tv Second Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump MSNBC February 12, 2021 6:00am-9:00am PST
>> all right, richard haas, and lonnie chen, thank you both very much. that does it for us this morning and for this week, we'll see you back here on monday morning. for now msnbc's special coverage of the second impeachment trial of donald trump picks up right now. this is msnbc's special coverage of donald trump's second impeachment trial. and as we come on the air new details on the former president's defense team about to get their turn to make their case. with trump attorney david schoen saying their entire presentation could start and end in less than four hours and even that may not be set in stone. nbc news that has learned trump's attorneys were still working on their arguments, even as late as last night, and getting some advice from republican senators, kicking around legal strategy with some of donald trump's biggest defenders, lindsey graham, ted cruz, mike lee. on the other side house managers
are telling our team they are satisfied with the case they've made. they think they've set a high bar for donald trump's defense but this morning conviction still seems unlikely. we're going to explain why coming to you live from the nation's capitol. i'm hallie jackson and in the next 90 minutes you will hear what our sources are telling us about where this goes, you'll hear from massachusetts senator ed markey in the chamber, and former white water prosecutor, and you'll also hear from katy tur and stephanie ruhle in washington with us here. let's start with what to expect over the next 24 to 48 hours. this thing is about to start picking up speed. here's the timing. donald trump's defense plans to start and end their arguments in less than four hours today, that's the plan. attorneys say they don't see a need to, in their words, drag this out. >> which means the next step, the question and answer portion could also start today. and this part could be very, very interesting. watch for what republicans ask the trump defense team.
a few have signalled they want to know more about the exact timeline. here's what i mean about that. what the president was doing while they were under attack on january 6th. a ticktock, and why he didn't call for help sooner. >> and the question about witnesses, a debate and a vote on whether to bring any in, but at this point neither side is expected to request that. so it is then on to closing arguments, up to four hours, equally divided between the house managers and the defense team, teeing up a final vote on conviction as soon as tomorrow. >> and that is an accelerated timeline here. we are going to be potentially wrapping this up as the three of us will be anchoring again tomorrow this entire situation. you've got the trump defense team going, steph as you talked about, the potential for q&a for these senate republicans, specifically a timeline. some of them are fired up about that piece, the bill cassidys of
the world, if you will, there's a bar the defense team needs to clear today, one that was set by the accounts of many republicans, fairly low by bruce castor earlier in the week. >> it's even lower than that. we had robert ray on, donald trump's former, maybe current impeachment lawyer who said the defense doesn't even need to present a case. they're basically banking on there being an acquittal no matter what. the prosecution, the democrats yesterday laid out a very compelling case linking president trump's words with the actions of those rioters. they went all the way back to 2015 at those rallies that you and i went to where he would call on protesters or supporters to beat up protesters. they said he encouraged violence. he promoted violence. he revelled in violence and that is exactly what he knew would happen on january 6th. so they presented this case. but again, i keep going back to robert ray. on our air, saying it doesn't matter what the defense says. >> republicans will want to see
something that at least speaks to the issues they've raised. the due process piece of it, the free speech argument and the idea that house managers did not actually connect the dots. >> the question is, we hear over and over, do republicans have the courage to vote with their conscience? what are they afraid of? president trump lost the presidency, lost the house, lost the senate. hurt our standings with foreign allies. what is it they are so afraid of, especially after what they watched over the last week, specifically that timeline on january 6th while the president sat there and did nothing, even if he didn't encourage the rioters, did nothing when he knew what was happening inside the capitol. >> some republicans have made the point that it is about what they see as hypocrisy from democrats and here's the other thing, the political backdrop,
71% saying anyone to convict donald trump they see as disloyal to the party and potentially problematic. that's the backdrop. garrett haake on capitol hill, monica alba in west palm beach, florida, joyce vance. we've been looking at that video of david schoen leaving capitol hill very late yesterday. >> uh-huh. >> followed by, i think, a dozen reporters who did a fairly lengthy interview with him. tell us more about what he said. >> reporter: he's expecting a short set of arguments today, three to four hours and they move to questions and they view their task as relatively straightforward. they want to keep the 44 senate republicans who thought this trial was unconstitutional on tuesday still thinking it's unconstitutional today. and their arguments will also focus on some of those other issues you laid out, the question of whether the managers here, the prosecution in this case, rose to the level of proving this was incitement and, yes, don't be surprised to see them throw some what aboutism
chaff into the air here about how democrats reacted to protests over the course of the summer and how they used similar language to what the president has used. but the defense is also going to have to grapple with questions, either today or tomorrow, from some republican members and i think perhaps the most damning set of questions, at least based on the issues we heard from house republicans who voted for impeachments, and what we're starting to hear from senate republicans is, what was the president doing when all of this was going on? bill cassidy who has been fascinating to watch during this process was walking through his process out loud yesterday in front of our cameras, take a listen to him. >> presumably since we were at that point being evacuated, and i think he was told that, there was some awareness of the events. so what i hope the defense does is explain that. if one of the charges is that you should have called out people and you didn't, even though it was clear that the police officers were under
assault, please explain that. >> reporter: cassidy in this moment reminds me very much of mitt romney in the last impeachment trial, almost asking out loud for some reason to acquit, when he's clearly deeply concerned about exactly what happened here. he'll be a person i'm watching closely today. >> and monica, let's talk about the defense strategy here, what are you learning about what they plan to do, and is bruce castor who we've heard the president doesn't particularly like, planning on speaking? >> reporter: he's planning on being there, katy. we know that definitively. late last night they were still working out who exactly was speaking when and what order they were going to take the arguments in. that shows you even though they've had several days as the house managers lay out their case the defense team is still undecided on what their best path forward is and a major factor in all of that is, of course, the former president's input here. we know he was very upset with
that first day, they're showing during the constitutionality debate he did not like at all. bruce castor's style or substance. again, i think we should expect to hear from him today but he likely won't have the bulk of the responsibility defending donald trump. instead that will likely fall to david schoen who again told reporters is expecting only to use about a quarter of their allotted 16 hours, and we also know that the defense plans to have everything wrapped up essentially by sundown because they know that david schoen then has to leave the proceedings to observe the sabbath. the other question that this sets up, though, is how they're going to use this limited time and we do know from an interview that jason miller just did on news max earlier today that he's talking about this realtimeline they want to present, that they believe the house managers laid out their own version of events of january 6th. we're going to hear now from the defense team what they believe they're going to say, which counters that, and what the former president was actually
doing on january 6th, guys. >> joyce, what if you were trump's defense team, what would you be saying, what would you do? >> well, it's a tough situation, stephanie. you know, lawyers like to say that when the facts are on your side, you argue the facts. when the law is on your side, you argue the law. and when neither is on your side, you pound the table. so what we'll hear today, i think, will be a lot of table pounding because that's where this defense is. the reality is that they have the votes to acquit the president. the less that they say, the better. if they spend too much time on the facts in an alternate timeline, they may well stumble into a situation where it's necessary to hear from witnesses. and the more that comes out about the president's conduct after the insurrection was launched, the time where he, according to at least one senator ben sasse, was delighted by what was going on, the worse
this gets for the president. if i was the defense lawyer i wouldn't be using anything that approached four hours. i'd make a simple argument, maybe 30 minutes, i'd ask the jury, the senate, to acquit and i would sit down and be done. >> the defense team, or the prosecution, i should say, joyce, tried to link the president's words with the actions of those rioters. here's what david schoen said about that argument and the first amendment last night. >> yeah, the evidence they have, under no circumstances, would make out a case for incitement. i thought that the argument we heard today from congressman raskin about what he understands the law to be was as dangerous a -- was as dangerous a formulation as i have ever heard. i think it puts at risk every, every senator in that chamber and every politician who has this -- who wishes to speak in a passionate political speech.
>> joyce, i'm curious if we were in a criminal trial. i know this is not a criminal trial, this is political. but if we were, how would the argument be? how would the prosecution have done linking the president's words to the actions of the rioters? >> so katy, that's the perfect way to frame the answer to this question because there are two parts to it. one, does first amendment apply in an impeachment setting? and over a hundred legal scholars, bipartisan, everybody from steven calibrisi, the founder of the federalist society, to my colleague richard delgado, opposite side. they said the first amendment does not apply to an impeachment setting. but let's talk about what would happen if it did and why it doesn't apply. it doesn't apply because impeachment involves more than just criminal charges. you can be convicted for violating your oath of office. in a criminal setting the first amendment would apply if you were engaging in political
speech but here trump incited the crowd. he had a specific task for them. he sent them at the capitol with the goal of preventing the vote from being certified. that crosses over the line, and loses first amendment protection. that's not what senators and other politicians do every day. >> kelly o'donnell, take us to the white house, president biden, he is now weighing in on the trial. tell us what he's saying and what he's up to today. >> well, there's been some reluctance from president biden to engage on this. and at the same time he is enough of a politician to know it's hard to not answer those questions when put to him so today he and the first lady were doing something a little unexpected. we had no advance warning they were coming to the north lawn of the white house to see a display the first lady put together of candy hearts on the north lawn as a valentine to the country. they came out, the president in jeans and his bomber jacket, coffee in hand, the dogs with
them, and of course journalists were nearby and began asking questions about the president's views on impeachment, and he has some concern about what his former colleagues, he spent a long time in the senate might do, here's how the president weighed in. >> mr. president, do you have anymore thoughts on the impeachment trial now that the defense -- the -- you know impeachment managers have -- >> i'm just anxious to see whether the -- >> anxious to see what his republican colleagues would do. so the president has said he has watched some of the news coverage of the impeachment trial, seemingly separating that from watching the actual proceedings, has talked about the fact that the videos that were played by house managers, he believes, could change some minds. and at the same time we see the biden team, the president and those around him, trying to say he's focused on doing work, and not on the noise down at the other end of pennsylvania avenue today, among the things on his schedule he'll be meeting with a bipartisan group of mayors and
governors to talk about the covid relief plan that he calls the american rescue plan and so we'll have an opportunity to see if any of those lawmakers, or office holders come to the cameras to give us a sense of that. interesting new york governor andrew cuomo is among them and of course there have been a lot of issues in the last 24 hours about his handling of nursing homes and the covid cases in his state. >> going to be a busy one for you, kelly. joyce, vance, garrett, monica, we appreciate your time. coming up in less than three hours. the defense gets their chance to rebut the case the impeachment managers have laid out. we're going to break down the argument we expect the trump team to make today and ask democratic senators on capitol hill what's going down in that morning meeting with majority leader chuck schumer happening this morning. we're talking with senator ed markey. is he worried that they're
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so the former president's defense will begin their arguments now in just under three hours with one team member saying they may only need three hours to make their arguments, getting this in clocking this under four total and here are the three buckets we think they're going to focus on, number one claims this entire process is unconstitutional.
two, that there is a lack of due process. what the former president said wasn't all that different from his free speech perspective we heard from other politicians, democrats will try to rebut those points. joining us paul -- >> good morning, thanks for having me. >> what's the card the defense team has to play this morning? >> they don't have to play any one card but they have to play a card that will enable a republican senator to have the fig leaf of having listened to an argument and decided this on the merits as opposed to having decided it on the purely political ground that i'm going to vote for donald trump no matter what. it doesn't matter whether it's the first amendment card or the unconstitutional card or the due process card, they just have to play it in a way that lets rob portman say, or chuck grassley say, no, i listened to that and
i really have decided that this process is wrong and i'm going to vote to acquit on that basis. >> the video and audio recordings that we saw over the last two days obviously stirred up emotions, but they also stirred up serious questions around the timeline of what happened on january 6th and what the president was doing. will his defense team have to respond to that? >> well, they're going to have to try. i found the evidence from the democratic managers pretty compelling and i think that the ability to rebut that timeline is going to be difficult. what they need to do, what most defense lawyers will do in this position, is create enough confusion, poke holes where they might exist. no presentation is perfect. no set of timeline is ideal. so what they're going to have to do is try and find those little holes and open them up a bit and just create a little doubt in the minds of some people that perhaps the timeline was incomplete. it's a hard job because the
democratic managers did a really excellent job of creating a solid timeline but that's what they're going to have to try and do. >> paul, i wonder what you think that robert ray, that the defense doesn't need to show up for this, that the prosecution has not proven their case. >> i don't think it's that the prosecution hasn't proven their case, i think it's that the jurors have already made up their mind. i would put it differently. i would say the main goal of the defense right now is to do as much as they can to bore people to death, the death -- the house managers have raised the temperature a lot, have created a lot of good momentum and emotion surrounding the horrors of the day, what i would do if i were in the defense's shoes is just, you know, be boring and talk about legal principles, talk about due process, talk about everything except the horrors of what happened that day and thus try and drain the
emotion out of the room. they don't have to do much more because it seems like the republican senate has decided that they're going to acquit no matter what, and so, you know, when you're ahead on points, just shut up and sit down, right? >> to be boring, should they take the four hours they said they're going to take, should they take longer, can you be boring and be short with this? >> yeah, i think that that's actually a wise decision on their part, you know four hours is about the right length of boring, if it were me. you know, you can't be boring for 15 minutes, everybody listens for 15 minutes. you can be overboring. after 16 hours of boring, you would probably anger the republicans for being boring for so long. so four hours sounds about right. if it were three or five, but i would take today, i would make legal arguments about the constitutionality of the proceedings, even though you lost on that, i would argue about the rapidity of the house
proceedings, even though that's not really a thing and argue that the president was arguing about his rights to complain what he saw as an unfair process, even though, that, too is not terribly effective. i would make all those arguments, each of them an hour, throat clearing at the start and end and then 4 1/2 hours, quit as sundown happens and you go home. >> paul, when you look at things happening outside the capitol building, a few blocks from where we are, i wonder if some of those things make it harder for the defense to do their job. specifically of comments out this morning from former u.n. ambassador nikki haley who in a new interview with tim alberta over at politico described donald trump this way that we should not have followed him, essentially, that he has fallen to far here, that we need to acknowledge he let us down, she said. she's still a voice in the conservative party, obviously. she is somebody who is widely speculated to be planning a 2024 run. does a comment like that so critical of the former president, despite her remarks a
couple of weeks ago to give him a break, does that make it harder for the defense team to get their message to the senate republicans they need to? >> i think it does. i think that all of what the defense is trying to do is in the situation of what the party is going to do with donald trump. you know, the events of january 6th gave the party an ideal opportunity to step away from trump. in the very first minutes afterwards, even lindsey graham, a longtime trump supporter said, i'm done with trump. but then he went to the airport -- >> listen to him now. >> he got yelled at. and so nikki haley is trying to gently lead the party away from trump. the base in the party doesn't want to go there. and that's the conundrum the republican senators are facing. if they had leadership, they would probably follow her, if this were a secret ballot and they could do what they wanted
my guess is it would be enough to convict donald trump. they've got to follow the base and that makes their lives very hard. >> paul, thank you, we appreciate it. after the break, while the senate is tasked with deciding the former president's responsibility for what happened on january 6th, the fbi has a very different task, with investigators combing through new video evidence to track down the people who stormed the capitol. the latest on the investigation and one of our best reporters working that extremist beat, will give us what he's learning after the break. ♪ i'm in love... ♪ ♪ love, love. ♪ celebrate your love with a gift from pandora jewelry and discover all the ways to shop.
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so you know what we're going to see over the next couple days, lawmakers debating whether the president should be held responsible for the attack on january 6th. but as that is happening new details now coming out about the people involved and some of the coordination that took place in the weeks leading up to the insurrection, now court documents detail how one militia group started training sessions for what's described as urban warfare and were, quote, awaiting direction from president trump, coming as five other people were charged with association of members from the proud boys during the siege. i'll bring in ben collins, our expert on all things dark web. . the link between these extremist groups and insurrection, we have known, the question now is the link between those groups and donald trump. that's the thing house managers
have been trying to prove and that the defense will try to rebut. how do you see this latest doj filing in the scope of all that? >> i think the thing that we're all learning in the weeks since the insurrection how pivotal a role trump was messaging to these people. the proud boys are fighting about who's in charge, the guy who was at the top presumably wound up being a federal informant. they're looking for some guy to direct their messaging. i think a lot of people don't understand how quickly these things sprung up. the proud boys are 2016, 2017 invention, qanon was invented in october of 2017. what do these things have in common? the oath keepers made a pact with the proud boys. they're all tied to defending donald trump. these militias really got behind, over the last few years, the idea that donald trump was sort of their last stand, it was their savior for all of their
movements. he was a stand-in for, you know, everything that they came to believe even though he didn't really say any of these things out loud, he just sort of egged them on and said we're with you. they need a guy at the center and right now that person does not exist. >> more than we're with you, remember it was that video he made on the 6th where he said we love you. todd, what did you learn about these insurrectionists and their ties to one another and the form? >> we were looking at their financial backgrounds, trying to understand what would draw folks, not just proud boys, but, you know, the realtors, the small business owners, the folks we saw collapse on the capitol back in january, and what we found was that, you know, about 60% of them had financial difficulties in their history, bankruptcies, judgments, you know, foreclosures. and, you know, the bankruptcy rate for this group of folks who was arrested at the capitol so far is about twice what you see in the u.s. itself.
and it wasn't that, you know, that they were having money troubles and that's why they stormed the capitol but it was about talking to researchers, that they had this feeling in their background that they are vulnerable. they almost lost it all and here comes this leader, trump, who then tells them it's not their fault. you know, and i'm going to save you and make everything right and they fall in line with that. and it's been quite illustrative to see how that plays out. >> ben, we've seen the court documents for some of these rioters, they're making the case that they were sucked into a lie. there's one writer in particular, jenna todd, or jenna ryan, sorry, and she told todd not one patriot is standing up for me. now i see that it was all over nothing. he was just having us down there for an ego boost. i'm wondering what you have been hearing online. is there regret among these crowds? do they feel like they were duped or, i don't know, what are you hearing, what are you
seeing? >> there's kind of two lines of thought here. with the qanon folks who believe that there was a judgment day coming and all that stuff, they're too deep into it. that's a religion at this point and they are just pushing back the date. there's going to be -- you know, their new date is march 4th. they keep saying something is going to happen then. they think there's two presidents right now. it's all ridiculous. but there are people bailing and jumping ship, especially people who were there for those sorts of reasons. they believed donald trump had some sort of master plan in that day. that's why you saw people in there awaiting directions. they thought the great awakening was coming and that donald trump would -- basically the national guard would turn on the capitol police and they would take over the government that day and they were waiting for that to take place and they were surprised that it wasn't. so, you know, now they are in the hard light of day, you know when you are faced by investigators about why you were there it sounds so ridiculous.
and that's what a lot of them are finding out right now. this was all a lie. >> does that mean, todd, that they're really abandoning this movement, or are they saying they were duped because they're in a whole lot of legal trouble? do you really think that suddenly they're going to say, you know what, forget it, we're not going to do this anymore? >> no, when i talked to jenna ryan about this i got a sense she's facing some serious consequences. trump went to florida. biden is in the white house and here i am left at home with my two golden doodles trying to figure out what i have to do with them when i go to prison. she has to afford a lawyer right now. she's gone from believing these sort of wild conspiracy theories to trying -- and she's right now confused, i believe, about where to go with this. it's -- some of it is trying to lessen their punishment and looking forward to their court date but also, i think some of it's this reckoning with being swept up in these conspiracy
theories, and now seeing, well, knotts playing out the way they told me so what do i do now? >> it's -- >> here's -- yeah, it's a real human concern to wonder what to do with your golden doodles, not quite the same human concern as those people inside the capitol who were fleeing for their lives. >> beating up police officers. >> yes. >> targeting lawmakers. >> the disconnect is striking. they felt that what they were doing was on the side of right and then looking back, oh, my god, what was i doing? >> ben, quickly before we go, one of the impeachment managers ted lieu tried to ham home, if you don't convict donald trump, something like this could happen again. i'm not afraid of donald trump running again i'm afraid of him running again and losing. is that born out by what you're seeing on the boards you're on? >> absolutely. they are waiting for some guy to give them more talking points. like i keep saying, they are waiting for directions here.
and they -- donald trump would at least guide them in the right direction, over the last few years. now it's sort of -- you know, it's an open field right now and they are waiting that, so yes. >> ben collins, todd frankel, great to have you both on. democrats this morning huddling together, majority leader chuck schumer getting his caucus on the same page before the start of defense arguments begins. the latest on their strategy and the thinking from one of the senators in that meeting, massachusetts senator ed markey is here with us live. she's confident, protected, her strength respected. depend. the only thing stronger than us, is you. my grandfather had an amazing life, depend. but ancestry showed me so much more than i could have imagined. my grandfather was born in a shack in pennsylvania, his father was a miner, they were immigrants from italy and somewhere along the way that man changed his name and transformed himself into a
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of strategizing former president trump's legal team is meeting with republican senators lindsey graham, ted cruz and mike lee. so let us bring in democratic senator ed markey of massachusetts who was on that call with majority leader chuck schumer. so senator, thank you so much for joining us, can you tell us anything about that call? >> well, obviously we all agree that the house impeachment managers did a fantastic job laying out the case that the consequences of trump's actions were foreseeable, that trump, in fact, encouraged the activity that occurred, and that he was willful in what he was encouraging to happen. so we all agree that this case has been a blistering, scalding indictment of donald trump and his actions and we're very, very
confident that that case is something that the american people now have heard and understand and that donald trump is guilty of the crimes as charged. >> senator, we've laid out what we expect. it's hallie jackson. we've laid out what we expect to see throughout the course of the afternoon with the trump defense team. it is possible, i guess, that the senate q&a could start as early as maybe tonight, if not presumably tomorrow. have you prepared any questions? what do you plan to ask? >> well, i think that trump's state of mind at the point at which the insurrection is already successfully breaching the protection of the capitol, that they're already inside the building where nancy pelosi has been sequestered, where vice president trump has been sequestered, where the members of the house and senate are being protected, that even at
that point donald trump is tweeting mike pence did not have the courage to protect our country and our constitution. that's occurring. he's tweeting as the vice president, the speaker of the house, chuck schumer are all being put in extremely secure positions because these insurgents are prowling the corridors of the congress. so from my perspective that shows his intent. that absolutely proves that he wanted this gang to confront nancy pelosi, to confront mike pence because that's at 2:24. the congress has been shut down since 2:13, eight minutes, ten minutes, and everyone is watching this live on television. so from my perspective, i want to know what the house managers
think that proves in terms of the president's intent to have this incitement turn into actual violence inside the capitol building. >> do you believe your republican colleagues share that perspective? because yesterday last night republican senators lindsey graham, ted cruz and mike lee met with trump's legal team. >> from my perspective you can either have feelty to the facts or the law or you can have feelty to donald trump. the choice is very clear. the republicans have to make that decision for themselves. but the evidence is overwhelmingly, but unfortunately, feelty to donald trump, it's something that still appears to be the dominant, dominant position that the republican party is taking across our country and unfortunately in the united states senate. >> senator, do you want to see witnesses? do you think they'd make a difference either way? >> i will leave that up to the house managers.
but i will say this is now an open and shut case. the evidence was overwhelming. they did a fantastic job. they used the video, the affidavits. they used statements actually of trump supporters on video, they used the tweets of donald trump. the evidence is there. in the law, the concept is called res ipsa -- if the house thinks they need additional witnesses, call them. from my perspective the case they represented is something which is compelling and would in a court of law just require a directed verdict. the case is absolutely overwhelming, and the lawyers of donald trump showed two days ago that they don't have much to present in answer to it. >> senator ed markey, thank you so much for joining us.
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any minute now we're going to get all important cdc guidance on how to bring our kids back to school. covid vaccinations are expected to be a requirement, instead the guidance is expected to rely on robust testing requirements and social distancing. this comes as the biden administration just finalized a deal for 200 million more vaccine doses. that should give us enough to vaccinate nearly every american later this year. nbc's geoff bennett has been digging into all of this and we also have dr. john torres here to break down what it all means for you. geoff, what do we know about this cdc guidance and how do we get our kids back to school full-time? >> yeah, and that's the number one question, steph. i'm told these guidelines cover a host of issues and they are focused primarily on virus mitigation. so that means calling for more comprehensive testing, social
distancing, mask wearing, proper hygiene, even proper ventilation. i'm also told that these guidelines will include phased reopening instructions for schools given the caseload of the area in which the schools are located. one thing not in these guidelines, and you mentioned this, teacher vaccinations will not be included as a prerequisite for a return to in-person instruction and there are a couple of reasons for that. one, you've got millions of teachers who have been in school classrooms and have been for months, two, there's already a huge demand on the system and three, there are some thorny legal issues involved with employers, namely school districts, mandating that these teachers get this vaccine before returning to classrooms. one important thing i'm told here is that these guidelines were drafted entirely by cdc staffers, free from political interference from the biden white house, which is a departure from how this happened under the previous administration, cdc staffers tell me. >> the mandate is interesting because kids are mandated to have a certain number of vaccines before they go back to
school. but on that same point, doctor, on the issue of teachers getting vaccinations, i know that there are only so many vaccines that we have right now and there are priority sets of people. i struggle to understand why teachers aren't higher on that list given how important they are for every aspect of our society. >> you know, it's one of those controversies right now that's playing out across the country and today at 2:00 actually the cdc is having their briefing, telebriefing, talking specifically about this and they're joining with the department of education, which is kind of unique. they have never done that, at least as far as i know recently. so they're trying to work out together how to do this. like geoff was saying, what we think is going to happen is they are not going to make that a prerequisite to going back to schools, teachers do not need to be vaccinated in order for schools to reopen, but what we don't know are they going to reset the priorities and put teachers highup up on a priority list. the cdc comes out with phased priority lists and right now
teachers are not in high priorities, some states have made them so but nationwide the recommendation is not to do that. it will be interesting to see what they do with that, plus it will be interesting to see what they say about the rates of transmission in the schools once schools reopen because most studies are showing that the rates of transmission are very low, it will be interesting to see what they do when they accumulate all this data and if they give us any information this afternoon. that's going to be an important step to make sure that people are comfortable, especially teachers or staff members, going back to school because the last thing they want to do is spread the virus, especially when they go back home. >> geoff, how about on those 200 million extra doses that steph talked about at the stop of the segment here. sounds like those are not going to come online until the end of july. what does that mean for the timeline on when the everybody else can get vaccinated, the people who aren't front line health care workers or over 65, et cetera? >> it's a great question, hallie, that's what everyone wants to know. yesterday the president said that his administration secured these contracts for an extra 200 million doses. you add that to the existing
supply and that means potentially there is enough vaccine for every american adult by july, by the end of the summer, but vaccines are one thing, vaccinations are a different thing. so president biden was clear to say that these logistical hurdles are real and that the goal is to get every american vaccinated by the summer, but it's not a guarantee, hallie. >> geoff bennett, dr. john torres, thank you so much. staying on the pandemic, there is a developing story getting a lot of attention out of new york this morning. the new york post now reporting a top aide to governor andrew cuomo admitting to, quote, hiding the real number of covid-related deaths at nursing homes around the state. according to the paper this happened on a private videoconference call with democratic leaders. the post also says melissa da rosa apologized to lawmakers and went on to allegedly say the state, quote, froze and were worried the real number would be used by then president trump to attack the state and other democrats. two very important notes here,
nbc news has not heard the audio, nor have we independently verified it ourselves. in response a senior advisor to the governor tells us this, the trump administration was in the midst of a politically motivated effort to blame democratic states for covid deaths and that we were cooperating with the federal document productions and that that was a priority. that said, we were working simultaneously to complete the audit of information that they were asking for. as of last month the state health commissioner said nearly 13,000 new yorkers had died at nursing homes from coronavirus. that is much, much higher than the initial public record of 8,700. up next, this impeachment trial here in washington now on the fast track. the new timeline with the defense expected to start and finish today. when we could see questions from senators and a possible vote to convict or acquit the former president. plus, the latest on what we're hearing from the democratic side. that's when our special coverage continues right here on msnbc. se continues right here on msnbc. ♪ got my hair ♪
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went down on january 6th. they will argue the whole process is unconstitutional and accuse democrats of hypocrisy, claiming they have used incendiary language in the past with videos to support that. we're told to expect a quick defense, maybe only three to four hours here, and that means we might see a question-and-answer session with senators as soon as today. then there's a question of witnesses after that, whether either side would be calling any. that's not expected at this point, which means the rest of this trial might move fast. good morning from washington, d.c., just a couple of blocks from the capitol where this trial is happening, i'm hallie jackson back with you, along with my colleagues here katy tur and stephanie ruhle with our continuing coverage of this trial. one of the interesting things, i think, when we get through the defense piece of this is going to be the question-and-answer session from senators. we don't know if we're going to see that this afternoon but that could be really revealing depending on who asks what, which republicans direct which questions to who. >> you finally in the last 48 hours are hearing from
republicans asking for questions about the timeline. i mean, tommy tuberville himself said i have stood with the president, he supported me, i have a lot more questions about the timeline. and in contrast to that from the beginning mark meadows who was with the president has said the president acted immediately. well, that doesn't seem to be the case if you follow the timeline we just heard. >> well, there's that tuberville call that the president made to senator mike lee that ended up getting tuberville -- wanted tuberville and he told him on this call, he said this to reporters e that he said mike pence, the vice president, was just rushed out of the chamber. >> tuberville told donald trump that. >> tuberville told donald trump that, mike pence was rushed out of the chamber. and this was before donald trump tweeted that mike pence was a great disappointment. so he knew that his vice president was in danger and he was still going after him. i mean, that is something that has been central to the defense,
joe neguse brought this up. i'm curious to see if the defense tries to push back on that added dress that. >> it would be great to hear from mark meadows who has said the opposite in the past. how can you say that the president acted immediately if tuberville is saying the opposite. >> let's bring our nbc news reporters who are following up with all these questions, onma alba in west palm beach, florida, josh dawsey and by melissa murray nyu professor of law, former clerk to justice sotomayor and an msnbc contributor. mon, let me start with you, you and the team have been working, talking with people about the strategy, the timing, possible witnesses and the president at least yesterday spending a little time on the golf course. >> reporter: exactly, hallie, that's something he has been doing almost every day down here in west palm since he left office last month. of course, he has a course here that he spends a frequent amount of time at, but earlier in the week he was watching a lot of
the proceedings from his mar-a-lago resort yesterday as the house impeachment managers were wrapping up their arguments. the former president was hitting the links. today i think we can expect to see him be quite engaged watching everything unfold because in the words of trump adviser jason miller, this is really redemption day for bruce castor, one of the former president's attorneys who really had quite a dismal showing on tuesday and was roundly panned by almost everybody, not just for what he was saying, but how he said it. so they expect him to speak for a far shorter amount of time today and as you mentioned that timeline only three to four hours. we can expect probably to hear more from david schoen and he is somebody who now the former president is leaning on a little bit more to take the bulk of the defense, but, again, they're only using a quarter of the 16 hours allotted, they feel, because they have a very centralized boiled down argument but i'm told that they actually haven't even finalized the
specific order of speakers or themes. here is a little bit more from jason miller in an interview he did today on what they're planning to present in a few hours. >> we're going to go through a real and actual timeline of different events that happened on january 6 that, again, democrats didn't show you -- didn't show you. i think the democrats got way too cute in this process with their selective editing. this is something you're going to hear over and over today. >> reporter: this also comes as we know the legal team met yesterday with some republican senators for a lengthy amount of time where they spoke about, quote, the legal strategy that's going to be presented today and we also know that the senators according to them presented their own thoughts, of course, that's notable given the fact that they are the ones who ultimately have to make the decision whether to convict or acquit donald trump. >> leigh ann, you just got off a call with the house impeachment managers. what are they saying now that they've made their case over the last few days and they've got to just watch the next day play
out? >> reporter: they're feeling pretty good about the presentation that they laid out. they say that they're ready for the president's defense, saying that it's going to be just a distraction campaign and not a lot of substance to their argument. they also commented on the fact that at some certain points of the trial yesterday there were sometimes up to a dozen republican senators who were not necessarily in the room. they could have been watching off the -- outside the room, just on the little room outside, but they say the only way to not convict this president is if you refuse to actually listen to the evidence. let's be clear, a lot of these senate republicans who are saying that they are opposed to conviction is not about the merits of the case, they're talking about the process, they're talking about the un -- what they say is unconstitutionality of it, even though the senate had already decided a couple days ago that this, in fact, was
constitutional. it's very hard for them to try to defend this president, but still we are watching a few senators, including the six who did vote to say that it was constitutional, we're watching a few more who perhaps aren't -- who aren't running for reelection, again, who have not a lot to lose at the end of their careers, this could be a legacy-defining moment for them. but let's be clear about how this vote could take place. perhaps as early as tomorrow on the conviction or acquittal. the last impeachment of donald trump was the most bipartisan in history with mitt romney voting to convict. this one can be -- beat even that one and be more bipartisan, but we are just waiting to see how this defense team unfolds their presentation today. >> we will watch for those senators. josh, we also are getting more about what the president knew, the president at the time, donald trump, and when he knew it. we know that vice president pence was ushered off the
chamber floor at 2:13 on january 6th, we know that donald trump tweeted at 2:24 just about ten minutes later, 11 minutes later, an attack on vice president pence, that he was a disappointment, it's a paraphrase. what else do you have in your reporting about what the president knew about his own vice president's safety at the time that he was attacking him? >> well, we know the president was closely monitoring television coverage that afternoon as all of this was shown unfolding on live tv. senator tuberville also told the president the vice president had been evacuated and what we were told is that afternoon the president was wrapped with attention on what was going on. as advisers and as lawmakers and as lots of others tried to get the president to more forcefully speak out and get the protesters to leave the capitol he was just reticent to do that, he was resistant to doing that.
what really frustrates folks who worked on the white house and some close to the vice president was, you know, the president had gone to this rally and had said, you know, we don't know what mike pence is going to do, we hope that mike pence has the courage to do this, but he had been told up to two dozen times by the vice president the vice president was planning to certify the results. he was told that even just before he walked out to the rally and went after mike pence. he goes back from the ellipse where he's having the rally to the white house and he posts negatively about mike pence just after pence is evacuated. if you talk to folks around the vice president they describe a pretty harrowing experience, they're taken to office, the secret service detail comes in three different times and says we have to move you again, the chants of hanging mike pence outside the capitol. it's a challenging moment. as my colleagues reported they rushed him out about 90 seconds before the crowd was there. >> josh, you know the ins and outs of everything that went down during the trump
administration and we know that this is a former president who likes to have a megaphone, who has used his twitter account to great effect in his view. he doesn't have that now, he obviously still has the platform to be able to speak but, melissa, he is choosing not to do that, chose not to respond to what house impeachment managers wanted to hear from him. our fabulous capitol hill producer alex mo put out the four questions that jamie raskin the lead impeachment manager would have if donald trump had come to testify, number one, why not tell supporters to stop the attack. number two, why not stop the attack for at least two hours before it began, number three, why do nothing to send help and number four why not condemn the insurrection on january 6. the defense team would have to address that and try to answer those questions you would think, no? >> you would hope that they would try to answer those questions, what we've been hearing, though, is that they plan to focus on the fact that there are inconsistencies with the democrats' position on what constitutes incendiary or inciting language and that the democrats have actually used
provocative language in the past but are only condemning this president for doing so. they're also going to hammer again on the issue of the constitutionality of the proceedings. i also think they are likely to emphasize a point that castor made in his opening statement that there are ongoing criminal investigations of the president's conduct and that there may be other legal opportunities to hold this president accountable without engaging in what they believe is an unduly politicized impeachment trial. >> melissa, put yourself in the mind of a republican senator. what did you find was the most compelling argument from the impeachment managers? >> i mean, again, the danger that was right at the doorstep of the senate that they may not even have appreciated at the time on january 6th. it was, i think, stunning to many of them. we saw that mitt romney did not realize how close he was to danger or that officer goodman had been the one to redirect him. i think that is perhaps the most
shocking element that the house managers presented. they really were literally almost in the hands of the mob and they narrowly escaped. i don't think many of them quite appreciated just how close they were to danger. >> leigh ann caldwell, monica alba, josh dawsey, thanks for your great reporting. i want to bring in blayne alexander in georgia. they have launched an investigation into a phone call the former president had with the georgia secretary of state to overreturn the election. we are learning new information from the da who was on our air. what have we learned? >> we're learning that we could see witness subpoenas in this case as early as next month, that's when the fulton county district attorney or fulton county grand jury will reconvene. we know that the fulton county district attorney who was just newly elected just installed a couple of months ago is looking into whether the former president broke any criminal laws here in the state of georgia in his attempt to overturn the election. now, it's going to be focusing
mainly on that phone call that you heard, i heard, everybody heard because it was recorded and it was released that phone call that was made to the secretary of state brad raffensperger in which he urged the head of elections to find about 11,000 more votes that would then make him the winner in the state of georgia. that's what she's going to focus on primarily but she made it clear she's also reaching out of course to the governor, to the secondary governor, also to the attorney general to find out if they need to preserve any sort of documents related to former president trump's efforts there to try and overturn the results. so here is a little bit of what she had to say on rachel maddow last night. take a look. >> what i know about investigations is they're kind of like peeling back an onion and as you go through each layer you learn different things. to be a responsible prosecutor you must look at all of those things and investigation to be fair to everyone involved. >> now, she also said when she
was talking to rachel last night, guys, that she has received a number of threats since she announced that she was going to be launching this criminal investigation. she said that her security has had to double and she characterized most of those threats as actually racist threats, but she just simply brushed those off as foolishness and not anything that's going to deter her from doing her job. >> melissa, over the last four years there are countless examples of the president's advisers urging him to stay quiet and he never followed that advice with you right now you don't hear a peep out of mar-a-lago. based on what you heard from the da last night how strong do you think their case is? how much trouble could the former president be in? >> obviously that's not just the issue in fulton county that the former president has to contend with, there are criminal investigations from the manhattan da's office as well as civil investigations under the new york attorney general. so there's a lot of different things that don't even necessarily have anything to do with what happened on january 6. so there's a whole list of legal
liability that he is exposed to and as you say he has been uncharacteristically silent, but it's also worth noting he doesn't have one of the major aspects of his bully pulpit on twitter. he has been banned from twitter. he no longer has that as an avenue for sharing his views and that i think is part of the reason we haven't heard anything from the president. >> melissa murray, thank you. blayne alexander, thanks to you. on a joyful note here, blaine, a congratulations from all of us on your joining the mom club, pregnant with her first child. we're so thrilled for you, blaine. great to see you, girl. up next, the one time trump insider and possible 2024 gop presidential candidate who is now slamming the former president. why one of donald trump's cabinet members is now saying republicans should not have followed him. we will ask former congressman barbara comstock where the party stands now. sman barbara comstock where the party stands now ♪♪ ♪♪
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he let us down, that is what nikki haley is saying about her former boss donald trump this morning. the potential 2024 hopeful as has been widely speculated breaking now with the former president in an extraordinary piece telling "politico" saying i don't think he, donald trump, will be in the picture. i don't think he can. he's fallen so far, she says. haley goes on to say about donald trump that he went down a path he shouldn't have and we shouldn't have followed him and we shouldn't have listened to him and we can't let that ever
happen again. we're joined now by former republican congresswoman barbara comstock. congresswoman come stock, good morning. thanks for going on the show. >> good to be with you. >> you have to take that comment and the interview we are talking about in the context of what else nikki haley said a couple weeks ago on january 26 on fox when she was arguing against impeachment. here it is. >> they beat him up before he got into office, they're beating him up after he leaves office. i mean, at some point, i mean, give the man a break. >> so from give the man a break to we shouldn't have followed him, he's fallen so far, how does that track? >> listen, i think the senate and particularly republicans should hold donald trump accountable and that means voting for conviction and disqualification. i don't think he's the future of the party and i don't think history will be kind to those who vote against conviction in terms of being a national
leader. that doesn't mean that republicans in very red states or districts might get reelected and it might -- and that also means, you know, republicans who vote for conviction certainly they will have challenges within the party, but i think we have to turn the page and put this president who, you know, twice impeached president who never got the popular vote, you know, in either election and who has been so divisive as a president, but also so divisive within our party, he is not the future of the party. his legacy is going to be january 6th and the sooner the republican party rejects his trumpism and turns the page and has a post-pandemic, post-trump party, the sooner we will be in the majority again and i think the people that you've already seen in the house vote for impeachment, those are the future leaders, people like liz cheney, people like adam kinzinger, john katko and, you know, and around the country our
governors who have also denounced him. >> i know there are a lot of people out there who cringe when we talk about the politics of this and we talk about how senators are going to vote because they want to get reelected or they are from a very red state. when you look at this moment in history, though, and you're talking about inciting a riot, inciting an insurrection on the capitol, when you look at this president who he is on the record said himself embraced violence, promoted violence, i think there are a lot of people out there who wonder why would you ever put your political prospects over that? why would you want to go down in history as protecting that? >> well, i think that's -- that's exactly what people like adam kinzinger have said. this isn't a hard vote. i don't think it's a hard vote. i think it's easy because the facts are there. even after january 6 the president showed no remorse, he
was denounced by two of his chiefs of staff, you know, 17 staff resignations like that day and the day after. those were people who had hung in there right until the end. so this is unlike anything we have ever seen before and it certainly merits both disqualification and conviction. so it's not conservative versus moderate or it's not a political issue, it's right versus wrong and so i do think we can't allow a president who incited a mob and set, you know, a mob against another branch of government to stop the counting of an election, that can't be allowed to stand. so, you know, the president said, you know, even that night, this is what you get when you steal an election. i think we need as republicans to tell the president -- tell donald trump, he's not the president, tell donald trump, no, this is what you get when you try to steal an election, you get convicted, you get held in disgrace for history, regardless of what happens whether he's convicted or not by
two-thirds of the senate. his legacy is going to be january 6th and his unconscionable, you know, unconstitutional, undemocratic way that he responded. >> then take us to a deep red state. if most people understand or care about right from wrong rather than they do politics, why wouldn't those red state voters stand with their republican lawmakers who they agree with on a lot of republican ideals, but could isolate it and say former president donald trump doesn't stand with us? >> listen, i think when you look at who voted for impeachment in the house, those were -- most of those, eight out of the ten, were very red districts and i think they are going to ultimately be rewarded. i think republicans need to realize the very loud people, you know, the freedom caucus in the house, they aren't a majority and people -- i think people will respond to those republicans who stand up and say this party isn't about as ben
sasse said one dude, you know, it is about our principles and the sooner we restore that, not that it won't be bumpy along the way, but i think that ultimately will be rewarded politically but most importantly it's the right thing to do and usually the right thing to do usually also ends up being politically the right thing to do also. >> former congresswoman barbara comstock, thank you very much for your time and for being with us this morning. we appreciate it. and we are now closing in now just 90 minutes away from the start of this trial. >> listen, i want to focus on nikki haley just for a moment because i know she's coming out and saying we have to distance ourself from him, we have to separate ourself, it was a mistake to go about this. in june of 2016 remember she was not a supporter of donald trump, she eventually came there when he won the rnc -- or when he won the primaries. she invoked chapped in charleston and she said i know what rhetoric can do. i saw it happen. >> in charlottesville?
>> no, in charleston in her state while donald trump was campaigning early in 2015, the massacre at the church. i know what rhetoric can do. she warned against what rhetoric can do and she saw it in donald trump, she saw what his words can do in june of 2016 yet she joined the administration. >> although you can say that about a lot of members of the republican party who spoke out against donald trump before he ended up winning the nomination. >> hallie, she wrote a book. she wrote a book praising and supporting donald trump specifically. so is this nikki haley distancing herself from the president saying he finally did wrong, or is this nikki haley positioning herself to be the republican candidate in 2024 and knock donald trump out of contention. >> which makes it gross for so many people. >> because it's an impeachment trial there is no such thing as a weekend and the three of us will be right back with you together tomorrow for more of a special saturday a coverage. >> chuck todd, andrea mitchell,
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welcome to msnbc's continuing special coverage of the second impeachment trial of donald john trump. i'm chuck todd alongside my co-anchors this morning andrea mitchell and craig melvin. in just about 90 minutes the former president's legal team will lay out its defense in making its case for trump's acquittal. we expect things to move very quickly today. the defense is planning to use just three or four of the 16 allotted hours that they have for them to lay out their entire defense. they seem confident that they can win their client's acquittal without having to comprehensively answer the alarming questions that house managers raised about the former president's role in inciting the riot at the capitol on january 6. >> and some senate republicans say they do have lingering concerns about the attack and the former president's role in it, but today his defense is hoping that a speedy defense will pave the way for a speedy
acquittal. this morning joe biden spoke with reporters at the white house and he answered a question about the impeachment trial. >> mr. president, do you have any more thoughts on the impeachment trial now that the defense -- the -- >> no. >> -- the impeachment managers. >> i'm just interested to see what my republican -- do. >> lots to be read into that after the defense lays out their arguments today. we expect to see four hours of questions where senators can ask both sides about their cases, andrea. >> and that would put us on a track for closing arguments, deliberations and a vote as early as tomorrow. >> so in a moment we will speak with democratic congressman adam schiff, the house's lead impeachment manager for last year's impeachment, but first let me bring back my co-anchors, andrea and craig. the question that i have today about the defense arguments are going to be what will they address? will they just make these light process arguments, get in and
get out? because some republican senators like bill cassidy they have some specifics that they would like to hear trump's team answer, i just don't know if they're going to do it. let's hear what bill cassidy wants to hear. >> the president was calling to try to get more senators to decertify the election. now, presumably since we were at that point being evacuated and i think he was told that, there was some awareness of the events and so what i hope the defense does is explain that. so when the point was made people felt as if they had no recourse because their vote was being stolen, well, the president built that story. so how do you defend that? how do you describe that? >> i imagine, andrea, bill cassidy will ask the question if it's not -- but in the defense today do they address those issues? >> that's the big question, craig and chuck. you know, cassidy is listening,
he is listening to that because what he heard was that tommy tuberville, the new senator from alabama of course said that he had been on the phone, the phone was passed to him by mike lee, that was controversial, but that tuberville said he was on the phone, spoke briefly to the president, said the vice president has just been evacuated from here, i've got to go, and hung up. so that means that during the -- during the insurrection, during the riot, the president was aware that his vice president had been evacuated. was in danger. and yet there is plenty of testimony that for the next six hours he didn't say anything or do anything to try to find out how his vice president was, to call in the national guard, in fact, to the contrary, craig, what he did was repeatedly tweet and even after the event tweeted criticism of his vice president for not changing and halting the vote. >> you have to wonder if senator cassidy is the outlier here. >> could be. >> we know that -- we know that the defense team was meeting with three senators yesterday
including senator cruz, senator graham before their defense. you've got to wonder if they haven't made a calculation already that -- and this would explain why they were only planning to use three or four hours, they probably made the calculation that they don't have to put up much of a defense, they've already got the proverbial jury, if you will, in their pocket. one of the things that struck me this morning, i'm sure you guys have both read this and we through this was at some point going to happen but what appears to be quite the public breakup between the president and his one-time ambassador to the united nations, rising star or you could probably contend the star has already risen to a certain extend, nikki haley in that extended interview in "politico." nikki haley saying and this is the quote that everyone is talking about, we need to acknowledge that he, the president, let us down, she said. he went down a path he shouldn't have and we shouldn't have followed him.
we shouldn't have listened to him and we can't let that ever happen again. heretofore in her political career nikki haley's calculations have been second to none. she is clearly, chuck and andrea, decided that now is the time to break up with this president forever. >> you know what's interesting there, craig, is that nikki haley's quote sounds like ted lieu when ted lieu said i'm not afraid of donald trump running again in four years, i'm afraid he is going to run again and lose. >> we have the tape. >> i understand we have the tape. >> the context. >> the context of it, i didn't want to get lost in the tape there a second because i think that's an interesting straddle she's trying to do because in that same interview she's also not for impeachment. so what do republicans do like mike rounds is one of them who clearly he thinks it's not constitutional, but he's clearly troubled. nikki haley, clearly troubled but doesn't want to hold accountability. this has been the five-year story of donald trump in this party. you brought up the three
senators that went in there to meet with his legal team, cruz, lee and graham. do you know what all three of them have in common? they all thought donald trump was a pariah and thought it was a terrible idea for the republican party to nominate donald trump in 2016. now they are the biggest defenders of him. >> and haley as well. you're right. you're right, chuck. >> well, they are also all considering runs for the presidency in 2024. i covered nikki haley, you know her best of all from south carolina, but i covered her at the u.n., but she has navigated as you say a very careful road here and i think this is now the opening round, although certainly her new group that she has formed which sends emails every other day is clearly a run for the presidency. the other thing here, though, is reporting from our team, kasie hunt and others who were in the gal reas pool that during the recess there was a cluster, a gaggle, if you will, around mitch mcconnell. not to say that this will be 17,
but kasie's reporting was that there was a group, that group including richard burr and portman perhaps and others -- >> they were all people that had been elected before 2010 if i'm not mistaken, right? they had been there a while. >> the so-called veterans, institutionalists and this was after some of the most shocking testimony. this could be, you know, a sense that there could be more republican votes than we anticipate. >> yeah. >> for a conviction, but not enough for that critical 17. >> before we go to the panel here, just really quickly, chuck, andrea, if mitch mcconnell doesn't vote to convict, do we still call him an institutionalist? >> that's my question. i will be honest. i think it's harder to -- for him to accept that title. >> a trumpist, let's put it that way. i do think today you're going to hear -- i don't know that they're going to address these very disturbing videos and the other parts of the house managers, they're going to focus on the constitutional argument. they think that's their get out
of jail card, if you will. if they can just give them the cover of saying it's not constitutional, even though the senate voted it's constitutional and the senate is the judge and jury of what is constitutional here. >> right. >> that, you know, is already done, as well as the first amendment issue, which was completely discredited by, you know -- by raskin in his close. again, those are arguments that they can make that appeal to the republican base and certainly appeal to the guy in mar-a-lago. >> i sure enjoy these conversations we've been having over the last few years. >> let's keep it going. >> we should probably bring in the panel, they've been waiting patiently. eugene robinson, pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post," he's also of course an msnbc political analyst, brendan buck former senior aide to house speakers paul ryan and john boehner and of course yamiche alcindor white house correspondent for pbs news hour and an msnbc contributor as well. thanks to all of you for your time on this. mr. buck, let's start with you, sir, and let's start with the
numbers here. ballpark for us, if you can, how many republican senators you think at this point want to convict and how many will actually vote to convict? >> thank you for separating those, i think those are two very different numbers. yeah. i think that there is a vast number of senators who not just want to convict, but want to make sure that donald trump cannot run for president again. obviously that is the most practical outcome of a conviction, right? the inability to run for office again. i think if that was the question and there was a secret ballot i think you would see as many as 20, 25 republican senators who would support that. number of senators who are actually in play, i think it is that universe of five or six senators who said that this was a constitutional act. they basically have written themselves off when they first voted two weeks ago to say that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional, that is a very convenient offramp on the
procedural grounds where they can now allow themselves to not have to consider the substantive matters. so i don't think the universe is very big, i will be shocked if a mitch mcconnell or a rob portman or any of those people who voted that it is unconstitutional then turn around and vote to do that very thing. that said, i think that many, many of them it would not only be in their best interest and they would love for it if they could find a way for him to no longer be eligible to run again, that would save them a lot of grief moving forward. >> yamiche, you were inside the chamber and our colleague kasie hunt was as well. you can't help but look at some body language and you look at what people are doing in there and you wonder is there something up, and we wondered if there was something up because of the type of senators mcconnell was working with. what did you see yesterday during the arguments? >> the biggest sense that i got from sitting in the chamber for a long while is that most minds are made up.
there are senators on the republican side that are reading, that are taking notes, that are sometimes paying attention, especially when it comes to video where you see other republicans criticizing the president, especially when that video of john kelly, general john kelly, the former white house chief of staff was laying blame solely at the feet of president trump, mcmill veiny as well. in my conversations with senators right after that they all said most of this hasn't changed my mind. marco rubio, ted cruz, lindsey graham, roy blunt. some of them said that some of the house impeachment managers' arguments were strengthening the idea that the president wasn't being tied directly to the insurrection and the siege at the capitol, but one thing i also came away with sitting in that chamber, the audience that the house impeachment managers are talking to is so much further than the senate chambers. you feel like their conversation and their videos of all that is being played for america. that this isn't about whether or not they're going to convict or
acquit president trump, which of course many people say he is going to be acquitted, it's this feeling that they're talking to america saying look at this. look at white supremacy and the danger that if poses not just to black people, not just to latinos, but to america and democracy itself. that to me is the thing that i came away with sitting in the chamber yesterday with so much emotion, especially in the eyes of capitol hill police officers who were standing guard at these proceedings but also having to watch their co-workers and themselves run for their lives. >> i can only imagine what that was like for them because we don't see of course those angles. the cameras in the senate are trained on the podium on the speaker and that is, you know, by design. eugene, here was david schoen's push back on the impeachment managers' case last night looking forward to today and their defense arguments. >> there is a false dichotomy here. either you condemn what he said and, you know, find him guilty,
or there's no middle ground, there is no possibility of thinking what he said maybe was inappropriate. i happen to think if you analyze that speech that -- first of all, in no circumstances could it be incitement. it's a powerful speech. but when he uses the word fight most of the times during the case it's clear he's talking about legislators fighting for our rights, people fighting to advocate and, you know, everyone likes to overlook the word "peacefully" in there. >> he would like to focus just on that speech i guess and not on the tweets, not on the months leading up to it, the denial, the pressure on the georgians. what is your reaction? >> well, he wants everybody to ignore the fact that -- of the big lie. the fact that that speech was based on the lie that trump started telling even before the election and then told every single day after the election, the lie that it was a rigged election and that somehow he won
in a landslide and it was taken away from him. that's what he told his base. he was not speaking on january 6 to a crowd of legislators. he wasn't speaking to a crowd of state legislators or a crowd of electors or a crowd of members of congress, he was speaking to an angry mob that he had summoned to washington and he was telling them to go up to the capitol and fight like hell. so, yes, that was incitement i think it's a difficult argument to make that it's not. i think that a lot of republican senators who want to vote to acquit for political reasons are left with the fig leaf of the constitutional argument and that is a transparent fig leaf because as you noted earlier, andrea, this trial is constitutional. the senate voted on tuesday that it is constitutional and the senate is the final ashitier of
impeachment. the supreme court precedent is not you senators decide when and how to impeach, we don't get involved with it. so what the senators ought to do is then it's like a judge who refused to dismiss charges against the defendant, they now have an obligation to weigh the evidence, but i think many and probably most republican senators will not do that. >> brendan, you know, for the last four years there are obvious reasons why republican lawmakers wouldn't stand up to the president, they did not want to draw his ire and have to, you know, get tweeted at or shouted down during a news conference or publicly embarrassed or humiliated in some large or small way, but with this particular vote, if republican senators were to vote to convict, would there be any sort of political consequence two years from now, four years from now? would voters hold him accountable, would voters take them to task if they did?
>> i certainly think so and i think what people have seen with the liz cheney experience where she voted for impeachment and faced swift backlash, she held on to her leadership spot but i think she's still very much in real danger to get reelected. i think there would be enormous backlash from voters, but at some point i think as a party we need to be able to move on and whether they vote for impeachment or not, so much of the republican strategy it appears is based on a hope that donald trump will just go away. i think that's what nikki haley has said. she hopes that he won't be running for president again. that he has disqualified himself. but there aren't a whole lot of people that are making that argument that he has disqualified himself and they are sort of looking the other way and hoping that he decides -- or loses interest. i don't think that hope is a good strategy here. i don't think we can assume that donald trump is not going to want to be president again. so i would hope that at least if you are not going to vote for
impeachment you would say very clearly that this is someone who should not be president ever again. >> a bunch of us miscalculated donald trump in 2015. we thought it was the 2012 and 2008 and 2000 version of the guy who would never have the guts to run and all of that stuff. i think that hoping he goes away is something we have all miscalculated about. eugene robinson, brendan buck, yamiche alcindor, we will check back in with you later in this show. up ahead, we have much more ahead on day four of this impeachment trial as the trump defense team gets ready to begin its arguments in just over an hour. our next guest, congressman adam schiff led the case to convict then president trump during the last impeachment trial and warned then that we would be right back where we are today. we're going to talk to him live after this. ive after this unds of everyday life events, seen and heard in reverse] ♪♪ ♪♪
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he has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. he has compromised our elections and he will do so again. >> if we let it go unanswered who is to say it won't happen again? >> welcome back. two closing arguments, two different impeachment trials for donald j. trump one year apart. the trial may be different but the argument is the same, that former president trump remains a danger if left unchecked. i'm joined by former lead impeachment manager, congressman from california, adam schiff, the intelligence chair. thanks for being with us. two impeachments, the same closing argument. why doesn't it seem to resonate with senate republicans? >> look, it's going to require courage on the part of the senate republicans. president trump demonstrated through his four years in office the ability to punish anyone who strayed out of line. that certainly had an impact in
the last trial. only mitt romney demonstrated the courage to, i think, follow the constitutional oath and follow the evidence. i would hope that with a backdrop of the last trial and seeing just how sadly true those predictions were, that senators would realize they have a real duty here to protect the country that they cannot look away from. i don't think any of us can question if he runs in four years, they may hope he doesn't, but if he does, who would believe he wouldn't try to cheat again, that he wouldn't put us through this again, that he wouldn't inflame people, incite people again? you are right, it's the same argument from a year ago. now even more compelling, because we have seen what's happened in the last year. >> when you were -- jamie raskin hasn't given the closing argument yet. when you were getting ready for your closing argument, i assume you knew that it was an uphill battle, that you at that
point -- you had an idea, we heard from enough senators. did it all impact your close and what you included? did you think to yourself, i'm not speaking -- i'm not speaking to the senators anymore. i have to speak to the public. if so, then what would your advice be to mr. raskin? >> well, chuck, what i used to say to the managers last year, remember, we are talking to the floor and 40 million. i think the trial this year is being tried to the 17 and the 17 million. maybe only 17 million left who haven't made a decision about the president and the country. you are trying the case to both juries. here i think there has been a much more realistic prospect of conviction, because the facts are so plain, so obvious, so simple.
we will to tell a story that began a half a world away, that was complicated and we were fighting an administration withholding all evidence. here the evidence is plain for everyone to see. of course, there's the history of the last year, all of the lies, all of the a agitation. we hoped we might win over a single republican who would say enough, a single person of courage makes a majority. mitt romney did. i hope that we get those 17, because otherwise, sadly, we can expect we may see the same thing if four years. >> congressman, you would need, as you pointed out, 17 other mitt romneys. you characterized the evidence, plain, obvious, simple. it should be noted that some of the evidence is not even in dispute. the reality is, it's an uphill
climb. you know that. we all know that. if there's an acquittal this time, congressman schiff, should that be the end of the matter for congress? >> well, i don't know the answer to that. i think that right now, all of us in the caucus who are supporting our house managers want to keep the focus on the next few days. we have to hope and pray that the senators do the right thing. if they don't, they will have to answer to history. if they don't, then we will have the specter of donald trump hanging over this country and agitating for years to come. that will be singularly destructive. i don't know the answer to that, what comes after the trial. right now, i think all our eyes are on the senators and i am encouraged to hear what senator cassidy said. i'm encouraged to hear what
senator thune said. mitch mcconnell said it's a vote of confidence. he was not one of the three to be collaborating with the defense team. last year, mitch mcconnell said he was going to be working with the white house. some things have changed. i just have to hope they have changed enough. >> congressman, as chair of the intelligence committee, you have another portfolio. there was testimony yesterday that after nancy pelosi's office was ransacked and a laptop taken, there could be a foreign intelligence component to this and foreign intelligence activists, operatives involved in all of this. what is your suspicion about this? >> you know, i think probably the paramount concern -- of course, we are worried about the security of information that may have been stolen. the paramount concern is, was there any foreign role in the
amplification of the violence on the 6th? going forward, how do foreign powers exploit the divisions they saw so clearly on january 6th? how do they use it to further rile people up? we knew and had been warning for months prior to the election that russia, among others, was seeking to stoke divisions but also amplifying the president's false claims about the election being stolen. to the degree that foreign powers want to remain engaged, they have millions of americans who still believe the president's lies and they can still help by amplifying the lies, help in the sense of help divide and weaken america. that really is probably my paramount concern. >> partisanship has been a huge problem on the house side and your committee, mostly thanks to mr. nunes. i'm curious, how is the atmosphere right now?
is there a way to get back out of the period that we were in during the trump era? >> i certainly hope so. i'm going to make every effort, chuck, to reach out, as difficult as that will be, because we need to get our work done. we did get our intelligence authorization bill done this year, notwithstanding all the difficulties. we have done that every year. i would like to do -- get back to some level of comity. how do we work with members who after the insurrection were back pushing out the big lie? it's very difficult to sit down with these members knowing that they contributed to what we went through. but i'm going to put my hand out to mr. nunes. i hope he takes it, we can move forward with the business of the nation. the work of the committee is too
important to stagnate. >> congressman adam schiff of california. congressman, thanks for your time, sir. try to enjoy your weekend, if you can. the latest reporting from capitol hill and the white house. day four of the trial is set to start. special coverage of the second impeachment of donald j. trump continues right here on msnbc. we'll be right back. with relapsing forms of ms, there's a lot to deal with. not just unpredictable relapses. all these other things too. who needs that kind of drama? kesimpta is a once-monthly injection that may help you put this rms drama in its place. it reduced the rate of relapses and active lesions and slowed disability progression.
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>> the lawyers are adopting a do no harm strategy. that's because they believe enough senate republicans signalled they will find a way to rally around the former president, even on a process argument, and deliver the necessary votes to acquit him. >> without a conviction, there would not be a vote to bar the former president from holding office in the future, leaing open the door for donald j. trump to run in 2024 if he chooses. the house managers finished two days of arguments, laying out where the former president's actions in the months before and at the january 6th rally incited the deadly insurrection at the capitol. they closed with a warning that if the former president is not held accountable for inciting an insurrection, it could happen again. >> after the defense finishes making its case, senators will be given up to four hours to ask both sides questions about their arguments. we expect that will actually
happen today. meanwhile, the biden administration pushing forward on its work on coronavirus relief. a few minutes from now, president biden, vice president harris will meet with a group of governors and mayors in the oval office to talk about it. the second impeachment could be over this weekend. we are joined by correspondent and the host of "way too early" kasie hunt, correspondent kristin welker. kasie, every day this week we have gotten what i would call -- we went to see if there was white smoke with mitch mcconnell. every day we are hold -- i find it interesting if there is direction given, it's a vote of conscience, he is undecided and nothing changed, which in and of
itself is kind of newsy. >> it is. i think it shows you just how close he is holding his cards. usually, mcconnell is very communicative with his own conference. he has a very good read on where they are. he talks to them first before saying things in public. this is a situation where it's clear either perhaps he is conflicted, there may be issues of trust inside the conference after what happened with josh hawley. you remember that mcconnell urged all of his members not to contest the election, not to let the house of representatives move forward with these objections, which of course, took consent from a senator in this case hawley. there's a lot of behind the scenes dynamics. i think there is a group of senators that is looking to mcconnell, that could potentially be swayed by where he ends up. you and i have talked some about this between us. when i was in the chamber
yesterday and they were all gathered on the floor, you could physically see the divide in the republican party between lindsey graham, ted cruz, mike lee, talking to each other. mitch mcconnell at his desk sitting next to john thune, talking to richard shelby, richard burr, mitt romney, lisa murkowski, some of whom we expect to vote to convict. others who may be more ondynamid perhaps we have been under considering is that many of the senators, these republicans, they are worried about their own personal safety and the safety of their families. in addition to their own political futures as they consider how to vote. i think we have perhaps been underestimating how horribly the tone and the way that a lot of these people are approaching
members of congress. we saw it play out on january 6th. it's still happening behind the scenes. i think that's generating a lot of fear among some of these members. i just think we may want to try and nod to that as we consider how these people may move to vote. i think the reality is -- i was having a private conversation thatunderscored this to me. there's legitimate moral challenge there. there's sincere tension what they think is the right thing to do and what they are feeling pressure to do both politically and from a personal safety 57bd and security perspective. you are watching those dynamics play out. i'm not trying to say i think there are 17 votes to convict. i think that it's pretty clear that nobody really believes that at this point. there is a group that are looking to the historical consequences, moral consequences of their votes and wrestling with what to do. i think that's the live
question. >> to follow up, your assessment there, which quite frankly isn't something i had considered, this idea you have senators who may be motivated by concerns for their personal safety or family's safety, do you get the sense that makes them more or less inclined to vote to convict? >> i think they are worried, craig, if they vote to convict donald trump, that there may be people that would come after them, who are supporters of the president. i think the temperature -- you see this a little in the politics that we report on, the state republican parties that are censuring people. the culture of violence the democrats laid out. they showed examples whether it was president trump talking about how people should conduct themselves or what actions were acceptable to go fight like hell, et cetera, those sentiments are very strong back in home states and districts. they are hearing about it in
emails and phone calls with violent, disturbing language. >> of course, they have seen what happened with gretchen whitmer and georgia, the threats to their personal safety. it's profoundly concerning. let's talk about the president today. he is meeting with mayors and governors at this hour and focusing -- trying to get this trial over so that he can focus more completely on covid relief. a lot on his plate because of the divisions over what to do about school kids, the cdc recommendation coming out today, the teachers union, strong biden supporters, wanting vaccinations first. parents wanting their ki kids i school. the slow pace of the vaccinations, the frustration he expressed yesterday when he was visiting the nih. >> that's right, andrea. this meeting he is going to be having with the bipartisan group of governors and mayors comes as they are all trying to sort
through those critical issues, which you mapped out. schools, of course, being at the top of the list. then, of course, the frustrations that have been expressed by state and local officials that they don't have the supplies, they don't have the infrastructure and the communication that they have needed from the federal government. so the biden administration has made that one of its key issues, trying to fix those communication gaps so that the states and local governments do have the supplies to address this crisis, andrea. we know president biden has wanted to keep the focus off of the trial and on his agenda, getting his $1.9 trillion covid relief package passed. that's increasingly difficult with reporters here, myself included, asking him and his top officials questions about what we have all witnessed unfold on capitol hill. he engaged for the first time yesterday in the oval office when he made remarks. he said that based on the video,
that newly revealed surveillance footage, he thinks minds could b changed. he wants to see if his republican colleagues will step up. >> you were pressing him with a question. i have to ask about the valentine's heart behind her. we love you, but you have a backdrop today -- there's a story. >> that's right. chuck and craig and andrea, this is the first lady put up these hearts in honor of valentine's day but also to speak to the broader theme of unity, which is, of course, core to president biden's agenda. each heart has words written on it like unity, like healing. they came out to view these hearts a little earlier today. some of our reporters caught up with them. that is when president biden made those comments about the impeachment proceedings, our producer among those pressing
him to respond to what's happening on capitol hill. >> most important thing that they have done is remind all of us that you still have two more days to take care of valentine's day. thank you both. hint, hint to everybody listening. as former president donald trump's defense team presents its case, we will welcome bill cohen. a former republican senator from maine. as a freshman member of the house of representatives, he was one of seven republicans on the house judiciary committee who voted to impeach richard nixon. he had to go on the record back in 1974 when very few ended up having to do that because the president would resign. bill cohen, welcome. in fact, talk about that. you just heard kasie hunt describe that there are some senators thinking about personal -- that personal safety
has entered their minds and may be having an influence on how they are going to vote. you felt pressure like that. talk about that political pressure. you were part of it. you felt it. >> yes. we had similar pressure back then. there were threats made against me, my family. there were bomb threats. we had to evacuate the building we were holding a hearing in. they continued after that. my wife and i were watching "saving private ryan" the other night. we wanted to watch it again to watch the men who stormed omaha beach, who climbed the hills with the nazis firing down on them. these were men of the greatest generation. i think about that. i have a friend who is 95 now who was part of the ones who landed. all he could think about was defeating the nazis and saving freedom. he fought in korea.
now when i hear that some members are afraid if they vote the truth, if they understand that this is what donald trump did, he attacked our democracy and they are afraid, i want them to think about the men and women after that who served us. i got a chance to meet the tuskegee airmen. friends with one in particular, colonel drydon. he talked about how he had to fight against the nazis during world war ii and then come back and deal with the racism back here. these were men who had courage. for members of congress to say, i'm not so sure, i know what the facts are, i know that donald trump was the fireman, he is the chief marshal. he was the fireman in chief. he watched the fire burn. while he sat back either eating chips or drinking some soft
drink and took no action, that was an impeachable act. any person who doesn't recognize that and votes not to convict, they don't deserve to have the word honorable next to their name. this is clearly a case where he violated his duty. he first tried to get the military to perhaps step in. he asked for president putin to help him out. he asked the secretary of state of georgia to help him out. get me 11,780 votes. he asked the vice president to help him out. when they said no, he sends in his ragtag army, the proud boys. anything like the dough boys? anything like the greatest generation? no. i think every member on the hill knows what has happened. the failure of the president to take the action required to protect and defend members of
congress, his own vice president, capitol hill, the police. i didn't hear any of the proud boys say blue lives matter. where were the blue lives matter signs? they were attacking them. they killed one and caused the death of others. for members of congress, i'm not sure i will get taken to task back home, i might be attacked, i say, that's the burden you have because the constitution is worth defending and every one of our predecessors was willing to climb those hills in omaha and to hit the beaches while they were being attacked savagely by machine gunfire. i don't have anything to say about those who are acting in fear now. >> i don't think you have much empathy for that. >> when you look at the senators who are aligned so strongly with the president, they include josh hawley and ted cruz and others who have aspirations to run in
2024. they seem to feel that being aligned with donald trump, even after impeachment, no matter what happens in the trial -- we presume there aren't 17 brave republicans who stand up, but we don't know that. that is the position they should be with the republican party. what happens to our two-party system if one party is aligned with someone who violated his only of office and does not deserve to be running for president again? >> just think about the hypocrisy of those individuals who are thinking now about running for the presidency in the future. just a year or so ago, they paid tribute to john mccain, lying in state in the u.s. capitol, saying this was a hero, a man of courage. he gave up his freedom in order to allow other prisoners of war to go before him. they paid tribute to him as a hero. they paid tribute to brian sicknick as a hero who tried to
defend them. now they are going to back up and say, we don't know, the president might call us out, he might list us on a sheet to say, don't support this person. i think every republican member looking at that evident has really no alternative if they are going to abide by their conscience, the truth, which is laid out by jamie raskin brilliantly, powerfully, persuasively, patriotically. they're going to say, the constitution says -- the scholars on the constitution, the overwhelming majority say you can and should do this. now they will hold up constitution as a fig leaf to hide their naked fear and cowardice and greed. they are either afraid or they are complicit. either one, it marks them as being really ashamed, i think, to say that they are a member of the senate and didn't vote to
protect that document to which they swore allegiance to. >> bill cohen, former secretary of defense, former u.s. senator, former member of congress, i have to tell you, i will say this, we will make sure that your first answer to us and what you had to say there makes its way around social media so people can hear it. you had a lot to say. it was very important and very moving. thanks for coming on and sharing it with us. former president trump's attorneys are expected to wrap up their entire presentation today, possibly setting the stage for a final vote as soon as tomorrow. >> live look here on the hill as we watch lawmakers and members of the president's defense team and those house managers file into the capitol. coming up in a few moments, we will talk to democratic senator harono. why so many of her colleagues are unmoved by the trial. our special coverage of the second impeachment trial of donald j. trump will continue right after this. e right after this feeding ameri.
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welcome become to our special coverage of the second impeachment trial of former president donald j. trump. you see a live look there outside the capitol as lawmakers start to arrive, as members of the president's defense start to arrive and the house managers making the case against the president, all of them arriving. today's hearing set to start in 40 minutes from now. joined by democratic senator
harono who is on the judiciary committee. thank you for your time. take us inside the chamber, if you can. we are watching and listening to the evidence and the testimony. what are your democratic colleagues saying as they see this evidence and hear this evidence? what are your republican colleagues saying? what about this idea that mitch mcconnell, at the end of the day, could vote to convict? i have asked you lots of questions. my apologizes in advance. >> the democratic -- my democratic colleagues are listening very carefully to the presentation by the house managers. they have done a masterful job of making their case. as for the republican colleagues, i only know what they say on tv. most of them are saying that they thought the house managers did a good job. they are not saying they are convinced that the president should be convicted. >> what about senator mcconnell?
>> as usual, he is like a total unreadable person. whatever he does will be based on what he thinks is good for him, retaining his power. >> senator, if the former president is acquitted, do you want to see an attempt to pursue another way to bar him from holding any federal office again, this idea of using the 14th amendment, coming up with a censure resolution? i think there's constitutional questions. would you be in favor of pursuing that? >> i'm interested in pursuing a conviction. we are in the trial. the defense team hasn't presented their case, which is very weak. what can you say? we saw the evidence. there may be criminal cases pursued. that's for the justice
department and others to decide. >> senator, what do you think about the future here of what the senate can do to come back together, to get work done for joe biden, covid relief, the rest? there are going to be hard feelings after the trial, no matter how it ends. >> i cannot tell you how disappointed i am that we don't have more republicans willing to face the facts. they are supporting a president who has put out the big lies months before the election, during the election, after the election, leading up to calling on his mob to assault the capitol where many people -- seven people died. they are not willing to make this president be held accountable. that is more than disappointing. in spite of that, the democrats are going to continue to pursue an agenda that's going to help
people. that means a new covid relief bill and anything else that we can do that will get our economy back on track and that will help the people who are in our country. that's a national vaccination program and all that. i know the democrats are going to continue to pursue those priorities. i hope that the republicans can see their way through to doing right thing in those matters. >> senator hirono, there's been reporting -- our capitol hill correspondent talked about some conversations she's been having with some of your colleagues in the upper chamber, some of them revealing that perhaps they would like to vote to convict the former president but they are legitimately concerned about their own personal safety, they are concerned about the safety of their families as well. according to some of the senators. have you heard anything like that? what do you make of those fears?
>> i have seen some republicans in the house and probably in the senate expressing those fears. why is that? because we have a president who established an environment where, you know what, the republicans, too many of them are swimming in such a moral swamp that for any of them to do the right thing is an aberration that needs to see what happens to people. who created this situation where there is fear? look at the evidence and do the right thing. there is such a thing as coming together and safety in numbers. i am hopeful but not holding my breath that they will do that. that's one way to counter the bully out there. they are not going to go away. the way to deal with them is
prosecute them, as appropriate, and to stand up to them. >> senator hirono, thank you. >> thank you. >> you are right about the group dynamic. they can't primary everybody. think about that. we are watching the hill as impeachment managers and senators are starting to arrive. former president trump's defense team taks center stage in 30 minutes. last night, they had not solidified their strategy. what is their plan? stay with us for the special coverage of the second impeachment trial of donald j. trump. trump. every time we walk into the door. it's just to be sure. just to be sure! tide antibacterial fabric spray. [ thunder rumbles ] [ engine rumbling ] ♪♪ [ beeping ] [ engine revs ]
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welcome back. at the top of the hour, the spotlight will be back on the trump legal team for what we expect to be a quick presentation by impeachment trial standards. our panel is back with us. we are joined by daniel goldman. i want to play an excerpt of congressman raskin's pushback on the first amendment defense. >> it does not create a superpower immunity from impeachment for a president who attacks the constitution in word and deed while rejecting the outcome of an election he happened to lose. if anything, president trump's conduct was an assault on the first amendment and production rights that millions of
americans exercised when they voted last year. >> he was trying to pre-butt what he expects one of the legal arguments from the defense. >> yeah. it's not a persuasive legal argument. i don't expect the trump team to spend a lot of time on it. the first amendment isn't really relevant to impeachment. it might be to a criminal case. we are talking about making -- removing donald trump or disqualifying him from public office. it's not the worst punishment in the world. it doesn't apply, because you can't use words to incite violence. that's outside of the first amendment, even in a criminal context. i think they are going to spend more time today trying to separate donald trump from the riot itself. they're going to point to his words at the january 6th trial. they will try to narrow the focus just to that january 6th speech and just to some parts of that january 6th speech,
including when he said, go over there peacefully and patriotically. the question that i would want them to answer is, if donald trump did not incite this riot, then why were all those republican officials saying, as it was going on, that donald trump is the only one who can call it off? that's the overarching question here. i'm guessing it's a question they are not going to address. >> brendan, i want you to look at an interesting reaction that mike rounds had to an argument that ted lieu make yesterday, one of the impeachment managers, about trump in 2024. he wasn't fearing him winning. listen to his reaction. >> president trump's lack of remorse shows he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed. he still refuses to account for his previous high grave crime against our government.
you know, i'm not afraid of donald trump running again in four years. i'm afraid he is going to run again and lose. because he can do this again. >> i think that was a powerful statement on his part. i know i wrote that down. a number of my colleagues did. >> he went on to say that, look, he still believes this is not a constitutional setting and that that has an impact there. it is aare resonating. >> what's striking is that this is the first time he thought of the argument. this should be what it's about. should this person be in the position where he can run for president again and do this again? that's the ball game. as we talked about earlier, so many of these republican senators seem to think that the president is going to be going away and they can just rely on that. look, i understand that there are political pressures. i understand that it's really
dangerous to be the first one in the pool here and say we need to get push him aside and move forward. i'm glad nikki haley started doing that. there's strength in numbers. if all of them realize this and say, whether we impeach him or not, we cannot allow him to run for president, that's powerful. this is why we are doing this. he is not in office. we are preventing him from doing this again. we cannot hope he will go away. >> daniel, i want you to engage in an exercise that's very difficult considering your role in the last impeachment. if you were advising the defense, if you were advising that team today, what would you advise them to do in terms of making some sort of clear, coherent argument that could be
somewhat legitimate? >> it's very hard. the evidence is very strong. i would certainly try to point to what he said the day after and his outright condemnation. i would try to express some remorse for what happened saying, i recognize that they may have interpreted what i said in this way, but that was not at all what i intended to happen. you know that's not what i intended, because the day after, i strongly condemned it, i said they should be charged. it was really -- it took a little more time for me to realize that, wow, this really has gotten out of control. this was never what i wanted to happen. but you sort of need to fall on your sword a little bit. that's something donald trump has never indicated that he is willing to do. the legal argument that chuck
said mike rounds relied on, it really irks me. the senate is solely responsible for setting the rules for impeachment. nothing can be appealed to a higher court. when the senate rules, that is what their rules are. they have already ruled that this is constitutional. for senator rounds or others -- i think we will see it a lot today, to rely on the fact it's an unconstitutional setting is appropriate and it avoids the issue. i think it's a shame. i think they should be called out for avoiding their own oath to address the merits of the case. >> eugene, i don't know if you heard bill cohen calling them out and saying that they have to stand up and vote their convictions if they believe that he did these things. they can't be afraid of personal attacks and political attacks or personal threats, that that is their obligation and they should think about the courage of those
who attacked -- who defended america attacking normandy beach. >> right. that's their obligation. they have an obligation to listen to both the house managers and president trump's defense, to actually hear the case and to make a decision. many of them will not do that. many of them will look at the way the wyoming state party censured liz cheney for voting to impeach. they will look at the grief that bill cassidy, from louisiana, is getting back home just for voting that this is a constitutional exercise. they will look at how the nebraska party is in the process of censuring ben sass for voting
to impeach. they will draw conclusions about their own political survivability. state parties at home will be angry at them. it is true that if they got together in numbers and said, enough is enough, this is the time to purge ourself from trumpism, they could do it. i doubt they will. >> we are getting a preview -- jason miller did an interview on one of the odd channels. i will leave it there. i don't know what you call them these days. these sort of booster channels, cable channels out there. he seemed to indicate that they're going with what i would call the sean hannity defense. whether it's about what democrats have said previously at other uprisings, all of that. it doesn't win the middle. is that an effective strategy?
>> it's a strategy they will have to go on because they can't defend the president's words. we are talking about a two track strategy. one on procedure and one on, what about the other people who did not lead into the capitol and riot and chanting killing about lawmakers? on procedure, there's a statement they will make about this being semantics. to your point, they will play video of maxine waters or of vice president harris or other democrats using political language. the big elephant will be, then show us the riot that happened afterwards. they will not be able to do that. i'm thinking about a conversation i had and overheard with senator blunt. he was saying his mind isn't
changed, democrats who use language like fight like hell. when it got to the point, well, senator, do you think the stuff that was said by democrats led to anything close to what happened on january 6th, and he stood there, paused and said nothing can compare to january 6th. that's what they have to contend with. >> yeah. thank you all. really getting us prepped for what we are about to see. we are moments away from former president trump's legal team beginning its defense. that's all for us this morning. i will see you sunday on "meet the press." brian williams, nicolle wallace pick up our coverage of the second impeachment trial of donald john trump after this quick break. ohn trp umafter this quick break. s how you become the best! ♪“you're the best” by joe esposito♪ ♪ [triumphantly yells]
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is day four of donald trump's second impeachment trial. brian williams here with you along with nicolle wallace. the defense is set to get underway minutes from now. attorneys for the former president expected to take as little as three or four hours of the 16 hours they are allowed to take. what we are not expecting to hear from them is a defense of donald trump's conduct in the run-up to the january 6 attack on the u.s. capitol. instead, something of a dose of what aboutism today. they will try to link to democrats suggesting if trump can be held accountable for the insurrection, his words notwithstanding, then democrats should also face consequences. of course, context is everything. democrats will surely point out and will be prepared to fact check any false claims or
exaggerations that we pick up along the way or hear today. if the defense wraps things up as quickly as they have suggest suggested they might, we could see something interesting today. the beginning of the question and answer portion of the trial could begin as soon as this afternoon, which will give us our clearest look yet at which way the republican senators on this jury might be leaning. republicans are going to look for political cover from the defense team today. will trump's attorneys, in three or four hours, manage to blunt the impact of all the evidence laid out so far? >> i think they're going to do what you alluded to. i don't think there's blunting of the evidence. you either roll the tape and see what everyone saw with their own eyes, a murderous mob incited by donald trump and warmed up by donald trump. if this were a football game that became violent, donald
trump hosted the tailgate and sent them into the stadium. the facts are not in dispute. what today will be is a massive distraction. the problem is, if a democrat had incited violence -- at least the most senior democrat in their party, the president, now president condemned looting and violence and any protesters that turned violent. the what aboutism falls short. it's a distraction because there's not tape in which trump doesn't incite the mob. there isn't a tape in which the insurrectionists say anything other than fight for trump, fight for trump. there's no tape in which the tweets incited them further, had the opposite affect. there's no tape in which republican after republican is saying anything other than trump and only trump can call it off. those are the facts. they're not in dispute. >> a point we raised last night, a different way of looking at
the convict versus acquit vote, republicans deciding to hitch the party to donald trump for four more years. it's nothing less than this. >> it's more than that. this is the opening act in the iowa caucuses. josh hawley's raised fist is his first add in iowa. you see republicans taking a different path but only because their strategy to the 2024 nomination runs through new hampshire. chris christie and nikki haley in that category. all of it is a political calculation saved for the conduct and statements of a few republicans that were watching this week. not because of any suspension around conviction. there's some. we don't know what they will do. you have mitt romney and ben sass and senator cassidy watching the facts. it's a tragedy that we can count those members on one hand. >> garrett haake standing by, as
he has been covering capitol hill, waiting to talk with us. garrett, a lot of the news overnight was something not prevented by the rules, because this is far from an ordinary jury trial. and that is the news the news that three of the -- let's put in air quotes -- impartial jurors met with the trump defense team last night to talk about strategy. >> reporter: that's right. we have to dispense with the notion that the senators are either impartial or jurors. they have superpowers no juror in a criminal trial would have. no juror can simply walk out of the room or vote to dismiss a trial while it's the many process. the senators have the right to do either one of those things. in the last impeachment trial, mitch mcconnell said he was coordinating hand-in-glove with the white house on donald trump's defense strategy. nevertheless, the meeting last night after hours with ted cruz, lindsey graham and mike lee and
the former president's defense team, they said they're trying to get on the same page about strategy, and that strategy is pretty much what nicole laid out. it's to distract and divert. they're going to talk about, you know, other calls, what they say are other calls to violence by democrats or democrats sitting on their hands on other types of political speech. there's not a lot of there-there but they want to introduce that into the conversation. and they want to divert the senate back to the questions of constitutionality. you heard jamie raskin say yesterday, we should consider that a closed issue. the senate's voted on it. it's been handled by this body. but i think that's going to be the refuge for republican senators today, to not have to engage with the substantive argument against donald trump but circle back to what they feel is like the safest ground for them, which is the senate shouldn't be engaged in this at all, he's a former president. i think that's what the trump attorneys are going to try to offer senate republican who is made it clear they are in large part just looking for an excuse
to acquit that they can defend. >> amazing. joining us, claire mccaskill, michael steele, both msnbc political analysts. also joining us our own impeachment analyst, dan goldman. dan, i heard you in the last hour talking about legal strategy. it's clear that this isn't a legal process at this point, isn't it. garrett's revealed how political it's become from senators who should be taking seriously their role as jurors. >> yeah. if there was any doubt about whether this is a true legal process, the fact that three jurors are consulting with one party's lawyers the night before their presentation to work on strategy should disabuse you of that notion. but, yes, it is purely at this point trying to provide
republican senators with a hook that they can go back to their constituents to explain their vote to acquit donald trump. that is the goal of trump's attorneys today. it's not to, you know, create a reasonable doubt. that's of course not the standard here. but it still could be a defense, right. you could imagine a scenario where they say, look, the evidence that you have that they put together, you know, relied a lot on sort of hearsay, there's no testimony. a lot of it is somewhat speculative and tangential. we don't have any evidence that donald trump actually did know that there was violence planned when he spoke, and you need to be able to connect him to the violence. and certainly he didn't expect this to happen and there's no evidence that he did. it's all circumstantial. there's a defense that you can put together to get into the merits, but we're not going the
hear that today. we're going to hear the political speech. this is just speech. this is an unconstitutional trial to begin with, which is a real dodge of any accountability on the side of the senators. and then finally, if they do get in the facts, it's those people are terrible, what they did is terrible, but donald trump certainly didn't know they were going to do that and didn't intend for them to do that. >> problem with that argument, claire, is once donald trump learned that they were terrible, that they were cop killers, he said he loved them, and he said this is what happens when you overturn an historic landslide. to me, the most chilling and enduring stain of the evidence that's been revealed is what chuck rosenberg called sociopathic everyday, evidence of donald trump acting like a sociopath and showing no remorse after he learned his own vice president's life was in danger, after he learned lives had been
lost, after he learned that hundreds of law enforcement, capitol police, d.c. metropolitan police, had been injured and maimed. >> yeah. there is a real problem they have about his conduct after the violence broke out. and there's nothing they can say or do today that changes the facts around how trump behaved. every senator in there knows it. i will just tell you, today is about talking to the republican senators and more importantly to the fox news audience and the other right-wing outlets to try to do something to reinvigorate the base, to reassure the american people who voted for trump that everything is okay. so you're going to have a heaping pile of what about-ism today. you're going to have what about the violent protests there? what about this political rhetoric? they're going to try to do a false equivalency between some
acts of violence that occurred in some of the protests this summer along with some heated rhetoric from some democrats, and they're going to try to make the republicans feel more comfortable with their conscience. but frankly, i'm not sure that will work in terms of the conscience. it may work for talking points. but that's what this is all about today. they're not defending the indefensible. they're giving them talking points. >> claire, i want to check back in with garrett haake before we go over the michael steele for just one moment. garrett, we're watching senators start to filter in from the security checkpoint all the way upstairs to the ohio clock. you have reporting on what we should continue to remind our viewers as this question and answer period. memories get fuzzy for some folks of the first impeachment. and what senators are doing to prepare for that. >> right. so given the wide spread assumption that the trump
defense team won't use much of their time today, the next phase of this trial is the q&a period like in the last trial in which senators submit questions written down to the chair and those are sort of sorted through and asked to one side or the other. mitt romney just said he's prepared five questions he would like to see answered. those who have covered are not at all surprised with kind of thoroughness he presents himself to this. he's not alone. senators have been collecting their thoughts on questions. sometimes they ask questions in groups. oftentimes there are bipartisan questions that are asked to try to get at things from either presenter that have not been addressed. we know, for example, bill cassidy has made it clear he wants a much better answer from the trump defense team about the time line of what the former president was doing during the attack itself, something they haven't addressed and something that he wants to make sure happens. so we're getting a sense through those questions, and as we're
able to ask senators who had no other business this morning an in many cases slept in are teping to the desk to turn in their questions will tell us a lot about the next 24 hours. >> senator warnock, senator sanders, the hubbub around the chamber as our start time approaches. michael steele, let's lay out the obvious. if you are leaning to convict, if there's a "d" after your name, there are mountains of evidence upon which you can predicate that vote. if you're looking to acquit, not so much, and that's where the job of the defense counsel comes in today, offering any number of kind of substantive words offered from fig leaves to off-ramps that you might pin your acquittal vote on.
>> i think that's exactly right. i think dan and claire have very clearly laid out what the strategy is for the republicans in the senate today. whether it's four hours or four minutes, this is done. this has all been -- you know, the fact that you had three republican senators, graham, lee, and cruz meet with counsel last night to prepare the strategy, folks, this is so baked it's overbaked at this point. we knew this when this started where a lot of these folks were going. this is all about, you know, the skid marks coming out of here. how do we make sure the base stays true and holds with trump and how do we get cover for ourselves so we don't get blown up like liz cheney and congressman kinzinger. so that's what this is about. this is what they're going do. we'll sit back and watch them
probably bring a half-hearted attempt at it. >> the camera has been opened on the hill. you see pat leahy taking the president's seat. again, his title is president pro tem. that had been chuck grassley, the senior ranking republican in terms of years on the job, and now with the power shift goes to the senior democrat from vermont, pat leahy. also, the title, while an honored pro tem of the senate puts you third in line to the presidency. so it's president, vice president, speaker of the house and president pro tem of the senate. you'll see various members of the senate filter in but pat leahy sounded the gavel for the first, teem.