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tv   Democracy in Peril  CNN  January 21, 2022 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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tsrom the eye experts at bausch and lomb" so, ask your doctor about adding preservision. and fill in a missing piece of your plan. like i did with preservision" the news continues here on cnn with brianna keilar and "democracy in peril." brianna? >> anderson, thank you so much. this is "democracy in peril," our series on the ongoing threats to american democracy. and tonight we take you to key battleground states where republican and democratic election officials who ensured a fair and secure election in 2020 are quitting left and right and where others are going to extraordinary measures to protect themselves. they have to. not only are some officials facing the possibility of felony convictions for honest administrative errors or for helping voters who run into problems with their ballot applications.
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the traditionally drama-free work of serving voters has turned dangerous. from bomb threats to countless threatening phone calls. >> you rigged my [ bleep ] election, you [ bleep ] piece of [ bleep ]. we're going to try you and we're going to hang you. >> the justice department's election threats task force made its first arrest today in connection with these actions and says it's received more than 850 referrals on such possible crimes. tonight we're also looking into a newly uncovered plot by trump campaign officials to put forward fake gop electors in seven states that president biden won. sources tell cnn it was led by rudy giuliani. he and other trump aides reportedly lined up surnters to fill elector slots, then circulated drafts of fake certificates that were ultimately sent to the national archives. one of those fake electors, the co-chair of the michigan republican party, boasted at a recent event that the trump campaign directed the operation.
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>> it is, by the way, a crime to submit false documents to a federal entity though no one has been charged in this scheme so far. and this week as democrats failed to push their voting rights bill through the senate we're also taking a look at voter subversion, efforts to affect an election after the ballots are cast. trump supporters are actively working to get elected to positions where they could influence an election result after the fact. at least 163 big lie republicans are now running for state or national office, urged on by former president trump. >> we have to be a lot sharper the next time when it comes to counting the vote. sometimes the vote counter is
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more important than the candidate. >> think back to joe biden's win in georgia when trump then hit up the state's top election official to pull votes out of thin air. >> i just want to find 11,780 votes. >> georgia's republican secretary of state brad raffensperger on the other end of that call held the line. trump has now endorsed a republican to primary raffensperger. that candidate, jody heiss, says trump would have won the 2020 election in georgia if it were, quote, fair. even as a special grand jury has just been requested by a georgia d.a. as part of an investigation into trump's efforts to overturn the results in the peach state. and in arizona after democrat katie hobbs shepherded a fair and secure election in 2020, a trump-endorsed, qanon adherent who attended the january 6th stop the steal rally is now
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vying to be secretary of state. and in lancaster county, pennsylvania another january 6th rally attendee is now a local judge of elections. let's talk about all of this with rick hassen. he's a professor of law and political science at the university of california irvine. he is also the author of the upcoming book "cheap speech: how disinformation poisons our politics and how to cure it." okay, rick. i know you think election subversion is really the most immediate threat right now. so explain first what election subversion is versus, say, voter suppression. >> yeah, thanks for having me to talk about this because it's a really important topic. the question is are our votes going to be fairly counted? is the winner going to be declared the winner? or is the loser going to be declared the winner? that's a lot harder for people to wrap their heads around because we in the united states don't have experience with elections where the results are fraudulent.
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and so what we saw in 2020 was an attempt to try and turn the loser into the winner. and unfortunately, it's kind of provided a road map to try to do it again in the future, even when it wasn't successful in 2020. >> so why is that the biggest threat as you see it? >> well, i think -- if you think about what the very basic premises of a democracy are, it's that you hold a free and fair election and that the person who gets the most votes under the rules that are set up is declared the winner. if you don't have a fair vote count, if you look at countries around the world that try to transition to democracy, they have to put in, you know, fair election counters so that ballot boxes are not stuffed and all of that. this is just -- it's just kind of a baseline idea of how you run a democracy, is that you can fairly count the votes. and if that's what we're struggling with, we've got problems even bigger than the problems of voter suppression that i've been talking about for many years. >> so we were highlighting the embracers of the big lie who are running for state and local election positions.
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what do you believe happens if they do end up overseeing or being able to influence elections in 2022 and 2024? >> well, i mean, the worst case scenario is that they actually try to manipulate election results. but even if they don't, even if people are watching over their shoulders or they're trying to do the right thing, are people going to believe what they say? so if jody hice becomes the secretary of state of georgia, and he has claimed falsely that the last election was stolen. suppose trump runs again and he wins, he beats biden by a little bit according to what jody hice says. why would democrats believe him? so all of the people who now are on the republican side who doubt election results will be joined by democrats. so it will be a further cycling down in terms of people accepting the legitimacy of our democracy, which is yet another bedrock thing you need in a democracy, is losers consent. the losers agree the election was fairly run. but we've lost and we'll have to run again next time in fair conditions.
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>> we've already seen with 2020 how damaging the perception of an election being unfair or inaccurate is. so let's talk solutions. how do you fix this? >> well, you know, the democrats tried to get through a very large bill in the last few months. that has not succeeded. but there are at least four republican senators who said that they're willing to talk about making some changes to an arcane 1887 law called the electoral count act. it's basically the rules of the road for congress as they figure out whose electoral college votes should be counted. so there are at least four republican senators who are in talks with democrats to try to make changes to that. and i think we could add that to a list of other things that could really make it harder for someone who's unscrupulous to try to change the results of an election. >> so last go-round in 2020 it seemed like there were scruples lacking in congress with some republicans. the state officials really -- they held the line.
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what if you saw the flip, say, in 2024 where you have these big lie candidates who are vying for these positions of influence in their state, you know, would that tweak actually inadvertently insulate them from oversight? >> that's a really smart question. you always have to be careful you're not fighting the last war. so as we think about how we might try to fight subversion you have to think about is the problem more with congress, is the problem more with the states? one possibility which was contained in one of the versions of the bill that the democrats were trying to get through would let federal courts have a role in determining who the fair winner of an election was in a state if there's a dispute either in the state or in congress. i think we have to think creatively and think not just for now but for future generations as to how to assure that when you have bad faith actors, which you could have at any point in the process, that they're not going to be able to flip an election result. >> up next, rick, we actually have a pretty eye-popping report on what it is to be a local election official.
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it is downright scary. so you mention, you know, limiting state takeovers of local elections in some of your prescriptions on election reform, but you also mention increasing criminal penalties for those who tamper or commit violence or intimidation. tell us about that. what are the consequences for that now? and what needs to be done? >> well, i think we need federal law that specifically makes it a crime to attack an election official to try to interfere with their ability, or to threaten them. cnn has been one of the leaders in reporting on these local election officials who have gotten really terrible threats. and many of them, according to one survey, up to a quarter of them are potentially going to retire by 2024. and so it's not just about the threats to them, which is terrible enough in itself, but it means that we're going to be losing people with experience, people who have integrity, who've been running our elections. who knows who's going to replace them? so we need federal law to provide greater protection for these election officials and
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also greater penalties for those who would threaten election officials or poll workers or voters or anyone who's trying to count votes. >> if there are no reforms that are passed in trying to ensure a fair and secure election and instead what you have is these laws in states led by republicans where they're trying to fix a voter fraud problem that doesn't exist, where does that leave us? >> i think it leaves us in a place where first of all it's a state by state battle. and in every state it's important to marshal the forces of businesses, unions, church groups, civic organizations to stand together for the rule of law and for fair elections and to -- for example, when texas tried to pass as part of its election law a provision that would have made it easier for a state judge to throw out the results of an election, there was pressure and that provision was removed. so i do think that even on the state by state level there's the ability to do that. and we have to agitate for
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transparency so that we can assure that votes are counted fairly, that we have real audits to make sure that the machines are counting the votes properly, and that there is a bipartisan opportunity to observe the whole process and make sure that our votes are being counted fairly. >> rick, thank you for being with us tonight. i have thoroughly appreciated this conversation with you, and i hope that our viewers learned a whole lot about it. thank you. >> thank you. >> so it shouldn't be dangerous. we were just talking about this. to help run elections in america. it didn't used to be a potentially life-threatening job to be an election worker. but election lies have spawned serious threats. we have our report next. hey lily, i need a new wireless plan for my business, but all my employees need something different. oh, we can help with that. okay, imagine this. your mover, rob, he's on the scene and needs a plan with a mobile hotspot. we cut to downtown, your sales rep lisa has to send some files, like asap! so basically i can pick the right plan for each employee. yeah i should've just led with that.
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well, would you look at that? jerry, you gotta see this. seen it. trust me, after 15 walks... gets a little old. i really should be retired by now. wish i'd invested when i had the chance... to the moon! ugh. unbelievable. the threat of the big lie isn't abstract. today a texas man was charged with making death threats against election workers in georgia. the doj says he called them
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"lawless, treasonous traitors." and it's those types of threats that have election workers around the country quitting in droves. one survey finds 1 in 4 election administrators plans to retire before 2024. our cnn's senior national correspondent kyung lah went to talk to some of these workers about just how scary their jobs have become because of the big lie. >> this is a .22 automatic. i have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. >> you're a legal gun owner. >> i'm a legal gun owner, a legal gun carrier. >> reporter: this is not a remarkable admission. until janice winfrey explains why. >> i'm detroit's city clerk. i've been the clerk for 16 years. at most i thought i'd get writer's cramp from signing my name in 2005. >> fast forward to the 2020 election. the 63-year-old grandmother had received threats on her social media accounts and phone, at public events and protests outside of her home.
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but it was a moment weeks after the 2020 election. >> about right here. and this guy, i see him coming out of the car. >> reporter: as she walked near her home, winfrey whose job is non-partisan says the man began yelling. >> why did you cheat? and i'm like what are you talking about? i said i need you to get back. he said i need you to tell me why trump lost. >> reporter: her neighbor chased off the man. police say shortly after this encounter a bomb threat was then called to her home. >> when somebody's at my house, when somebody's looking at me come from my porch, when somebody knows my routine, when they know i have a dog and they don't live around here, that makes me think i need protection. >> reporter: america's democracy is now a hazardous workplace. from voicemails left on this wisconsin election worker's phone. >> you rigged my [ bleep ] election, you [ bleep ] piece of [ bleep ]. we're going to try you and we're going to hang you. >> reporter: to this for former
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republican michigan election administrator. >> we will [ bleep ] take you out, [ bleep ] your family, [ bleep ] your life. >> reporter: messages like these are what election workers fear will only intensify with the 2022 midterms. >> this is domestic terrorism. let's call it what it is. these are designed to terrorize these officials. whether they actually result in the violence that's promised or not, it's designed to make these officials' lives unbearable and chase them out of office. >> reporter: david becker is the founder of the non-partisan center for election innovation and research working with election administrators across the country. after the 2020 election -- where the country witnessed local election offices become targets of rage and protest, the left-leaning brennan center for justice says ohio and pennsylvania lost around 30% of county election workers. and michigan and wisconsin also saw workers quit. covid, retirements, and threats all leading to a critical shortage of workers. >> if we lose all of this
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election administration experience, what's it going to be replaced by? because the passion right now is amongst those who've been lied to, who've been told that someone stole their democracy, which did not happen. and they are now seeking out some of these positions. and they think their job is to deliver an election to the candidate they prefer. and that's exactly the opposite of the professional election administrator. >> reporter: that passion is palpable. at a recent rally for donald trump in arizona thousands gathered, fed lies about the 2020 election. >> the same people who have been lying about everything for four years claim 2020 was the most secure election in history. give me a break. give me a break. those are bad people. >> we the people know trump won! >> do you blame the election workers? >> some of them. absolutely. some of them. >> somewhere them were caught
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cheating. >> we're very involved, my wife and i. >> reporter: so you called to complain? >> yep. >> reporter: and why did you call? >> because it's like the one movie once said, i'm as mad as hell and i can't take it anymore. >> reporter: this is a midterm election year. >> it's going to be crazy. >> reporter: so what's going to happen to some of these election offices across the country? >> well, i think you're going to have a lot more republicans and a lot more conservative people standing up to make sure the elections, nothing happens like what happened, you know, a year ago. >> reporter: in the battleground state of wisconsin, where joe biden edged out trump by roughly 20,000 votes, madison city clerk mayor beth witsel bell is bracing for what happens this year. >> you question is it taking a toll on me that i can't even see? am i going to drive myself into having a stroke and then not be able to do anything at all? >> reporter: witzel-behl loved
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the relative anonymity of being a non-partisan city clerk. until a right-wing website posted her name as an election worker. >> in the comments there were types of ammunition to use on me, types of guns. talk of lynching. just the other day i got a message. someone sent me an article about a shooting and said "coming soon to a home yeanear you." >> reporter: how long do you think you can keep doing this? >> my answer to that question would probably change every day. so i just try to stay very busy so i'm not ruminating over everything. >> reporter: what do you mean by you try to stay busy? >> well, i got the position to take a second job and work retail so i'm not sitting at home at night or on the weekend just thinking about all the hatred being sent my way. p. >> reporter: is that how you're coping? >> yes. definitely. >> reporter: with many of these threats being anonymous or protected under free speech, many are never prosecuted.
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police are still looking for the man who threatened detroit city clerk janice winfrey. she and other election workers are left to take their own safety into their own hands. >> i like to call myself the keeper of democracy. >> reporter: and is that what has kept you on the job? >> absolutely. >> reporter: what do you want to tell the public about how hard your job is right now? >> my job is so hard that one would think it's not worth it and why are you doing it? it's intrinsic for me. right? we have to protect democracy. i can't say it enough. you know? one person, one vote. is it worth it? is it worth my life? apparently it is. because i'm continuing on that path. >> reporter: the u.s. department of justice says historically these cases have fallen to state and local jurisdictions. but not anymore. especially as these cases have grown across the country. just six months ago the doj formed a multidivisional task force. and this task force is designed
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to train election workers but also to find and prosecute those making threats against them. brianna? >> kyung, thank you so much for that report. 147 republicans voted to overturn the last presidential election on the basis of nothing. one of the ring leaders, missouri republican senator josh hawley, who is now insisting it is democrats who don't accept election results. when "democracy in peril returns," we roll the tape. ♪ ♪making your way in the world today♪ ♪takes everything you've got♪
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the pandemic made teaching and learning really hard. but instead of working to help students safely return to the classroom, the san francisco school board focused on renaming schools and playing politics. and they've even saddled our district with a $125 million deficit. our children can't wait for new leadership. here's our chance for a fresh start. on february 15th, please recall school board members collins, lópez and moliga before our kids fall san francisco was a beacon of even furhope behind. for my family to reach the middle class, and i've been helping others ever since. when the pandemic hit bilal was right there, helping restaurant workers make ends meet. in the obama administration, bilal worked tirelessly on innovative policies.
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the status quo isn't working. bilal is the best shot we have for meaningful change. i'm bilal mahmood, and i know our city can become a beacon of hope once again. senator josh hawley, the first senator to announce that he would be objecting to the results of the fair and secure 2020 presidential election, went on national television and said this with a straight face about joe biden. >> he's already making excuses for why he's going to lose in
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november. and pete, that's what this is all about. democrats don't accept elections that they don't win. >> oh, irony. but more on that in a moment. first an explanation of how missouri's junior senator came to make this comment. he was criticizing president biden for saying this wednesday. >> speaking of voting rights legislation, if this isn't passed do you still believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate? >> well, it all depends on whether or not we're able to make the case to the american people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election. >> the correct answer from a president, especially one whose predecessor undermines the legitimacy of elections more than he plays golf, is yes, i expect the upcoming election to be fair and legitimate. but biden shanked the ball
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big-time. white house press secretary jen psaki tried to quickly clean up the mess. >> he is not questioning the legitimacy of the 2022 elections. but it is also his responsibility and the vice president's too to be very candid and clear-eyed and communicate with the american people about what is at risk. >> so now to the irony of josh hawley even touching this issue of the legitimacy of elections. flash back to early january 2021 as hawley anticipated his shining moment on c-span, where he would object to the results of a fair and secure election as he pushed the big lie. >> i just want to pin you down on what you're trying to do. you know, are you trying to say that as of january 20th that president trump will be president? >> well, that depends on what happens on wednesday. >> on wednesday. wednesday january 6th. that's the day he was talking
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about. the day that trump supporters surrounded the capitol as congress including hawley gathered to certify the election results. the junior senator from missouri made sure to pay them a visit outside. his clenched fist held high to show solidarity with those who would soon storm the capitol as hawley and his colleagues fled the senate chamber. hawley's campaign, by the way, fwierd off a fund-raising plea as the ransacking began because he saw opportunity, his words, in the day. >> my view is this, that this is my opportunity to stand up and say something. >> four people died that day, four trump supporters. 140 police officers injured that day defending the capitol. five died in the wake of the attack, including by suicide. but even after the attack hawley went ahad ead with his c-span moment. >> this is the place where those objections are to be heard and dealt with, debated and finally
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resolved. in this lawful means. peacefully. without violence. without attacks. without bullets. and so mr. president, let me just say now briefly, in lieu of speaking about it later, a word about pennsylvania. >> objecting still to the outcome of a fair and secure election even after the attack. later when given the chance to join his colleagues in honoring the service of the capitol police and the d.c. police, hard pass from josh hawley, who takes issue with calling the people who stormed the capitol violent insurrectionists. instead, he dined out at cpac on his role undermining the election. >> on january the 6th i objected during the electoral college certification. maybe you heard about it. [ cheers and applause ] i did. >> sounds like a tinder profile, doesn't it? enjoys short walks outside the capitol, making money off attacks on democracy, looking for a partner who also likes to
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rewrite history. >> i never said that the goal was to overturn the election. that was never the point. and it was never possible. >> i was very clear from the beginning that i was never attempting to overturn the objection -- the election. >> okay. the problem for hawley, it's all on tape. let's play one of hawley's greatest hits again. >> i just want to pin you down on what you're trying to do. are you trying to say that as of january 20th that president trump will be president? >> well, that depends on what happens on wednesday. >> as hawley did this week, he likes to say democrats did the exact same thing that he did, objecting to election results. >> it happened in 2000. it happened in 2004. it happened in 2016. now it's going to be 2022. >> let's head back in time, shall we? in 2017 several house democrats tried to object to the certification of the vote in a
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number of states. no senator joined them. they were ruled out of order time and time again by someone whose personal preference was obviously not for trump to become president. and yet -- >> the debate is out of order. there's no debate. >> objection cannot be entertained. >> 2005. this time two democratic lawmakers including a senator this time objected to ohio's electoral votes. it went nowhere. and then all the way back in 2001 when a dozen members of the congressional black caucus as well as some other house democrats objected to the certification of florida electoral votes, they were silenced. by the democrat who had lost that election. >> george w. bush of the state of texas has received for president of the united states 271 votes. al gore of the state of tennessee has received 266
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votes. may god bless our new president. >> there's a reason those objections made news at the time. they were unusual, controversial. there's also a reason you probably don't remember those objections happening, and that's because what hawley and his pals did is different. more than a symbolic protest. they objected to the certification of electoral votes after an attack on the capitol. and at the same time that the sitting president was refusing to concede. after the 2000 election bill clinton welcomed the bushes for the perfunctory visit that a president-elect makes to the white house. after 2016 the obamas welcomed the trumps for that perfunctory visit. after the 2020 election -- nada. right? there's no video because it didn't happen. in fact, in 2020 the sitting president and his allies were concocting a far-fetched but earnest plan to overturn the presidential election, laid out on paper in the eastman memo.
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>> the plan was simply this. we had over 100 congressmen and senators on capitol hill ready to implement the sweep. the sweep was simply that. we were going to challenge the results of the election in six battleground states. >> and then president trump had had been working the phones to urge state officials to just pull votes out of thin air. >> i just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. >> his resistance to reality championed by hawley and many others in the republican party. >> trump has not lost. do not concede, mr. president. fight hard. >> at this point we do not know -- >> but we did know. ted cruz knew. lindsey graham flew. and so did josh hawley. he's a lawyer, did you know?
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yale law school. clerked for the chief justice of the supreme court. he is one smart missouri cookie betting on his supporters buying his lies. and up next, republicans across the country are campaigning on the big lie and they're raking in millions for it. we've got the man who was once among the most respected political reporters at fox, carl cameron, on deck as "democracy in peril" continues. ♪ ♪ ♪ "how bizarre" by omc ♪ no annual fee on any discover card. ♪ ♪
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the big lie is hugely resonant with republican voters. just check out the numbers here. 62% of republicans say they believe there was widespread voter fraud in 2020 even though there was not. and 59% say believing that trump won is important to how they define themselves as a republican. it pays to sell the big lie, and it's factoring into campaign ads
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this year big-time. >> president trump says the election was stolen, and he's right. >> he made america great. but the democrats rigged the election. >> they want total control. so they lie, waste our money, rig our elections. >> and joining us now is carl cameron. he is the former fox news chief political correspondent who left the network because of, quote, partisan misinformation. carl, it's always great to see you and to have a conversation with you. why is the big lie so big? why is it so popular? >> well, it really is all about the politics. and for the last 25 years or so it has gotten on television and in social media all over the place. and what's -- it's not just the mis and disinformation, frankly. it's republicans who have kind of lost their way in terms of
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making policy and have instead followed a president who is -- a former president who is really testing our democracy in ways that are extremely dangerous. the bottom line is it's time for people to really understand that the republican party is beginning to fall apart and it's because of following trumpism, and our system depends upon a two-party system. and if one of them is constantly lying and constantly trying to break down things like voting rights and/or trying to accelerate infrastructure attention, there's something desperately wrong with that, and it's because republicans are playing a horse race. too much news about just who's up and who's down and always about the money and their own personal power. that's not what a democracy can stand. >> so explain this. if they're falling apart, explain how you see them falling apart because it's entirely possible, right?
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that republicans reclaim power of the house, that they reclaim power of the senate. and yet it's so interesting for you to frame it that way, that they are falling apart. that's the long game. >> the grand old party, one that had opinions and principles, has been completely erased. there are still some moderate republicans. it will be interesting to see how they vote in the upcoming midterms. but the reality is when a new president is elected the upcoming midterms are generally a disaster. and this one looks like it could be a tsunami for the republicans -- for the democrats. and the republicans could really take charge. and if their goal is to stop things like voting rights and fixing the country's infrastructure, they are clearly not working in the country's best interests. for 200 years there was a world called comity, c-o-m-i-t-y.
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which refers to the need and responsibility to mutually help each other as part of the government. republicans and democrats have to play nice together occasionally or things break down. that's what's happening. and it's a consequence of trump's term in office, wherein all he did was break things down. he didn't really create anything and that wall has never been finished. >> and that's the thing, is it does require people -- we're living in the same house, right? everyone's living in the same house. so democrats and republicans, i mean, the way i think about it is if it's on fire that's bad for everybody. right? do you think democrats are doing enough? >> no. i think that there's got to be some regulation in social media to stop so much of the dystopic lying. falsehoods about america. we're a laughingstock across the world now. and it is no coincidence that
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putin is taking advantage of his military build-up against ukraine right now and the world's terrified and putin's laughing his butt off because he knows that the u.s. is tied up with one party that has lost its way, the republicans. >> do you think if your former employer fox news and other right-wing media stopped pushing the big lie that it would take the air out of it or no? >> people who watch cable and go to particularly partisan organizations, whether it's fox or news maxx or half a dozen others you can find way down at the other end of the cable channels, they are doing it for the money and for the attention and the power that they might gain. it is not about policy. it's about memes. it's about name calling. it's about degradation of the other. and it has nothing to do with the problems that america faces and trying to solve them. it is literally the degradation
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of the gop and, you know, those few who are trying to fight it are getting ostracized by those who were their compatriots. cheney is an example of such. and so the information that we're getting from the congressional investigation and what we're already learning from a variety of additional sources is that trump and a whole bunch of of his henchmen were right on top of everything before, during, and after the insurrection. and sooner or later this is going to go from the congress to the doj and we'll see if it can get real traction before the next presidential election. we've still got three years before that. >> yes, we sure do. carl cameron, it is always great to see you. thank you. >> thanks, brianna. >> up next, john avlon will be here to look at the revelations that rudy giuliani oversaw a plot to install fake electors around the country. plus new reporting on how the trump white house prepared to
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order the defense secretary to seize voting machines. tonight's reality check, next. scent set the mood. ♪ feel the difference with downy. looking to get back in your type 2 diabetes zone? once-weekly ozempic® can help. ♪ oh, oh, oh, ozempic®! ♪ ♪ oh, oh, oh ♪ ozempic® is proven to lower a1c. most people who took ozempic® reached an a1c under 7 and maintained it.
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as election law expert noted at the top of the show, we came incredibly close to a subverted election in 2020 and not just because of former president trump's efforts to pressure courts and state officials. we learned about plotting that was happening at the time. rudy giuliani orchestrating his scheme to push fake e welectorsd forged documents and a never before seen draft executive order first obtained by politico and the order which trump considered signing in december of 2020 would have directed the pentagon to seize voting machines in key states and hunt for fraud. a reality check on what this maybes, john avalon joining us tonight. to start first here, john, you worked for giuliani once upon a
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time awhile back, right? tell us what you make of this scheme that he was reportedly concocting. >> it's just another layer of disgrace in the eyes of history that he has brought upon himself for trying to overturn our democracy. and what makes it tragic from my perspective is that it really shows the decline of a man i knew and worked with and who is one of the most respected lawyers of his generation. you know, one of the youngest deputy attorney generals in our history, u.s. attorney, mayor of new york and to see someone who had such respect for the law beclown himself consistently in this way for membership to a cult, to try to overturn an election desperately consistently in coordination is a hideous thing to watch and all the good things that he did in his career i'm afraid will be overshadowed by this because there is nothing bigger or more basic than trying to overturn an election in our democracy and
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that is what he did. that is what he tried to do. >> beclown himself. that is such a good verb for what he's chanctransformed into. i want to look at the draft obtained. the secretary of defense shall seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, information and documents for retention. the final assessment must be pro vad -- provided no later than 60 days. the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the operation and institute criminal and civil proceedings as appropriate based on the evidence. what stands out to you there? >> the entire memo. just put this -- try to see it and it's difficult to see this through the lens of history. this is a memo presented to the president in his name to get the secretary of defense to seize
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all election records, to suspend the counting of an election and to conduct an audit that would extend beyond inauguration day. this is a memo that along with the eastman memo is declined clearly more evidence of a coup being attempted by the president and his flunks in and around the white house and there is a lot we don't know about the details, who wrote this, make no mistake, this is out of a nightmare vision in society in realtime on our watch on donald trump's watch. the fact that the secretary of defense in the pentagon was being asked to seize all election records, that they were apparently willing to blow through the constitutional mandated inauguration day and it's all part and parcel of what we see along with this effort, alternate slate of electors. these memos were not one offs. this was a coordinated attempt by the president and his lawyers
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and his flunks and campaign in the states and elsewhere to try to overturn the election. they are a bunch of seditious snow flakes. they couldn't deal with the reality of losing an election to force feed to folks and some people still believe it and it's still damming our democracy to this day. that's a frightening memo when seen with any sense of perspective. >> yeah, it certainly is frightening. john, thank you so much and happy friday to you. >> happy friday. >> we'll be right back.
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coming up on monday on "democracy in peril."
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democrats and republicans tell us how it's wiping out hope working together for you. the american people. thank you so much for watching. "don lemon tonight" starts now. >> so brianna, a week of doing "democracy in peril" there is a lot you've learned. you're not leaving without a big take away. >> the reporters going out there and showing us what is happening. tonight kyung lah was talking to election officials about what it's like to be threatened and so you look what they're going to say enough, i'm worried about my family and safety and i won't do it anymore. >> we have big political row p reporting. have a great weekend. see you on monday. >> s y


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