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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, January 8, 2021

Guests: Ron Suskind, Adam Schiff


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is offering President an ultimatum: resign or be impeached. A memo reportedly circulating by Mitch McConnell in the Senate saying that if the House moved immediately to impeach the president, that the Senate wouldn't take it up and start any impeachment trial until an hour after President Biden was sworn in and Donald Trump was out of office. Interview with Congresswoman Adam Schiff of California, who chairs the Intelligence Committee.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Joe Manchin said, we've got to figure out the vaccination. I don't know about these checks. And I thought, well, here's a compromise, pay people $2,000 to get vaccinated. I would do that. Let's just pay everyone to get vaccinated. I like that idea.

Dorian Warren, Alex Wagner, thanks for making time today.


HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Friday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. If you are one of millions of Americans who has spent the last four years studiously trying to ignore the often insane-seeming, misspelled rambling and screaming of the president on Twitter, then congratulations. Today appears to be the last day you will ever have to devote energy to that cause.

Ahead of this week's attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, the president spent weeks on Twitter telling his supporters that they needed to come to Washington, D.C. on January 6th, on Wednesday of this week. He was hyping that if they came to Washington, there would be something they could do in Washington that would result in them overturning the election results and keeping him in power. He promised his supporters that he would be there with them if they came to Washington on January 6th, that he would be in attendance at their show of force. He promised them that it, quote, will be wild.

Then when they arrived, the president told them, as they sort of mustered their forces that morning, that they must march on the Capitol that day. They shouldn't just rally where they were. They should march to the Capitol. They needed to show strength there. They needed to stop the stealing of the election from him by marching on the Capitol. He told them they better do it now, he said, or we will have no country left.

And so, the mob of his supporters went down to the Capitol, and they broke into the Capitol, and they started beating down the doors onto the House floor and ransacking offices and tearing stuff apart and breaking windows, whereupon the president decided to use Twitter again to keep hyping the cause.

The election was stolen from him. Joe Biden didn't win the election. He won the election in a landslide.

While the assault was under way, the president praising these great people who he loves, who are just standing up for their country.

And when that happened in the midst of the attack on the Capitol, Twitter responded by doing a brave thing. They suspended his ability to tweet for 12 whole hours. Ooh.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram suspended the president's accounts indefinitely. But Twitter, which is by far his favorite, they thought maybe, I guess, he would cool off. He'd have second thoughts. Come back again after a little downtime and be more responsible. Instead the president started tweeting statements through a staffer, a White House staffer, again claiming that the election was stolen from him, this fantasy conspiracy theory, this big lie that is the basis for his whole campaign of grievance now. That somehow the election didn't really happen. He didn't really lose to Biden.

After he was knocked off Twitter for 12 hours, he sent those messages through a White House staffer's Twitter account instead while he was locked out of his own. Nevertheless, Twitter gave him back his account, and he started using it again.

And I will remind you -- I know it probably sounds weird to hear me talking this much about things the president tweeted, but I'll remind you this is the last day we ever have to struggle with the responsibility of how best to ignore his tweets. After today, it's over. But I do actually think, in part because it's the last day, but specifically because of the way it ended, I think it's important actually, I think it's definitely interesting, potentially important to look at the last thing that happened before this all came to an end.

These are the last two posts that he made on Twitter before that company decided to take down his whole account, get rid of all of his tweets, and ban him from the platform entirely permanently. These are the last two.

The first one said this. It said, quote: The 75 million great American patriots who voted for me, America first, and make America great again will have a giant voice long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape, or form. He tweeted that.

And then right after that, he tweeted this: To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the inauguration on January 20th.

Now, I think this is interesting. Look at how the company, Twitter, explains tonight why those two last tweets were enough to finally trigger a lifetime ban on this platform for President Trump. This is actually fascinating to me.

Here's what they say. After close review of recent tweets from the @RealDonaldTrump account and the context around them, specifically how they're being received and interpreted on and off Twitter, we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. These two tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country than the ways the president's statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. We assessed these two tweets under our glorification of violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts, and we determined that these tweets were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including President Trump's statement that he will not be attending the inauguration. That is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim that there would be an orderly transition on January 20th. The president's second tweet may also serve an encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the inauguration would be a safe target as he will not be attending.

Now, on that point, I have to say I had not been thinking about it in those terms at all. Maybe I'm not wired that way. But it's true, right? There's the president simultaneously stoking more of the grievance, potentially more of the violence from the same army of supporters who just attacked the Capitol. And thin in a linked message, he assures them he's not going to be at the inauguration just in case they want to, you know, make themselves known there.

There's a little bit more here. Look. Again, this is Twitter explaining why the president is permanently banned from that platform forever now, spelling out why his final two tweets were determined by the company to violate their glorification of violence policy. They say, quote, the use of the words "American patriots" to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the U.S. Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a giant voice long into the future and that they will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape, or form is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an orderly transition and instead he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.

Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17th, 2021. As such, our determination is that the two tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6th and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.

And thus, Twitter has permanently banned Donald Trump from that platform. Samson got his haircut at long last.

And so, again, now, bigger picture. The president is now banned indefinitely and/or permanently from Twitter and from Facebook and from Instagram.

Now, I should note just in the last few minutes, the president used the official POTUS Twitter account, the official presidential Twitter account, to post a statement complaining about Twitter and excoriating Twitter for what they've done and saying that Twitter's a terrible company that is doing this in cahoots with the radical left Democrats.

He tweeted that from the official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS. Twitter pretty immediately took that statement down.

So, who knows what will happen? The president making noises tonight that he's going to form his own platform, and maybe he will. Maybe in the interim, he'll go to one of the places where, like, the neo-Nazi groups have to go now, these online forums where the neo-Nazis have found safe haven and where his supporters ahead of this week's riot posted pictures of themselves with guns and ammunition in their cars heading to Washington, D.C.

The online forums where the neo-Nazis are welcome and where the president's supporters plotted openly this week, how they intended to kill cops and maybe legislators and how they intended to take over and, in their words, occupy the capitol building while they were there this week. Maybe the president will hop over into that little line of sewage where he can be among friends online. And once he's in those comfy confines, who knows what kind of thing he'll cook up with his supporters for these last 12 days left before Biden is inaugurated.

There are new draft articles of impeachment circulating tonight, which have reportedly been endorsed already by a majority of the Democratic caucus in the House. I'll show you the actual draft of the impeachment articles in just a moment. You can see how they've worded it.

But I think it's important to also keep an eye on how fast this is going to go. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just taped an interview that's going to air Sunday night on "60 Minutes." We got this clip from CBS in which Pelosi sort of describes the urgency with which they are trying to get the president removed right now.


INTERVIEWER: Is anybody running the executive branch of the government? Who is running the executive branch?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, sadly, the person that's running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States. And there are only a number of days until we can be protected from him, but he has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him.

INTERVIEWER: Well, I gather that the 25th Amendment is off the table.

PELOSI: No, it isn't. Nothing is off the table.


MADDOW: Nothing is off the table, she says.

What Pelosi has set out as her plan is this. Plan A, number one, she says they want the president to resign. If the president won't resign, then they will go forward with a couple of other plans.

The speaker announcing tonight that the House will be forming the necessary body within Congress so that if Vice President Pence and the cabinet choose to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from power, Congress will be ready to play its part in that process. They will have a role in assessing also that the president is, indeed, unfit and unable to carry out the duties of his office, and they're preparing essentially the groundwork to be able to do that.

So, Pelosi is saying plan A is, dude, you should resign. If you won't resign, then plan B. They're hoping Vice President Pence and the cabinet will have the good sense to remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment. If they do that, Pelosi says tonight that Congress will be ready to play their constitutional part in that process to make sure the president is removed.

But if plan A doesn't work, Trump doesn't resign, and plan B doesn't work, the vice president and the cabinet don't remove him, Pelosi is also moving forward tonight with plan C, which of course is impeachment again. Except this time, they may use a privileged resolution for impeachment, which is not the way they did it last time. That means, I think, basically -- and I may be wrong here. I have just the person to check with later on. But I think that would mean that essentially, we wouldn't go through impeachment hearings like they did before the last time he was impeached. I think what that means is basically it would be, you know, sort of looked at for its propriety by the Rules Committee, but essentially it would go straight to the House floor for an up or down vote.

Once it's on the House floor, they'd only need a majority of the House to vote to impeach him, which I think it's fair to say they would get in the House of Representatives. He would be impeached a second time, but that would not remove him from office, right? If he was impeached in the House, the president would then get a trial in the Senate. Mitch McConnell sort of has the option to do it with dispatch, to do it quickly if he really does think the president is a danger and needs to be repudiated for what he just did and removed to save the country from additional threats from him, or Mitch McConnell could slow it down and stretch it out and try to stop the process.

Just since I have been on the air, just in the past couple of minutes, "The Washington Post" has obtained a memo that Mitch McConnell is circulating among Republican senators saying that if the House did impeach President Trump, he would not have the Senate start working on the trial of President Trump until January 19th, the day before Biden is sworn in as president.

It would take, of course, a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict the president. And I will just note one nuance here. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict the president. Assume all the Democrats and the independents who caucus with the Democrats would all vote to convict the president just like they did in the first impeachment. They, of course -- that doesn't get them to two-thirds, right?

If the full Senate was sitting and voting on this thing, if all 100 of them were there, they'd need like 18 Republican senators to also vote with all the Democrats to convict President Trump and remove him from office. It's more likely than it was the first time they impeached him, but it's still not likely.

The other way you could get a two-thirds vote of the Senate, I'm just saying, is if 20 or so Republican senators decided they would just stay away from Washington and not show up for the vote. You need a two-thirds vote of all of the senators in the room to convict a president in an impeachment trial. But nobody says how many senators have to be in the room. If, like, 20-ish Republican senators just stayed away, just didn't show up for the vote, they could come up with a two-thirds majority of the Senate for the conviction, for the vote to remove the president.

By hook or by crook, if they convicted him in the Senate, what would then happen or what they'd have the option to do is immediately after voting to convict him and remove him from office, they could then immediately take a follow-on vote as to whether or not Donald Trump should be banned for life from ever serving again in federal office.

Now, they don't need a two-thirds vote for that. That would only need a majority vote in the Senate to pass. I think that would likely pass. But, you know, plan A, resignation. Plan B, removal by the 25th amendment. Plan C, impeachment and all of the different things that entails. All live issues now, all on the table.

The draft article impeachment against the president that's circulating tonight in the House is fairly simple to be honest. It's a single article of impeachment. It's short. I'm going to read you most of important part of it here in just a second.

I have to tell you, personally I think it could be even shorter and even simpler and that would probably benefit them in this process. But even still, it's not a complex idea here. It's one article, one article of impeachment. Article one, incitement of insurrection.

In his conduct of the office of president of the United States and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of president, to preserve, defend, and protect the Constitution of the United States, Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by willfully incite -- pursuant to the 21st century -- Senate met at the U.S. Capitol for a joint session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College.

Shortly before the joint session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd of his political supporters nearby. There he reiterated false claims that, quote, we won this election, and we won it by a landslide. He also willfully made statements that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in imminent lawless action at the Capitol. Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced members of Congress and the vice president, interfered with the joint session's solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.

President Trump's conduct on January 6th, 2021, was consistent with his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. Those prior efforts include, but are not limited to, a phone call on January 2nd in which President Trump urged Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to, quote, find enough votes to overturn the Georgia presidential election results. The president threatened Mr. Mr. Raffensperger if he failed to do so.

In all of this, the article of impeachment continues, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president to the manifest injury of the people of the United States, where for President Trump by such conduct has demonstrated he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law, President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

That is the draft article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection that is circulating in the U.S. House right now. It reportedly has the support of most Democrats in the House, and they are in the majority, and you only need a majority vote in the House in order to impeach the president again. You can hold impeachment hearings for something like this, but you don't have to, and it sounds like in this case they won't.

If the House goes ahead and passes that article of impeachment, what happens in the Senate could be interesting. Again, "The Washington Post" reporting just in the past couple of minutes that Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate for now, says he won't start any trial of the president until January 19th. He's circulating a memo to Republican senators tonight per "The Washington Post" that lays out a sort of timeline like this.

Quote: On January 19th, the Senate would receive a message from the House that it has appointed impeachment managers and that the Senate would be ready to receive it. On January 19th or 20th, the House impeachment managers would exhibit the articles. On January 20th or 21st, the Senate would proceed to consideration of the impeachment articles at 1:00 p.m. and officially begin the trial.

McConnell's memo, according to "The Post," notes that the Senate trial would therefore begin after President Trump's term has expired, either one hour his term expires on January 20th or 25 hours after his term expires on January 21st.

I mean, McConnell has choices here. He's sort of arguing this to the Republican senators as if he's constrained and this is the only timeline he has. I don't think this is the only timeline that he has.

But it's interesting. If McConnell moves on this timeline or an even slower timeline, arguably, I mean, there isn't a strong constitutional argument to be made that the impeachment of President Trump would be moot just because he's gone from office. I mean there is argument about it. There's argument about all of these nooks and crannies of the Constitution that we only get to, you know, once a century because of incredible crisis.

But if the president is impeached in the House while he's still the president and then they put him on trial in the Senate after he's already gone -- I mean, first of all, Mitch McConnell isn't going to be in charge long at that point. Chuck Schumer is going to be the leader of the Senate at that point, the new Democrat-controlled Senate will take over and it's their choice.

If the president's conviction in a Senate impeachment trial happens after he's gone from office, I think it just happens after he's gone from office. And then that gives them the opportunity to then take that subsequent majority vote on banning him for life from ever holding federal office again. There's reason to think that lots -- probably all Democrats and lots of Republicans would want that even if they had trouble with the underlying impeachment charges.

But, again, like you can probably see it in my face, right? We're at the outer limits of what the Constitution ever contemplates in terms of a toxic and dangerous threat to the country inside the White House, right? These nooks and crannies do exist in the Constitution because the Founders and Americans before us who have faced other forms of constitutional crisis have confronted what they thought were the worst-case scenarios. We keep making it even worse than that. And so, all of these things are untested.

But as far as we can tell, that would be the roadmap. And these are the choices ahead of us now. Plan A, resignation. Plan B, removal by the 25th Amendment. Plan C, impeachment again with some interesting questions around the timing of how that works.

That's where we are. We're at the outer limits. Breathe deep.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is tonight demanding President Trump's resignation and saying that she may leave the Republican Party over this. She tells "The Anchorage Daily News" tonight, quote, I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage. I think he should leave.

He said he's not going to show up. He's not going to appear at the inauguration. He hasn't been focused on what's going on with COVID. He's either been golfing or inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every person who's been loyal and faithful to him under the bus starting with the vice president.

He doesn't want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don't think he's capable of doing a good thing.

Again, this is Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, and she is blaming the president directly and bluntly for the attack on the Capitol on Wednesday, saying, quote, even after his vice president told him that morning, I don't have the constitutional authority to do what you've asked me to do, I cannot do it, I have to protect and uphold the Constitution.

Even after Vice President Pence told President Trump that, Trump still hold his supporters to fight, she says. How were they supposed to take that? It's an order from the president, and so that's what they did. They came up, and they fought, and people were harmed and injured and died.

"Anchorage Daily News" reporter James Brooks then asked Senator Murkowski if she, in light of these feelings, intends to remain a Republican in the United States Senate. She said this in response. Quote, I will tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.

Needless to say, if Senator Lisa Murkowski becomes a Democrat or more likely an independent who agrees to caucus with the Democrats, that would take the Senate out of a 50-50 tie and put it all the more firmly in Democratic control and, you know, 50-50 with a Democratic tiebreakers have 51-49 with no need for a tiebreaker may sound like a minor difference. It's kind of a big difference in terms of what the Senate is able to do.

And it sounds like she's on the precipice of doing it depending on whether the president picks plan A, resign, or the vice president and the cabinet pick plan B, removal by the 25th Amendment, or the Congress picks plan C, which is impeachment, removal, lifetime ban on ever holding office again. Those are our three off-ramps from this nightmare at this point. That's how the Trump presidency is ending.

We're going to talk tonight with a House Democrat, who will be key to the impeachment proceedings in just a moment.

We're also going to talk tonight with a legendary Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, whose sources eerily told him before the election basically that this is what would happen with the president after the election. He's now doing further reporting on how people around the president are essentially trying to neutralize the threat from him. You will want to hear this interview.

But before we get to that, I just want to mention one other thing about this -- this plan A, plan B, plan C sort of pupu platter of options here for prying the president out of the office and getting him away from the nuclear codes.

If, as many people who have reported closely on the president say, if as many people who know the president and have worked with him in the past say, if the scuttlebutt is true that the one thing President Donald Trump really fears is prison, the one thing that he really fears is being prosecuted and convicted and locked up, it is worth considering plan a here. It is worth considering that the only way he has to try -- the only way he has to truly try to save himself from that prospect that he most fears is to resign, right?

If the president fears not just being impeached for -- what do they call it -- incitement of insurrection, if he fears being prosecuted for the federal crime of rebellion or insurrection, which follows very much along the lines of that impeachment article, or if he fears being prosecuted for the federal crime of seditious conspiracy, which is 20 years in prison for anyone who conspires to oppose the U.S. government by force or to use force to prevent or hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States -- if the president fears prosecution for those federal crimes for what he did this week, more than he fear impeachment for this parallel high crime and misdemeanor that's described in this new article of impeachment, if that really is what he's afraid of -- and lots of people close to this president say that's what he's most afraid of -- really his only close to surefire way out of that is to resign, to get Mike Pence to agree to pardon him, and to resign in exchange for that promise.

And I don't doubt for a second that Pence would do that. Do you?

I know we look at that list of options, and we think, really? Is he going to resign after he's been through all this? Resigning might be the only way he can almost assure himself that he doesn't go to prison. It might have some increasingly strong appeal to the president for that exact reason. Don't count plan A out.

More to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Four days before the election, we were warned. Again, keep in mind this was before the election. You may remember us talking about this article just before the election, an article by Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist four days before the election.

Quote: Races tend to tighten at the end. But the question is not so much the difference between the candidate's vote totals or projections of them as it is what Mr. Trump can get his supporters to believe. Trump's army of his most ardent followers are loyal to him as a person, not as president.

That army Trump can direct in the difficult days ahead and take with him wherever he goes. He may activate it. He may bargain with it depending on how the electoral chips fall. It's his insurance policy. No matter how the votes split, there's an expectation among officials that Trump will claim some kind of victory on November 4th, even if it's a victory he claims was hijacked by fraud.

This could come in conjunction with statements supported by carefully chosen, quote, facts that the election was rigged as he's long been warning. If the streets then fill with outraged people, he can easily summon or prompt or encourage troublemakers among his loyalists to turn a peaceful crowd into a sea of mayhem. They might improvise on their own in sparking violence, presuming it pleases their leader.

That was four days before the election. That chilling reporting published in "The New York Times" October 30th by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Ron Suskind. It was based on reporting with two dozen government officials and staffers including senior people who are still serving in the Trump administration at that time, and it is harrowing to go back and read that, like, intensely prophetic reporting after what we've been through this week with the attack on the Capitol.

Suskind and his sources were right not just about the ginned up fraud claims, but about the violence the president would stoke too.

This president still has 12 days in office. Does he seem well to you at this point? You think these last 12 days will be peaceful and no more damage done?

After his explosive reporting forewarning the events that have now come to pass this week, Ron Suskind has been doing new reporting now on what can be done in its aftermath, what paths are available to try to limit the danger of what comes next.

Joining us now is Ron Suskind, deeply sourced Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist.

Mr. Suskind, it's a really honor to have you here tonight. Thanks very much for taking time.


MADDOW: So it is unnerving to go back and read that piece from October again today because of how -- how the worst-case scenarios there were so spot-on. What has your continued reporting indicated to you in terms of options now given what happened on Wednesday?

SUSKIND: Well, we saw the army. Interestingly, I talked to a White House official close to Trump, as close as they get. I said, how big is that Army, would you say? Folks who are sympathetic to or equally ready to activate among the wide base of Trump supporters.

And the estimates are somewhere in the vicinity of 20 percent of Trump voters are either sympathetic or ready to be activated in some way. Well, that comes to about 15 million people.

The fear has always been that Donald Trump would do precisely what he did once he had corrupted the legislative and legal processes of the United States. He would come to the end of that string, and he would pull the trigger, which is what he did on Wednesday.

Now we're in this next stage that many senior officials feared the most, in which he has essentially done a forced demonstration, someone at the Pentagon said yesterday. This is something that happens sometimes in corrupt or unstable states. That someone with a personal army wants to show their strength by a mobilization. That's essentially what happened on Wednesday.

This army is Trump's. He activated them, and he may well again in the next 12 days. That's what people are fearing deeply now and why there is enormous fervor to try to figure out a way to get the president off the stage and in a way create almost a captive quality.

Somebody used the Napoleon to elbow idea. Get him on an island. Twitter and others taking away his tools for signaling. It's going to be difficult.

But as long as he's the president, he's got the force of this army personally committed to him as well as the Article II powers of the presidency in a left and right hand where he can work them against one another. That's a -- well, a uniquely dangerous situation for the United States in its history.

MADDOW: And, Ron, how does that -- particularly because you're talking to White House officials, people who are close to the president, how does that jibe with what we're able to see from the outside, this sense of urgency being driven by Democrats in Congress to try to, you know -- to call for the president's resignation, to call for the use of the 25th Amendment, to start impeachment proceedings, to talk about removal, to talk about a federal ban from office?

Those things that we can see in motion or at least being contemplated from the outside, are there other avenues or anything else happening on the inside to either make any of those things happen or to pursue some other way of, as you say, sort of neutralizing or isolating the president?

SUSKIND: Well, there's a great deal of focus, Rachel, on the ban from office actually. Several of them have talked about the fact that if Donald Trump can claim and maybe present himself strongly as a viable candidate for 2024 and walk out of office intact with that status, he will have enormous power and latitude over the coming years in the United States, again with this enormous, largely red America army that is his, as well as his global reach.

Someone in the intelligence community I've been talking to for, well, a great deal of time talked about their fears of Donald Trump outside of the White House in the days after he leaves. He could be granted any sort of support by foreign governments, including money, financial support.

He could have deals that he cuts in which foreign powers support him, in what will be his next run. That's why people are saying if there's a way he can be banned for life in this period by all the mechanisms that you laid out rather beautifully a few minutes ago, that's something that I hear Democrats and Republicans saying that would be best so that there's not even a chance that this man may return to the article II powers of the presidency. That's a great fear.

MADDOW: The only way to get there, though, is by conviction in the Senate by two-thirds of the Senate and then a subsequent vote for that ban. And so, this path goes through Republican senators as it has from the beginning.

SUSKIND: It does. And what's interesting is you see already, you know, Josh Hawley holding up his fist. They're auditioning for the Trump army saying, look, maybe your general will be leaving. If that's the case, let me step in. I will be the new general.

And that's the problem we now really are in. It's almost, I think, best to think about this almost in military terms. This army is the president's army. How can that army be disempowered? How can the president be disempowered as their leader?

And what happens to that army that the president has filled with fervor that a fraud has occurred, a crime against them, Americans, patriots, who feel they now are revolutionaries to excise that fervor, that belief, is really the challenge that America faces now because either Donald Trump or someone will activate that fervor.

That's where we are now. And I think disempowering the president, figure out a way to ban him for life, in a way hemming him in so that he cannot be an active political actor with this sort of power frankly is a goal that even many Republicans are saying that would be better for me too. I don't necessarily want to be in a party run by this man. I would like to have a chance to maybe recast the Republican Party.

You hear that from lots of them in private. The question is will action occur under a very tight time frame that is really one of self-correction for the democracy? And who will lead that? Will the political will be summoned?

We're only two days after the attack now, Rachel. You can already hear the spin occurring on Fox News and elsewhere, among Trump's -- some of his supporters. It's been overplayed. The president really didn't incite or drive it as people think. There were other agents involved.

All of that is this difficult moment in which we are seeing what everyone saw and what everyone felt, that opportunity for historical change based on that starting to get twisted, starting to slip away. That's why it is very much in this period historically, it is the time for action. And the question is what action will occur under a very, very narrow band of possibilities.

MADDOW: Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist -- Ron, thank you for being here to talk about this tonight. It is chilling but also focusing. Appreciate it, my friend. Thank you.

SUSKIND: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Adam Schiff has not done an interview since the insurrection at the Capitol, but he has a lot to say, including on this new move toward impeachment in the House.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: We're going to be speaking with Congressman Adam Schiff, the head of the Intelligence Committee, in just one moment.

Congressman Schiff put out a statement today. I just want to set this up for you for a second so you understand what's going on in terms of the timing.

Per Congressman Schiff, he says after having led the first impeachment effort against President Trump in the House, he says now, for the first time in our history, the transition of power has not been peaceful. By inciting this act of insurrection, President Trump has committed his worst offense against our country and Constitution to date. The danger of him continuing to abuse his power will go up, not down, in the time remaining in his term. To protect the country from any further harm, he must leave office immediately.

Schiff then says he should resign. That's the best option, or the 25th Amendment should be invoked. But barring that, impeachment should happen, and it should happen very quickly. Schiff saying, quote, the exigency of the circumstances warrants a departure from the ordinary and lengthy process in the House. A resolution of impeachment focused on the attack should be brought to the House floor on a privileged basis, meaning just go straight to the floor, and upon passage, taken up by the Senate with equal expedition so the president can be tried and through conviction, the country can be protected from further harm.

That is what Schiff is calling for in terms of a fast move to impeach and remove him from office. "The Washington Post" as I mentioned earlier today, has just reported on a memo being circulated by the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, in which Mitch McConnell says that the Senate would definitely take it up if the House goes ahead and impeaches Trump again. They'll pick it up and start their proceedings at the earliest, one hour after Joe Biden is inaugurated as the new president of the United States on January 20th. Literally he's saying he would start it at 1:00 p.m. on January 20th.

Congressman Schiff joins us next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joining us now for his first national interview since the attack on Congress this week is Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He chairs the Intelligence Committee. He, of course, was the lead impeachment manager during President Trump's first impeachment trial. Congressman Schiff has just released a statement tonight calling for the House to move swiftly immediately to impeach the president again, in order to give the Senate the opportunity to remove him from office.

Mr. Chairman, I really appreciate you being here on such an important night. Thanks for being -- thanks for taking the time.


MADDOW: What should the American people expect in terms of accountability for what happened on Wednesday, in terms of limiting the damage of what the president might try to do last 12 days, what do you actually think will happen?

SCHIFF: I think that the American people can expect that the House of Representatives is going to do his duty. The best thing for the country as you point out earlier would be for the president to resign. But the president has never been concerned for what is best for the country, only himself.

So, I don't have a lot of hope or expectation that he will do the right thing, nor, frankly, do I have a lot of expectation that the vice president will do the right thing, that would be aberration for him over the four years as well. The members of our caucus are not intent to do anything less than to use ever instrument in our power to protect the country.

Every day this man remains in office, he's a danger to the republic. Even after this failed insurrection, he was back on Twitter with further incendiary tweets and that's what we have to expect.

So, I think we have to move with expedition. But the Founders, the Framers, they wrote a brilliant construct that allows the Congress to move with alacrity when the circumstances require it. And here, they do. And so, we can move quickly to the floor to impeach this man, and we need the Senate to undertake its responsibility as well.

MADDOW: What do you make of this memo reportedly circulating by Mitch McConnell in the Senate saying if the House moved immediately to impeach the president, that the Senate wouldn't take it up and start any trial, any impeachment trial until an hour after President Biden was sworn in and Donald Trump was out of office?

SCHIFF: I think this memo was written for public consumption. Mitch McConnell is master of Senate rules for well or ill, and it's been for ill. Here he's saying essentially, he will drag this out. If Mitch McConnell wants to move with expedition, he knows how to do it.

And if he doesn't, then he will bear the responsibility for whatever dangerous acts this president commits, for whatever abdication of responsibility, for further attack on our institutions. If Mitch McConnell draws this out, delays, stonewalls and drags his heels, then he will bear the responsibility.

And given the erratic nature of this president, how many people, rising number of people in his own conference calling for this president to leave office, I would not want the responsibility for standing in the way of upholding our constitutional duty.

MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House, thank you for being with us on a Friday night. It doesn't feel like a Friday. It sorts of likes this weekend is still go time in terms of this urgent effort to get the president out of the Oval Office. Sir, thanks for being here, I really appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim was elected to Congress in 2018 as part of the blue wave that swept the House a couple of years ago. As one of his hometown papers told us, Congressman Kim ousted a Republican incumbent on the platform of trying to clean up government.

Well, here is that congressman, Andy Kim, in the predawn hours in the morning yesterday, look at him, on his hands incumbent on the platform of trying to clean up government. Here is Andy Kim in predawn hours yesterday, on his hands and knees literally cleaning up after the riot by Trump supporters who ransacked and looted and trashed parts of the U.S. Capitol.

Congressman Kim stayed overnight personally cleaning up what they did.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, my friend Ali Velshi will be broadcasting live from the scene of that violent insurrection. This is interesting. Ali's show is going to be broadcast from just outside the Capitol Building. He's doing a special two-hour live report on the aftermath of the attack this week.

It starts at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning here on MSNBC. See you there.

That does it for us tonight.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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