tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN February 8, 2021 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
i will be back tomorrow for our special coverage of the second impeachment trial of donald trump. our coverage begins tomorrow at noon eastern. thanks very much for watching. erin burnett out front starts right now. >> out front next, security at the u.s. capitol on high alert on the eve of donald trump's second impeachment trial, as his lawyers formally argue not to take trump at his word and inside the q. why members of qanon still think trump will be inaugurated now that the date moved to march 4th. and transportation secretary pete buttigieg in quarantine after exposure to a member of security detail who tested positive for covid. secretary buttigieg joins me, let's go out front. good evening.
i am erin burnett. out front tonight, the united states capitol under extraordinary security ahead of trump's second impeachment trial tomorrow. members of the national guard are patrolling the complex topped with razor wire. it is the site of trump's trial and the scene of the crime where five people died including a capitol hill police officer. tonight as we await the start of former president donald j. trump's trial to begin his defense, don't take him at his word. we finally reached the point in a court of law, the senate, the best defense trump has is don't trust him. trump's lawyers in their 78-page brief claims trump's call for the crowd to fight like hell was not meant to be taken literally. they say mr. trump used the word fight a little more than a handful of times and each time in a figurative sense.
here he is on january 6th in his own words. >> fight. fight. fight. fight. fighting. i would fight. i would fight their fight. fight. we fight. fight like hell. fight like hell. >> at least 16 times in just the few moments before the riot itself. trump poured gasoline on the fire for months and stoked the lies of election fraud. >> you have to fight hard and you hit them back. we have to fight. now is the time to fight harder than ever before. if you don't fight to save your country with everything you have, you are not going to have a country left. >> and of course this call to fight came as trump said the only way he would lose the election is if it were rigged and outrit refused to say he would accept the results again and again. here is what is incredible about
it. even though the fig leaf of a defense is not a defense, some republican senators are willing to grab on to that shred of a fig leaf and some are going further, enter senator ron johnson. he seems to be offering up this conspiracy theory. that house speaker nancy pelosi may be the one responsible for the insurrection that left five people dead. >> is this another diversion operation, meant to deflect away from what the speaker knew and when she knew it? i don't know, but i am suspicious. >> what the speaker knew and when she knew it about the deadly riot. she is suspicious. somehow pelosi may be to blame for the deadly riot. pelosi did not say the election was rigged or stolen like a broken record, or that people needed to fight like a broken record. never mind her office was ransacked, rioters broke her nameplate, stole her laptop, some of them said they were
there to kill her. the person who told his vice president to violate the constitution and strike down the vote count on january 6th. the person that told his supporters to -- >> so, let's walk down pennsylvania avenue. i want to thank you all. god bless you. and god bless america. >> and march down the avenue is exactly what the mob did while trump went back to the white house to watch. but tonight in this defense they put out his lawyers say in the brief to the senate that trump took immediate steps to coordinate with another was necessary to counteract the rioters. this is not factually true. there is a record of what trump did during the riot. let's go through it again. 2:23 p.m., this is on television. >> wolf, this is something i have never seen in my time covering capitol hill, that
protesters breached not just the building but have come inside of the building and just steps from where u.s. senators had been debating on the senate floor. >> that was 2:23 p.m. at 2:24 trump tweeted about the man presiding over the senate floor that time, his vice president. mike pence didn't have the courage to dod what should have been done, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent inaccurate ones. usa demands the truth. the record leaves no question of whose side trump was on in the deadly riot. 2:26 p.m. this. is what all of us are watching on tv. trump tweeted did absolutely -- he did pick up the phone to call senator tommy tubberville. when he got in touch with him in a temporary holding room, a
source says he was trying to get tubberville to delay the vote. trump continuing to pound the table, the same table and goal as his mob. more than an hour of these images is all that anyone is watching. the situation is growing more dangerous. trump tweeted and did nothing to stop it. video is out there with protesters breaking windows and an armed stand-off on the house floor. this unforgettable moment. one former white house official say presidency trump was loving watching if the capitol mob. something ben sasse echoed. >> as this was unfolding on television, donald trump was walking around the white house confused by others on the team were not as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against capitol police trying to get into the building. >> that does not square with trump's legal team's claims that
he took immediate steps to provide assistance and the argument that fight like hell over months and months and months was not meant to be taken literally. he didn't do anything to stop it. my saying this goes beyond, you know, his lack of tweeting or saying anything in the hours to stop it. we actually know that at some point kevin mccarthy talked to trump and according to a source briefed on the conversation mccarthy tried to get trump to realize the severity of the situation and implore him to forcefully denounce the attackers. trump refused to do it. it was mike pence and not donald trump that initially helped facilitate the members of the d.c. national guard, according to a source. the facts are clear. he did not take immediate steps to help.
when the pressure finally got to be too much and trump finally did speak it was 4:17 p.m. his first words to tell the world the election was stolen, even as he asked the rioters to go home. >> we had an election that was stolen from us. it was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. but you have to go home now. >> stolen. landslide win. but you have to go home now. they took every single word literally. his words were why they were there to begin with and they listened to him again. every single word of what they said there and followed his command again. >> donald trump asked everybody to go home. he just put out a tweet. it is a minute long. he asked everybody to go home. >> the president asked people to go home. so people are going home.
>> i mean they did what he told them, every step of the way. they didn't take him figuratively. they took him literally. when he started the great lie about a rigged election until that moment. jim acosta is out near president trump's former residence. now we are seeing how all of this will take shape. each side gets up to 16 hours to take place. the trial kicks off tomorrow on a four-hour debate on the constitutionality-the proceeding. >> i would sate mindset is confident but vengeful. confident, because the former president believes that there are not going to be enough republican senators to vote to convict those republican senators are by in large going to rest their decision not to convict the former president on the process argument that has been advanced by the impeachment
team that you can't try and convict a former president while he is out of office and a private citizen. he is also feeling vengeful. he is watching what will happen over the next couple of days or a week very closely because he wants to see which republican senators might vote against him to convict at the end of the proceedings, very much like the way that he was watching the house impeachment proceedings. he has been talking about congresswoman liz cheney who voted to impeach the then president if. he is confident that it will not end in conviction, but he is seeing closely who crosses him in the end. you were talking about how all of it will be laid out over the
next week or so. we will hear the constitutional question debated tomorrow over in the senate. you are go to have 16 hours on both sides. that is likely to take the senate trial well in to next week before we get to a vote on an acquittal or conviction. they are pushing aside a lot of what they are pushing for today. when they say aides were scrambling behind the scenes to get things. the former president was delighting in what was taking place. the words of the former white house official, he was loving the capitol mob. >> that is incredible and important to hear those words.
that is what his actions show. jim, thank you very much. i want to go down to one of if our law scholars. house democrats have consulted him on impeachment and the lead impeachment management manager is a former student. professor p the first four hours we focus on the constitutionality. rand paul forced a vote. we know how republicans will vote on this. do democrats think they will be able to change any minds on it? >> i think we will prevail on the constitutional argument. we already have a majority. that is what it takes. we may get more. the argument that the senate cannot try and convict a former president even though he was
president when he was impeached has basically taken a tailspin in the public commentary and i think that we will clearly prevail and move on to the merits. >> gloria, on the constitutional argument a leading conservative constitutional lawyer now agrees. chuck cooper wrote in "the wall street journal," given the constitution permits the senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification on former office holders defies logic that the senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders. james langford said i don't know of anyone that their mind is not made up already on the issue. do you think that people like mr. cooper, you know known conservative lawyers will maybe sway just even one or two republican votes on the
constitutionality issue? >> since you already had a vote on it, the possibility of that happening is slim. >> yeah. >> but it is kind of remarkable that you have charles cooper, who is not exactly a left wing radical. i mean he is a former advisor to ted cruz when ted cruz ran for the presidency. he was john bolton and jeff sessions' lawyer. this is not a left winger. this is a conservative republican who argued the case against california's same sex marriage. someone that republicans are well acquainted with. he said to them have courage and debate this on the issue at hand, which is whether donald trump insighted a insurrection and not on the constitutional issue which he points out is ridiculous. >> when you get to the mer pittings of this, one of them is that he did everything that he
could as quickly as he could to stop it. they say there was a flurry of activity inside the white house to organize assets. no proof that president trump was delighted by events at the capitol. the proof of everyone around him who all said the same thing, that he did enjoy it and he was delighted by it for hours into this. pence had to be involved in mobilizing the national guard. does it all add up to proof? >> it adds up to competting proof. i also want to add a word about chuck cooper. he is a person of principle and courage. the head of the office of legal
counsel under reagan and said that any conservative who looks at the law carefully will conclude that of course a former president who was impeached while president can be disqualified. the proof, when the nation watches in chilling detail how the president ex halted in the mob that crushed and killed cops and threatened to take the life of the vice president and threatened to assassinate the speaker of the house. i think that the country's opinion will solidify against the president of the united states, at least the guy that was president when he violated his oath and he committed what amounts to treason. and i use that word carefully, because he was waging war against the united states, what article iii defines as treason.
>> gloria, the thing is that you heard what jim acosta was reporting about where trump stands right now. confident but vengeful. now he wants to punish any republican lawmaker who voted to impeach him in the house. you can see that happening. his minions are out there. the republicans in the senate are well aware. does it have any impact on him. will it affect their vote? >> sure, it does. i mean there are not profiles in courage over there. i think they are worried about getting primaried on the right. donald trump had 74 million voters. and though a lot of the voters do not support what he did on january 6th, i would surmise, i believe that they are still afraid of donald trump and the impact he has. you know, it is this question of
shouldn't be. but if it were secret you might have a very different outcome. >> yeah. >> thank you both very much. i appreciate your time. hours away from this. qanon supporters will be watching trump's trial closely. why are they now obsessed with the date march 4th, the new the world is going to end thing. outrage from republicans all over again at liz cheney who doubled down on her vote to impeach donald trump.
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yellow don't tread on me flag. prosecutors are saying he handed a black helmet to a man who used it to break through the glass door which is where one of the rioters tried to jump through and was shot and killed by police. how do you defend the actions? >> well, again, you are only looking at a snippet of the picture here. the entire video, which we have and the government has yet to produce to us, shows that my client walked up to the door not screaming, not yelling. went up pleading with the officers at the door, letting them know that there are people getting crushed in here. you need to open up the doors and said there were police officers that were getting crushed. he is a former military police officer, concerned for other officers. what the rest of the video shows is that as more and more people packed into the area and as capitol police officers moved away from the speaker's lobby door, he turned and tried to follow them away while others
started to bang through the door and breaking the glass and ultimately ashley babbit jumps through, his back was turned and he was trying to get away from that situation. that is what the evidence will show in this case. he had no intent to do any harm or damage anything. >> so on the day of the riot he said he was there and came to washington from texas because president trump had asked people to come. he also said that the riot calmed down because of trump, and he took hours to do it, finally told people to go home. here is your client. >> the president told people to go home. so people are going home. >> my question to you is how closely was he following trump's messages? you are saying right there he told me to go home, so i am saying home. he sounds like he is taking what the president said very
literally. >> yeah. i think what needs to be understood from the outset is that my client never anticipated what would happen. he went there thinking it would be like any trump rally and he was going to go and cheer for his president. he was going to go and have dinner with a friend and come back to texas. he never anticipated that there would be an order to march down pennsylvania avenue and the next thing that you know, he is following the crowds down there. it was kind of surreal for him. he just never anticipated that it would evolve into what it did. the directives were coming. the crowds were doing what they were told. >> let me ask you, the president is in mar-a-lago. your client is facing serious repercussions for what he did. trump's legal team is now distancing itself from that
saying that the real truth that the people that breached the capitol did so of their own accord and of their own reasons and are being criminally prosecuted. >> i think that is just absurd. the president abandoned his people. it is frustrating that my client is locked up in a federal detention center in middle america while donald trump is down in florida doing whatever he wants to, trying to pass the buck and pass the blame. again, my client never went to washington intending to do any harm or never intended to end up in the capitol. it was the directives of the person that he went there to see. it was those directives putting him into that position. there is no doubt about that. and to blame it on them and them alone, that is no different than any other of my clients trying to pass the blame off to someone else when there is evidence to show they are just as
responsible. >> i appreciate your time and thank you very much. all right. next, trump tonight fixated on accountability for g.o.p. lawmakers who voted to impeach in the house. will this work to keep senators afraid? and a chilling look inside the world of qanon. and why they think, some of them, that trump is weeks away from being sworn in as president. >> executions will be happening on march 5th. itchy? squirmy? scratchy? family not getting clean? get new charmin ultra strong. go get 'em. it just cleans better. with a diamond weave texture, your family can use less while still getting clean. goodbye itchy squirm! hello clean bottom! we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin. time to start brushing with parodontax toothpaste?
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tonight a republican congressman adam kinsinger imploring senate republicans to convict trump. if the g.o.p. does not take a stand, the chaos of the past few months and the past four years could quickly return. comes as trump's legal team is citing a far right website claiming anti-trump groups perpetrated the capitol hill riot. in a pretrial brief earlier. manu, strong words here tonight
appealing to his senate colleagues as these anti-trump -- they claim anti-trump groups were behind this. that has been discredited by kevin mccarthy himself as well as from the fbi. >> yeah. that is not necessarily going to help their case in the united states senate. senators i have been talking to up and down from the most conservative to moderate. they want to hear arguments about the merits of the case and want to hear questions about the constitutionality. that will be the big question. tomorrow will be a key day. they are go to debate for four hours whether or not this is a constitutional proceeding to try a former president. most republicans have come down on the idea that it is constitutional. they want to hear that argument going forward. if the trump team dabbles into conspiracy theories that will hurt their cause and almost
certainly won't get the 17 votes needed to convict donald trump but it could cause push-back from fellow republicans. i just spoke to some republicans about the backlash and the fallout that occurred in the aftermath of the house votes to impeach donald trump including those of liz cheney, the number three republican saying over the weekend the party shouldn't be embracing donald trump. i asked two republican senators about that tonight. that the party should be embracing ideas and not a cult of personality. says that would not be durable for the future. as this trial kicks off tomorrow, erin, you are hearing the debate going forward about what the republican party looks like after donald trump. >> i want to go to a former
republican congressman sanford. you heard manu's reporting there of what they are saying, they don't want a cult of trump. very clear. but saying that may be very different from how they are go to vote. in the context of congressman kinsinger saying guys, you better do this or else you are unleashing chaos on this party. do you think republican senators will be moved? >> no. at the end of the day they won't. i think adam is making the right call. but this is a pre-cast vote. with the 45 folks that voted for rand paul's amendment earlier, i think i would encourage them to look at the op-ed in "the wall street journal" just yesterday by chuck cooper, which i think is fascinating.
a credentialed republican in the justice department with reagan saying rand paul would be right if it were only about article ii but article i section 3 lays out a number of scenarios by which the senate can act and says no. republican senators, if you don't vote to throw him out. he is already gone. you can censure him from office for the rest of his life. >> the insurrection in the president's words, that led to that. and then his lack of doing anything on that date to stop it. there is the issue with democrats mentioned in the article, trump's efforts to overturn the election to try to strong arm people, specifically here in the state of paul george. that infamous phone call with brad raffensperger where he said find me one vote more than the margin of victory.
we now learned tonight the secretary of state's office launched an investigation into trump's efforts to overturn the state's election results. how significant do you think it could be, governor? >> i think significant. it is another shoe to drop. insignificant as it relates to the trial that begins tomorrow. i don't think that will move the senators at the end of the day. they have known about the call for quite some time. i think adam was making the right call. the secretary of state is making the right call. i don't think it will have a material effect on the election. i would ask senators to read that op-ed. >> by chuck cooper. let me ask you about what is happening here in your party. you know, liz cheney survived that referendum among house republicans over her leadership post and didn't mince words over the weekend when she was talking about trump's responsibility for the riot. she is not backing down at all,
governor. here she is. >> president trump claimed for months that the election was stolen and set about to do everything he could do to steal it himself. that ended up in an attack on the capitol, five people killed that day. >> governor, why are so many republicans afraid to state those basic facts. they are afraid. right. they are afraid of trump, even now. >> well, they are not afraid of him, necessarily. he might be a passing figure, but they are afraid of his base. a lot of the folks flying trump flags around the country and have trump stickers on their cars. you can go down the list. a lot of people, based on self preservation, are going to cast the vote they are go to cast. liz was right in the beginning of what she is as. lawyers are going to argue the
degree degree. but the two months between november and the beginning of january when he went around the country basically saying that the election didn't count. it was stolen. you can't do that when you swear to uphold the constitution. they are predicated on elections which he was working to undermine. >> of course it was all false and he knew it to be false. i am glad to see you again. >> yes, ma'am. >> next, qanon supporters believe trump's return to office is weeks away. we are going to go inside the group peddling this latest conspiracy theory and they just moved the date to march. secretary transportation pete buttigieg in quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive for coronavirus. he is with me next. step, unparalleled safety at every visit, and flexible payment options for every budget. now, during the everyday smiles event new patients get a full exam
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tonight federal prosecutors charging the youngest suspect in the capitol hill riot, 18-year-old man from paul geoge george -- georgia. this comes as qanon followers gear up for a new conspiracy theory being pushed on them that former president trump will be sworn back into office in a matter of weeks. yes, you heard me correctly. the people that believe it think that trump will be reinstated as
president in early march. >> this sounds so crazy. i recognize how crazy it sounds, but i don't believe joe biden will be sworn in as president today. >> reporter: he convinced some trump supporters biden would not be inaugurated on january 20th. >> please raise your right hand. >> reporter: as soon as biden was inaugurated, a new conspiracy took hold. >> trump will take office as the president under the restored republic. >> your favorite truth seeker holding the light for everyone giving up hope that trump is not the president of the united states of america when in fact, he is. >> when you think about it, biden is not in the white house and they have proof that he is out in california and it is all staged.
>> executions will be happening on march 5th. that is a big statement and i am really looking forward to it. >> reporter: trump will return as president in march, they falsely claim. it is apparently rooted in a belief that an 1871 law turned the country into a corporation and any president elected after that is illegitimate. the last president to be sworn in after that law was in 1869. it was the latest bizarre conspiracy theory that trump would be president again in march. that made a former qanon believer realize that the whole thing is a fraud. >> it does not make sense all of this is happening and all of a sudden trump will come back march 4th and it will change. it does not seem right. that is i guess what started it. i had that little bit of doubt. >> reporter: while ashley was able to get out, others are
clinging on. repost if trump is your president. gab is a hate-filled social media platform some have turned to after twitter shut down some qanon accounts after the insurrection. a qanon account on gab has more than 200,000 members and believers continue to look for signs that qanon is a real thing. a photo purportedly of the white house that night with q did say something about if the lights go out, please know we are in control. echoing the false conspiracy about executions on march 5th. a person posted a picture outside the white house with a message it is beginning to look a lot like gallows. and ahead of the impeachment trial a plea for qanon believers to call their senators. it is not q, it's you that makes the difference. >> just incredible. you have talked to so many
individuals and people that are willing to buy into this march 4th, 5th idea. do you think that the impeachment trial that is going to happen over the next few days and weeks has a potential to make trump more of a martyr among the followers or not? >> absolutely. qanon believers like the so-called qanon shaman who went on to storm the capitol, trump is the hero in the qanon story. that is why perhaps we have heard trump praise qanon followers. we are likely to see this trial embolden the followers further. we heard about the mom that left qanon. she said one thing before she left qanon that could have gotten her out if president trump disavowed the movement. on the other side we saw marjorie taylor greene being embraced by the republican party.
>> and of course trump himself. all of this is amazing to hear all of those things. next, secretary pete buttigieg is my guest. he is now quarantined after a member of his security detail has tested positive for coronavirus. this is how you become the best! ♪“you're the best” by joe esposito♪ ♪ [triumphantly yells] [ding] don't get mad. get e*trade. ♪ your skin isn't just skin, it's a beautiful reflection of every single thing you've been through in life. ♪ which is why dove body wash renews your skin's ceramides and strengthens it against dryness. ♪ for instantly softer smoother skin you can lovingly embrace. renew the love for your skin with dove body wash. that's why at america's beverage companies, our bottles are made to be re-made.
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breaking news, transportation secretary pete buttigieg quarantining for 14 days after a member of his security detail tested positive. the security agent was in close contact with buttigieg as early as this morning. he tested negative earlier today and he's "outfront" now. secretary, i really appreciate your time. i know you're taking the necessary precautions and obviously, you're going ahead and doing what you did before under these circumstances. at this point, are you fairly certain that's all this is a precaution? >> you know, we have to be careful. we have to take this seriously. i did have a negative test today and i feel fine. i spoke to the agent and he feels all right, as well. he's not having symptoms but he did test positive. it's a reminder this is why masks matter and testing matters
and get up, go to work and feel fine and turns out you're positive. we've gone through the steps and following protocols. as it is for so many americans that have been through this, frustrating to be confined to quarters and separated from my husband who was not exposed when i was but making sure we do the right thing and thankfully, i'm among the americans that's fortunate to work from home. >> you mentioned your agent. you had a negative test. you said the agent had a positive test but doesn't have symptoms and of course, that's the case with up to one-third of people and they can spread it. so to this point, i know you said that there was an active conversation, those are the words you used with the cdc about requiring covid testing before domestic flights, right? so you catch asymptomatic, asymptomatic people. >> there has got to be common
sense medicine, science really driving this and it's the appropriate measure for international travel. people traveling into the u.s. giving some of those considerations. you know, i'd say the domestic picture is different but the cdc is evaluating what to do to keep people safe. >> more than 20 travel organizations sent a letter to you saying you'll have cases moving across state lines anyway. people can drive or bus. their quote there is no question a mandate of this magnitude would take public resources away from more vulnerable populations. what do you say to them and their push back? >> they're raising very already points and those points will be taken very seriously. >> so do you support the idea of requiring proof of a covid vaccination like a vaccine p pas passport?
do you support that idea of a passport? >> so that's not a step that has been taken who again cdc is deciding what the right measures will be. i think right now the focus especially at a time when most americans haven't had a vaccine, haven't had access to a vaccine to make sure while we're getting vaccinations out to everybody we possibly can, we're also maintaining measures we know are available and that work like wearing a mask and we also say this is part of why the president's rescue plan is so urgent because that is going to push the resources out to this states, out into the community to make sure we really can accelerate that vaccination that we know is our best chance to beat this virus. >> so in your confirmation hearing testimony, you talked about a generational opportunity to transform america's infrastructure that is in dire, dire need. you can see a lot of people dying with things collapsing that could happen if something is not done and in this, you are not ralone. it's bipartisan.
it's something president obama and president trump said they wanted to do. here they are. >> i want america to have the best infrastructure in the world. we used to have the best infrastructure in the world. we can have it again. we're going to make it happen. >> my goal, my mission and my commitment to each of you is very simple. america's infrastructure will be the envy of the entire world. >> they each said it. they each started with, you know, their party in the house in control, right, of both houses of congress and they both failed. how are you going to succeed? >> well, we've got to make sure that we succeed this time because we simply don't have any more time to act. the number of roads and bridges in our country that are structurally deficient, not just repairing and fixing what we have. america should be leading the world with infrastructure and there is bipartisan support to get it done. there are definitely challenges, especially in terms of making sure we have a sustainable way
to fund it but i would argue that however we decide to invest and fund these programs, these are the kinds of things that are going to pay for themselves. you know, sometimes promises have been made in the past about certain policies like tax cuts for the wealthy when i was young. supposedly paying for themselves and they didn't. what definitely does pay for itself is good infrastructure investment. you can see it during the process of my hearings and confirmation there is an extraordinary level of support to do it. you couple that with the fact we're in an economically precarious situation to make good investments for the economy and i think we have a remarkable moment on our hands. >> i hope you're right and i know people in both parties agree. it's time for this to succeed and rooting for you in doing that because it is amazing how there has not been the will so far far. appreciate your time tonight. >> next, the first sitting member of congress to die after
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we end tonight on a sad note, representative ron white of texas passed away after being admitted today hospital for coronavirus and he's the first sitting congressman to die after being diagnosed with covid. he tested positive on january 21st, at the time he had mild symptoms. white was 67 years old. "ac 360" starts now. good evening, this country has only seen three presidential impeachment trials in the entire history. tomorrow it will see the second in about a year. of the same president, the first was for trying to pressure the state to win the 2020 election. this is for trying to overturn it by force. tonight jim acosta has reporting that goes to the heart of the case. it s