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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/9/2021

Guest: Neal Katyal, Jelani Cobb, Chris Coons�


Senate votes Trump impeachment trial is constitutional. Impeachment trial begins with shocking video from January 6. Impeachment managers present case to convict Trump.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): President Trump may not know a lot about the framers but they certainly knew a lot about him.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And on this historic night, after a historic day in United State Senate, the framers get the last word.

Thanks as always for watching THE BEAT. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin the READOUT tonight with breaking news. The Senate has voted 56 to 44 to proceed with the second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump with only six Republicans voting with Democrats that the trial is, in fact, constitutional. That paltry figure is an indication that the Republicans will, once again, save Trump from conviction despite the chilling evidence offered by the House impeachment managers today, starting with this video.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: When you catch somebody in the fraud, you`re allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talking about you, Pence.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We`re debating a step that has never been taken in American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the senate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where the (BLEEP) are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No Trump, no peace.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Use the shield. Use the shield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need fresh patriots to the front.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mobilize in your own cities, your own counties. Storm your own capitol buildings and take every one of these corrupt mother (BLEEP).

TRUMP: This was a fraudulent election, but we can`t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You`re very special.


REID: And that was just a small clip of the 13-minute video, and we urge you to watch it in full because that video is the case, open and shut, with Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin, who`s leading the push to convict Trump, outlining the dangers of giving presidents a free pass in the final month of their terms.


RASKIN: Their argument is that if you commit an impeachable offense in your last few weeks in office, you do it with constitutional impunity. It`s an invitation to the president to take his best shot at anything he may want to do on his way out the door, including using violent means to lock that door. In other words, the January exception is an invitation to our founders` worst nightmare.


REID: But it was the final moments of Congressman Raskin`s remarks that reminded us precisely who exactly the witnesses and the frontline victims of the siege were on January 6th, the lawmakers themselves and their staffs, and, in some cases, their family members. And for Raskin, that includes his daughter Tabitha and his son-in-law, Hank, who he had invited to witness the counting of the electoral votes the day the MAGA mob launched an assault on the heart of our democracy.


RASKIN: Then there was a sound they will never forget, the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram. It`s the most haunting sound I ever heard, and I will never forget it. My chief of staff, Julie Tagan, was with Tabitha and Hank, locked and barricaded in that office, the kids hiding under the desk, placing what they thought were their final texts and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes. They thought they were going to die. I told her how sorry I was, and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me. And you know what she said? She said, dad, I don`t want to come back to the Capitol.

Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest.


REID: Joining me now is MSNBC Capitol Hill Correspondent Garrett Haake.

And, you know, I think everyone was sort of, if not sobbing, close to sobbing listening to that presentation by Congressman Jamie Raskin. It was a brilliant performance by all of the managers today. It`s hard for me to imagine even Republicans who are dug in, Trump loyalists, lapdogs to the former president not being moved by that.

I was listening earlier to our coverage, and I heard our friend, Claire McCaskill, say some of them weren`t even watching. Some of them weren`t even listening, that Marco Rubio was looking at his papers and doing other things. Is it possible, are we living in a world where Republicans just ignored that presentation largely?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: I think a minority of them did, or certainly some people like the Josh Hawleys of the world, Rand Paul, who said they just don`t want to be here. They`ve totally turned their back on this proceeding. But I can tell you for everyone else, especially people who were physically here on January 6th, that was a powerful presentation, both the video and the remarks from Jamie Raskin.

But the point about senators ignoring pieces of the evidence was played out in the final vote tonight. I mean, we saw the result of a Republican Party that is a largely dug in on this constitutionality question. I spent the last an hour-and-a-half, two hours since they concluded for the day, going around and talking to Republican senators about their vote, and none of them think that the former president`s defense team got the better of the arguments today. I mean, by and large, every single Republican senator I spoke to thought the managers` arguments were stronger, the defense team`s arguments were weak but they are dug in on this constitutionality question.

And, really, when you look at kind of the rest of the week, you know, this is -- if you`re going to put your head in the sand on a constitutionality argument, this is the day for it, because what you`re going to see over the next two days is going to look a lot more like that video presentation and the remarks from Congressman Raskin, really reminding everyone of exactly what the real-life stakes were here and the real-life effects were of the attack, not just the constitutional argument about when is an appropriate time to try a presidential impeachment.

REID: Wow. I find it hard to believe that you could be dug in on a constitutional question and then also admit that the people who made the better argument on the constitutional question weren`t right, like that actually doesn`t make sense to me, but, you know, we`re talking about Republicans.

HAAKE: Well --

REID: So Garrett Haake, thank you. No, go ahead.

HAAKE: Well, you`re talking about the U.S. Senate where all these guys, no matter what their background is, they`re going to come in here and think they know the most about this issue despite what they`re being told by other people who might actually be experts on these issues.

REID: Yes, you explained it well. Garrett Haake, thank you very much. Great reporting today, I appreciate you.

Joining me now is Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General and Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker.

I`ll go to you on the same thing, Neal. Garrett just reported, and I heard him saying this earlier today, and I`m so glad that he was on with us. That he is going around talking with Republican senators who said, boy, the Raskin crew had the way better arguments here. You had Senator Cassidy, who did actually flip his vote, say the House managers, they were focused, they were organized, they made a compelling argument. Even the Trump lawyers said, whoa, we changed our whole presentation because they were so good. And yet you have Republicans saying the better argument loses for me because I still am going to say even though they made a better argument that this is constitutional, I`m just going to ignore it. Does that make you as flabbergasted as it does me?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, I mean you called it way better. I`d go a step further and say it`s amazing there wasn`t an antimatter explosion at the U.S. Capitol. When Jamie Raskin gave -- I mean, I`ve seen a lot of oral arguments. He gave maybe the best oral argument I`ve ever heard. It was both head and heart. It was about the grave stakes that face the country, this isn`t political theater, and this is really the soul of what American democracy is about. And I thought Representative Raskin really captured that.

And by contrast, you had Trump`s lawyers who were meandering and impossible to follow. But most importantly, Trump`s lawyers never responded to the two main arguments the House managers made. Number one, Trump wasn`t a former official when he was impeached. He was the sitting president. And, second, that we can`t have a so-called January exception to impeachment and allow a president to do anything he wants. And you heard nothing about that in the Trump lawyers` presentation today.

And if I`m Donald Trump, I`m a little worried at this point because, yes, they got away today. They only had six Republican votes against Trump. They got away on a dry constitutional issue, which the American public doesn`t really want to focus on, and it`s a way for Republican senators to try and dodge a vote on the facts. But they lost.

Now there`s a vote. There`s a trial on the facts, Joy. And that`s an easier question for people to grasp. And so the Hawleys of the world, and the Ted Cruzs, all these people are going to have to vote on the up or down question, did what Trump did on January 6th and the days preceding it, was that legitimate or not?

REID: Yes, indeed. And Hawley and Cruz were in the video. I mean, that is sort of the strange thing that`s happening here, is some of these people were participants. They are like co-conspirator with Trump.

I mean, Joe Neguse, to me, shattered the question of whether or not there was precedent. He named two huge precedents, the William Blunt precedent, then the other precedent where he was like, he made it very clear. So this was just an argument, Jelani, about this was a sort of they`re just going to negate. This was jury nullification from what I saw because this argument is over. And now, it`s now precedent that you can try a former president because the Democrats won on that vote.

JELANI COBB, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Sure. They won on that vote with the crossover votes of six Republicans. And I went back and checked this just, you know, to make sure that I was right. There`s never been a president who was impeached with the majority or even close to majority of votes of his own party. You know, one example people would say is the Andrew Johnson case, but he`d been a Democrat who converted to the national union party, and he was impeached by the Republicans in Congress.

And so what we saw is, effectively, this is a partisan process. It has a limited capacity to deliver justice in the way that we might associate and almost a kind of baked in set of flaws that have been played out even more egregiously now at a point where we see hyper-partisanship.

But the other thing I think is worth remembering is that the six people who crossed over have said that it`s constitutional to hold this trial. That doesn`t necessarily mean they`re going to agree with the evidence that`s presented. So the final tally might even be more meager than that in terms of Republicans willing to say that you, you know, really shouldn`t incite a mob to lead to a deadly attack on the United States Capitol.

REID: Yes. You know, as we counted -- just counting up the people who voted with the Democrats, to make it bipartisan -- it is now bipartisan -- it looks like four of them are already -- they just got re-elected. They have six years to apologize to the Trumpians in their base. One of them ain`t even coming back. And then you had Bill Cassidy who switched. So it`s not as if these are the most heroic six people either. \ You know, Neal, it seemed to me that the case was kind of over after the video, honestly. You know, the case in chief about whether or not Trump incited the mob was made in that 13 minutes. So I wonder if you could sort of preview for us what more could they possibly present in the case in chief because I feel like they kind of made the point today.

KATYAL: I mean the video was incredibly moving and powerful. But, Joy, I would say it left out some things, and I think on purpose, because they`re holding some things back in telling the story. So one thing it left out was the kind of, you know, December 1st, Gabriel Sterling statement. He`s the Georgia election official who said Mr. Trump, stop this rhetoric. If you continue it, someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to get shot. Someone is going to get killed.

And, you know, it`s always easy for Donald Trump`s lawyers -- well, maybe not for them, but for most lawyers to be able to take a statement that Trump made and make it look innocuous but you have to read it in context with as against that December 1st statement. So that`s, I think, one important thing that we`ll be hearing about.

The other is we didn`t hear a word about Liz Cheney today from the House. And that is really striking. You know what Liz Cheney said is, quote, what Trump did constitutes the greatest violation of his oath of office by any president in the history of the country. And so Jelani is, as usual, 100 percent right. This is the most bipartisan impeachment vote ever.

But I do think that -- I guess I disagree with him a little bit that you can take these six votes of Republicans and think of that as kind of the ball game because I think trials really do have a way of changing people`s minds, and it`s easier for the Republican senators to duck and cover on some dry constitutional issue today. It`s just a lot harder when the video is played, when conspirator after conspirator is in federal court today saying, I don`t blame me. I`m just doing what Donald Trump said. These are Trump`s own people captured on video.

REID: Yes, and the defense lawyer, Bruce Castor, when he was in the middle of his rambling, also said, good, I`m glad all those MAGA people are getting prosecuted. Like he threw them right under the bus right away and said they should all be in prison.

You know, Jelani, what I was tweeting about today and what worries me the most is if you combine the two -- the previous acquittal of Donald Trump in his first impeachment and the probable acquittal here, although we`ll hope that we can all be as hopeful as Neal, but if he gets acquitted again, to me, the combined message to future presidents is you can go get foreign help, have foreign paramilitaries attack our Capitol, ransack the Capitol to stop the counting of votes, negate the vote by force, by brute force and stay in power, and as long as you are the same party -- as long as you have enough of your partisans in the Senate, you can get away with that and just stay in power. I feel like they`ve opened the door to dictatorship.

COBB: Sure. They absolutely have ,and there`s no question about that. And I`ll say quickly to Neal, I really, really hope I lose this argument. I want Neal to be right about this. But the fundamental thing here is that very little of what the Republican Party has done has been, you know, thoughtful in terms of what the long-term prospects are. It has all been the short-term sugar high of Trumpism, even when you think about the kind of electoral logic that went after kind of doubling and tripling down on white identity politics at a point where white people are the smallest portion of the electorate that they`ve been.

And so it doesn`t make good political sense. It certainly doesn`t make good sense in terms of preserving democracy but this is the logical yield of the kind of thinking that we`ve seen to dominate in the party of late.

REID: Yes, indeed. It`s to down to the point where one of the main arguments of the Trump defense lawyers is, you`re going to make those voters mad. You can`t make Republican and white conservative voters mad. Their happiness is now also a legal principle. You didn`t know that, Neal. You found out that today.

KATYAL: Right, it`s --

REID: It`s incredible hope, exactly, well said. Neal Katyal, Jelani Cobb, thank you both very much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, cowardice and dereliction of duty.





And Mr. Hawley?



Mr. McConnell?




REID: How can 44 Republicans look at the overwhelming evidence, having lived through the crime, and say, no, no, this impeachment trial is unconstitutional?

Plus, what Trump was and was not doing as his loyal MAGA mob was trashing the Capitol. For one thing, he was proclaiming his love for those violent criminals.


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


REID: THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Today, 50 Republican senators were presented with two arguments about whether it`s constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a disgraced former president.


REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Presidents can`t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.

And yet that is the rule that President Trump asks you to adopt.

I urge you, we urge you to decline his request, to vindicate the Constitution.

DAVID SCHOEN, IMPEACHMENT ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Under their unsupportable constitutional theory and tortured reading of the text, every civil officer who has served is at risk of impeachment if any given group elected to the House decides that what was thought to be important service to the country when they served now deserves to be canceled.


REID: Ooh, cancel culture.

Unsurprisingly, 44 of those 50 Republican senators -- surprise -- decided that the MAGA cult leader`s incitement of violence against the government was more akin to a right-wing talking point than a violation of the foundations of our democracy.

Joining us now is Senator Chris Coons Delaware, chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

And I listened to this argument today, both of the arguments, and it -- I`m not even a lawyer. And those lawyers Mr. Castor and Mr. Schoen, sounded like they didn`t prepare, like they woke up this morning and said, ooh, we have to go and do an impeachment defense and just talk off the top of their heads.

And you even had a lot of Republicans say that. We had Garrett Haake on earlier, who`s been talking to them, and they were like, whew, that -- they stuck up the place.

Here is Texas Senator John Cornyn. This is what he told NBC News. He said: "The president`s lawyer just rambled on and on. I have seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments, and that was not one of the finest I have seen."

CNN is reporting Ted Cruz also was like: Ooh, bad.

Cassidy was -- did flip his vote. But most of these senators who were telling reporters that they thought Trump`s defense team was terrible still voted for the terrible defense team. I don`t understand it.

Have you talked to any of these guys? Have they explained that to you?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Joy, I have.

I have talked to a couple of Republican senators. And I got to tell you, listening to those two, this was the Four Seasons Landscaping of the legal profession.


COONS: This was some of the weakest argumentation I have ever heard, particularly the first one, I mean, just on and on and on, without any clear focus or purpose.

I see a senator up there. He`s from Pennsylvania. I see another senator up there. He`s from Pennsylvania, too.


COONS: I mean, this was bad.

This was just bad legal argumentation, not well-founded, not well-thought- out, not very compelling.

And then the second, Doug (sic) Schoen, he simply replaced with volume with the first guy lacked in argumentation. And, in total, it`s hard to believe that anybody bought their constitutional argument.

I thought that the House managers who presented today made a focused, concrete, compelling argument, and they had the citations from more than 150 constitutional law professors and scholars, from conservative to progressive, to back them up.

So, I would score the first round as an overwhelming win for the House managers. And I, frankly, have questions about how anyone could have voted today that this was an unconstitutional proceeding, given the argumentation we heard.

REID: I mean, they had a top guy from the Heritage Foundation. They had Jonathan Turley. They literally lined up conservatives. They went to textualism, the original text of the Constitution.

It was incredible that anyone could have voted the other way. But they did.

You were sitting in the Gallery. There`s been some reporting that some of the senators weren`t actually paying attention when Congressman Raskin gave this just eloquent, brilliant performance, and that they -- and when the video was being played.

Could you see from where you are whether the Marco Rubios of the world, the Ted Cruzes, who was in the video, by the way, and Josh Hawley was in the video -- were these guys watching the video?

COONS: Well, one of my colleagues who I could see was just reading a book during the entire proceeding. She`d brought a novel, I think, and was simply reading that.

I found the video presentation of the events of January 6 gripping and compelling, concise, and, frankly, chilling. And the idea that that should be our future, that it should be OK for a president on his way out of office to deploy this sort of incendiary rhetoric, and to encourage the kind of violence that we saw here in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, that, to me, is just fundamentally unacceptable.

And we need to keep at this. We need to keep working to find a way to hold Donald Trump and those who incited these riots accountable.

REID: I -- one of the things I found remarkable about Mr. Schoen`s argument was that Democrats are doing this because they don`t want to face Donald Trump on a future ballot.

And I`m thinking to myself, yes, they want to keep him from running for president again because he sparked an insurrection against our government. We wouldn`t say a foreign terrorist leader should get to come back into the United States and do it a second time. I didn`t understand that.

How do you go forward and serve with people on the other side of the aisle, including people like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who may see a precedent in this that they could use, should they get to be the next Donald Trump? Are you concerned about serving essentially with insurrectionists?

COONS: Well, Joy, what is concerning to me is that Donald Trump started as an unconventional president, someone who had no previous public service, and who, from his first day as a candidate, was using language and rhetoric and themes and imagery that violated some of our core values.

As you remember, his opening speech as a candidate was accusing folks from other countries of horrible acts. Let me just stop there and not repeat his opening claims.

And over the arc of his presidency, he got more and more and more disruptive, unconventional, authoritarian, someone who -- who did not respect any of the boundaries of the presidency.

And we now sit in trial on President Trump`s record because of how far he went. If we fail to hold him accountable this time, I absolutely agree with you. One of my core concerns is that one of my colleagues running for president in 2024 will simply improve on President Trump`s performance.

And we will move forward this idea that a president is unconstrained by the limits of the Constitution, doesn`t have to respond to requests or subpoenas from Congress, doesn`t have to respect the traditions of the office, can simply disrespect and disregard journalists, jurists, and our civil society traditions.

We are, I think, in some ways reaping the whirlwind from having failed to convict President Trump in the impeachment trial of a year ago, which made him feel more and more comfortable doing whatever it took to try and hang on to power after the 2020 election.

If we fail to hold him accountable in this impeachment trial, I think the precedent we set is a terrible one for our democracy and for democracy globally.

REID: Indeed, Senator. We would be one corrupt local official away from sort of a president for life. You`re absolutely right. It is dangerous, whether it`s Trump or a smarter version of Trump.

Senator Chris Coons, thank you so much for being here this evening. Really appreciate your time.

And still ahead: what Trump was doing and saying during the deadly siege and what he wasn`t.

We`re back after this.


REID: Amid the competing arguments in Trump`s impeachment trial, there looms the crucial question of what the former president did and didn`t do during the insurrection itself.

While Trump`s lawyers have said he immediately called for peace, public reporting shows otherwise. As we all know, thousands of MAGA devotees descended on Washington, at Trump`s behest, to stop the so-called steal.

As the former president and his allies whipped the mob into a frenzy, Trump`s family was seen jubilantly celebrating behind the scenes. "The Washington Post" reports that a permit filed for the event explicitly said there were no plans for an organized march from the Ellipse. That didn`t stop the former President Trump directing the mob to the Capitol anyway.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going walk down to the Capitol, and we`re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congress men and women. We`re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

So, let`s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.


REID: As the siege unfolded on live TV, the former president was reportedly enjoying the spectacle from the comfort of the White House -- quote -- "Trump watched with interest, buoyed to see that his supporters were fighting so hard on his behalf."

Even as the mob converged on the Senate chamber, the former president was still scheming to overturn the election. He called Senator Tommy Tuberville to ask him to slow the certification of the vote.

Then, instead of turning down the temperature, Trump directed the mob`s anger toward his own vice president. He tweeted: "Mike Pence didn`t have the courage to do what should have been done."

That tweet spurred calls in real time to hang Mike Pence just minutes after the vice president had narrowly escaped with his life.

Meanwhile, lawmakers trapped in the building begged for immediate help from the White House. But they struggled to get through to the president, who was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act.

The only thing Trump seemed to object to was that the mob was low-class, according to "New York Magazine." Under pressure from lawmakers, aides pushed Trump to intervene before someone was killed, but he was not initially receptive, according to "The Post."

After dragging his feet for 90 minutes, he finally acquiesced, issuing two rather unconvincing calls for peace on Twitter. And, even then, he had not wanted to include the final instruction to stay peaceful. But it was clearly too little, too late anyway.

As the violence continued, Trump reportedly made no effort at all to reach his own vice president. In fact, it was Pence who approved the order to deploy the D.C. National Guard, according to "The New York Times."

That`s because Trump initially rebuffed and resisted requests to mobilize them. It was only after the Capitol siege had gone on for more than three hours that Trump finally, finally told the mob to go home.

But, unbelievably, he still repeated the lies that fueled the violence in the first place and told the insurrectionists that he loved them.


TRUMP: This was a fraudulent election. But we can`t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace.

So, go home. We love you. You`re very special. You have seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel.


REID: But hours later, a single tweet from the disgraced former president would reveal that his begrudging calls for peace were disingenuous, at best.

And that is coming up next.


REID: At 6:00 p.m. on the night of January 6th, as the sun set on a broken capitol, Trump remained unbothered. As the wounded were being treated and the death toll continued to mount, the 45th president tweeted one more time. Instead of firm condemnation, he defiantly implied that Congress deserved what it got because they dared to deny him his imaginary victory.

Here is what he tweeted: Here are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever.

Oh, we will. We will, Donald.

For more, I`m joined by Philip Rucker, senior Washington correspondent at "The Washington Post," and Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian. Interesting set of tweets by the ex-president.

I want to start with you, Philip, because there is a great question that one of my senior producers really made a great question this morning. We were on our morning call, and he was like, here`s the thing. We know a lot about what happened on 1/6. We know very little about what Trump was doing at the key points in it. There`s stories that he was enjoying it, that he was -- that he was thinking, oh, great, my people are fighting for me.

But do we have a real, very specific tick tock of what he did because he sure as heck wasn`t sending the National Guard?

PHILIP RUCKER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you`re right about that, Joy. We don`t have a minute-by-minute tick tock of what he did, but my colleagues and I did a lot of reporting on this over the last month and have learned that the president was watching it all on television, as you might expect. He enjoyed what he was seeing to some degree.

He saw these, according to Senator Lindsey Graham, who I interviewed about this, he saw them as his allies in his journey, these insurrectionists. He had to be pleaded with by Ivanka Trump, by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, by others around him in the White House over the course of several hours to finally issue that statement telling them to go home. And even when he did so, he added that "We love you," you know, words of encouragement from the president to his followers.

Ultimately, he liked that they were waving his banner, his flag, they were fighting for him and exhibiting the sort of chutzpah in his mind and fight that he didn`t see from other allies, including Vice President Pence, who, of course, constitutionally was not able to do anything to overturn the election.

REID: Well, and that is a key question I have for you, Phil, because the question is whether he liked it as spectacle, that it just was a demonstration that he had lots of fans willing to fight for him and get violent for him, or did he actually, per your reporting -- did he actually think that this was going to work, that this would basically by force cause the certification to stop and to not happen and to have himself installed?

RUCKER: Well, he at least thought that this would be a delay in the certification, and, of course, it was because the Congress had to disperse. I mean they were taken to secure rooms to stay away from the violence. So to that end, Trump had a short victory because, you know, he wanted this process to be delayed. That`s why he wanted his supporters to march on the capitol and cause the disruption, and that`s what he saw.

But what he took in watching it on television was really the spectacle. He likes the fight. He likes the drama. And he likes seeing his supporters really going to extremes on his behalf, according to our reporting.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Michael, I`m so glad that you`re hear because this brings me to -- you have said what he said, which is we should never forget this. I agree. We should never, ever forget what happened on January 6th because what seems to me if a foreign terrorist leader was doing the exact same thing, we would be very clear that they were inciting an attempt to overthrow our government.

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely.

REID: And a president who saw an attempted siege of our capitol, successful, I should say, siege of our capitol behaves in a certain way, you would think, right? You`ve written "President`s War," which is a fantastic book by the way.

How varied from the way normal presidents act when there is an attack on our country was Trump?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Completely. You know, Joy, if you and I were having coffee a year ago, and you said what is the worst thing that a president could possibly do, I think pretty close to it would be to incite an insurrection that could lead to assassinations, a hostage crisis, the suspension of a presidential election, and possibly the fracturing of our democracy.

I think Trump was trying to create chaos, hoping against hope that he could hang on to the presidency by his fingernails and maybe in the midst of this chaos, who knows? You know, use martial law or use the tremendous powers of the presidency to somehow win himself or hang on to a second term in office and avoid legal problems and criminal and financial problems that he now faces.

The other thing, Joy, is today is a historic anniversary. A hundred sixty years ago today, Jefferson Davis was chosen as president of the Confederacy, 160 years ago, with the intention of launching an insurrection against the United States to preserve slavery.

We fought a tragic civil war. In 1865, we won, and Davis was imprisoned briefly, but he was never held to account in the courts. A few years later, Davis was telling the public, I wasn`t con conquered by the north. The south was never conquered. We were cheated of the victory that was ours.

What does that sound like? That`s what happens when Congress does not draw the line against what a president does.

REID: That is wild. Wow. I mean have we ever had -- you know, you are our expert here on this. Have we ever had a president essentially threaten the life of his own vice president, ever?

BESCHLOSS: Never. Never anything remotely like this. We`ve never had a president, when there`s this kind of violence, especially against the Congress, against the capitol of the United States, who basically sits on his hands and won`t let the National Guard come, won`t do everything he can to put down this violence and calm things down.

Any other person -- we`ve got some really terrible presidents in American history. Every single one of them would have responded to this, trying to stop this violence as quickly as possible, which calls the question, what was going on?

We need a presidential, we need congressional, we need legal investigations into January 6th to find out how much Donald Trump was behind this, how much he may have financed it.

REID: And, you know, Phil, that leads us to the next piece of this because it doesn`t look like he`s going to be convicted. Republicans are too dug in on his side. But are people around the president, his former aides, the people who are around him concerned that this is a political trial?

That`s what impeachment is. It`s political. But then in a real legal trial, they, he, people like Ted Cruz, other people who involved, Josh Hawley, could face criminal liability. I mean five people died.

RUCKER: There is some concern about that, Joy, and there was concern about that in real time on January 6th. It`s one of the reasons why, you know, they were able to convince the president to give that video statement. There was concern in his inner circle in the White House that he could have some sort of legal liability here, and that concern continued for a few days.

There doesn`t seem to be urgency behind that, in part because the Biden administration has not shown much interest and has in a way signaled that they don`t intend to prosecute the former president, Donald Trump. And so, there`s less of a feeling right now that he`s in some sort of legal jeopardy, but certainly, if the winds change and the Justice Department came for him, he would have some real vulnerabilities here.

REID: Wow, what a -- what a time to be alive.

Phil Rucker, Michael Beschloss, thank you both for being here. Indeed, thank you both.

RUCKER: Thank you.

REID: And while we`re watching -- cheers, while we`re watching the second impeachment trial of the former president, it is a reminder, especially during this black history month, of the first impeached president, Andrew Johnson, whose racism emboldened him to circumvent our nation`s democratic progress. Johnson fired his secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, who supported reconstruction measures to aid former slaves whose job it was to see it done.

But Johnson wanted leniency for the former Confederate states and feared the power of free black men and women in America.

Johnson`s racism and corruption left our country worse off than how he found it. Remind you of anyone?

Stay with us.



REP. JAMIE RASKIN (R-MD): Watching someone use an American flag pole with the flag still on it to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly, tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life. People died that day. Senators, this cannot be our future.


REID: I`m joined now by Massachusetts Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

And, Congresswoman, it is always great to talk to you. Thanks for coming back to the show.

And I have to ask you this question, there are a lot of people out there, mostly people sort of on the right who are saying we need unity, unity, it`s time for unity. I wonder how even inside of Congress you can find unity with people who can hear that presentation, that emotional, factual, historically based presentation and say, you know, I`m going to vote for the guys who gave a rant, a rambling rant that made no sense even to Republicans.

I mean, can you -- how do you serve with people who think that that`s okay?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA) (via telephone): Revisiting the events of January 6th today, those video images, were traumatic. That day was traumatic for Congress, for Capitol staff, for journalists, the entire country. And to see those images played out today was a chilling reminder of that day. I don`t know how anyone -- I mean, Donald J. Trump`s legacy will be one of tyranny and death and insurrection.

And anyone who does not speak out against that, anyone who does not honor their oath of office, their constitutional duty and do that with solemnity and responsibility, they are complicit and that will be their legacy, too. So they will simply have to live with that.

But I am grateful for brave patriots like that of my colleague Congressman Raskin. He reminds us of how personal this trial is for so many of us.

And we cannot simply turn the page, Joy. The reason why this insurrection could occur is because of the emboldening of the flames of white supremacy. Hurtful rhetoric and policies by Donald J. Trump, perpetuating a big lie, he is culpable. Members of Congress are culpable, and those senators who did not vote to impeach are also culpable. And they must be taken to account.

This is as much about accountability as it is prevention. This is much about securing the capitol from a further breach as it is about securing the nation.

White supremacy is a threat to every American and to our democracy. And Donald J. Trump needed to be impeached so that he is barred from running for public office ever again. This Democratic majority-led House has twice impeached him.

Now we must -- the Senate, you know, they have a responsibility and then we must expel those members who have aided and abetted this insurrection and continue to investigate, and then root out the scourge and the evil that is white supremacy that is supported by systemic and structural racism. And that`s why we have to go bold in our response to mitigate the hurt the American people are experiencing, Joy. These events are traumatic but the hurt that they have been experiencing because of this global pandemic is also traumatic.

REID: Yeah. You know, Congresswoman, I think about the fact that as we`re playing these images back again, you know, there`s some guy waving a Confederate flag inside of our capitol. That didn`t happen during the civil war. There are people waving the Trump flag, instead of the American flag. You had some of the guy walking around in a Camp Auschwitz shirt.

And then you as a black woman in Congress are pushing to get relief that they`re going to get. That those people are going to benefit from your hard work, for your advocacy. They`re going to get those checks, too.

I don`t know how complicated that feels for you. You`re in this fight not for them obviously. But that does ever -- does that sort of dichotomy ever strike you?

You`re fighting for -- those people are going to probably benefit from your hard work.

PRESSLEY: I understand that I have a responsibility to center all the American people and to prioritize country first, which is what our colleagues across the aisle so often say that they seek to do, that they are patriots and appeal to us to choose country over party. The Democrats have been choosing the country and we are the party of the working class people.

And that is exactly why progressives fought hard to secure a victory this week on raising the minimum wage to $15, and also, to guard against that effort to restrict income eligibility for these survival checks. And that is exactly what they are, survival checks -- for people to remain safely housed, to keep food on the table, to pay for life saving medication.

I spoke with Angela Madican (ph) in a neighborhood in a district that I represent earlier today. She`s been -- she is a health care worker, she`s been laid off. She and her children are home because of the pandemic and they`re learning remotely.

REID: Right.

PRESSLEY: Her utility and electric (ph) bills have doubled. So the bills have not stopped coming.

REID: Yeah.

PRESSLEY: And so, we have to get directly to the American people and that`s why I`ll continue to push for those $2,000 reoccurring survival checks to mitigate that hurt. But I`m encouraged by the victory that progressives secure this week.

REID: Indeed, indeed. I think so many people are.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, thank you so much for all that you do and thanks for being here.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.