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GOP Senators Graham & Hawley Push Ideas for Ending Impeachment Stalemate; New Evidence Tying Trump to Withholding Ukraine Aid Came Out Following Impeachment; Security Experts Warn of Iranian Cyberattacks; Former Obama Top Aide, Graham Brookie, Discusses Possible Iran Cyberattack; Pelosi Announces House Will Vote on War Power Resolution This Week; Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) Discusses House Vote on War Power Resolution, Congress Not Being Notified of Strike on Soleimani, Conway Suggesting Congressional Democrats Can't Be Trusted; Bolton Says He's Prepared to Testify in Impeachment Trial. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired January 6, 2020 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But it just shows you the pressure will build for something, for some action, and on Nancy Pelosi herself to make clear on what her plans are in sending articles of impeachment over to the Senate -- Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And while nuclear option sounds quite scary, it has happened, recently. So it is unusual, yet we live in unusual times.
Anna, since the House voted to impeach and the speaker decided to withhold the articles from the Senate, the House went on the two-week recess. And in that time, more evidence, more information, more details have come have out, including e-mails that directly tie Trump to the decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine.
How do you think this new information and the clear implication that there's more information that is being withheld by the White House, pertinent to the impeachment question at hand, how is this likely to impact the process now?
ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "POLITICO": I think it is really unclear what the next step for Speaker Nancy Pelosi is. She's playing her cards very close to the vest. Not even her closest advisers know when she's planning on transmitting the articles to the Senate.
But I think there's an expectation, it does happen this week. It is just a matter of when, not if it is ever going to happen, which you kind of see that rhetoric on the Senate Republican side.
I think the question is going to be Nancy Pelosi trying to keep as much leverage as possible for Chuck Schumer and the Senate to try to get some kind of a deal about how this trial is going to work.
I think in the next 48 hours or so, we'll see a lot of kind of shadow boxing, but the strategy is really going to unfold there.
BOLDUAN: We will wait and see.
Do you get a sense, Manu, any of the new information coming out, like the e-mails from Michael Duffey, the online publication Just Security was able to see when he writes, "clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold" in terms of the aid, is any of this changing any minds?
RAJU: It doesn't appear that way. What the most Republicans -- almost all of them seem to be in line with McConnell's strategy to go forward with opening arguments first and Senate trial, then deal with what the Democrats are asking for later, which is to ask for documents and witnesses to be turned over.
The Democrats want that agreed to up front. That's something Mitch McConnell won't agree to.
And we're not seeing any defections really in the ranks, joining the Democrats argument on this. Even people critical of McConnell's coordination with the White House, Susan Collins, of Maine, Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, have not gone as far as what Chuck Schumer has been demanding.
And that's giving Mitch McConnell leverage because he does not have -- they're not four Republicans who say they're going to break ranks and join with Democrats, so we'll see it that changes.
For the moment, McConnell has his conference in line -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: And then, of course, there's the whole question of, can they, do they choose to walk and chew gum at the same time, which is deal with, move forward with impeachment while you have a real and true crisis now with Iran that Congress needs to focus on, yet to be seen. But it will all kick off hours from now and especially when the House returns tomorrow.
Thank you, guys. It's great to see you.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, growing fears about a possible cyberattack. Will Iran target computer systems, social media, or even American infrastructure in retaliation? One expert weighs in, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MONACO, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: We know that they have the capability and the intent to mount attacks against our citizens and our military and diplomats overseas, as well as to try and to do something here. Most specifically, what I'm worried about, frankly, Alisyn, in the near term for homeland impact is on the cyber front. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was a stark warning from the Homeland Security adviser under President Obama, Lisa Monaco.
The same concern is being raised today by many top security officials, saying a cyberattack could cause real and significant disruption to the United States.
But as Iran promises, as they put it, "harsh revenge" in the wake of the killing of one of its top generals, what would, could a cyberattack look like?
Here with me now is Graham Brookie. He served as adviser to the National Security Council and was also top aide to former President Obama on cybersecurity.
Graham, thank you for coming in.
GRAHAM BROOKIE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL ADVISER & CYBERSECURITY AIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thanks, Kate, for having me.
BOLDUAN: What are the cyber capabilities of the Iranian? What could they target?
BROOKIE: They could target any number of things. And I think we need to differentiate between the hard cyberspace as well as the soft information space.
The hard cyberspace would include critical infrastructure and things of that nature. Whereas, the soft information space would be our own online conversations about this event.
BOLDUAN: Cybersecurity has been a national security concern for a very long time. How vulnerable is the United States still today, do you think? If you're talking about, you know -- if you're talking about infrastructure, how vulnerable is it still today?
BROOKIE: Infrastructure is particularly vulnerable. At the same time, the hard cyberthreats, there are traces that we would be able to basically know about in advance.
And so what the Department of Homeland Security has done over the last 72 hours has issued alerts to -- for large organizations to up their monitoring of their own systems and their own infrastructure.
And for citizens, what that means for us is to basically up our own cyber hygiene, use multifactor authentication and things like that.
BOLDUAN: And speaking of monitoring, at the Atlantic Council, you're actively monitoring these kinds of activity online. What are you seeing right now?
BROOKIE: Well, there's two extremely important points. Both Iran has developed increasingly sophisticated information operations apparatus that aligns directly with its foreign policy views. They attempt to present information and then persuade others to their side.
That being said, as of this morning, we have seen no large-scale information operations that would be directly attributed to the Iranian government.
What we have seen in the wake of Soleimani's death say large global conversation at the scale and significance of a news event of this.
BOLDUAN: From your time and experience, you know, working with the National Security Council, advising the president on cybersecurity, how dangerous is -- how dangerous and real do you think the threat is in terms of a retaliatory event from Iran to the United States in the wake of such a significant -- as we can see, significant crisis that has now started in terms of a cyberattack?
BROOKIE: In terms of a cyberattack, I think the threat is very real. While Iran has not shown a huge amount of willingness to carry out direct military attacks, they have shown an enormous amount of willingness to take what we would call hybrid threats or hybrid attacks.
And what that could include is conflict by proxy, across the Middle East region. It could include attacks in hard cyberspace, again, as well as the soft information space. Where we have the most amount of vulnerability is the soft information space.
BOLDUAN: And we'll continue to see that in very real time.
It's great to see you, Graham. Thank you for coming in. Appreciate it.
BROOKIE: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: As terrifying as it is, it is good to have your expertise. Thank you.
Coming up for us, Congress wasn't informed about the president's decision to target Iran's top general. Now Democrats want to limit the president's ability to make any other military moves in the region. We're going to talk to a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, next.
BOLDUAN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing Democrats will move this week to limit the president's military options against Iran.
The speaker, in a letter to Democratic colleagues, writing this, in part, "This action endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking serious escalation of tensions with Iran."
Going on to say, "We're concerned the administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress' war powers granted to it by the Constitution."
The war powers resolution would mandate that, absent congressional approval, any of the administration's military actions against Iran must end within 30 days.
So as Congress heads back to Washington, what is this now going to look like?
Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you for coming in.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Hi, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Let's start there, the war powers resolution. It can pass the House. You have the numbers to pass it in the House. Do you think you'll get any Republican Senators on board with this to pass it in the Senate?
HIMES: Yes, it is a good question. It is an interesting question. On so many things, the Republican Party has lined up lock, stop and barrel behind President Trump. But on international issues, whether it is Russia or expanding our footprint in the Middle East, you do see some Republicans showing, I think, some unusual prudence. So I don't know.
But there's a larger issue here, Kate, which is, look, this resolution may be important. But let's forget about the law for a second and look at the Constitution of the United States, which says, in total clarity, that the Congress of the United States is charged with decisions to go to war or not go to war.
So while this resolution is going to be important, the White House needs to understand that the Constitution of the United States puts this decision on Capitol Hill.
And that's important because, Kate, we had a long conversation, and I don't think it is done yet, about whether the attack on General Soleimani was legally authorized. There's the question of what is going to happen afterwards. That's in the past.
There's an argument that if there's a clear and present danger and imminent threat, the president can act.
But now the president has said, I've got 52 targets, I might go after them, I might do it disproportionately, I might go after cultural sites. That is war. That is not a response to an imminent threat.
And by the way, it is also a threat to commit war crimes.
So this is where Congress absolutely must be consulted.
BOLDUAN: Let me read for you -- I'm sure you saw it -- what the president said last night. He said this: "These media posts" -- meaning on Twitter - "serve as notification to the United States Congress that, should Iran strike any U.S. person or target of the United States will quickly strike back and perhaps in a disproportionate manner."
It is clear Congress wasn't notified before-hand. Do you see that as notification, as we were just discussing? Have you seen anything since or been told you're going to be getting a briefing - when you'll be getting a briefing about this, the threat and what's next?
HIMES: Well, I read the same Twitter that you just read.
Look, there's a couple things going on here. Number one, this is the president showing disdain for the Congress. You shouldn't show disdain for the Congress. By the way, the Senate, of course, is a Republican-controlled branch of the Congress. So, no, a tweet does not serve the purpose.
But, again, let's come back to first principles here. Notification is one thing. Going to war, which is where we wind up spending trillions of dollars and where we end up losing hundreds, maybe thousands of Americans in uniform, that requires authorization by the Congress of the United States.
And no Secretary Pompeo and no John Bolton or anybody else, neither of the existing confirmations the president gave over a decade ago, gives this president the right to go to war without coming back to the Congress. So --
HIMES: -- starting with this dismissive tweet is not where to start that conversation.
BOLDUAN: I hear you saying that. But then let me tell you what counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, said this morning about informing top members of Congress of the attack. Let me play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: But, again, a lot of people just like to head straight to the cameras. Can you imagine telling the chairman of the Intel Committee, one Adam Schiff, that this is going to happen? Can you imagine? The man goes to bed with his earpiece and microphone on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I know this is looking back one more time, as you're talking about looking forward, but she's saying the Democrats cannot be trusted. Kellyanne Conway, what I take from that is she says that's one reason why Congress wasn't informed, is because you can't be trusted.
HIMES: You know, I hope that you play that clip over and over and over again, because it is Kellyanne Conway showing, in a very specific way, her disdain for the laws of the United States of America. The laws say that Congress will be informed.
I understand that Kellyanne Conway doesn't think much of Adam Schiff because Adam Schiff has, of course, exposed her boss' unlawful activity. But we are a nation of laws, Kate.
And just because I want to drive at 90 miles an hour down the highway because I'm late somewhere doesn't mean I get to do it because I happen to think it's important to do so.
There are lots of police officers out there who might want to rough up a suspect a little bit to try to get a confession. We don't do that because it's against the law.
So, again, just because Kellyanne Conway doesn't like Adam Schiff does not mean that she and the administration that she serves get to ignore the law. What you just heard was Kellyanne Conway saying, because I don't like a guy in the Congress, I think we should break the law.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what it means going forward, quite honestly. It's going to be a very critical week.
Congressman, thank you for coming in.
We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BOLDUAN: We do have breaking news just coming in with regard to the impeachment of President Trump. Just now, a statement being issued by the president's former national security adviser, John Bolton, making clear that he is prepared -- in a statement that he has put out -- prepared to testify in the impeachment trial of the president of the United States.
Let me get first over to Kaitlan Collins who has all the details coming out just now.
Kaitlan, this is a lengthy statement coming from John Bolton. What is he saying?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's lengthy, but all the news, Kate, is at the bottom where, in the statement that John Bolton, the former national security adviser, just tweeted out. He says, quote, "I have concluded that if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify."
That's big news. It hangs on a lot of conditions, especially since Senate Republicans, so far, have shown no willingness to invite any witnesses to come and testify at that Senate trial when it's going to happen. When we don't know, still. That's still something that's very unclear. But this is substantial news coming from John Bolton, who, of course,
has been at the center of this Ukraine drama. He was the national security adviser here in the White House who pushed repeatedly for the president to let go of that aid that he had on that military aid to Ukraine.
That aid, of course, we've learned he was withholding because he wanted those investigations conducted into the Bidens. And of course, he wanted statements out of the Ukrainian leaders and their government on that.
And John Bolton is a force against that in the White House, something that we know from testimony from officials who worked for him and next to him.
John Bolton was very against, even once having a meeting with the president in the Oval Office where things got incredibly tense over this hold on aid. And we've seen, of course, it was the president was not there. Now he says he's willing to tell his story.
Of course, Kate, all of this depends on whether or not he is invited up to Capitol Hill.
COLLINS: But it is really hard to see -- now that we have this statement and him saying, no legal fights, no going to court, he's willing to testify if he gets a subpoena, how the Senate Republicans do not invite him up now.
Kaitlan, stick with me.
Let me bring up Manu Raju, CNN senior congressional correspondent, on this.
Manu, just what Kate was saying, I mean, John Bolton is a key figure in the whole conversation about what the president knew and did and when with regard to aid in Ukraine and asking for investigations into Joe Biden.
With a statement like this coming from John Bolton, do you think that -- what are the chances that he is called to testify, or how can they not call him to testify now?
RAJU: It's going to add a lot of pressure to Republicans, especially ones that said we should just dismiss this case after the opening arguments. Democrats, of course, have demanded him to testify.
Bolton, an attorney himself, has said in recent weeks that he had information that has not yet come out in the impeachment inquiry. What is that information?
Of course, he asked to go to court to get a court ruling to determine whether or not he should testify before the House. That ruling is essentially moot according to the judge in that case.
And now he's saying, now that that's moot, he's willing to testify in the Senate if he's faced with a subpoena. The question is, will he be subpoenaed Kate?
BOLDUAN: Very big question. Now this shifts the focus almost entirely I believe now, it really could be shifting the focus and the conversation right now.
Thank you so much, Manu. I really appreciate it.