tv PBS News Hour PBS January 6, 2022 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
judy: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the next newshour. pres. biden: i will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy. judy: then we take an hour-by-hour look at the events january 6 and speak to a panel of seasoned political observers about where the u.s. goes from here. and in our exclusive interview, vice president kamala harris defense white house strategy to combat covid-19, two years into the pandemic. >> we want to get back to
normal, we all do. but we have to then do the tough and hard work of pushing through with solutions, understanding that there are going to be challenges, but let's meet the challenges where they are. judy: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. ♪ >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- >> planning focused on tomorrow while you focus on today. that's the planning effect from fidelity. >> johnson & johnson bnsf railway consumer cellular financial services firm raymond james
possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions from viewers like you. thank you. judy: on this january 6, solemn ceremonies at the u.s. capitol replaced the violent scenes of rioters ransacking the building one year ago. it w also a day when a sitting president denounced the man he succeeded in stark terms. congressional correspondent lisa desjardins begins our coverage. pres. biden: my fellow americans lisa: today, a speech, a location and an anniversary which were all unprecedented. pres. biden: one year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked. lisa: in one of the oldest parts of the capitol, president biden took on the january 6 attack with his most direct confrontation yet of his predecessor. pres. biden: we must be absolute clear about what is true and what is a lie. and here's the truth. the former president of the
united states of america has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. he's done so because he values power over principle. he can't accept he lost. lisa: the words echoed inside statuary hall, a place that was filled with pro-trump rioters one year ago, a mob that wanted to stop the electoral count and the biden win. he recounted the scene that day in historic terms. pres. biden: rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this capitol a confederate flag that symbolized the cause to destroy america, to rip us apart. even during the civil war, that never, ever happened. lisa: the address was unusual for president biden, who has often resisted drawing attention to 2020 and to what is called the big lie from former president trump about election fraud.
biden didn't mention trump by name, but he did level very clear charges. pres. biden: for the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the capitol. but they failed. they failed. and on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again. >> we fight like hell. lisa: mr. trump fomented the attack, the president said, and then let it continue. pres. biden: what did we not see? we didn't see a former president, who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the oval office in the white house, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours. lisa: former president trump responded shortly after president biden's remarks with several statements lashing back. he wrote: "biden used my name to
further divide america. the political theater is all just a distraction for the fact biden has totally and completely failed." and mr. trump doubled down on the false claim that the election was fraudulent. that incredible divide and mr. trump's sway in his party were evident on the house floor, which met for a brief january 6 commemoration and moment of silence. nearly no republicans attended. but among the few who did, a very big name, former vice president dick cheney. he attended with his daughter congresswoman liz cheney. reporters asked his thoughts on how current republican leaders have handled january 6, sparking remarkable pushback from a top party member. >> it's not a leadership that resembles any of the folks i knew when i was here for 10 years. lisa: cheney used to be considered among the most hard right, but those who hold that position now, representatives marjorie taylor greene and matt gaetz, showed the divide by
holding their own news conference. all this as many members simply wanted to address the harm and their experiences from last january 6. rep. dean: i'm emotional because my memories are very similar to many of yours. lisa: the house held an unusual event, an opportunity for members to give testimonials. rep. rogers: to those of us trapped in the gallery, we lived it, ducking, crawling, under, over railings, hands, knees, the sounds, the smells. we had a front-row seat to what lies, hate, or plain old misinformation conjures. lisa: the january 6 committee did not meet, but has indicated it hopes for public hearings soon and a report in coming months. judy: and lisa joins me now, along with our chief washington correspondent, geoff bennett, who's at the white house. so, lisa, you have been at the capitol most of this day. tell us a little bit more about
what you're picking up there on this day of looking back. lisa: judy, the feeling today was reflective, and the tone was soft and quiet, to be honest. in fact, i want to show you. just ended a few minutes ago was a vigil held by congressional leaders, mostly democrats there, including house speaker nancy pelosi. really, today seemed to me to be about an idea of healing and about members dealing with their own personal memories, very different from what i have been experiencing in last year, which members talking about the greater political high stakes. those, however, are still evident. i spoke with one democratic senator who came to the capitol today, told me she is determined, that january 6 makes her more determined about their agenda. all that said, judy, i have been speaking to so many house members this week, and i have to tell you that democrats, lawmakers that i spoke to, did not seem to have a really clear message, a real counterpunch to president trump's false charges about january 6, to his
following. they seemed to have different messages, until today, when president biden spoke. speaking to some of those same democratic lawmakers today, they said they heard something different than they heard before. and one, in fact, said it was as if president biden said what had been on his mind all along. so, we will see if that changes how democrats act going forward. judy: and picking up on that, geoff, we did hear some in lisa's report of what president biden had to say. but you have learned a little more about what was behind the thinking in having him deliver this message today. geoff: that's right. and the president, as you know, has described this moment as a battle for the soul of the nation. and his remarks this morning, i'm told by sources familiar with his thinking, were an acknowledgment that really trying to unite the country starts with a forceful condemnation and a direct calling out of the forces that seek to divide us. and so, for president biden, for much of the past year, he's really tried to avoid talking at length about donald trump. and i'm told that's for a few
reasons. one, he didn't want to try to elevate him or sort of draw more attention to the lies the former president told about the election that he lost. he also, judy, didn't want to really personalize what he sees as being a debate that should focus on trying to defend and preserve the democracy. but, really, all of that changed today, president biden, standing in that capitol he so reveres, with a top-to-bottom takedown of trump and trumpism. and on hisay out of the capitol, the president was asked by a reporter if his words might have done more to dide than heal. and the president shot back. he said, no. he said, understanding how to move forward requires an understanding of the extent of the wound. and we should also mention that the speech in many ways sets the foundation for democrats as they move forward and try to renew their push for voting rights. there are a pair of bills that are stalled in the senate. and so this is going to be a messaging battle that really starts with the kind of direct language we ard from the president and vice president today, judy. judy: it was a noticeable turn. geoff bennett at the white
house, lisa desjardins at the capitol, thank you both. as we've been discussing, president biden and vice president harris both spoke at the capital this morning to mark this anniversary of the insurrection, and that was the focus as i began my conversation with the vice president earlier this afternoon. madam vice president, thank you very much for joining us. on this day, one year after the assault on the capital, you and president biden speaking out very forcefully on the need to correct the lies out there about what happened and to hold former president trump accountable. but we know, one year later, those lies have only settled in. why do you think it is, after all this time, that attitudes have not changed? vp harris: well, judy, first of all, it's great to be with you. i will say, as i said in my speech this morning, that i do believe that there has been a
slow attempt to unravel our democracy that preceded one year ago. and we, it is important that we look at what happened one year ago on january 6 as a moment in a series of events that have been taking place, some would argue, over the last 15 years slowly, but steadily, in terms of an attempt to erode our democracy. and when i think then about where we are as of today, this is a moment where we reflect on this violent assault on our capitol, an assault that i think in many ways symbolized what can happen if there is a destruction of democracy, meaning chaos and violence and a lack of order or adherence to rule of law. but let's also see this is a moment where the duality of the existence of a democracy that is both fragile and strong was
highlighted, in that, at the end of january 6, that night one year ago, where i was there still as a senator and vice president elect. judy: right. v.p. harris: members of all parties, democrats, republicans and independents, went back to, over, to show their loyalty to the constitution above party or person and uphold the tenets of our constitution and our democracy. judy: but just as many people today, if not more, believe the lie, lies, about what happened. what's to stop this from just staying this way, is deep polarization, for years to come? v.p. harris: our democracy will not stand and it will not survive if we, each of us, is not vigilant in understanding we can take nothing about it for granted. so, to your point, there have been moments in history such as this where there has been rampant misinformation, lies. and it is incumbent then on those who are informed, who are
knowledgeable to be vigilant in speaking truth, no matter how difficult sometimes it is to hear, much less speak, because the truth is that the democracy of the united states of america is only standing as it is because of the faith and the purpose of the american people to fight for it. judy: given attitudes out there, do you believe the january 6 house committee will get to the bottom of what happened? v.p. harris: i do. and i, from what i'm witnessing from the outside, it seems that they are exercising great diligence, and they are being guided by the facts and law, and doing their job, and upholding their oath to defend and support the constitution of the united states. i do have faith in the process that they have embarked upon. and i think we will see, i hope and i believe we will see justice come out of it. judy: i want to ask you about what the vice chair of that committee, representative liz cheney, one of the only republicans seeking to hold the former president accountable,
said. she said former president trump, quote, "summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack." is she right? v.p. harris: yes. and, again, these are moments where we must speak truth. and i applaud her courage, in the midst of a number of her colleagues who have failed to show such courage or those who have shown courage and, sadly, are not seeking reelection or have not sought reelection. i applaud her courage to speak truth, yes. judy: if that's the case, then does that not mean there will have to be serious consideration of a criminal prosecution? v.p. harris: i am not privy to the internal facts that are before that committee, so i can't speak to that. and perhaps i'm burdened by also my career as an attorney and as a prosecutor, where i'm not going to judge or speak to the facts and the law in the case, which i don't know. judy: well, let me ask you about the aftermath of all this. you and president biden are
going to be speaking out more publicly in the days to come about the need for voting rights reform. but we know, right now, there aren't enough votes for that in the senate. some republicans are countering right now with a proposal to reform the way the electoral college vote takes place. why is that not an acceptable compromise? v.p. harris: because it's not a solution to the problem at hand, which is that, right now, in the united states of america, we need federal laws that guarantee the freedom and right of every american to have access to the ballot, to be able to vote. the john lewis voting rights act, the freedom to vote act address that issue. and those are the issues that are present and that are imminent and thaare really dispositive, frankly, of this moment in time in terms of whether we are going to fight for some of the most important pillars of a democracy, such as the freedom to vote and free and fair elections.
so, let us pass those two pieces of legislation and ensure through federal law that all americans have meaningful access to the polls. judy: three other things i want to ask you about, madam vice president. v.p. harris: sure. dy: covid is the first. six of the prominent public health advisers who were part of the biden-harris transition team have today gone public with a plea to the president to adopt an entirely new pandemic strategy geared to what they call the new normal of living with this virus indefinitely, trying to minimize the risk. v.p. harris: first of all, what we know without any debate, and i think all of us agree, is that we have tools available to us to address this pandemic in a way th we can, at the very least, mitigate the harm to the greatest number of people. and so we are going to continue as an administration to urge all people who are eligible to get vaccinated, to get the booster,
to wear masks when they are in public, and to do what is necessary for us to get beyond this. we welcome, of course, anyon who has information, especially those who are experts, about how we can accomplish these goals. but there are certain things that are without debate, and really not even necessary for discussion at this point among people who are knowledgeable about what needs to happen, in terms of vaccines and boosters and masks. judy: but is it time for a new approach, is the question? i mean, this administration came in promising to get things on track. here we are a year later. we're in the fourth wave. there aren't enough tests, nearly enough. v.p. harris: we know that the approach, in terms of vaccines, boosters and masks, work, so i don't think that that's what we're discussing right now. but let's also talk about, to your point, where we are today vs. a year ago. today, the vast majority of schools are open. today, we have a vaccine that the majority of americans have
actually received. boosters, we are seeing great progress with that. people are wearing their masks. so, we have seen progress. we are seeing businesses reopen. and i think it's important for us to see in this moment we're still, it is extremely frustrating, there's no question, for all of us. but we also must acknowledge that there has been progress and that that is the trajectory. but there are still steps to go. we have still work to do. and, in particular, around the vaccines and masks, we want to make sure that everyone is taking advantage of all the tools that we do have available to us right now. judy: two other things. one is your administration. the biden-harris agenda, in the beginning, a year ago, got off to a strong start, but it's obviously stalled. right now, the president's approval ratings have taken a dramatic hit. did you try to do too much? v.p. harris: well, i think that there are many metrics by which we can measure where we are
today. one of them, again, is where we are on covid, which we just discussed. let's also look at where we are on the economy. last year, we created six million new jobs. last year, we brought unemployment down to, i believe it was 4.2%, which the economists, most didn't believe would happen until at least 2023, 2024. so we have seen great progress. we passed an infrastructure law. people have been, both parties, as administrations, have been talking about doing for generations. there has been great progress no doubt, covid, for example, i mean, we're all, well, everybody is frustrated with that. and i understand and i fully appreciate there is a level of malaise. we're two years into this thing. people are, we want to get back to normal. we all do. but we have to then do the tough
and hard work of pushing through with solutions, understanding that there are going to be challenges, but let's meet the challenges where they are. and let's also take a moment to see the progress we have achieved. judy: last question. this year, madam vice president, has not been an easy one for you. there have been a rash of stories about dissension inside your office, inside the white house, about, questions about your role. what would you say you have learned over this year? v.p. harris: well, one of the things i have learned is to get out of d.c. [laughter] v.p. harris: i think it's important to definitely be out and be, i can't tell you when i have been able to get out of d.c. and be with the folks who are actually informing our policies and will be impacted by our policies. i do hope that, this year, i will be able to get out there more. i know the president feels the same way, so that we can make sure that we are, we are with the folks, and not just,
frankly, hanging out in d.c. with the pundits. [laughter] judy: madam vice president, kamala harris, thank you very much for joining us today. we appreciate it. v.p. harris: thank you. good to be with you. thank you. happy new ar. ♪ judy: january 6's day our own correspondence covered and live through and one that in the pasture we have continued to learn more and more about. we have a historic look at the events of that day. >> one year ago today, trump supporters from across -- across the country gathered to protest congress's certification of the 2020 presidential it looks.
quick to use a favorite term that all of you people came up with, we will stop the steal. >> president trump spoke to a crowd estimated in the thousands, everyone from ordinary americans to conspiracy theorists, to members of right wing extremist groups. trump repeated the lie that the election was stolen, urging his supporters to march to the capital and fight. >> you will never take back our country with weakness. fight like hell. if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. >> around 1:00 p.m. as trump is wrapping up his remarks, the day turned violent. the group confronted the handful of police guarding the rriers and thought their way through. thousands of protesters stream from the rally site and walked this route, down pennsylvania
avenue, directly to the u.s. capitol grounds. several people told us that day they expected vice president pence to overturn the 2020 election results. >> what needs to happen today is vice president pence needs to not enter the envelopes for the states mention, set them aside. >> we need to stop the steel from happening, because if we don't, nobody is ever going to involved again -- to vote again. there will not be any integrity in our election system. >> clashes clearly outnumbered intensified. >> we are not going toake it anymore. this is our country. >> outside it became a battleground. inside, the joint session of congress to certified election results was underway. the traditionally ceremonial
processes upended by republicans, led by paul gosar and senator ted cruz of texas, challenging trump's loss, sending lawmakers ttheir separate chambers to debate. >> what does it say to the nearly half the country that believes this election was rigged if we vote not even to consider the claims? -- the claims of illegality and fraud in this election. >> meanwhile, around 2:00 p.m., the eastside barricades were breached. here's what i saw from outside the capital. >> half an hour ago, barricades were breached. capitol police retreated a little bitore, then hundreds more prosters started to stream up this walkway in front of the capital. it is a remarkable scene. >> the mob tore down scaffolding, battled their way througthe last lines of defense and broke into the capital building itself. newshour congressional
respondent lisa desjardins was inside the building, reporting live as it happened. >> protesters have now broken into the u.s. capitol. >> the senate was called into recess and evacuated. the mob of trump supporters roamed the historic calls, damaging property and searching for lawmakers. security footage cap toud the moment an officer shuttled mitt romney of utah to safety before running ahead to divert the approaching mob away from the senate chamber. writers came within 100 feet of vice president mike pence, who security detail took him to say feet from an office near the senate. while this was happening, trump tweeted from the white house, criticizing mike pence for not having the courage to do what should've been done. remarkably, the house was still in session when writers attempted to break into that chamber.
a police officer shot ashli babbitt, an air force veteran from california, and a qanon conspiracy theorist, as they try to break into the rear of the chamber were some lawmakers were still sheltering. according to an analysis by the new york times, rioters breached the capital in at least eight different places. they entered the rotunda, statuary hall, and the senate chamber. law enforcement arrived to clear a hallway above statuary hall where lisa desjardins was sheltered. >> police seem to one by one be telling the protesters to get on the ground, trying to control the situation. >> democratic senator patty murray spoke to judy woodruff about hiding in her office with her husband that day. >> we heard somebody saying we saw them, they are in one of these rooms.
and they were pounding on our door and trying to open it. and my husband sat with his foot against the door, praying that it would not break in. >> meanwhile, outside as crowds , grew, so did the violence. officers on-site continued to call for backup throughout the day. while some reinforcements arrived from local, state and federal agencies, it took national guard units about three hours to respond to the capitol. rioters, outnumbering law enforcement by more than 50-1, attacked, dragged, and beat police officers, crushing them underfoot and spraying them with chemicals. >> they began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects. >> in testimony to congress, a former d.c. metro police officer michael fanone recounted being pulled into a crowd of protesters. >> i was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser.
>> in total, nearly 150 police officers were injured on the day. during the attack, those closest to president trump privately urged him to take action and tell his supporters to stop the assault. house republican leader kevin mccarthy spoke with him from the besieged capitol. his son, donald trump jr., and several fox hosts textedhite house contacts to tell trump to address the crowd. hours passed before president trump did anything to address the insurrection. just after 4:00 p.m., he released a video repeating unfounded claims about the election results. >> i know your pain, i know your hurt. we had an election that was stolen from us. it was a landslide election and everyone knows it especially the other side but you have to go home now. we have to have peace. >> around this time, police began to secure the capitol. flashbangs and teargas were used
to clear the western terrace the , site of presidential inaugurations. police declared the capitol complex secure around 8:00 p.m. >> to those who wreaked havoc in our capitol today, you did not win. >> in the early hours of the next day, january 7th, congress finished certifying the election results. some senate republicans withdrew their initial objections. >> the chair declares the joint session dissolved. >> a capitol police officer, brian sicknick, suffered two strokes and died that evening. in the days and months following the attack, four police officers who were on duty died by suicide. more than 720 people have been arrested and charged with crimes linked to january 6th. the physical destruction of that day has since been cleaned up. but questions of how to repair the deeper damage to our democracy remain.
for the pbs newshour, in washington, i'm amna nawaz. judy: so hard to see those videos. but despite the disturbing scenes we've seeof the january 6th insurrection and what we think we know about that day, many unknowns still exist. among them, the actions of then-president trump who was silent for more than 3 hours as his supporters wreaked havoc inside the capitol. that's one area under examination by the bipartisan house committee investigating the january 6th attack. representative bennie thompson, democrat from mississippi, chairs that committee. i spoke with him a short time ago. congressman thompson, thank you very much for joining us. you should know, you received a vote of confidence today from vice president harris. when i spoke with her, she said she has full confidence that you
and your committee will get to the bottom of what happened on january the 6th. my question to you is, are you equally confident and that you will also get to the bottom of the complicity of the former president? rep. thompson: i thank the vice president for her vote of confidence. i can assure everyone who's looking at this show that our committee will do its dead level best to conduct a thorough investigation on the facts and circumstances that occurred on january 6 and make recommendations, if adopted, so that it won't ever happen again. what we had occur on january 6 was a clear threat to our democracy. judy: your committee has received thousands of pages of records, of documents. you have interviewed, i saw, more than 300 witnesses. can you say who or what has been most helpful to you so far?
and does that include people who were in the room with former president trump during the time of this assault? rep. thompson: we have had cooperation from just about every walk of life. but i'm real concerned about some of the information we are gathering. it appears that the white house was not listening to what was happening on january 6. that 187 minutes, as you have come to he about, that was just too much time between what stted here at the capitol and the inaction of the white house. that gives me pause that, clearly, our president at that time, donald trump, could have done more. judy: congressman, you have spoken of your interest in having access to video
recordings the former president made before he made the video th was that was finally released. who has possession of those videos? and do you believe you're going to get them? rep. thompson: we believe we will get them if the supreme court agrees with our position. if so, our request to the archives to give us that information will be honored. we believe that that request will include those various edits of tape that ultimately went on the cutting floor, that took so long for the president just to say to the people he invited to the capitol to stop doing what you're doing. this is illegal. it's not who we are as americans. but that 187 minutes, we believe, is so important to the body of work for our committee.
judy: you have also said that you have asked the former vice president mike pence, to cooperate. do you believe he will? will he talk to your committee? rep. thompson: well, we do know that the vice president resisted president trump's pressure. we need to hear a voluntary statement from former vice president pence as to at he knew about this situation, because, after all, at the end of the day, because he stood up for the rule of law, individuals who broke into the capitol wanted to hang him. he knows those commes that we are gradually getting from various people. there's no better source than the source itself. and, in this situation, it's the vice president. judy: are you getting signals he will cooperate? rep. thompson: not at this point. we do plan to officially ask him to voluntarily come in.
he's under a lot of pressure. as you know, a lot of members of congress who were very upset on january 6 and january 7 have changed their story. some, like former president trump, are trying to say we need to move on. well, congress has a responsibility to look into what happened. judy: last question, chairman thompson. and that is, you know that a number of republican members of the house are saying that your committee is partisan, that it's one-sided in its approach. and just yesterday on the "newshour," i want to give you an opportunity to respond to what republican congressman troy nehls of texas said. he described the committee as, quote, "speaker pelosi's select committee. bennie thompson is the puppet, and she is the puppet master." rep. thompson: you know, now, this is somebody who voted
against a committee made up of 50% appointed by pelosi and 50% appointed by republican leader mccarthy. my posion is, those individuals who voted against it don't want the truth to come out. but thank goodness speaker pelosi took the leadership mantle by recommending the select committee to congress, and the congress, or the house approved it. and we will do our work. so, the congressman is entitled to his opinion, but, in this situation, he's dead wng. judy: chairman bennie thompson, who is the chair of the select committee investigating the attack on the capitol on january 6, congressman, thank you very much. rep. thompson: thank you for having me.
♪ judy: to help us understand the broader effects that january 6 is having on our politics, our culture and democracy itself, and consider where we go from here, i spoke yesterday with four writers who have spent the last year engaged in this conversation. george packer is a staff writer at "the atlantic," and he has written extensively about the country's political divisions. jelani cobb covers race and politics at "the new yorker" and is a professor of journalism at columbia university. stuart stevens is a former republican strategist. he worked on many republican campaigns, including for mitt romney in 2012, but has since written the book "it was all a lie: how the republican party became donald trump." and gary abernathy is a contributing columnist at the washington post. we welcome all four of you to e program. thank you so much.
let me just lay down the basics. what words would you use, george packer, to describe what happened on january 6? and how much does it matter that we get to the bottom of it, that we hold those responsible accountable? george: at the time, i thought it was an insurrection, and i still do, directed by the president. and i still think that. but i underestimated it. i thought it was a kind of wild shot that nearly hit its target, could have been fatal, but that we dodged. that's not how i see it now. i think it was actually a warning shot and almt a searching for the target that did miss, but that found how to get the target next time. and in the year since january 6, what we have seen is efforts by both national republicans and state legislatures and major figures in the party to figure out how to use january 6 to make
sure that, next time, it works, and, next time, what didn't work for donald trump in overthrowing the 2020 election and the constitution last time is going to work next time. and that, for that reason, i think, a year later, i'm far more concerned even than i was when i was in a state of shock on january 6, 2021. judy: gary abernathy, what about you? how do you see what happened? gary: well, i think itas a very disturbing day, judy, one of the most disturbing and embarrassing things that i have ever seen. it makes me actually angry at donald trump, because, as someone who supported trump, and, frankly, i'm still glad he was president. but i think the event disqualifies him from future office, not legally, but by, in the hearts of people, they should say, we can't vote for this guy again. and it's because of what he didn't do. but, as president of the united states, he should have done more to tamp down the emotions of that day. and he should be held
politically responsible for not doing that. i think it's a stretch to say he's legally responsible for not doing that. and i think the worry for me is going too far the other way to try to really use this politically to slam the republican party in a way legally that really is better adjudicated at the ballot box, so to speak. judy: jelani cobb, how much does it matter that we understand what happened on january 6? jelani: i think it matters. it's crucial. i can't think of anything that's more important, in fact. i agree with george. if i were to use a single word here to describe what it was, i would say harbinger, because, at the moment, people thought that this had been averted and that the danger had passed, but, in reality, if we think about january 6 at the capitol, there was a convergence in a single place. and that building was overwhelmed, and, supposedly, the most fortified, secured city
in the country in terms of federal presence. and that building was overwhelmed rather easily. what would have happened if we had a brushfires across the country in the state legislatures, as we saw in michigan? what if people had come back, the militias had come back in michigan, in georgia, in arizona, in places where there was suspicion being ginned up? and how would that have played out? we could have wound up with a much, ch worse situation. and there's no guarantee that we won't wind up with a similar kind of situation in the future. judy: stu stevens, you have heard what the others are saying. how do you look on what happened? stuart: i think that's important to wrap our minds around is that what happeneon 1/6 was just part of a larger effort here, which is an autocratic movement in america. and i think that it's a mistake just to isolate 1/6 as, ok, this one event, some people came there. you look what followed these,
coordinated effort to pass these, voting legislation to make it more difficult for people who don't vote republican to vote. judy: and, george packer, we heard gary abernathy say, in so many words, that it would be wrong to overinterpret, overreact to what happened. what do you think about that? george: how can one overreact to a mortal threat to american democracy, the first in my lifetime that actually seems to be on a road toward making it impossible for the popular will to be respected at the ballot box? that's been the goal of all these bills pass or debated across legislatures in georgia, in arizona, in michigan, wisconsin, pennsylvania, which are not just about restricting access to the ballot, but are about putting elections in the hands of reliable partisans, so that, next time around, we will have states that claim that the
election was somehow wrongly held, and that it's thrown into the hands of a partisan legislature, which sends its own electors to congress to choose the next president. that's exactly the strategy going on right now, and it's building on what the republican party learned from 1/6 and these events around it, which was, you need the right people in the right offices to be making these decisions in order to seize power. they didn't have it last time. they're trying to get it next time. i can't possibly overestimate the seriousness of that. judy: gary abernathy, you're hearing this. you're hearing george and the others say it's impossible not to take this seriously. gary: i want to be clear. i'm on board with everyone who thinks january 6 was a horrible day for our country. i think it's right to remember it. i think it's right to look back at it as a day that we should all be ashamed of and hope never repeats itself. but i think it's being used
politically in some cases to then extrapolate those events and say, well, we can't have any election reform. we can't have anything, because it's all an effort to make what happened on january 6 happen again. and the fact is, a lot of us would argue that our system actually worked on january 6. none of these terrible things came to be, because people like mike pence said, i can't go along with that. so there are degrees of differences here. but, in some ways, i think we're on the same page. jelani: we are not on the same page, gary. and the system did not work, if we think about the law enforcement officers, the capitol police officers who lost their lives. gary: absolutely. jelani: those, the officer who died on that day and those who subsequently died or have left, we can't gloss this over and make it seem as if it were florida in 2000, where there were a simple bit of electoral glitches that were resolved administratively, bureaucratically.
that's not what happened. we have people beating, physically beating police officers and threatening to lynch the sitting vice president of the united states. none of those are minor things. judy: i want to move in and bring in stu stevens again and talk about the role of the political parties, the republican party, in this. we know most republicans today say they believe donald trump was reelected, that joe biden is not legitimately the president. stuart: when we say that the majority of republicans don't believe that joe biden is a legally elected president, that means the majority of republicans in this country don't believe we live in a democracy. they think that we live in an occupied country. and if you follow that to a logical conclusion, it means not only do they have a right to reinstate the rightful president of the united states; some feel they have an obligation. and that's what they're going to teach their children.
and if you go down that line of thinking, it justifies terrible acts of violence and terrible acts of legal authorities, legislatures to try to overturn the will of the people. we have never been here, at least not since 1860. judy: george packer, what about the future? how do we keep this democracy strong with this deep division existing in our political body? george: the lesson that i have learned over the past year is that democracy actually depends on a kind of reason obtaining among the electorate, people behaving in at least a roughly rational way, and not falling under the spell of conspiracy thinking and irrational interpretations of events, and the spell of an authoritarian demagogulike donald trump. but what's happened is, one of our two major parties has fallen
into that. it really is simply a matter of each and every american citizen finding it in themselves to resist that force and to try to rescue the democracy that we love from our fellow citizens who seem determined to take it into a direction that i think is dark and destructive and that i fear very much. judy: gary abernathy, do you see, from where you sit politically, a way through this that keeps our democracy strong? gary: well, one thing i constantly try to argue for is, judy, we need to respect each other again. we need to respect each other's differences again. i don't care what polls you look at. if you look at polls that say 40 percent of americans and 80 percent or 90 percent of republicans think the election was stolen, we can't suddenly just demonize and minimize these people as the americans that they are. we have got to work our way through this, talk our way
through this, not, not just divide into our media camps and our feeds that just reinforce what we believe. we have got to do a good job of continuing to communicate. and, eventually, truth wins out. judy: stu stevens, do you see that as the way through this? stuart: yes, well, i think that's a, i think that's a fantasy. you can't negotiate with evil. how do you negotiate with the person who is in the capitol of the united states in a camp auschwitz sweatshirt? you don't want to meet those people halfway you don't need to understand them. they're wrong. people who believe in democracy are right. the solution to this is pretty straightforward. you have to beat these republicans. you have to have more days like january 5 last year, where you elect democrats in georgia, because the democratic party, which i spent 30 years pointing out flaws in, is the party that represents democracy in america now. and we have to just accept that and put these other differences aside. judy: well, it is a conversation
we need to continue to have as the american people. and i want to thank all four of you for being part of this conversation today. stu stevens, gary abernathy, jelani cobb, george packer, thank you so much. ♪ stephanie: i have the latest headlines. covid-19 caused a record nine .5 million new infections worldwide over the past week. nearly all involving the omicron variant. that was up 70% in just seven days. overall the number of deaths is going down, but the world health
organization warned today that does not mean omicron is mild. >> omicron is not the common cold. it can still cause severe disease, particularly among people who are not vaccinated but of course people of older , age, people with underlying conditions -- and we're just starting to do analyses on the data coming in from countries and seeing data from countries that exhibit this. >> meanwhile, the u.s. postal service asked for a 120-day delay of the federal vaccine mandate for large employers. thagency warned of potentially catastrophic effects on service. and, new orleans kicked off carnival season amid another covid surge. it culminates march first with mardi gras -- fat tuesday. in kazakhstan: new violence erupted, with police killing dozens of rioters. they said 18 security troops died as well. street battles continued for a second day in almaty -- the largest city in the central asian country. russia and allied states sent in troops at the kazakh president's request.
the united nations warned against a hard-line response. >> i think for us, the important thing is that security forces, whether they are kazakh troops or not, need to uphold the same human rights standards, which is to show strength. >> the unrest began after a spike in fuel prices and has escalated to a nationwide uprising. in haiti, two journalists were killed outside port-au-prince today. one worked for a canadian station and the other was a local reporter. a third was able to escape. suspected gang members opened fire on the group of reporters who had planned to interview a rival gang meager -- gang member. thousands of iranians turned out today for funerals of 250 victims of the iran-iraq war.
mourners in black poured into the street to follow the coffins. remains were uncovered on former battlefields of the 1980's conflict. the funeral showcase the power of hardliners. back in his country, the director of the federal bureau of prisons, michael carbajal, is resigning. his two-year tenure saw the rampant spread of covid through federal prisons and allegations of misconduct by staffers, including sexual abuse of inmates. and hollywood director per bogdanovich died earlier today at his home in los angeles. he gained fame with 1971's "the last picture show," earning eight oscar nominations. two years later, he directed "paper moon," which won an oscar for 10-year-old tatum o'neal. he also had acting roles in several tv series, including "the sopranos." peter bogdanovich was 82 years old. ♪
judy: an online, newshour digital anchor nicole ellis spoke to three congressmen of color about their reflections on january 6, one year later. here is an expert -- an excerpt from her discussion. ellis: people were shocked to see insurrectionists carrying the confederate flag. some were shouting racial slurs at capitol police officers. others were seen wearing anti-semitic messaging on their clothing. did your race and gender factor into yor concern for your own well being? rep. torres: being an immigrant and, you know, thinking about the sacrifices of my parents sending me to the us to escape the same type of violence that was brought upon the us capitol on january six. that is the political violence
that my parents wanted so much for me to get away from. judy: you can find the entire conversation on our website pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening with david brooks and jonathan capehart. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering wireless plans designed to help people do more of what they like. our customer service team can help line -- find the plan that fits you. johnson & johnson. bnsf railway
the ford foundation working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. anwith the ongoing support of these institutions. and friends of the newshour. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.] this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station fromiewers like you. thank you. ♪
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