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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Pelosi Reveals She's Ready to Send Articles of Impeachment to Senate Next Week; Senator Bernie Sanders Makes Appearance with Larry David. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 10, 2020 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:05]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And, you know, there is this reporting that CNN has that there are Senate Republicans who want to get President Trump acquitted by the February 4th State of the Union Address. So, I guess he could go before them and spike the football and say, you know, it was a witch hunt and now I'm free.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, with the time line that Nancy Pelosi tentatively tried to lay out today and that is possible. If she transmits the articles of impeachment next week, we've all looked at -- if it really does stick to just opening arguments and questions and then the acquittal vote at the end, that is about a two- week time frame and that could get you done before the State of the Union on February 4th, but it would be a fascinating dynamic to see if the trial is going on.

I mean, Bill Clinton did decide to give his State of the Union Address while the impeachment trial was going on in 1999. It will be fascinating to see what approach President Trump takes if that were the situation he finds himself in.

TAPPER: A great story in "The Wall Street Journal" today about the Iran strike. This paragraph jumped out at me. It says Mr. Trump after the told associates she was under pressure to deal with General Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate.

Kind of interesting wrinkle.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's a weird calculation because he knows he's going to have them in his corner regardless.

TAPPER: Right, the biggest war hawks like Cotton and Graham were already his biggest cheerleaders.

HAM: I rarely agree with Trump for more than a sentence at a time, if that, but this ridiculous, she should have sent them long ago, it belittles the process -- I think it's been totally self-destructive sullenness on Pelosi's part to press pause in the process when her entire argument was he's a giant, imminent threat to borrow a word to democracy and we have to deal with this now. In essence, she's got a couple of weeks of awareness raising about this trial that's going to take place. I don't think it was effective. She was like, I got leverage, wait, no, I don't.

But all that was knowable before she tried to exert pressure on this, and now, they're 25 days from the Iowa caucus. There are people are going to be stuck in this trial and I just think it makes any sense.

TAPPER: Very quickly --

HASAN: I actually think that she should have taken longer, and she never thought t was imminent but a change a trade deal with him the day after they're done with the trial.

HAM: I notice that after the rhetoric. Yes.

HASAN: I think she should have dragged it on and way more impeachable offenses that should have been heard from.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around. We got more to talk about.

Why Bernie Sanders supporters should not curb their enthusiasm just yet. Get it? The big haul he's taking into 2020.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:50]

TAPPER: In our 2020 lead, it was a pretty, pretty good morning for Senator Bernie Sanders appearing on the "Today Show" with the guy who plays him on "Saturday Night Live," Larry David.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you become president, you've got to be flying back and forth --

LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- to play him on "SNL."

DAVID: Yes, it's true. It's not going to be easy for me. It will be great for the country, terrible for me.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm getting you a good job for four years and you're complaining.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That is funny. Let's talk about Sanders for a second.

Mehdi, you like Sanders. You think he's a good candidate. He's raised $34.4 million in the fourth quarter and more than any other Democrat, and polls have him neck and neck at the top with Joe Biden, and I feel like he is not getting enough attention among the pundits that he deserves. HASAN: You and I discussed it a few weeks ago on the show about how,

you know, he actually has a very good chance of winning two or three of the first four primaries, and, yes, he hasn't had that much attention. There was a lot of focus in the beginning on Warren, on Kamala Harris, who's no longer with us, I mean physically is with us but no longer with the race.

TAPPER: We know what you meant.

HASAN: Sorry.

And Biden, of course, and then Buttigieg has had his great moment. I think a lot of Bernie supporters online rightly criticize cable, newspapers for not giving Bernie the coverage he deserves given his fundraising, given his volunteer army.

But it's actually helped Bernie Sanders because it's kept him away from all the attacks. People haven't gone after him like they've gone after Elizabeth Warren. He's actually able to kind of blow the radar as suddenly popped up now with only a few weeks to get -- oh, he actually could win three of the first four races.

TAPPER: Yes.

HASAN: It's pretty good position to be in.

TAPPER: And the Warren people are out there saying that she is the one who can unite the Sanders' faction of the Democrats and the Biden faction of the Democrats and they're out there hashtaging that today.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's really interesting, because you do kind of character or categorize, you know, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders over here and Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg over here. But if you look at some of the polling, if you look at that critical second place pick for a lot of these candidates, Warren happens to be the second place pick for both camps. And I think the Warren campaign sees that as their electability argument.

I mean, they've been focusing on the policy and kind of the progressive vision for a while, but now that so much of the attention is turning to who can beat Trump, who can go -- who will be the best candidate against this current president, the Warren people are starting to make that argument, whether it sticks, we'll see, and I think it's important why -- I think that's partly why at the outset, while she allied herself with Sanders, she was careful to distance herself from Sanders a little bit by making sure to call herself that she is a capitalist --

TAPPER: Capitalist not a socialist, yes.

KIM: -- at heart and not a socialist.

TAPPER: So, the deadline to qualify for next week's debate that CNN is doing with Wolf Blitzer, Abby Phillip, and representative to "The Des Moines" is tonight, and billionaire Tom Steyer made it. Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey, who has not qualified for

the debate, he released a statement that says in part, quote: The Democratic National Committee's debate thresholds have systematically paved a way for a billionaire to buy his way on to the stage while pushing out the candidates of color from participating.

What do you think, Laura?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, he raises a valid point to something that has caused a lot of other Democrats to question whether or not next time around, they should re-do the qualifications for the debates or the way they run the primary system to begin with, because another big that's come up this cycle is Iowa going first, New Hampshire continually going first, they are 90 percent white states.

[16:40:13]

And Julian Castro who now has joined Warren has raised the fact that that, in a way, doesn't make the system as equitable for candidates of color. Yang also is likely not to make the debate stage next week.

So, for the first time in this cycle, it will be an all-white debate stage.

TAPPER: Mary Katharine, former VP Biden is capitalizing on this crisis with Iran to make his case to voters that he is ready on day one. He released this new ad today. Take a look at a piece of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POLITICAL AD ANNOUNCER: We live in the most dangerous moment in a generation. Our world set on edge. This is a moment that requires strong, steady, stable leadership, and we need someone tested and trusted around the world.

Joe Biden, a president with the experience to lead on day one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: With the experience to lead on day one. A lot of his rivals are pointing out his experience is that he voted for the war on Iraq.

HAM: Right.

TAPPER: He told Obama not to go after OBL. What do you think?

HAM: Yes, I think his strongest argument is basic plausibility, I checked all of these boxes for a guy who should be president, and I see like much calmer version of the Trump thing we've got going on here, so why don't you come this direction?

I think that's actually a decent argument for American voters, but the problem with his foreign policy argument is that you scratch a little bit, and particularly the Democratic base is going to be not happy with what they see there. First, Tom Steyer goes, the amount of money per minute of speaking on

that stage is going to be very, very high. So it did take a lot to get the guys on stage eventually. So, I'm not sure that plan worked out how they wanted it to.

TAPPER: And reminder, you don't want to miss the last Democratic presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses. That's Tuesday, and you can see it only on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, lock her up? The Trump Justice Department says, eh, not so much. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:46:12]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crooked Hillary spent three or four times more money than us, right?

(BOOING)

AUDIENCE: Lock her up!

TRUMP: So, crooked Hillary -- wait -- crooked -- you should lock her up, I'll tell you.

Crooked Hillary spent three or four times more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That wasn't five years ago. That was last night.

And they were chanting at a rally "Lock her up."

But one Trump administration investigation into Clinton, we are now learning, did not end with a bust. It was a bust.

A Justice Department inquiry backed by President Trump and his conservative allies into Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton's business dealings has wound down, with officials not finding enough evidence to even recommend the formal opening of a criminal investigation.

In other words, you can't lock her up.

CNN's justice correspondent, Evan Perez, joins us.

Evan, so two years after U.S. attorney John Huber got to work taking a second look at the Clintons and their business dealings, what did he find?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Not much, Jake. And that's the thing. The Justice Department was looking into whether or not Hillary Clinton

did anything illegal, whether she got any special treatment from the FBI, and looking at this uranium company called Uranium One, whether or not Hillary Clinton did anything illegal involving its sale some time ago.

And what Huber has done over the last couple of years was take a look at all of those things. The president and his allies wanted a special counsel. They did not get that, but Jeff Sessions wanted to make sure that this was looked at.

And while this investigation is not officially closed, there's no formal closing of it, it appears that it is going to be just that, just a dud. And so we will see whether finally somebody at the Justice Department is able to close this and give the president the bad news that there won't be charges against Hillary Clinton as a result of this investigation.

TAPPER: Evan, CNN has reported that many of the allegations against Hillary Clinton came from that book "Clinton Cash" by Peter Schweizer.

PEREZ: Right.

TAPPER: Democrats call that an opposition research book.

Meanwhile, the president and Republicans have, in other cases, railed against the FBI and Justice Department using opposition research in investigations, right?

PEREZ: Right, exactly.

Back in 2015 and 2016, Republicans certainly were fans of the FBI using opposition research in the case of Hillary Clinton, but when it came to the Trump administration and the Trump campaign, rather, and the use of the dossier, which was the result of opposition research, of course, that's what has -- they have spent the last couple of years accusing the FBI and the Justice Department of doing wrong, Jake.

So you can see how things have changed when it comes to this issue of opposition research, and the Trump campaign and the Trump administration.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thanks so much.

All right, let's chew over all this.

Mehdi, we shouldn't soft-pedal this. I mean, this is President Trump using his Justice Department to conduct investigations into his political opponents. Thankfully, the U.S. attorneys in question have intellectual integrity.

But, I mean, it's kind of shocking -- or not kind of. it's shocking.

HASAN: Well, it's shocking in that shocking bad. It's not shocking that that's what Trump does.

TAPPER: Right. That's what I mean.

HASAN: He's been impeached for this on an international level. And he's doing it in other ways with other opponents.

We laugh at the way that FOX News is obsessed with Hillary Clinton. It's almost as if she's the president. They treat her every night as if she won in November 2016.

HAM: Well, she think is too.

(LAUGHTER)

HASAN: Fair point.

But the obsession with her is mad, and we can laugh about it. But as you say, one serious point is he's using the government to go after his political opponents again and again, and he won't stop as we approach the election.

And, number two, the obsession with Hillary is truly weird. His son posted a picture on Instagram this week, Don Jr., of Hillary's face on the magazine of his semiautomatic rifle, which I find disgusting.

TAPPER: This was a point the president has obsessed on the campaign trail quite a bit. Take a listen to this beautiful montage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In exchange for signing off on the deal, some of the former owners of Uranium One gave the Clinton Foundation millions and millions of dollars in donations.

[16:50:10]

We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country.

As secretary of state. Hillary Clinton signed off on a deal allowing Russia to take an increased stake in a company called Uranium One.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney has looked into it and found nothing.

Is that going to end President Trump railing against her? Is are any of his supporters going to see, boy, that was an actual witch-hunt?

HAM: It will definitely not end the railing against her.

Like, I mean, I'm gratified that looks like the system worked here. They didn't take "Clinton Cash" to FISA and get a bunch of human intel on Hillary's gang. So that's good news for everybody.

And it looks like in this case nothing there. TAPPER: But, Seung Min Kim, "The Washington Post," your paper, says

current and former law enforcement officials never thought this was going to result in much.

So was this done just to please the president?

KIM: Perhaps.

But I think, clearly, we have seen how the president has seen the Justice Department, the attorney general as kind of his extension of his own personal legal team for some while. I mean, that was partially why he was so angry at his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for how he -- his conduct in recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

I do think what we're looking for now, though, is that investigation being led by the U.S. attorney from Connecticut, John Durham. I think that's the focus, where the president's going to be. We saw with that split was going to come when Durham and Bill Barr said he was -- they didn't agree with the findings from the I.G. report from Michael Horowitz.

And we will be waiting for the results of that report.

TAPPER: What do you make of this all?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, I mean, well, it fits with a pattern of Trump of expecting his officials to be loyal to him and to carry out his wishes, also, or to drop investigations when he asks them to drop investigations in the case of Comey, which we have seen in the past, so it isn't that new.

I also expect that, as Mary said, that he will continue to talk about this on the trail. He has repeatedly gone against what intel has found when it comes to Russia engaging in interference in the election.

So, even when things have proven to be false, he continues to repeat them on the trail.

TAPPER: Thanks so much.

Imagine an entire state being destroyed by fire. That's what's happening right now in Australia. And it might get worse.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:57:05]

TAPPER: In our Earth Matters series today, 18 million acres of land, roughly the size of the entire state of South Carolina, burned across Australia, as wildfires continue to rage there; 27 people have been killed, 2,000 homes destroyed.

As many as one billion animals have been impacted by the fires, according to experts, millions of those animals killed. And in Sydney, Australia, 30,000 people marching in a climate change protest.

And, as CNN's Will Reply reports, with their country burning, Australians are demanding action.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fighting for change, tens of thousands spilled onto the streets of Sydney, Australians living a fire nightmare, calling on the government to wake up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heartbreaking. It's our doing. If we kill Mother Earth, what have we got?

RIPLEY: Unprecedented bushfires, some of the worst on record, have protesters in nine Australian cities demanding drastic action, demanding their leaders do more to tackle climate change before it's too late.

Australia's devastation only expected to get worse, the inferno fueled by an historic drought and record-breaking heat wave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you add the influence of the human-emitted greenhouse gases, we're likely to see those conditions once every eight years.

RIPLEY: Many of these protesters blame their prime minister, Scott Morrison, Morrison a longtime advocate for coal mines and fossil fuels, a vital part of Australia's economy.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is coal. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The treasurer -- the treasurer knows the rule on props.

RIPLEY: But many are afraid, four months of fires, unprecedented in their intensity and destruction, more than 2,000 homes in the hardest- hit area of New South Wales burned, nearly 30 people killed, thousands more fleeing to safety.

Climate change is one factor, but 24 people in New South Wales are charged with deliberately starting the fires, which are only expected to get worse, hot, dry wind gusts returning to areas where 137 fires are already burning.

On top of the human cost, millions of animals dead, nearly 18 million acres of natural habitat, home to half-a-billion animals, up in flames.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really, really disturbing.

RIPLEY: This viral video shows a man driving along a road littered with their charred corpses. Carnage only expected to get worse.

Australia's fire season doesn't end for months. Will Ripley, CNN, Sydney Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to Will Ripley.

Be sure to tune in to CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning.

My guests include Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Republican Senator Mike Lee, and 2020 presidential Tom Steyer. That is at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on CNN, only on CNN, on Sunday.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet show @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

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