
And apparently the secretary of defense is not taking calls. Apparently, the secretary of defense is not taking calls when nearby states are offering to send in troops while a riot is under way at the U.S. Capitol. And the president doesn't make that happen, and the secretary of defense, who's a junior guy who was just appointed to the secretary job since the election and nobody knows why, he apparently doesn't make that happen. It's guys from Maryland who know each other trying to get the troops in there without the authorization.
And then finally from outside the chain of command, the army secretary, who has nothing to do with this authorization, an hour and a half into this calls the governor and says, hey, do you have any troops you can send? It's like, yes, I've got plenty of troops. I need authorization to send them in. I'm not supposed to be getting the authorization from you, but I guess you'll do.
What are the repercussions of that? What are the consequences of that? Who pays for that? Who answers for that?
That's part of what happened here. Not only did this violent insurrection happen at the U.S. Capitol, but forces were denied authorization to come in and stop it after the Capitol police were completely overrun. Now, why were the Capitol police overrun? There will be answers to that eventually and the head of the Capitol police is resigning as is the sergeant of arms in the house and the sergeant of arms in the Senate.
But, you know, the president incited a mob to march on the Capitol. He promised them it would be wild. He told them to show strength. His lawyer told them this would be trial by combat. His son said to members of Congress, we're coming for you.
And then the mob did exactly what they were told to do, and they rioted and they ransacked the place, and the military response was throttled by the administration, by the president, by his new acting defense secretary, and four people died. A woman was shot inside the capitol. Three others dead outside, in addition to more than a dozen capitol police injured yesterday.
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan says tonight that one capitol police officer is in critical condition tonight because of serious injuries sustained in yesterday's riot. There had been earlier reports that that police officer had died. We are now told that that officer is in critical condition.
You know, so far the consequences of all that are police leadership being fired, which is a little bit like firing the bodyguard who wasn't able to protect his VIP, but you let the hit man who fired the shots at the VIP, you let the hit man run free.
The people who have resigned from the Trump administration thus far over the president inciting yesterday's attack on the Capitol, it's kind of a weird list -- the White House social secretary, the first lady's chief of staff, a deputy in the White House press office, the deputy national security adviser, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, which is a thing that doesn't actually exist anymore. He was the only one left.
The administration's envoy to Northern Ireland, who used to be White House chief of staff. Also, a senator cybersecurity guy, and now two members of the Trump cabinet. Just in the last few minutes, the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has announced her resignation. That's now been confirmed by NBC News.
That came after the resignation earlier today from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Secretary Chao, of course, married to the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, which makes it make more interesting than your run of the mill cabinet resignation, but, you know, you might ask with Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao now resigning if they were so troubled by the president's behavior, one other option would have been to stay in the cabinet and whip votes there for the invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove the president from power.
The way the 25th Amendment works is actually simple. It's sort of an arcane part of the Constitution nobody really had to pay attention to except when presidents got colonoscopies in the past. But the 25th Amendment we've all learned about in the most unstable, disquieting presidency in American history under Donald Trump.
Used to be arcane, but it is simple. The vice president and a majority of the cabinet vote that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. That's it. By doing so, they can temporarily remove him from power that way.
Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos' resignation tonight means that they will not be yes votes in the cabinet if the cabinet ever moves to take that step.
The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are both calling on the cabinet to take that step, to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president. They both say they will try to impeach the president again if the president and the cabinet don't act. This editorial is going to run as a full-page in "USA Today" tomorrow.
Our view, invoke the 25th Amendment, "USA Today's" editorial board says, quote, by egging on this deadly insurrection and hailing the rioters, the president forfeited his moral authority to hold the nation's highest office even for 13 more days. More urgent, reinforced pro-found questions and raised ones about his judgment and ability to fulfill his most minimal responsibilities to the country he is supposed to lead and protect. Trump's continuance in office poses unacceptable risks to America. The president appears mentally incapacitated living in a fantasy world of voting fraud, unable to accept being voted a loser, checking out of his job even as thousands of Americans are dying from a raging coronavirus.
Invoking the 25th Amendment, they say, would represent a temporary guard rail for democracy, a needed return to sanity and decency in the White House until Joe Biden assumes office at noon eastern on January 20th. Now is the time for the vice president and members of the cabinet to prove they are patriots.
Instead, they appear to be starting to resign one by one, the first two cabinet resignations today. But that editorial will run in "USA Today" tomorrow as a full page. This editorial will run on the deeply conservative, deeply snarky pages of the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page tomorrow. They're calling on the president to resign rather than face the humiliation of having the 25th Amendment invoked or rather than being impeached again. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board seems most against that latter possibility of impeachment because it would give Democrats too much satisfaction because that's very important that we guard against that.
You know, who knows what the likelihood of any of those things are? Do you believe that Vice President Mike Pence and the majority of the Trump cabinet are going to vote to temporarily remove the president from office? Do you believe if the house got it together to lightning-fast impeach Donald Trump that Republicans in the Senate would see the light and say, you know what? This time we will vote to convict and remove. You think so?
As best as I can tell, President Trump thinks yesterday was a win. His supporters pulled off a violent, armed insurrection, attacking the U.S. Capitol, and then they all just walked away to go tell their war stories about it and brag about it. The president offended some of the more norms-respecting members of his party maybe, but he loves that.
He's not out there to win everybody to his side. He's out there to destroy the norms of Democratic governance so they don't exist anymore so he can run the country without him. The more he and his movement make enemies out of those who still respect democratic norms, the cleaner the fight is for him. After the rioting and the attack on the Capitol yesterday, eight Republican senators last night -- eight still voted to defy the results of the presidential election and continue nursing and stoking this fantasy grievance that Joe Biden didn't really win and somehow Trump must still be declared the winner, eight Republican senators and a huge majority of the Republicans in the House.
Republicans in the House voted for the conspiracy theory and the grievance by a nearly two to one margin, including the number one and number two house Republicans, Kevin McCarthy and Representative Scalise.
Yesterday was a win for the violent insurrectionism that is now the apex of the Republican Party. I mean the biggest disappointment for the president's supporters appears to be fear of missing out, regret that they weren't there if they weren't there. Regret that they didn't go farther if they were. Regret that they didn't do similar damage in other parts of the country.
There was a bomb threat phoned into the Michigan statehouse. The Republican governor of Utah had his staff evacuated from the statehouse there. The secretary of state of Georgia and his staff had to be evacuated from the Georgia state capitol. They rolled out a guillotine amid an armed protest in Arizona, in Phoenix. In Kansas, they stormed the rotunda at their state capitol and said they'd be back and armed this weekend.
The Washington governor's residence had its gates broken down and the grounds stormed by armed men. State police were on the scene there. They chose not to arrest any of those people, even after they broke down the gates, because any didn't want to upset anybody.
The pipe bombs found outside the headquarters of the RNC and the DNC in Washington were both reportedly real bombs. They were not hoax devices. They were operable pipe bombs capable of causing, quote, great harm according to the capitol police bomb squad.
One of the lawyers who filed pro-Trump lawsuits after the election in the state of Georgia is now calling for Vice President Mike Pence to be the first one before the firing squad. If the point of authoritarian seizure is to get rid of democratic norms and restrictions so that the country isn't governed by them anymore, so that leaders aren't restrained by them anymore, to clear the way for the claiming and indefinite holding of power sheerly by force, what about yesterday didn't prove to be a successful dry run for them?
Tell me about the consequences for them that they're now shaking their heads over, ruining their decisions, wishing they hadn't done it, recognizing they'd finally gone too far? What wasn't a success for them with what happened yesterday?
I mean the Republican Party, by a large margin, is absolutely still onboard. I mean, Senator Josh Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz, who led this thing in the Senate, they're really contenders now, right? The way they kept carrying the torch to promote the big lie in the election even amid the dead bodies at the capitol. But, sure, some police leaders will get fired, so there's that.
"The New York Times" reported overnight that White House aides believe that the president appeared to be enjoying the footage of the attack yesterday while it was under way. He liked it. It was a good day for him. Yesterday was a big success.
A few times over the past four years, honestly at times when things have been particularly woolly, we have booked here on the show a man named Timothy Snyder. He wrote something at the very beginning of the Trump administration that has proven to be a real anchor for these times. It's this little pocket-sized book called "On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century."
A pocket sized book that's been a real lodestar for a lot of us worried about our democracy, our system of government, and how well it could withstand a well and truly committed authoritarian leader in the White House and one of our two major political parties willing to indulge basically anything from him, anything at all.
And the thing about "On Tyranny," why I have been carrying it around for four years now, is because it's practical stuff. As I said, the subtitle is "20 lessons from the 20th Century."
Lesson one, do not obey in advance. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then they offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do. Lesson one. Tim Snyder calls that anticipatory obedience. Don't do that.
Lesson two, defend institutions. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after another unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about, a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union, and take its side.
It's practical. It goes on like that. It's 20 lessons.
This week we hit some of the scariest lessons in the book, the ones I used to read ahead to and hope we never get there.
This week -- before this week, we're definitely at lesson six now. Lesson six is be wary of paramilitaries. It is impossible to carry out democratic elections, try cases at court, design and enforce laws or indeed manage any of the other quiet business of government when agencies beyond the state have access to violence.
For just this reason, people and parties who wish to undermine democracy and the rule of law create and fund violent organizations that involve themselves in politics. Such groups can take the form of a paramilitary wing of a political party or the personal bodyguard of a particular politician, or apparently spontaneous citizens' initiatives which usually turn out to have been organized by a party or its leader. Armed groups first degrade a political order, and then they transform it.
And here's the last one. Lesson number 18, which rings quite true for me today. Quote, be calm when the unthinkable arrives. Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. That's all from "On Tyranny."
Today, professor Tim Snyder said this, I think to try to give us some clarity, to try to shore us up after what happened yesterday because what happened yesterday isn't likely to be the end, not when it was such a manifest success for those who carried it out and called it into being. Here's what he said today: the claim that Trump won the election is a big lie. To believe it, people must disbelieve their senses, distrust their fellow citizens, and live in a world of faith.
A big lie demands conspiracy thinking. A big lie undoes a society since it divides citizens into believers and unbelievers. A big lie destroys democracy since people who are convinced that nothing is true but the utterances of their leader, those people ignore voting and its results. A big lie must bring violence, as it has. A big lie can never be told just by one person.
Trump is the originator of this big lie, but it could never have flourished without his allies on Capitol Hill. Political futures now depend on this big lie. Senators Hawley and Cruz are running for president on the basis of this big lie.
But then he says this. But there is a cure for the big lie. There is a cure for what we are going through right now, the violence and the shock of yesterday turns out is not self-correcting.
You're all familiar with the idea of an alcoholic hitting bottom, right? The idea of an alcoholic hitting bottom is that from the bottom, that's the place from which the alcoholic seeks help. But there's nothing about hitting bottom inherently that causes you to seek help. Sometimes hitting bottom just opens up new floors.
What happened yesterday is not self-correcting. The Republican Party was not shocked by what they wrought. They did not look at what happened yesterday and decide to repent and change course.
There is a cure here, but it is something that has to be done, not something we can just wait to happen.
Joining us now is Timothy Snyder. He's a professor of history at Yale University, the best-selling author of "On Tyranny", and most recently, "Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary". Professor Snyder, thank you for staying up so late to join us. It's really good to have you here tonight.
TIMOTHY SNYDER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT YALE UNIVERSITY: Of course.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you if I've put any of your thoughts here in the wrong context or put the emphasis in the wrong place here, if you feel like what I'm saying is resonating to you.
SYNDER: No. I'm flattered that you paid so much attention to it, so let's talk some more.
MADDOW: So, you've been warning us for a long time not to underestimate where Trump's election lies could go. One of the things I wanted to ask you about is the president telling his followers remember this day forever. He said that yesterday. That was one of the tweeted that was ultimately deleted before he was taken off all social media.
He simultaneously -- his followers simultaneously are now denying that it was them, saying it was Antifa. It was the other side. It was leftists who are making them pay a price for this even though it was the other side.
How do we make sense of them gloating about this, remembering it forever, celebrating it, and also trying to say it wasn't us, it was our enemies?
SNYDER: Yes. I mean one of the lessons in the little book is believe in truth, and I think that's where one has to start. I think it's the kinds of things that you emphasized in the beginning of the show that we really need to know exactly what happened and establish that. That's very important.
We also have to recognize that none of this happens without a concerted effort to keep this big lie going from the beginning. And then finally, I think it's very clear that how this story is recalled in the future is going to matter a great deal for our republic. I mean Mr. Trump, who is quite clever about these things, understands that, and that's why he's using the word "forever."
From my point of view, it seems very important that we remember, for example, Senators Cruz and Hawley were on the side of the big lie and that Senators Cruz and Hawley and others effectively encouraged the very insurrection by domestic terrorists that interfered with the count of the vote the other day.
MADDOW: You've explained that the cure to the big lie, the way out of this, is to tell the truth as you said. And in part, that means being specific about it, telling the truth about what happened in this election, what the result was, the reality of this election result, and refusing to budge from that. I wonder if you -- I wonder how you also feel about the question of accountability. I am distressed today by the fact that I do feel like for the president thus far, this is a win. For the people who committed these crimes in his name yesterday and committed this violence in his name, they walked away and are telling war stories and enjoying the fact that they did it.
To what extent is prosecution, criminal prosecution, of these kinds of act either helpful or hurtful to the long-term project that our country needs to engage in here?
SNYDER: Yes, I think truth and accountability are both parts of this long-term project, and I think they work hand in hand. I've been thinking a lot about truth these last few days, and it seems to me there's a larger lesson here, which is that you can't lie your way to freedom. If you indulge in the big lie, if you believe in the big lie, if you act on the basis of the big lie, you're not really free. You're the creature of someone else.
And I think we have a problem in this country which is that we've defined freedom as just doing the thing that you feel like doing and saying the thing you feel like saying whether it's true or whether it's false. But when you take part in these big, false stories, you're not actually free, right? You're not actually free.
And one way for the truth to come home is for you to have to take -- for you to have to accept responsibility. It seems to me as a very practical matter, we have to make sure that we're capable of prosecuting people who do things like trespass in state capitols or national capitols, these people might be seen as a mob, but they're also individuals who found themselves doing very specific things.
And this is a matter of truth about what happened, but it's also a matter very practically of preventing this from escalating. There are unfortunately logical steps that follow from this. If you can get away with this, what's the next thing you're going to do?
So it's very important, I think, that people not get away with this.
MADDOW: And I think that underscores a lot of the concern about the president remaining in office another 13 days, what he'll do with his presidential power in 13 days if he sees what happened yesterday as something that advanced him toward his -- toward his final goals.
Timothy Snyder, the author of "On Tyranny," professor of history, Yale University -- sir, thank you for your time this evening, particularly the time given where you are. I really appreciate it.
SNYDER: My pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We've got a lot more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): As I stand here today, delivering the House's closing argument, President Trump's constitutional crimes, his crimes against the American people and the nation, remain in progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: His crimes remain in progress. That was Congresswoman Val Demings, one of the managers -- the impeachment managers during President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial just one year ago. I say first because that's now a live issue again.
Congresswoman Demings, you may know, is the former chief of police of Orlando, Florida. After yesterday's violent attack on the capitol by the president's supporters, Congresswoman Demings is now calling for the president to be removed from office by the 25th Amendment or by a second impeachment. She's also calling for him to face criminal charges for his actions.
Joining us now is Congresswoman Demings. She sits on the Judiciary and Intelligence and Homeland Security committees. As I noted, prior to be elected to Congress, she served as police of chief in Orlando, Florida.
Congresswoman Demings, it's a really honor to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
DEMINGS: Great to be back with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you what the last 36 hours or so have been like for you. I know yesterday was a trauma for everybody who was in that capitol building.
DEMINGS: You know, listening to the video from the impeachment trial hearing his crimes remain in progress, wow, they still do. And I believe they culminated at the U.S. Capitol on yesterday. Rachel, it was unbelievable that Trump supporters incited by him breached the capitol, disregarded the lawful orders of the Capitol police, came in, and just basically had their way.
You know, we had to hunker down, members of Congress on the floor scrambling, trying to get gas masks on, then being evacuated. I could not believe this was happening on a day that was supposed to be just a normal, procedural, casual day as we certified the Electoral College. But this is Trump's America, and I hope the American people are watching and paying attention.
MADDOW: We've had resignations now from the House sergeant at arms, the Senate sergeant at arms, the chief of the Capitol Police. All those resignations demanded, I should say, by congressional leaders.
Having been a leader of a large city police department yourself, I wanted to get your reaction to those resignations. I'm struck that that's the first sign of accountability we've had for what happened yesterday, and while the security failures were obvious, it does feel like a sort of secondary -- a sort of second-tier concern.
DEMINGS: Well, you know, I certainly had a lot of questions about the operational plan yesterday or the lack thereof, the response of the Capitol Police and the chief's resignation today, I think, certainly helps to answer some of the questions that I had that these were not line officers' decisions based on what we saw yesterday, but it was a failure of perhaps leadership.
We still are trying to do an investigation to understand the operational plan, why they did not call for additional assistance before the protesters got there, and what are the future protocols.
In terms of the cabinet members who have resigned, Rachel, you know, it may have been -- we may not be at this point had they stood up and exercised accountability months ago or years ago and held the president accountable. They have been silent, and, you know, I really wish, as you indicated, in my tweet one of the options -- we certainly are looking at impeachment, but the enactment of the 25th Amendment.
And so is this a way for them to avoid having to do that responsibility by resigning 13 days before he will be removed from office? But it's time to hold the president accountable, and I am hoping that the cabinet will help us do that. If not, the House is prepared to do that.
MADDOW: Do you have any expectation the cabinet might do it, or do you think that it's a pipe dream?
DEMINGS: No. I'm disappointed by the resignations because what that signals to me is that they don't have the courage, the guts to really hold him accountable. That is an option that is available to them starting with Vice President Pence. I'm glad that he did carry out his responsibilities yesterday without political influence from the president. But the fact that we're seeing these resignations signals to me that they're not willing to exercise this option that is clearly available to them.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, from the Judiciary, Intelligence, Homeland Security Committees -- Congresswoman, it's a pleasure to have you here tonight, especially with your experience in these matters. Thanks for taking time to be here.
DEMINGS: Thank you so much. Take care.
MADDOW: Will do.
I will mention, Congresswoman Demings there talking about the cabinet resignations. There have now been two today. The secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, and the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, have both resigned.
Since we've been on the air, there's also been another resignation. It is not at the cabinet level. It's the assistant secretary of health for mental health and substance use. Her name is Elinore McCance-Katz. She too has resigned now in response to the violent takeover of the Capitol building yesterday in her words.
We'll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In 2017, three-plus years ago, some members of the clergy staged a small, peaceful protest inside the U.S. Capitol. They were protesting budget cuts being pushed by the president and the Senate Republicans.
NBC affiliate in Atlanta covered it in this report. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: A large clergy group from all over the country, from all different religions, chanted and sang in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol today. In the middle of the night, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.'s church, Reverend Raphael Warnock.
Moments later during a prayer, officers moved in. Warnock and several others were taken away in handcuffs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hauled off in handcuffs by Capitol police, arrested for quietly praying while others sang hymns in Russell Rotunda.
Reverend Warnock in that report from 2017 is the same Reverend Warnock who is now Georgia's first African-American senator.
Compare that treatment, that arrest, to the hours-long siege at the U.S. Capitol building yesterday. The same U.S. Capitol where they broke windows and doors and ransacked lawmakers' offices and forced lawmakers into hiding for hours. Capitol police were outnumbered and obviously unprepared.
But when reinforcements did appear, the level of restraint they had for that mob that had looted and ransacked the U.S. Capitol was -- is astonishing the right word? To many people, it was infuriating.
Joining us now is Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In response to yesterday's attack on the Capitol, her organization has called for the president's resignation or removal from office immediately.
Sherrilyn Ifill, it's great t see you. Thank you for taking time tonight.
SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT AND LEGAL COUNSEL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: What do you feel like is missing from the national discussion and response to what happened yesterday?
IFILL: Well, I think we're missing the two levels of conversation that we need to be having. And I'll confess to you, Rachel, that before I came on tonight, I reviewed again a conversation you and I had in August of 2017 after Charlottesville, and I'm embarrassed to say that many of the things I would want to say tonight I said in that segment with you.
And the two things I wanted to say is that we need to be doing two things at the same time, which is dealing with the issue of accountability for the individuals who stormed the Capitol, who engaged in that violent conduct, and who did it with the intention of overthrowing our government.
There has to be individual accountability for these actions without question. But it is also true that at the same time that we watched, you know, these videos of thousands of people milling about and then storming the capitol and engaging in this outrageous conduct, those are the people we can see on camera.
But there are many people not on camera who also bear responsibility for what this nation has been brought to. They sit in newsrooms. They sit in C-suites of Fortune 500 companies. They sit in law offices. They sit in churches.
They sit in the halls of Congress. They sit in statehouses. They are the people who have tolerated, condoned, and in some instances supported, egged on, and championed the thuggery of Donald Trump.
They have been willing to allow our democracy to be debased in this way, and what we saw yesterday is the culmination of that. The individual actions of those we saw but also the failures of those that we don't see on camera. I've been in meetings with Facebook for more than a year about the use of the platform for violence and the use of the platform by this president to unravel our democracy.
I have met with business leaders of some of the most important companies in this country to beg them, months before the election, to speak. We have engaged with my own profession, lawyers, as we have watched what the Department of Justice has done. You know, Rachel, many of us, we saw you choked up, and we were choked up with you the night you talked about family separation involving tender-age children.
We watched all of this. This was apparent. This was not something secret. This was not in some chat room on the dark web.
And those who are in positions of authority who allowed this, who participated in it, are also responsible, and there must be accountability for them. There must be a full reckoning. We can't be afraid in this new era to confront those, even those in high places who have participated in this. And so I think those are the two things that we have to focus on.
And to the extent that the discussion absents either of those two, the need for full accountability of what happened, what was the involvement of any law enforcement, what did we know before, why were officers appearing to stand down? We've got to deal with that.
But we also have to deal with the larger question. Then we also have to deal with what you were just showing, which is this is the moment in which it is laid bare what is true in this country about law and race, because what we saw -- we know that if that had been thousands of black people marching on the marching on the entering the capitol and pounding out windows and ransacking Nancy Pelosi's office, we know what would have happened. We represent protesters in Louisville and in Philadelphia who were protesting against unconstitutional policing the end of May and June of last year.
And we know what happened to so many who were arrested. We heard Bill Barr saying you have to dominate the streets and sending out federal officers to bring federal charges against people protesting unconstitutional policing. If we can't confront it now we never will be able to confront it.
So it begins with resignation, the calls for the resignation, and if there's no resignation, the impeachment of this president. This is too dangerous. The idea here we will be sitting around for the next 10 days hoping that the president does not do anything terrible and inflammatory, he's to be permanently barred from these online platforms.
And this country has to look at itself. We needs the profession, the law profession to llok itself, Congress to look at itself. The media to look itself. This is a reckoning for our democracy and not for one man.
MADDOW: Sherrilyn Ifill is the president of the NAACP legal defense and education fund, and the person that I most wanted to talk to when things went off like a match yesterday. Sherrilyn, thank you for joining us tonight.
IFILL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. More ahead. Stay with us tonight.
MADDOW: Almost every attacker involved in yesterday's assault on the U.S. Capitol walked away from the carnage with no consequences at all. There have been a handful of arrests and the first dependents started appearing in court today, 55 people so far facing various charges such as unlawful entry, theft, eight people face gun charges. One man arrested with eight rifles and 11 Molotov cocktails, as the federal prosecutor for D.C. called, quote, ready to go.
The U.S. attorney also said, under questioning from reporters today that he wouldn't n rule out investigating President Trump's personal role in deliberately instigating the violence at the capitol.
But there is still one particularly alarming episode from yesterday that nobody has been yet charged with, at least as far as we know, and that's the two pipe bombs that were discovered near the U.S. capitol but outside capitol grounds. Capitol police described the explosives as capable of causing great harm.
A federal law enforcement source told ABC News the pipe bombs were not hoax devices or imitation devices but real bombs. One was found outside the national headquarters of the Republican Party, the other outside the Democratic national party headquarters. Both of those buildings were evacuated after the bombs were discovered. They said the bomb technicians blasted them apart now with water cannons, said it make them safe. Investigators are now examining the pieces of the blown apart bombs for evidence.
But again, as far as we know, no arrests or suspects in the conjunction with the planting of those explosive devices. If there are people involved in yesterday's attacks who are willing and able to build and plant operable pipe bombs on political targets, those are people that need to be found as quickly as possible.
Watch this space, I guess.
MADDOW: I don't know what to tell you to watch for in tomorrow's news. We heard stark warnings and demands from the top Democrat in the House and Senate that the cabinet and the vice president must act immediately to remove the president from power using the 25th Amendment. If he does not, the House, at least, will move forward with impeachment proceedings to move quickly and try to force him out of office.
I don't know if that begins tomorrow or if we expect immediate action on that, if there's no move on the 25th Amendment front. This is very unpredictable times.
That will do it for us, at least for this second. We'll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it's time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.END
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