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Bolton Prepared to Testify; Iran and Impeachment on Campaign Trail; Troops in Mideast Could be Targets; Trump's Obama Obsession Drives Foreign Policy; Weinstein Faces New Charges. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired January 7, 2020 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: McConnell wants to get through this as fast as he can. He's afraid of all testimony. He's -- they -- he knows that if Mulvaney comes up, if Bolton comes up, if Michael Duffey comes up, they have direct evidence of the president's involvement.
And, remember, the entire Republican defense is based on, well, we have no firsthand knowledge of what the president did here. You can't remove him from office. So that's why McConnell is not going to move. He may be moved, but he's not (INAUDIBLE) --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Moved by four Republicans.
LOCKHART: By four -- by four Republicans.
BERMAN: Susan Collins, Murkowski, Mitt Romney, who says he wants to hear from him.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
LOCKHART: And on the second question, I think, you know, this -- to the extent there was anything unexpected yesterday is, there is now an opening, I think, for the House to say, well, come on in. We'll depose you. And then, you know, people in the Senate could decide whether you're an important witness or not. The likelihood of John Bolton accepting a Democratic subpoena is less than zero.
CAMEROTA: Why? Now that he says, I -- I am willing to -- I've given it careful consideration and study, happy to say, but not for the House, I mean, doesn't that philosophy work? If you want to tell your story, tell your story.
LOCKHART: Well, if you follow the whole timeline of what Bolton's been saying, none of it makes sense, except if you remember, at the end of the day he wants to sell books. And if he's seen as being someone who resists both sides, no one is going to buy his book. And that's -- that's -- if you really want to understand what John Bolton's doing, don't think about the country, think about what's good for John Bolton.
BERMAN: I will say, if four Republicans decide they want to hear from John Bolton in the middle of this impeachment trial, if it does get underway, they will hear from John Bolton at some level.
CAMEROTA: And that might help sell books.
But, anyway, but, wait, I digress.
Joe, thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right, Iran and impeachment big issues for the 2020 candidates. We're going to talk about what the Democratic candidates for president are saying about these issues, next.
BERMAN: I told you Iowa was just around the corner.
CAMEROTA: You've been saying that for a year, but, yes.
BERMAN: Right. It is now --
CAMEROTA: It's now official.
BERMAN: It's now less than a month away until the Iowa caucuses. And the heightened tensions with Iran are now front and center, also impeachment in the middle of this all.
CNN's Arlette Saenz has the very latest.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice over): With the Iowa caucuses rapidly approaching, the 2020 Democratic candidates now have their focus on two pressing issues, Iran and impeachment.
This afternoon, former Vice President Joe Biden will deliver a statement about the escalating situation in Iran after condemning President Trump's idea to attack cultural sites as a war crime.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Internationally it's listed as that. It's not making it up. I don't think he knows what he's talking about, quite frankly.
SAENZ: Biden highlighting his decades of experience and foreign policy record.
BIDEN: It's not to suggest I haven't made mistakes in my career, but I will put my record against anyone in public life in terms of foreign policy.
SAENZ: But his vote for authorizing the war in Iraq in 2002, a point of contention for Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted against it.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I just don't think that that kind of record is going to bring forth the energy that we need to defeat Trump. SAENZ: Sanders strongly blasting the president's decision to call a
strike to kill Iran's top military leader.
SANDERS: I think it was an assassination. I think it was in violation of international law. This guy was sitting -- was a bad news guy, but he was a ranking official of the Iranian government.
SAENZ: Senator Elizabeth Warren also questioning the president's moves.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not making a America safer.
This is moving us closer to the very edge of war. Americans don't want a war with Iran.
SAENZ: For Pete Buttigieg, the possibility of war is personal, after serving in the military in Afghanistan.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Having known what it's like to be in the inside of one of those airplanes, you need to be able to trust that everybody up your chain of command has thought through what's ahead. And we're just not seeing a lot of indications of that.
SAENZ: But with the timing of Trump's Senate impeachment trial in limbo, some candidates may run into an obstacle in the final stretch before the Iowa caucuses. The five senators running for president may need to return to Washington to be jurors in that trial.
But for now, Senator Amy Klobuchar is focusing her attention on Wednesday's Senate briefing on Iran.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now the evidence to me is not there that they should have reacted in this way, with such major repercussions, but let's see what the evidence is in a classified setting.
SAENZ: Also on the campaign trail, Elizabeth Warren picked up an endorsement from her former rival, Julian Castro. They'll campaign together in Brooklyn tonight with the Iowa caucuses just 27 days away.
CAMEROTA: Arlette, thank you very much. Really interesting to hear everybody's perspectives.
BERMAN: So, with Iran now vowing harsh revenge against the United States, where are U.S. troops most vulnerable? We will look at the map with a retired U.S. Army general. We'll get a sense of the greatest threats.
[06:43:07] BERMAN: The U.S. military has tens of thousands of troops stationed all over the Middle East. As the Iran crisis leads to thousands more now being deployed, Iran is promising to retaliate against the United States. So, where could U.S. troops be at risk?
Joining me now, CNN military analyst, retired General James "Spider" Marks. He's the head of Geopolitical Strategy and Academy Securities.
On any given day, because there are troops coming and going all the time, there are about 60,000 troops in the region, you can see on this map basically where the U.S. troops have been deployed over the last few years and months.
Where do you see them being at risk?
GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you know, John, this concentration of forces, as you indicated, has been in the region for quite some time. These locations, although likely targets, will probably not be attacked or threatened by the Iranians or any of their proxies because these are hardened targets. The military has raised a hand and said, look, we've put our finger in the hornets' nest, we are in a much higher level of readiness than maybe we were the day before. So the Iranians or any of these proxies would be foolish to go after these locations.
BERMAN: So not the 10,000 troops in Kuwait, for instance.
MARKS: No, not --
BERMAN: More likely, perhaps an embassy somewhere else.
BERMAN: A little bit of an easier target to hit.
Three thousand U.S. troops, new troops, new forces, now headed to the region, largely from the 82nd out of North Carolina.
BERMAN: What's the strategic goal there?
MARKS: Well, this is a rapidly deployable force. And these are shooters. These are guys who can come in and break things with great precision and great clarity of purpose. They will move in to probably a central location that would give the commander on the ground the ability to move them if there was a threat that popped up.
BERMAN: We talk about the Iraqi parliament. They voted to have U.S. troops withdrawn, removed from Iraq. There are about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. If they were to pull out what would happen?
MARKS: Well, those forces, if required to move, the United States would say, fine, we'll move them, albeit the United States is going to work hard to avoid that.
On a tactical level, they'd probably move back to Kuwait. I mean there are other locations where they could go. But the key thing in my mind, if the United States were to walk away from Iraq, would still be in the region, but my concern is for Iraq kind of cascading and descending into some type of civil war if the Shias try to take over 60 percent of Iraq, is Shia, the Sunnis would probably walk away, the Kurds would probably walk away, you'd have this intern nicing (ph) fighting that would take place. You'd have this chaos. And my concern would be the Saudis are now looking at this, this conflagration, and they go, I need to have nukes because the Iranians are about to get nukes. And they'll go buy them from the Paks (ph).
BERMAN: It is -- that Iraqi vote was only the Shia members of parliament.
BERMAN: The Kurds and Sunnis didn't show up.
What you're looking at right there has to do with ISIS. ISIS has lost most of their territory in the region, yet they still are there in numbers. If the United States was to pull its troops out of Iraq, how would the fight against ISIS be affected?
MARKS: Well, big time, as we say. The United States still has some incredible intelligence collection capabilities. We have partners in the region. We have technical intelligence that works amazingly well that allows us to identify -- positively identify where ISIS might be moving. So we could do strikes against them.
Again, the fight against ISIS is a partnered fight. We have to have allies and friends on the ground that are willing to do the heavy lifting.
BERMAN: It is interesting, though, when you look at that map and see where ISIS is, if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq, and perhaps Syria as well, we'd have no troops on the ground where ISIS is operating.
MARKS: And if we're serious about going after ISIS, we have to be present to assist our partners and our allies in the region.
BERMAN: All right, General James "Spider" Marks, always a pleasure to have you here.
MARKS: Thank you. Thank you, John.
BERMAN: Thanks so much for being with us.
MARKS: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, John, now to a different topic. Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial begins this morning in New York. He's facing new charges, though, in Los Angeles. So we'll tell you what those are and how they will impact the New York trial.
CAMEROTA: As President Trump vigorously defends his order to kill Iran's top military commander, one name continues to come up, and that name is Barack Obama. Why does President Trump seem so fixated on his predecessor?
Joining us now is CNN reporter Michael Warren. He just wrote a new piece for cnn.com on President Trump's continued focus on President Obama.
Michael, great to have you here.
You go as far as to say that President Trump seems obsessed with President Obama. And so what's your evidence of that?
MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, it seems to me that if there is a governing philosophy with Donald Trump's approach to governance, and particularly to foreign policy, it does seem to be doing the opposite and contrasting himself with the decisions of Barack Obama and the Obama administration. And we can see that in the justification that he and his administration have made for this killing of Soleimani.
Yesterday on Rush Limbaugh's radio show in a 20-minute conversation Donald Trump brought up Barack Obama's name four times in the first five minutes, defending what he did by saying that Barack Obama didn't do what he was willing to do. And even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invoked the mistakes of the Obama administration in justifying what the administration did by saying, look, the mess that we found ourselves in was very much one of Obama's making. This is very much a part of the way that Donald Trump approaches governance. It's not simply saying that he disagrees with the past administration, he of course ran against Barack Obama's foreign policy in the 2016 election. It really is invoking the president and sort of using the president's name, the former president's name, I should say, as a rhetorical crutch to defend his own policy decision-making.
CAMEROTA: It's really interesting. But are you saying that that is the Trump doctrine? That you've been able to determine that basically the Trump doctrine is do the opposite of what President Obama did?
WARREN: Well, that may be going a little too far, but it is, you know, interesting to note all of the decisions, particularly on foreign policy that the president has made, and really in particular in the Middle East and regarding Iran, he really does seem to be driven by trying to do the opposite of what the president -- President Obama did. You look at the Iran deal, for instance, very early on in his presidential campaign he was -- Donald Trump was calling this the worst deal negotiated ever. He's been trying basically since the very beginning of his presidency to get out of the deal. He did that about a year and a half into his presidency. And then he -- again, he invokes the idea that what President Obama and, we should be fair, he also criticizes President George W. Bush and says that this is something that no previous president was willing to do even though they had the chance to do it, but he really does seem to be focused on Barack Obama and you expand that out to everything from North Korea, the administration has really argued what they are doing is a rejection of the Barack Obama policy of strategic patience, everything on climate change, the Paris Climate Accords. So this is really sort of holistic but really focused on foreign policy where the president really likes to invoke President Obama more so than really any other president has invoked their immediate predecessor.
CAMEROTA: And, by the way, you also point out that this invocation of President Obama is getting worse. It's happening with more frequency. We have a graph, in fact, that -- this might have been put together by our fact checker Daniel Dale. This shows that in 2019 the references to President Obama, maybe we can lose that lower chyron there so everybody can see it, have spiked. They've gotten much more frequent in the past 18 months.
What's that about?
WARREN: Well, that is interesting. And, you're right, our colleague, Daniel Dale, put that analysis together. That went through October. And, of course, that's only increased over the last couple of months as Iran tensions have increased. The president has brought up President Obama more and more.
You do have to wonder where this is coming from.
Of course, President Obama not very popular with President Trump's political base. He's looking forward now, we're in 2020, to the presidential election in November. And we should also note, of course, that one of the top potential rivals for President Trump in the Democratic Party is Joe Biden, who is, of course, Barack Obama's vice president.
CAMEROTA: Michael Warren, really interesting. Thank you very much for coming on NEW DAY to explain all of that.
BERMAN: Jury selection begins this morning in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial here in New York, but the disgraced Hollywood mogul is facing new charges in Los Angeles for allegedly assaulting two women in 2013.
CNN's Jean Casarez live outside the courthouse here in New York with the very latest.
No shortage of developments here, Jean.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
With these brand-new felony criminal charges just filed in Los Angeles, jury selection is set to begin today here in New York. The legal journey has been filled with twists and turns, but it all began with one of the most important producers in Hollywood.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Well, it's nice to be here with this movie.
CASAREZ (voice over): Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein made movies --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you like them apples?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) dead (ph), baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no day for me to look upon.
CASAREZ: And he made stars. But what was going on behind the scenes? Allegedly a far different story. Law enforcement began to investigate Weinstein after dozens of accusations in 2017.
In 2018, two indictments filed, weeks apart in New York City. Harvey Weinstein was charged with sexual crimes. Initially six counts involving three alleged victims. Weinstein pleaded not guilty. His attorney, New York's legendary defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman.
BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, HARVEY WEINSTEIN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that any sexual activity he engaged in was consensual.
CASAREZ: The defense pointing to emails from accusers to Weinstein after the alleged assaults, lots of love, miss you, big guy, it would be great to see you again. Those alleged victims are expected to take the stand at trial to explain the emails and describe their alleged assaults by the Hollywood giant.
A lead detective of the New York sex crimes division was accused of coaching a witness, causing one charge to be dismissed, along with one of the alleged victims.
In early 2019, Weinstein switched attorneys to the high profile Jose Baez, along with Harvard law professor Ron Sullivan.
JOSE BAEZ, HARVEY WEINSTEIN'S FORMER ATTORNEY: He is innocent. That is what Harvey Weinstein has said to this court.
CASAREZ: Prosecutors revealed they were going to call additional women to testify during the trial to show a pattern of Weinstein's conduct. CNN obtained an exclusive interview with Barbara Ziv, before it was known she would be the sexual assault expert for Weinstein's prosecution. She was asked general questions about sexual assault in the workplace.
BARBARA ZIV, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: That's the first thing that they think of is, I don't want to lose my job.
CASAREZ (on camera): So for the person out there that would say, OK, well, then, you made the choice and you're consenting to this activity, you say --
ZIV: You don't have the capacity to consent when, again, there is tangible harm that could result from saying no.
CASAREZ (voice over): In June, Jose Baez announcing he wanted off the case. A female defense lawyer out of Chicago, Donna Rotunno, stepped into the spotlight.
DONNA ROTUNNO, HARVEY WEINSTEIN'S ATTORNEY: We will hear the other side of this story.
CASAREZ: But prosecutors were looking at calling yet another witness to prove predatory sexual assault. Former "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra. Sciorra alleges that she was assaulted by Weinstein the winter of 1993-'94. At the final hearing before trial, a far different Weinstein, pushing a walker and being held up by assistance.
CASAREZ: Now, the district attorney out of Los Angeles says that an arrest warrant has been issued for Harvey Weinstein on these new charges. She also says at a later date he will go to California for an arraignment. But jury selection could be held up a bit today because Los Angeles is asking for $5 million bail on these new charges. Attorney -- district attorney in Los Angeles says it will be up to the New York judge whether he is remanded into custody at this point for the duration of this trial in New York.
CAMEROTA: This story is not over, as you know. There just continue to be all of the new developments.
Jean, thank you very much.
All right, Iran's foreign minister is slamming President Trump in a new interview with CNN.
And NEW DAY continues right now.
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And we do begin with breaking news this morning.
A deadly stampede at the funeral procession --