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tv   After Words  CSPAN  October 30, 2021 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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authors about their latest
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work . >> let's open this big book i thought perhaps you could read us a little bit about from the opening pages. there's the first chapter in "midnight in washington: how we almost lost our democracy and still could" where you talk about your experiencesat the capital on january 6 . the chapter is called the insurrection and there was a part i thought you could start us off with. it's sort of right after the folks who were loyal to the former president donald trump came on january 6 two storm the capital basically. it was an insurrection and they were trying to overturn the results of the election that were being tabulated for
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joe biden for winning the election. of course the capital was on lockdown that day. you give a fairly gripping account of whathappened and this is a little of the aftermath . can you take us away? >> the following day i felt a mixture of sadness over what our country had gone through and embarrassment at how we appeared in the eyes of the world, anger at the irresponsible actions of my colleagues who had spread lies about theelection for months and brought this on themselves inthe nation . toward the president who had instigated the rebellion . but more than anything else, i was shaken by fear over what this meant for our future and our recognition of how long and difficult lay the road ahead. donald trump bore responsibility for the mayhem that took place at thecapital that afternoon. and every day that he would remain in office he represented a clear and present danger to our democracy . but what took place inside our chamber for the challenge to the electors was every bit as much anattack on our democracy . the assault on our constitutional order was inspired by people wearing suits and ties and looked in
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the genteel language of congressional debate . but their purpose was no less ominous. we can fortify the defenses of the capital, reinforce the doors and put up fences but we cannot guard our democracy against those who walk the halls of congress and take an oath to uphold our constitutionrefused to do so . >> that's a pretty big opening there at the start of the book. i felt like this goes straight to the subtitle of the book is midnight in washington. with congressman adam schiff and the subtitle is how we almost lost ourdemocracy and still could . a big idol. what are you trying to convey to americans right now at this point in our history? >> i'm trying to convey the fragility of our democracy. something we always took for granted but something in the last four years has been dismantled piece by piece. so many of the things we thought could never happen in this country have already happened. we cannot take this legacy
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for granted in any way. on that day the insurrection day, i was one of four house members the speaker asked to marshal the arguments against overturning the election i was very much focused on what i was saying on the house floor, what republicans were saying and how to runbut it . the first thing i noticed was the speaker family was not in her chair which was strange because that had been part of the planning for the joint session and i knew she was going to preside through the whole section and i looked up and i saw the two cabinet police officers come rushing onto the floor and grabbed steny hoyer our number two and just briskly walked him off the floor and i thought i've never seen a steady move thatfast and it was apparent something was up . and i started to ask my colleagues who were on their phones what was going on. and soon capital police came onto the floor and told us there were writers in the building. we still didn't have a sense
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of how many or how much of the danger they pose but the warnings from the police during the minutes that followed became increasingly dire . we get out our gas masks, we need to prepare to get down on the ground. and ultimately, they said we need to get you out. and we could hear the rioters then. we could see them through the glass banging on the doors trying to get in. and there was a real logjam trying to get out on the house floor, members trying to get through the doors and i remember thinking where did all these people come from because only 40 of us were allowed on the floor because of the pandemic but people were in other parts of the capital in the speaker's lobby and elsewhere and suddenly it was very crowded. so i hung back for a while and i remember a couple of republicans coming out and saying you can't let them see you. i know these people, i can
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talk to these people, you are in a whole different category. and my first impression was to be oddly touched by their concern for my safety but that gave away two a feeling that i just read about which is if these members have been pushing this big lie about the election i wouldn't need to be worried about my security and others wouldn't have on that day and in that sense, i came to realize that a lot of the anger i would feel about that day was directed at my colleagues because unlike the people climbing on the building who believe the big lie, people i worked with insidethe building new it was a big lie . and were unwilling to say so and even as recently as the last few days we had steve scalise, one of therepublican leaders being asked point-blank on fox . whether the election was stolen and he couldn't bring himself todeny it . and this is one of the things that i discussed in the book
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which is power as a historian once said doesn't corrupt as much as it reveals. it doesn't always reveal us at our best at it reveals a lot about who we are and the last five years it revealed a lot about people i served with. people i had respected and admired because i believe they believe what they were saying . turns out did not believe it at all. and i wanted to write about how that changed takes place. but from a very personal perspective. >> it's interesting, people in the country probably got to know you most during the impeachment trial.you prosecuted at the first impeachment of the president, former president trump. of course there was the second impeachment. having gone through that experience and now you are on the committee that is investigating the january 6 insurrection at thecapital .
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what you learned and really let me ask you what are you trying to find? we all saw what happened january 6. if you didn't see itfirsthand you saw it over and over in the footage that's been out there. theassociate press and other publications have done a deep dive into what happened . how things unfolded . what more is your committee other than establishing a historic record here, what are you trying to find? >> you mentioned the impeachment trial and one of the things i wanted to convey was the realization during that trial for me and the senate chamber is a very small place. you can see every senator, you can see their attentions, when they're nodding off or when they moved or not moved and i remember at a certain point in the trial pointing out that the senators knew
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exactly what we were dealing with in donald trump. and if any of them thought he wouldn't turn on them in a heartbeat, they were fooling themselves. that he cared nothing about the truth, could tell right from wrong and as i looked about that chamber to see if there was any disagreement among therepublicans, whether any were shaking their heads know, donald trump is not like that there was none of that . they knew exactly who we were dealing with. they knew exactly what he had done in withholding hundreds of millions of dollars to an ally war to help cheating in the election. but they weren't willing to do anything about it. and to me what i learned from that is there's no flaw in the impeachment cause. i think it's written like the rest of the constitution extremely well . problem is if we don't have people who will give it meaning, who will apply right
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and wrong. who will discern the truth and be willing to use the truth we will in essence live up to their oath. if people aren't willing to live up to their oath than none of it works and one of the things that gave me optimism is people like mitt romney who are willing to risk the wrath of theirparty to speak the truth . in him i found vindication of the founders believed that people possess the vision virtue to be self-governing and i see thatsame virtue in the january 6 committee . this cheney and adamkinsinger are courageous . there willing to speak the truth to power, to the most powerful person in their party. there determined that the party, republican party be again a party of ideas and ideology and those ideas and ideologies are very conservative, they're different than mine but i respect the fact that it is an ideology that they do have ideas and they're not willing
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to join a cult around a certain former president. and if you watch that first hearing that we had with those or capital police officers, beyond the fact that the officers were so powerful in their testimony the other thing so striking about that hearing was there was no fighting among the members. no one is trying to score political points against one another. we were all interested in the truth coming out. that was the sole purpose of being there. and you know, to be able to work on a bipartisan matter again gives a lot of hope for the future. >> to that and what would you accomplish. >> a couple things. one we want to show the country justout january 6 came about . and not just the mechanics of that day in terms of the participation of the what nationalist groups like the proud boys and three presenters and blues and whatnot . but rather how this big falsehood about our elections
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propelled thousands of people to attack their owngovernment . out destructive the lies of the last four years have been. and what we need to do about it. we want to write the definitive report of all that went into that day. in much the same way that the 9/11 commission wrote the definitive report of what happened on 9/11 . both as ahistoric record , as a way of exposing to the american people what went into that tragedy. but also as a way of forming recommendations about how do we move forward as a country and protect our democracy. there's a global struggle going on right now between autocracy and democracy. people around the world who use to look to us as a beacon now see people climbing on the outside of our capital,
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beating police officers. they see one party willing to default on america's credit they out for other malls and what one of those models is a totalitarian one, china. we're competing with them so this is as the president says the fight for the heart and soul of our country but it's a bigger fight people around the world. >> do you think you'regoing to unearth new findings in this committee ? >> without a doubt and there several different dockets were looking at in terms of the investigation. we're looking at what was the organization that went into that day, how was it financed and what did theyexpect in terms of thepropensity for violence . why was the military so slow to respond ? some of those questions have already been examined.
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in part by other committees. the biggest black box though is what was the president's role? what was the role of people in the white house? what did the president know about who wascoming to this rally and what did he do when he found out ?why did it go on so long. and so there are a lot of important unanswered questions. >> the impeachment trial showed some of the minutes that you ran up against in terms of executive privilege and in terms of trying to can obtain testimony. you seemto be running up against that now on the january 6 committee . it's a little bit in the weeds but do you expect that the committee would hold those who failed to appear in contempt? >> we certainly expect to hold them in contempt if they refuse to appear. one of the things that i do in the book is explain how we got to where we are in so many different ways and a big
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part of the reason why steve bannon believes he can just his nose at the committee and ignore process is we brought him in as a witness during the russia investigation. at that time the republicans were in charge ofthe investigation . the book common fury had come out and it quoted bannon as saying a whole lot of things about trump and his family that angered the former president so bannon was on the outs of the white house but he also had lost his platform breitbart so he's a man without a country so even republicans were willing to assert himself for the first time when wehad a witness like many others who have come before the committee before but now there willing to assert themselves and say you got to respond to our questions and when he didn't , he had come in voluntarily and they gave him a subpoena on the spot so months later he comes back in under subpoena. this is happening before the
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capital, we wanted to bring people into that bunker and show them whathappened though he shows up .this time he brings with him a list of 25 questions written out in advance and he says these are the only questions i'm going to answer and i've prepared them for you and here are the answers. no, no, no, 25 no and when i asked him where did this list come from it came from the white house.which was the substance of our investigation so the investigation wrote out for a key witness the only questions that he would be allowed to answer and the republicans again expressed a kind of a bridge. how dare you, how could you but the next step was to hold him in criminal contempt but theyrefused . they refused because they knew they did with this one witness with this man without a country it would expose the hypocrisy of wine with all these other witnesses, corey
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lewandowski's, that jared customers and others when they refused to answer questions why did you persist with them? but it's getting people like steve bannon the impression they are above the law. and that they're going to find out otherwise because during the trump administration we had bill barr as the attorney general and he was not going to force subpoenas because he viewed his role as being criminal defense counsel to donald trump. but now we have merrick garland, an attorney general who believes in the rule of law so this is why i have confidence we will get the answers. >> so you're confident the oj will back you up and prosecute those. >> that is my expectation and i think there's goodreason for having a positive expectation about that . because the white house showed courage and not asserting executive privilege
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. they had been willing to allow the justice department officials to talk to us and other committees without asserting privilege and that's a pretty good indication that they realize these are unique circumstances. our government was attacked violently and they're not going to stand in the way of theamerican people getting answers . >> the president still occupiessuch a big space in a lot of conversation in washington and out of washington . he's impeached, the only president to be twice impeached and the only president to be impeached after he had already tried for his impeachment after he was out of office. much like the response to january 6 there was a sense that there was a sort of failure of the imagination. that law enforcement, people preparing to protect the
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capital didn't really envision what could happen. perhaps a similar thing could be said about the rise of trump. you yourself have said you were sort of surprised to see that he won the party nomination and then what went on. what do you think now when you consider he could run again and the again and occupants in the white house? where does that leave you? >> you're absolutely right. i used to tell a joke during the 2016 republican primary about why donaldson was never going to win the nomination and i said there were two reasons. the first is the republicans wouldn't be that crazy and the second was the democrats were not that lucky. it turns out they were that crazy and we were notthat lucky . and i would have never imagined that someone with his record of dishonesty and philandering and everything
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else would be the nominee of the republican party let alone become president of the united states but he did and part of why he was successful in that campaign is that he recognized there were millions of americans who were struggling. who had worked their whole lives, had nothing to say at the end of their career and would have to work till they dropped. their kids have debts from college and came out of college with no jobs and here was someone promising to bring everything. there had been a candidate in the primary bernie sanders promising a revolution but when he was no longer an option they went with the guy promising to break everything . and most democrats didn't but some did. and the republicans obviously consolidated behind it . and he did break everything.
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but of course he didn't do anything for the people that he referred to as the forgotten. >> he remains popular for those of us that cover parts of the campaign . that's people at their kitchen tables who heard stories . it was clear there was a big interest in his candidacy and he remains very popular. so i guess i ask you have democrats learned? have you learned? has your party learned how best to win back people who seem to have moved in his direction and are firmly in the camp that you and others find so dangerous? >> we have that was the key in joe biden's success. he was able to win a number of people who voted for trump and make the case of what a disaster he had been for the country.
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>> you think that could happen again? >> i think number one east certainly running again.the idea for donald trump that someone else could be in the limelight other than him, that nikki haley or ron desantis or mike pence could get all the attention would be intolerable so he's incapable of not running. could he get elected again? certainly he could get elected again. we underestimated him once too many times already. myself included. and given what a clear and present danger he poses to our democracy and our way of life, we're going to need to beat him at the polls and we will. and we will. i think that as time continues more and more americans realize how precarious our country is
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right now. how precarious our democracy is. and to come to appreciate just what an awful period we went through with this presidency and as we put more distance between that time in thepresent , i think people will increasingly recognize wedon't want to go back to that . they don't want to go to a president of the united states who gets up trying to find new ways to divide us andpoison the body politic . >> what the expectation for popularity of his face ? >> i think like a lot of would-be autocrats, trump gives a simple answer for people's predicament. it's because it's people who don't look like you. but he also adds another bit of poison which is those other people look downon you . and you know, everybody's a crook.
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but i'm your crook. obviously he doesn't articulate it that way but there's no other way to explain how he feels he could pardon the and after steve bannon ripped off his own supporters. it really is astonishing thing when you step back from it and imagine a guy runs for president platform of building a wall that mexico is going to pay for. mexico doesn't pay for it, it doesn't get built and they start a fund to build the wall. the president pardons them for stealing from his own people . how's that happened? you've got to be a really good grifter to get away with that but he's a really good grifter. >> what's the thing you lay in bed and think of the worst thing in your mind that could happen if the president were to win reelection. >> the country have some guardrails.
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it doesn't today. >> i don't think the guardrails will hold for another four years. they came very close not to holding it this time. and we were fortunate number one by one by the margin he did. we were fortunate the president was as represented as he was by therudy giuliani's of the world . the dye running down his face and the ridiculous lawsuits. and we were fortunate that people have the courage to defend our democracy when donald trump called him on the phone and asked them to find 11,780 votes that don't exist which by the way they would have been indicted by now. we may not be so lucky next time and i think what the republicans are doing around legislatures around the country is running with this big lie to position themselves to succeed where
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they failed with the last insurrection by overturning an election through qualified legal means. and if that should happen not only would we have someone cheat their way into office but the turmoil in the country would be unprecedented. so that is my greatest fear in the future but i do want to mention and i devote a lot of time in the book to this. there are some heroic figures who came out of this and they're the ones that we have to look to. for inspiration about how we get to do this. there's a reason i feel optimistic about our future. there are people like bill taylor who served this country in, and graduated at the top of his class in west point. he chose to join a brigade
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that was going to see combat and he did. it was highly decorated. he was not going to disassemble or be dishonest no matter who the president of the united states was and he was going to do his duty. come in and tell the truth and he did andso many others did . >> there's a line in the book about some of those figures during the impeachment trial and there was a moment did seem a number of the civil servants were making headlines for themselves because of their testimony. it is an interesting lesson to think about. when you talk to young people or other people i'm sure you're talking to candidates who might run. how much do you draw on those figures in making your case about what civil service can look like in this country?
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the fee the people you write about, marie yovanovich, colonel vindman. >> i was so moved by his testimony and there was a quality to his testimony and his demeanor that was quite innocent. hopeful and almost prayerful in the way he talked to our committee about how in his country right matters and he felt confident to tell his father not to worry about him . >> he was an immigrant to this country. >> his parents, grandparents came from a part of the world not far from where my great-grandparents came from and his experience was very relatable. and i called him afterwards and thanked him for the
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service that he did and he was essentially hounded out of the military by the president and his brother, his twin brother was hounded out of his position as well. thank him for federal service and to tell him how much my father reminded me of his father and to pass on my father's regards to his father. but one of the things he asked about candidates that encourage these me about this time was some of the best people ever to run for office have decided to run for congress. the class of 2018 for example that the abigail span burgers we were talking about, tom malinowski's and others. >> a nickname we probably can't say on television. >> that's probably the finest class of new members we had i think ever. i will stand up to the watergate class any day of the week the class of 2020
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was every bit as good and it's a terrible loss to the country that they were wiped out in the 20/20 election when republicans who voted against from the top reverted to form and voted republican down about. but the ugliness of this time is not deterred people from owning in fact in the same way after 9/11 people gave service to defend their country after people i have to serve again. a lot of them veterans and search by running for congress. >> since we're talking politics let's jump a little bit. >> ..
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basically call him a liar in the book. what kind of speaker do you think he would be? >> guest: i think it would be an absolute disaster. >> host: why is that? >> guest: for many reasons. lack of character. his obsequious relationship with former president. if kevin mccarthy were ever to become speaker, , essentially donald trump would be speaker. he would not disagree with him ever. and you would have an outside party effectively running house of representatives and an unethical one to boot. the story as you know i count in the book i told because it's so characteristic. mccarthy and i was sitting on a plane flying back to washington, this was in 2010, the midterms were about six months away and we're having an idle conversation about who's going to midterms. i said the democrats, he said the republicans would win and the movie started and i was
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relieved to escape to the movie. i thought nothing of the conversation we went our separate ways, and that night unbeknownst to me he did a briefing for the press in which he told the press everybody knew republicans would win the midterms. he sat next to adam schiff and adam schiff admitted the republicans win at the midterms. i didn't learn until the morning and i was aghast, i was astounded and i sought him out on the house floor and i said kevin, first of all we are having a private conversation. if it wasn't, you know i said the exact opposite of what you told the press. he looks at me and he says, yeah, i know, adam but you know how it goes. i said kevin, no, i don't know how it goes. you just make stuff up and that's how you operate? that's not how i operate. that is how he operates and you cannot have someone with such little regard for the truth serving as the speaker of the house.
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and indeed this is one of the most destructive things over the less so years and he was ahead of his time in his lack of devotion to the truth but over the last four years there's been this relentless assault by trump and his accolades on the truth itself. probably best expressed by julie on who said the truth wasn't truth and kellyanne conway said they were entitled to their own alternative facts. if we can't agree on a very basic facts come if we don't have the same shared experience, democracy doesn't work. i think that's been one of the most corrosive things which is this relentless attack on the truth. i'm sure you feel it keenly as a journalist, because the press has been among the biggest targets for the former president and his acolytes. it's an autocratic playbook
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which says you need to discredit objective media. you need to persuade people that the only truth is what you tell them. and so we can't have another president like that and we certainly can't have speaker of the house like that. >> host: what's your prescription? there is a divide in this country and it has only deepened over the years. we know it well. they watch their own favorite channels. they read their own favorite publications. there is a polarization, and authority that has happened geographically, ideologically. if you are trying to build a common truth and a common narrative, how do you convince a good portion of the country that doesn't believe, sure, maybe not
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the same policy goals, but even, for example, on the january 6th insurrection, of good number of the country thanks made it didn't quite happen that way, and wasn't quite an insurrection. what is your prescription? how do you reach people that perhaps just won't see it the way you see it or the way it happened? >> guest: it's very difficult and i think the only answer is relentlessly confronting people with the truth here there is just no alternative here we are in an environment which one of my colleagues mike quigley from chicago i think some do better than anyone when he said it used to be people would say i'll believe it when i see it. now it's more i will see it when i believe it. you can show people video of the capital being attacked but it they are not ready to believe it
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they don't even see. they won't see what's right in front of them. part of it is that we get our information from such different places. it's very hard to break to those barriers and sometimes only way to do it is this one on one. i tell a story in the book of being in the airport in charlotte during the rush investigation. i've some of my most meaningful conversations in airports and this guy comes up to me while i'm waiting for my mover and a very conspiratorial tone. uses there's nothing to this collusion stuff. you can come, there's nothing to this collusion stuff. i said let me ask you a question. what if i told you, and i put the facts for them. what if i told you that the russians had approach not the trump campaign but they approached the clinton campaign and they offered dirt on tom trump and they said was part of the russian government effort to help the clinton campaign? instead of rejecting it, we
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would love that. instead of a secret meeting in the brooklyn headquarters attended by hillary's daughter chelsea and her campaign manager bobby and campaign chair john podesta, and then met secretly with the russians to get the dirt. they were only disappoint the dirt they got wasn't better and in that lied about it. would you call that collusion? he says, i think i see we are going here i said let me give you another illustration. what if i told you that hillary clinton's national security adviser susan rice when she was national security adviser was secretly meeting with the russian or talking to the russian ambassador trying to undermine sanctions on russia over interfering in our election and then lied about it? would you call that collusion? and he looks at me and he says, you know, i probably would. i was like, eureka. now if i could just talk to come i don't know, sometimes that's what it takes.
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it takes conversations that are very difficult right now between neighbor to neighbor, sometimes within her own families. there are things we're looking at that might help. i think the way that social media has divided us and amplified for fear and anger and loathing and division should mean that we ought to change that and unity that they have. but among the most difficult things is it venerates the first amendment. there's a wide birth of allies d that's a really difficult problem when those lies travel by rally. >> host: yeah. since this is booktv we should probably talk a little bit about writing and the craft of writing this book. why don't you tell us, that title "midnight in washington" i'm envisioning you were writing it at midnight but you tell me.
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what are your writing practices? how did you put this book together? >> guest: it's interesting because that's up with the title came from but that's very true. i was writing a lot of this at midnight during the course of the last several years i would have colleagues on the house for come up to me and others and say i hope your writing this down. you better be writing this down. you are living through in a store time. you were in the eye of the hurricane. i would always say to them, when do i possibly have time to write any of this down? for years i didn't have time, and suddenly the pandemic hits and like the rest of america i found myself confined to quarters and i thought if i'm ever going to write it down i should write it down now while it's fresh. i wanted to write it down in an engaging way but also wanted to write it down to preserve an historic period. their bulletin four impeachments in history and and i wantedt people know what's it's like stepping into that -- there have
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only been -- healing the heart beating in your chest and realizing people are watching all over the world. but it was a labor of love and sometimes it was i have to say traumatic because i had to live through all this stuff again. that wasn't always easy but i have a wonderful editor. i have done underwriting before but nothing of this length, and so -- but i have to tell you one of the most fun part of it was narrating the audiobook because it had to do something i've always wanted to do with my family doesn't let me deal, which is when my kids were young, very young they would let me read to them. when they got older to be teenagers they didn't want me to read to them anymore. i'm always trying to read stuff to my wife.
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she's like i would rather read it myself. now i got to read this whole book for anybody who wanted to listen to it and that was really fun. >> host: that's great. 500 pages, that must have taken some hours of reading. can you tell me, , you're such a student of history, did you have any historical writings in mind? in the other books that you looked to when you were thinking of writing? >> guest: i guess one thing that made it a bit easier for me is i love to read history and biography so i was very familiar with the genre. and some that i look to in particular, just the pillars in the field like ron chernow, jon meacham and michael beschloss and others. and so i had these great models to follow, and there are things
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you never think about. i'm reading grant right now by ron chernow which is diverse. one of the things he does so well and so effortlessly is you will be speaking present what grant is doing in the present but then he will feel free to jump forward and tell you what the future significance of it is and then come back to the present, and you don't think about those things when you are talking to people or even writing things that are shorter in length. all of a sudden when you're writing a book like this you need to think about okie, the audience knows what happened here, and so how much do you acknowledge of what is to come? winners writing about that first trial and trying to persuade the senators that if the didn't convict him, if they didn't remove him, he was going to try to cheat again. i remember saying what are the odds he will try to cheat again? not 5%, not 10%, not 50% but
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100%. 100%. now the reader knows what happened and it's worse than i imagined during that trial. i could've never imagine the bloody insurrection, and ironically, when the four of us, the speaker charged with planning for the joint session, mapped out every contingency, the one we did the map out was what happens if there's a violent attack on the capitol? but it was really, and a know you do this from writers but it really is a journey when you write something like this because you live it again but you deliberate knowing how it turns out. >> host: how much time were you devoting, how many pages a day, how many hours a day? did you do it all in kind of one fell swoop or was it fits and
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starts? for all the writers after wondering how you hold together a big buck. >> guest: i'm a night owl -- big book -- i found that in law school if i could set the world clock to my schedule i would be up until three in the morning and sleep until 11. now, i didn't have a day job the permitted me to do that so i was sleep deprived for much of this but i've a very full day job. the nighttime was the only time i could write. i also like the nighttime. in the epilogue i began --, you talk about -- >> guest: i talk about the cicadas and how as i'm writing at midnight the cicadas are asleep for the night and will be up in the morning, and i thought to myself, what's the world going to look like in 17 years when you wake up again?
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at the kind of thought that only comes to me anyway at midnight. >> host: the house is quiet. the city is quite. >> guest: everyone else is asleep. i would love that time of night. but i do, i have one advice to writers who write like i do, write at night. what you think is genius at one in the morning, you need to read again in the morning. because it looks different with the harsh light of day. >> host: fair enough, that's good. let's look back a little bit. i did want to ask you when we talk about moving forward, i don't, i think he talked a little bit about this in the book but this is more in line with your work in congress. but you are proposing a big package of bills that talks about rebuilding or re-strengthening, strengthening democracy. i don't know that those have a whole lot of a chance in a very
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democrat majority democrat congress are now but can you talk about those and why you think they are needed at this point and what prospects they have for making it through? >> guest: about i guess that would've been probably a year and half ago i approached the speaker about the need for our own post-watergate reforms. after watergate responded -- congress responded with a whole bunch of guardrails regarding abuse of executive power. and she thought it was a very worthwhile endeavor and so i started to look at all the things that have gone wrong. the inability to enforce congressional subpoenas, for the violations of the hatch act which prohibited the federal workforce to be, surrogate for the campaign. the fact we couldn't feasibly enforce the emoluments clause.
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here's a clause in the constitution that prohibits a president to use the office to enrich themselves and there was no clear enforcement mechanism. we need to create one. it's a very long list of ways of attacking abuse of the pardon power and protecting inspector generals and whistleblowers. so i started working on this and, of course, other members were working on other pieces, and we pulled them all together in the package which wind introduced last session, you're right, trump was still in office. republicans were afraid of their shadow. they were going to do anything that would be even perceived as a criticism of a former president. now he's out of office. now we have a democratic president and i expect republicans are doing this package a little differently. they may be thinking to themselves do we really want a democratic president to be able to say congress, the gate we
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subpoena for information but i'm going to stonewall the subpoenas. good luck. maybe years later you can get something out of me if you go to court. do we really want a president to hold the democratic party convention at the white house? do we want the president to be able to fire inspector generals that may be redoing province in administration? the republicans really want that? so negate their own powers. so i think they may view it differently now. a lot of the provisions of the bill franca have republican lead sponsors in the past, and so we won't get it through the house, and i hope and expectation is we will pick it up in the fall, and that means soon. and the senate, there's some discussion of taking it up piecemeal innocent. franca, however we can get it done we should get it done -- piecemeal in the senate.
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i wouldn't -- these things would be common sense and members of congress, democrats and republicans, would be united. it would be the executive that didn't like it, and in fact, we're negotiating with the biden white house because there are concerns that they have which we're trying to work out. but i do you view it as a key part of our pro-democracy agenda along with h.r. one and the john lewis voting rights legislation. >> host: also stuck in congress unable to move right now, but obviously interesting pieces of legislation that are very high profile right now as well. as we start to close, people know you as a sip from the outset, perhaps most from the impeachment trial. of course the former president had all sorts of nicknames and hurled them at you as he did at home. the something you said in your
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book about the nicknames that i thought was interesting. you sort of gave a reciting of all the names the president called you but you said something at the end, , press yu can remember it better than me, that it wasn't the names that sort of told you crazy so much. the fact it was the president saying them. and you expand on that? i think it's something the former president has captivated so many voters because he tells it like it is here people love the former president as if not a sort of politician, polished, yet we have come to a point in this country where we have some agreed-upon sort of rules of civil discourse and there's reasons we don't sort of say things with perhaps might've been okay to say some years ago and are no longer considered okay to say.
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can you talk about your experience being someone who was on the receiving end of some of those comments from the president and what your take away from that was? >> guest: sure. one of the stories i relate in the book is about the first on the president attacked me on twitter, sleazy adam schiff spends too much some a tv pushing the russian hoax, or something along those lines. he realized okay, this is going out to tens of millions of people. it's coming from the president of the united states. and you know, my kids were fairly young at the time, young teenagers. my son i think was just turned 14. he was at summer camp, a thankless summer camp they take your electronics away. but when my wife and i went to pick him up from camp i was hoping that he had not heard yet so i could be, i could tell him. like a lot of young teenage boys, all that -- they're not
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all that many could give up what you're thinking and by then i been the subject of a lot of hate and it did not how it was affecting him. so we picked them up and i said, eli, the something that happened while you at camp, it's not a big deal but it wanted you to hear it from me. the president of the united states called your father sleazy. i waited for the reaction and he looked kind of pencil for moment and he turned to me and he said, can i call you sleazy? and i said well, if you want me to call you sleazy junior. i thought okay, i kid is going to be all right. but you know, what are overwhelmingly felt then and in the years that followed when that was followed by other nicknames and whatnot, is this is the president of the united states. i mean, i had such veneration for the office, and to hear these childish things come from the president of the united states, it was just so demeaning
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of the office. i remember the first time i went into the oval office while he was president, and there he was sitting behind that desk, that of the president had sat behind, and he looked so out of place. i member having the feeling that here was a guy when privately pretend to be a successful businessman when he was essentially a failure, and he was pretending to be the president of the united states. and every time he would engage in a kind of buffoonery it just struck me as look at how he is diminishing that office. and maybe because i chair the committee and have a lot of interaction with people around the world and i've been so conscious about the rest of the world perceives america, and to realize that they have such little respect for the president of the united states, that he could be so easily manipulated
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by others like putin, just was heartbreaking. during early in the presence of an angela merkel came to visit washington the first time, the head time i think in "politico" was leader of the free world meets donald trump. and i saw that and it was, you know, it was very clever in its irony but it's also heartbreaking because it was true. the president of the united states was no longer the leader of the free world. he was attacking the free world. he was cozying up to dictators and it was angela merkel who is now the beacon of hope for the democratic people's. and see that torch passed away from the united states, it was heartbreaking. it was heartbreaking. on january sixth, to realize what was happening to our capital and how it looks to the rest of the world, it's a
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terrible tragedy for us. it is in many ways the worst tragedy for many people around the world because there's nowhere else for them to turn. people who are in prison cells can journalists in prison cells in turkey, they look to us. there's nowhere else for them to turn. political prisoners in prison in iran look to us and they will not look to china. they will not look to russia. and increasingly they don't recognize what they see and that's just a terrible tragedy. >> host: and on that i think we will leave it there. is there anything else for viewers that you feel is important to add? >> guest: yes, because i don't want to leave it there. i think what is most debilitating for people right now is they feel powerless to do anything about it and they are ready to give up. number one, , we can't give up. we can't get into despair about
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our circumstances because we are going to get through them. what we do right now, quickly we get to them and at what has role to play in getting through them. we can't all be marie yovanovitch first through the breach but their ways every one of us in our public and private life can make a real difference to our democracy and push back around the country at these efforts to undermine our elections and undermine our democratic way of life. so this book is a call to arms. it is not a call for surrender. it is a call to arms, and also notwithstanding it's a dark title, it holds the prospect of a lot of light. we are going to get through this. >> host: thank you, congressman adam schiff and "midnight in washington" here thank you. >> guest: thank you..♪
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♪ now journalism professor ♪ ♪ nikki usher offers her♪ ♪ thoughts on the challenges ♪ ♪ facing american journalism ♪ ♪ .♪ ♪ >> i'm very lynn and ♪ ♪ executive director of over ♪ ♪ market institute and i'm ♪ ♪ one of the founders of the ♪ ♪ center for journalismand ♪ ♪ liberty .♪ ♪ we lost see gao in late 19 ♪ ♪ as part of the research ♪ ♪ network to focus on ♪ ♪

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