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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  January 10, 2021 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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unleash your potential. uipath. reboot work. >> on january 6th, speaker nancy pelosi's office was ransacked by marauding domestic terrorists, incited to interfere with the confirmation of joe biden and kamala harris' election win by president trump. >> he has demonstrated once again, but in a much more substantial way, that this president of the united states is a very dangerous person. ( ticking ) >> tonight, our mission here in georgia.
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>> in some ways, georgia was president trump's last stand. after losing the state by 11,779 votes, last week, in a desperate phone call, mr. trump tried to get officials who voted for him to "find" ballots that would overturn the election. how would you describe the president's claims of vote fraud in georgia? >> unreasonable. lacking in any factual reality. ( ticking ) >> hey, how are you? >> who's angus king? you're about to get to know him better. he isn't the more prominent of the two senators from his state, that's susan collins; he isn't even the most prominent man named king from maine, that would be stephen, the writer, but angus king is something akin to atticus finch on a harley: a motorcycle-riding, duck-hunting, public-radio-listening straight shooting independent, unencumbered by party politics,
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and that may be just what we need right now. ( ticking ) >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm jon wertheim. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking ) and, your uniquely-you health needs? 1 in 400 trillion. roughly. that's why walgreens created something new. with personalized, real-time health alerts. cash rewards on...everything. and pickup in as little as 30 minutes. introducing mywalgreens. a whole new way to wellness.
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>> lesley stahl: january 6th should have been a day of ceremony when congress met in joint session, then opened and counted electoral votes for president and vice president. instead, it will be remembered as the day an angry mob, stirred up and aimed down pennsylvania avenue by an election-losing president, smashed its way into the capitol, leaving five dead, the building ransacked, and
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american democracy under siege. on friday, we joined house speaker nancy pelosi at the capitol, where her influence in the nation's leadership is growing as president trump's power, support and relevance dissipates. madam speaker, who is running the government of the united states? we have a pandemic. we just had this horrendous act of violence up here. we had a russian hack of our institutions. is anybody running the executive branch of the government? who is running the executive-- >> nancy pelosi: well, sadly, the person that's running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the united states. and we're 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.
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>> stahl: well, i gather that the 25th amendment is off the table? >> pelosi: no, it isn't. nothing is off the table. >> stahl: the mayhem at the capitol started early afternoon on january 6th, with the rioters barreling past the barricades, clashing with police and breaking into the capitol. as they swarmed through the halls, the speaker was on the house floor, during the count of the electoral college vote. so tell us what happened when, when the protesters were trying to get in here. you're up there. >> pelosi: well, the-- when the protesters were making the assault on the capitol, before they even got to these doors, the capitol police pulled me from the podium and i was concerned because i said, "no, i want to be here."
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and they said, "well, no, you have to leave." i said, "no, i'm not leaving." they said, "no, you must leave." >> stahl: police, guns drawn, held the invaders off the house floor, but over in the senate, the trump supporters were able to break into the chamber. the scenes were shocking to watch. >> pelosi: i think there was-- universally accepted that what happened... was a terrible, terrible violation of what-- of the capitol-- of the first branch of government, the-- the legislative branch by the president of the united states. >> stahl: the mob was free to roam the halls, one group making it right up to speaker pelosi's suite of offices. >> pelosi: this door, they broke down as you can see. >> stahl: oh my goodness. >> pelosi: they broke that down. >> stahl: look at that. they broke the door. >> pelosi: they smashed it in. and went through to another
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door. >> stahl: behind which pelosi's young staff cowered, terrorized. >> pelosi: the staff went under the table barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark. >> stahl: under the table this whole-- >> pelosi: --under the table for two and a half hours. >> stahl: wow. during which time they listened to the invaders banging on that door, as you can hear on a recording from one of the staffers phones. >> check this out, we are inside her-- nancy pelosi's office. >> stahl: across the hall, a group broke into the speakers private office. oh wow. oh wow. >> pelosi: you see what they did to the mirror there? the glass was all over the place. they took a-- >> stahl: they smashed-- >> pelosi: --computer and all that stuff. but laptop. and then the desk that they actually were at was right there that they defamed in that way, feet on the desk and all that.
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>> stahl: that man was arrested on friday. and the f.b.i. is investigating whether any of the agitators, some seen in ballistic vests, with zip ties, intended to kidnap or kill legislators or their staffers. they were coming to find you. i-- maybe to hurt you, i don't know. >> pelosi: the evidence is now that-- that it was a well- planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. and the direction was to go get people. they were vocally saying, "where's the speaker? we know she has staff. they're here someplace. we're going to find them." >> hey, nancy! >> stahl: while all this was going on, speaker pelosi and senator schumer from an undisclosed location called on the president to tell his followers to leave the capitol. >> trump: it was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. but you have to go home now. we have to have peace.
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>> pelosi: the president said," go home," but the election was, you know, went on with his lies, his misrepresentations, his delusion that he won in a landslide in this election. >> stahl: so finally, the protesters were ejected. and you came almost right back into session. how did that happen? >> pelosi: i know from chuck schumer and from mitch mcconnell, there was consensus that we should come back. there was some suggestions that it may take too long, and we should do it at the undisclosed location. but there was general belief that it-- from the message of strength that we needed to send, we had to go back to the capitol as soon as possible. >> pence: the senate will come to order. >> stahl: vice president pence, who had been taken to a secure location in the capitol, concurred with the decision to resume the count, amid reports that he was livid at the president. >> pence: let's get back to work. >> stahl: work dragged on until almost 4:00 a.m.--
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>> i object! >> stahl: --as republicans challenged certified election results. and they did that after the violence? >> pelosi: after the violence. shame on them. and shame on two thirds of the republican caucus in the house supporting the-- so these people are enablers of the president's behavior. i remember when republicans in the senate went to see richard nixon and said, "it's over." that's what has to happen now. >> stahl: one of the reasons she is so eager to see mr. trump's immediate removal from office is her grave concern that in the next ten days he might try to do something reckless militarily, including ordering the use of nuclear weapons. she told us she sought advice from general mark milley, chairman of the joint chiefs. >> pelosi: i have sought information from those who are in position to know that there are protections against this dangerous president initiating any military hostilities or something worse than that.
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>> stahl: something else she and senator schumer did was call the vice president to urge him to initiate the 25th amendment that provides procedures to remove a president from office. >> pelosi: we were kept on the line for 20 minutes. "he's going to be here in a minute, a minute, a minute." well, he never did come to-- >> stahl: they kept you-- >> pelosi: --the phone. >> stahl: --on hold for 20 minutes. >> pelosi: at least. of course, i was-- i was at home, so i was running the dishwasher, putting my clothes in the laundry. we're still waiting for him to return the call. >> pence: joseph r. biden, jr. of the state of delaware has received 306 votes. donald j. trump of the state of florida has received 232 votes. >> stahl: after congress confirmed joe biden's victory in the election, president trump read from a teleprompter, offering his most conciliatory statement about the election. >> trump: a new administration will be inaugurated on january 20th. my focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless
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transition of power. >> stahl: mr. trump has said he will not attend the inauguration. the new president has said he wants to turn over a new page of bipartisan cooperation. >> stahl: in the election in november, someone said that the mandate that the democrats won was not about issues, because you lost so many seats. that the mandate was for tone and attitude. and a strong desire for compromise. >> pelosi: i do know that it was a mandate for us to go forward with an agenda for america's working families, as well as to do so in tone. we have-- i always say to our members, we have a responsibility to find common ground. when we can't, we must stand our ground, but we have to-- we have a responsibility to try. >> stahl: you yourself are not
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known as a person who compromises. >> pelosi: no, i am. i'll compromise. we want to get the job done. i'm not-- i'm-- mischaracterized by the republicans that way. but that's a tactic that they use. but we know we want results for the american people. >> stahl: what about the covid relief package? >> pelosi: yeah. >> stahl: that was held up for eight months. >> pelosi: right. but that was their obstruction. understand this. >> stahl: well, wait. >> pelosi: was their obstruction. >> stahl: yours too. >> pelosi: their obstruction. >> stahl: no, yours too. takes two to-- >> pelosi: no, it wasn't obstruction. >> stahl: you held out for eight months. >> pelosi: no, no. we held it up because there was no-- no respect for our heroes, our-- our state and local health care workers, police and fire, our first responders, our sanitation, transportation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. they would not go down that path. >> stahl: there's a member of your caucus who said specifically that, "we look like obstructionists, and it was a mistake." >> pelosi: i don't remember
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anybody saying that. and- >> stahl: but-- >> pelosi: --they may have. and they may have. but it isn't-- it wasn't a mistake. and i would not, and nobody expects me to, to support something that solidifies injustice in our country. >> stahl: let's talk about the russian hack. there was an invasion, a cyber invasion. >> pelosi: big deal. >> stahl: big deal. >> pelosi: uh-huh. >> stahl: what should the united states do about that? >> pelosi: in terms of the hack, that the president would not assert his authority, first of all-- >> stahl: he hasn't said anything. >> pelosi: no, he hasn't said anything because-- >> stahl: except that maybe china did it. >> pelosi: yeah. what the president, again, has a tin ear, blind spot and whatever obligation. i don't know what the russians have on president trump, whether it's personal, whether it's political, whether it's financial. i don't know what it is. >> stahl: you think they have something on him? >> pelosi: but there's no other explaining why this president of the united states is such a handmaiden of putin. >> stahl: can we talk about the
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a-word? >> pelosi: what's that? >> stahl: age. >> pelosi: oh, age! >> stahl: you're 80. >> pelosi: right. >> stahl: your number two, steny hoyer's 81. your number three, jim clyburn, is 80. why haven't you brought young people into the leadership? we've-- >> pelosi: because we have. you perhaps don't know. >> stahl: why does a.o.c. complain that you have not been grooming younger people for leadership? >> pelosi: i don't know. you'll have to ask her, because we are. >> stahl: that was kind of sharp, kind of dismissing her. >> pelosi: i'm not dismissing her. i respect her. i think she's very effective as are other-- many other members in our caucus that the press doesn't pay attention to. but they are there and they are building support for what comes next. >> stahl: the speaker intends to keep the pressure on president trump to leave office as soon as possible. if he does not resign immediately, she has threatened to initiate impeachment
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proceedings. what if he pardons himself? >> pelosi: what if he pardons these people who are terrorists on the capitol? what if he does that? >> stahl: or pardons himself? >> pelosi: he can only pardon himself from federal offenses. he cannot pardon himself from state offenses and that's where he's being investigated in the state of new york. >> stahl: there is a possibility that after all of this, there's no punishment, no consequence, and he could run again for president. >> pelosi: and that's one of the motivations that people have for advocating for impeachment. >> stahl: won't that take more than the 10 days and does it actually make sense? >> pelosi: well i like the 25th amendment because it gets rid of him. he's out of office. but there is strong support in the congress for impeaching the president a second time. this president is guilty of inciting insurrection. he has to pay a price for that. ( ticking )
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top election official, secretary of state brad raffensperger spent an hour on the phone listening to the president lie and threaten. mr. trump spun tales of fraud and told raffensperger he needed to find 11,780 votes. one more vote than biden's winning margin in the state. raffensperger is a life-long republican, voted for mr. trump and contributed to his campaign. but facing the presidents wrath he would not chose loyalty over duty. >> brad raffensperger: i believe i said, "well, mr. president, the challenge that you have is that you have bad data. our data shows that you did not win the race." because we have the facts, and the facts are on our side. >> pelley: brad raffensperger had declined to take the president's call. the trump campaign was suing georgia officials and raffensperger felt the call was
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inappropriate. but the white house kept insisting. >> mark meadows: okay, all right. so, mr. president, everybody is on the line. >> pelley: it was about 3:00 in the afternoon, saturday, january second, when white house chief of staff, mark meadows, started the conference call introducing mr. trump's lawyers, an attorney for the state of georgia, ryan germany, and secretary of state raffensperger. did you know that the call was being recorded? >> raffensperger: no. >> meadows: so, mr. president i'll turn it over to you. >> pelley: someone gave the recording to the "washington post." >> trump: okay, thank you very much. hello, brad and ryan and everybody. >> pelley: from the start, the president seemed delusional. >> trump: and we won the house, but we won every single state house and we won congress. >> pelley: mr. trump repeated, 30 times, that he won the election. he said he could still win georgia if raffensperger would play along. >> trump: so, look. all i want to do is this.
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i just want to find 11,780 votes. >> pelley: what was the president asking you to do? >> raffensperger: he was asking us to recalibrate or recalculate, i believe it was, recalculate-- somehow get a different answer. but i'm an engineer. and anyone that's good with numbers knows you can calculate all you want, but the numbers are the numbers. >> trump: so, what are we going to do here, folks? i only need 11,000 votes. fellas, i need 11,000 votes. give me a break. >> pelley: but the words used by the president and the president's chief of staff, "give me a break," "cooperate," "compromise," were they asking you to join them in a conspiracy? >> raffensperger: i guess maybe they were just trying to intimidate me and-- cajole me into something. it wasn't going to happen. >> pelley: we have learned the call january 2, was not mr. trump's first attempt.
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sources tell us that, last month, the president himself phoned one of the georgia secretary of state's investigators. a person briefed on the call, said mr. trump told the investigator they would be a national hero if they found evidence of fraud. but no evidence was found that would change the outcome of the election. still, on the call with the georgia secretary of state, mr. trump badgered raffensperger with fantasies of criminality. >> trump: the other thing, dead people, so dead people voted. and i think the number is close to 5,000 people. >> pelley: the president said in the call that 5,000 georgians voted in the name of dead people. >> raffensperger: right. well, it was two. two dead-- >> pelley: 2,000? >> raffensperger: no, two. yeah. >> pelley: a total of two? >> raffensperger: two people, right. right here, one, two. two dead people, not thousands, not hundreds.
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two people. >> pelley: how do you know that? >> raffensperger: because we went back and looked at it, and we searched all the death records, and we looked at day, month, year. so we had two people that had passed away and we'll investigate and see if we can find out who those people were that fraudulently voted for those two dead people. >> pelley: that is just one of dozens of investigations launched after the election by the georgia secretary of state. how would you describe the president's claims of vote fraud in georgia? >> gabriel sterling: fantastical, unreasonable. lacking in any factual reality. >> pelley: gabriel sterling, also a republican, and a trump voter, is the chief operating officer for the secretary of state. he walked us through surveillance video that the president and his lawyer, rudy giuliani, use as their slam-dunk evidence. here, giuliani is explaining to georgia state senators his
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selectively edited version of the video. >> rudy giuliani: when you look at what you saw on the video, which to me was a smoking gun, powerful smoking gun, well, i don't have to be a genius to figure out what happened. i don't have to be a genius to figure out that those votes are not legitimate votes. >> pelley: in national ads, the trump campaign shows just a clip of the video that reveals cases filled with ballots being removed from under a table. >> america deserved an honest election. this is what they got: suitcases of ballots added in secret in georgia. >> pelley: gabriel sterling showed us that rudy giuliani was right: you don't have to be a genius to figure out what happened when you look at all of the video. sterling says the election workers were told before 10:00 election night that they would be going home and would finish the count the next day. >> sterling: it's before 10:00. the observers and the press are still in the room to see all of
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this occur. >> pelley: with republican and democratic observers visible on the video, the still uncounted ballots were placed in official boxes which were labeled, locked with tamper-proof seals and stored below the table. >> sterling: this is where they're packing up because they think they're going home. they're packing up to seal them so that nobody can, you know, mess with the ballots when no one's there. >> pelley: but, less than an hour after the boxes were stored, sterling says the staff was told they would have to keep counting through the night. so, the ballots were pulled out and counted. sterling told us, president trump's team had always had the entire, unedited, video. >> sterling: from my point of view, they intentionally misled the state senators, the people of georgia, and the people of the united states about this to cause this conspiracy theory to keep going and keep the disinformation going, which has caused this environment that we're seeing today. >> pelley: are you saying they lied to the-- >> sterling: yes. >> pelley: --georgia state senate? >> sterling: i'm saying that rudy giuliani looked them in the
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eye and lied. >> raffensperger: and rudy giuliani knows that. he also, i believe, you know, he has some ethical standards as a member of the bar. he knows that what he said was not true. but our state senate did not ask us to come in there so that we could rebut what they said. and it was actually left as the gospel truth, and it wasn't. it was fabricated. >> pelley: in the call, president trump slanders one of the election workers in the video, a woman named ruby freeman, who georgia officials say is not suspected of tampering with anything. >> trump: 18,000 voters having to do with ruby freeman. she's a vote scammer, a professional vote scammer and hustler, ruby freeman. that was the tape that's been shown all over the world that makes everybody look bad. >> pelley: the president claimed freeman put the so-called" ballots hidden in suitcases" through the counter three times resulting in 54,000 bogus votes.
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>> trump: and brad, why did they put the votes in three times? they put them in three times. >> raffensperger: mr. president, they did not put that-- we did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times. >> pelley: ruby freeman is in hiding because of threats. death threats that sterling says other election workers are also receiving. >> sterling: and i finally saw one that s-- said the young man's name. it said, "you are a traitor, may god have mercy on your soul." and it had a gif of a noose slowly swinging. at that point i snapped. i essentially lost it and said, "this has got to stop." mr. president. >> pelley: five weeks ago, gabriel sterling addressed this directly to the president. >> sterling: what you don't have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this, is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. someone's going to get hurt. someone's going to get shot. someone's going to get killed. >> pelley: now that we saw the mob attack the capitol, is that what you meant? >> sterling: yes. that's exactly what i meant.
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and continuing the disinformation and spinning up people's anger while they're emotionally raw, this is exactly what you're going to see. >> pelley: even raffensperger was threatened by the president who said the georgia secretary of state was culpable in the fantasy fraud. >> trump: it's more illegal for you than it is for them. because you know what they did and you're not reporting it. that's a criminal, that's a criminal offense. and you know you can't let that happen. that's a big risk to you and to ryan, your lawyer, and that's a big risk. >> raffensperger: well, i think it was obviously a veiled threat, maybe a direct threat. but there was no substance to what he was saying. >> trump: so tell me, brad, what are we going to do? we won the election, and it's not fair to take it away from us like this. and it's going to be very costly in many ways. >> pelley: when you heard those words, what did you think? "very costly"? >> raffensperger: i heard the threat.
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i don't know what that meant, exactly, but it wasn't going to move me off center. >> trump: but i mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. when you talk about no criminality, i think it's very dangerous for you to say that. >> pelley: the president of the united states is saying, "brad, this could be very dangerous for you." >> raffensperger: well, really what it did is i think it really revealed for us was his character. and it was just a sad moment to really hear that. >> pelley: the president also suggested that someone tampered with georgia's voting machines. but gabriel sterling, the secretary of state's chief operating officer, told us the state hand counted all of the voting machine's paper ballot receipts. the state of georgia hand counted how many ballots? >> sterling: a little over five million. >> pelley: and when you hand counted the five million, how did that compare to what the electronic machines were saying?
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>> sterling: they came back at 0.1053% off in the total number of ballots, and 0.0099% off the margin, which is incredibly close. >> pelley: you would consider that to be virtually identical. >> sterling: yes. >> pelley: i wonder how it feels, trying to push back against the president of the united states, who is making all of these claims. >> sterling: it's like having a shovel in your hand and trying to empty the ocean. >> pelley: when the president was making his speech on wednesday, inciting that mob in washington, he complained about weak and pathetic republicans. >> trump: no, it's amazing. the weak republicans, they're pathetic republicans. >> pelley: he was talking about you. >> raffensperger: well, i think he was talking about others i think actually i showed that i had some courage, i had some gumption, that i actually would do my job. the ones that kowtow to him, that just bent over and did his bidding, and not looking into the facts, i think that's weakness. >> pelley: brad raffensperger
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told us he didn't see the bloody attack on the capitol when it was happening because at that moment, he was busy sending congress a ten page point-by- point rebuttal of the presidents false claims. he learned later, that the members of the house and senate were under attack. >> raffensperger: it was surreal. we've never seen anything like that in 150 years, maybe even longer, probably 200 years it was really an affront to the people that founded this nation. people need to go back and read their history books. you know, we had some great founders. i know they weren't perfect men, but they were great people. they were some of the most learned people we had in our society and that's the high ideal that we all should kind of elevate ourselves to, to be noble people of high character, and patriotic, and love our country. ( ticking )
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( ticking ) >> jon wertheim: the state of maine entered the union by virtue of a compromise: the missouri compromise of 1820. since then, maine has been a pocket of political moderation and political flexibility, swinging left to right, and back again. in november's election, maine was peak maine, the only u.s. state to vote for a president from one party while electing a senator from another. at a time when "polarized" doesn't paint the depth of division in the country, we looked north and consulted maine's deceptively powerful senator, angus king, a registered independent, beholden to neither major party, and, at age 76, holding no ambition of higher office. his colleagues see him as a truth teller and voice of reason. and perhaps, we can turn to him as a guide for repairing the
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tattered fabric of both the united states senate and the country at large. >> angus king: hey, how are you? >> wertheim: who's angus king? he isn't the more prominent of the two senators from his state; that's susan collins. he isn't the more prominent of the two independents in the senate; that's bernie sanders. he isn't even the most prominent man named king from his state; that would be stephen, the writer, but angus king is something akin to atticus finch on a harley, a motorcycle- riding, duck-hunting, public- radio-listening straight shooter, unencumbered by party politics. we spoke with him in his office the morning after the assault on the capitol. he was angry with president donald trump. >> king: the first thing that came to my mind was the old quote from hosea the old testament prophet who said, "they who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind." and the president's been sowing the wind for three or four
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months, and yesterday we reaped the whirlwind. >> wertheim: you blame the president. >> king: i do. words have consequences, and the-- the higher up you are on the hierarchy, the words have more and more consequences. and the president of the united states has the bully pulpit. >> wertheirm: he also directed plenty of anger at his colleagues, especially the 14 republican senators who challenged certification of the electoral college votes, a stunt, king says, that fomented the rioters. king called out by name josh hawley of missouri and ted cruz of texas, whom he considers a friend. >> king: i'm disappointed, because he knows better. he's a really smart guy. i think it's interesting that he and hawley are probably in the top 10% of i.q. in the u.s. senate. and that makes it less excusable what they did, because they knew damn well that what they were doing was wrong, and that it was inimicable to the interests of this country. >> wertheim: this electoral college vote was supposed to be a certification, a formality. it was-- it was something else
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entirely. what about your colleagues who went along with this? >> king: they were wrong to do it. and it was a stunt to engrave their names on the rolls of "i'm loyal to donald trump." it was a profoundly unpatriotic act in my mind. >> wertheim: have you told them that? >> king: i have. >> wertheim: what is that conversation like? >> king: uncomfortable. and as for the marauders... i don't sympathize, i don't support, i don't approve, i don't authorize what they did, but i understand it-- because they had been told by the president, by the media that they listen to, by talk radio for months going back before the election that the whole thing was illegitimate. they couldn't trust the courts, they couldn't trust the congress, they couldn't trust the media. >> wertheim: as strenuously as he condemns the riots, he's seen in his own state how many americans feel that the country, and world, has passed them by. you-- you know these people. >> king: absolutely.
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listen, donald trump carried northern maine, they're profoundly alienated from our system you know, in maine, for example, we've got these small towns in rural maine that were literally built around paper mills that were great jobs. one of the communities i can think of had 5,000 people working at the mill, and that-- now the mill's all gone. and these are people that worked hard. they did, they paid their dues. they did what they were supposed to do, and yet the world got pulled out from under them. >> wertheim: ask king the source of his unique strain of politics, and he'll tell you that geography is destiny. though he grew up in the d.c. suburbs, angus king has lived in maine for more than half a century. he arrived in his 20s as a public interest lawyer, and later became a successful entrepreneur. beyond the lobster and lighthouses, he found appeal in maine's ethos. during the christmas recess, we ventured to america's upper righthand corner and visited him
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in his hometown of brunswick. >> king: aren't these great old houses? >> wertheim: you've said maine is like a big small town. what'd you mean by that? >> king: if you're from maine and you stop on the new jersey turnpike for gas, and the car next to you has a maine plate on it, i guarantee within 30 seconds you can establish someone you know in common. "where ya from?" "waterville." "know joe jabber?" "he's my cousin." (laugh) i mean, that's the way maine is. people know each other. and there's still a sense of community and caring about each other. >> wertheim: what do you attribute that to? >> king: a little bit of geographic isolation, for one thing. if you're in a small town and if you're in a business, repeat business is all there is. you've got to, as we say up here, use people right, or they're not going to come back. that engenders a sense of community and-- and relationship, and-- and sort of reciprocity of-- of good will. >> wertheirm: king made his fortune when he sold his energy consulting business in the 1990s. he figured he'd finally throttle
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back and put some miles on his harley, which he uses to this day to cruise the state, visiting constituents. >> king: i've found you can learn from anybody. i spent a lot of time on a motorcycle, and-- you know, with a lot of guys and-- and-- and-- and women-- you know, who have different views than i-- i do. i was with a whole bunch of different people, you know. and-- and by the way, they told me, one of-- one of 'em said, "angus, you're always going to be a rider, you'll never be a biker." (laugh) even though i had the leather jacket. >> wertheim: restless, in 1994, he put up his own money to run for governor of the state, a long-shot in a field of 13 candidates. that's when king, a lifelong democrat, made a decision to run as an independent. >> king: i didn't feel comfortable with the-- with the democrats on-- on the taxation, regulation side. i didn't feel comfortable with the republicans on the social issue side, on the abortion and those kinds of things.
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so i said, "hell, i think i'm going to take a path up the middle." >> wertheim: been an independent ever since? >> king: yes, sir. i used to say i have-- i have no automatic friends in the legislature. but i also don't have enemies. i have 186 skeptics. >> wertheim: in his first race, and in an ironic twist, he beat susan collins, now his fellow senator. after two terms as governor of maine, he figured, again, it was time to retire. but in 2012, maine's olympia snowe abruptly left the u.s. senate, frustrated with the griping and gridlock. king made a bid for her seat. and, despite overtures from both parties, remained an independent. what does being an independent enable you to do that you wouldn't be able to do if you had to affiliate with a party? >> king: well, it sort of liberates you, because you don't have to do what the party says. you don't have to worry about the party's major contributors being mad at you. it's a luxury in-- in that sense. >> wertheim: you've staked out your ground? >> king: yeah and i just try to
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look for common sense - solutions. what will work, that's what i'm interested in, rather than ideology. >> wertheim: in washington, king caucuses with the democrats, but a 2019 govtrack ranking has him as the 42nd most liberal, or 58th most conservative, senator. and as an independent, he's able to avoid the devils deals that come with party politics. i've heard this described almost as a locker room in sports, where you're told you can't give the other side a victory. >> king: that's right. it's a pep rally. >> wertheim: what's the impact of that? >> king: well, the impact is to divide us into-- into-- distrustful, armed camps where it's-- everything is a zero sum game. we-- we win, and they lose, or vice versa. >> wertheim: as long as the senate is 50/50 and we have this-- this knife's edge, do you think there's pressure of-- "hey, king, pick a party already"? do you think you're going to have pressure to-- have an r or d next to your name? >> king: i don't think so. no, because when i first came
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down here and talked to harry reid who was then the democratic leader, i said, "look. i'll-- i'll vote with you on organizing the senate, but i'm going to make my own calls on-- on other issues. and you got to leave me alone." and he said, "don't worry, we will." and in fact, in four years, harry reid only asked me for two votes. one i was going to vote with him anyway, and the other i said no. now, it-- i got to be honest, because my republican friends are watching this, and they're going to say, "he's really a democrat, come on." >> wertheim: what do you say to that? >> king: what i say to it is that the republicans haven't given me much to vote for lately. >> wertheim: king has stopped flying since the pandemic, instead he drives the nine hours between d.c. and maine, where his wife, mary, lives and works, as do three of his five kids. when he returns to washington on january 20th after this recess, it may barely look recognizable. new president. and after last week's georgia run-off, new party controlling the senate.
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does a unified government, same party, house, senate, white house, does that help or hinder this healing we've been talking about? >> king: if the democrats had 60 and could literally pass whatever they wanted, that would be an entirely different situation. it's still going to require-- bipartisan work. and i'll tell you who the real winners are, are people like susan collins and lisa murkowski-- i hope myself, joe manchin. >> wertheim: why? >> king: because we're in the middle and can have an influence in both directions. >> wertheim: you-- you're a football fan? >> king: yes sir. >> wertheim: seems to me positioning yourself between the 40-yard lines now is-- is suddenly a fairly healthy place to be. >> king: compromise is the essence of-- of human experience. and by the way, the constitution itself is full of compromises. the-- the u.s. senate was a product of a compromise. >> wertheim: and senator king has advice for how his
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colleagues on the left might deal with the 70 plus million americans who voted for trump. >> king: there's a term i've always liked called "eloquent listening." they have to be listened to, and we have to try to understand what's going on. it's cultural and somewhat economic. i mean, it's a very complicated matter, but we can't just dismiss it. >> wertheim: are you concerned that some of your colleagues on the left are going to govern with-- with an element of-- of retribution? that crassly, you know, karma is a you know what, and after four years of a president they've reviled and of republican senators they think have been enabling, and an assault on your place of work this week, that this pendulum's going to whip back in the other direction. >> king: you can't just say, you know, "no harm, no foul," and pretend nothing ever happened. on the other hand, to-- to be motivated by retribution or-- or some element of-- of vengeance or some-- i-- i-- i don't think that's productive.
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>> wertheim: how do you thread that needle? you don't want people to feel unheard, but you also don't want to give credence to what isn't factually true. objective truth has to matter. >> king: it does, and-- and you- - you, i think you just got to try. but-- cramming things down their throat isn't certainly going to help. >> wertheim: how do we import these qualities of maine, of-- of placid and-- and measured and reasonable maine? how do we import that to washington, d.c.? >> king: i think those qualities exist all over america, but in-- in-- in many parts of america, and we just have to try to ring the bell of common sense. ( ticking ) >> cbs sports is presented by progressive i'm james brown with the nfc playoff with the playoff, rams to beat the rivals
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>> bill whitaker: at the end of the constitutional convention in 1787, a prominent philadelphia woman asked ben franklin." doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" his famous reply: "a republic -- if you can keep it." keeping one isn't easy work. more than a monarchy or dictatorship, a republic depends on the goodwill, patience and shared values among citizens. the events of this past week prove ben franklin right. an angry mob, incited by an autocrat, can move quickly to sack the structures of government, and undermine the values that hold a republic together. these last few days, nearly 234 years after franklin's warning about a republic, we proved we can keep it. i'm bill whitaker. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." ( ticking )
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