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Trump Now Claims Iran Targeted 4 U.S. Embassies, Without Evidence Or Explanation Of "Imminent" Threat; Pompeo On Soleimani's "Imminent" Attacks: "We Don't Know Precisely" When Or Where He Planned To Attack; Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) Discusses About The President's Claim That Four Embassies Were Targeted By General Soleimani; Ukraine Investigating Whether Bomb Was "Planted" On Flight Downed In Iran With 176 People Onboard; Ukraine Not Ruling Out Terrorism In Iran Plane Crash; U.S. Unsuccessfully Targeted Another Iranian Military Official On Same Day U.S. Killed Soleimani; Pelosi Preparing To Send Impeachment Articles To Senate As Sen. Collins Says She's Working On Deal For Witnesses; Pelosi Preparing to Send Impeachment Articles to Senate; Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) is Interviewed About Pelosi Sending Impeachment Articles to Senate; CNN Iowa Poll: Sanders Rises in Close Four-Way Race. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 10, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump's shifting story. The President's changing reason for launching a strike that killed Iran's top commander. This is the Secretary of State struggles with the meaning of imminent threat.

Plus, Ukrainian investigators say they're looking into whether a bomb was onboard that plane which crashed near Tehran's international airport killing all 176 people onboard.

And our key Republicans working on a plan to include witnesses for Trump's impeachment trial. A major development. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Trump changing his story. This time revealing new details that he did not share classified briefings with members of the House and Senate. Details about what he's said was an imminent threat against Americans from Iran and its top general.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Don't the American people have a right to know what specifically was targeted without revealing methods and sources?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't think so. But we will tell you that probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad.

INGRAHAM: Did he have large scale attacks planned for other embassies and, if those were planned, why can't that be revealed to the American people? Wouldn't that help your case?

TRUMP: I can reveal that. I believe it would have been four embassies.


BURNETT: Four embassies. Yesterday morning it was just one and that one was in Baghdad.


TRUMP: We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy.


BURNETT: Trump is asking Americans to trust him on his decision to take out Soleimani, to trust him and not Congress with the big decision of whether to go to war. This is a very big ask. Because Trump's record when it comes to telling the truth is bad and when it comes to numbers, well, here he is talking about the number of jobs the U.S. would lose if he tore up the U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia.


TRUMP: We're talking about over 40,000 jobs in the United States.

It's 450,000 jobs.

It's 500,000 jobs, American jobs.

I would prefer that we don't use as retribution canceling $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.

I think it's over a million jobs.


BURNETT: From 40,000 to over a million. You cannot make this up even though he did.

When it comes to Trump, accuracy does not matter. Making something sound big is what matters and because Trump is out there now, sharing classified information about one embassy or maybe it was four embassies and changing really important numbers, his chief defender, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has been put in the hot seat. What embassy threats? How real? How imminent? Here he is over the past 24 hours.


MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't know precisely when and we don't know precisely where, but it was real.


BURNETT: So Pompeo doesn't know when or where. But Trump is telling America it was Baghdad and three other embassy. So was this threat real and imminent? The American people do deserve to know the truth. And now, the exact details, the numbers, the places because tonight the credibility of the United States is on the line.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, do we know what is behind the changing stories, the changing narrative that's come from the President?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. That's really been the question facing them for several days now. And I don't think they did a lot to answer that today or to suffice the questions that their critics had been raising. And so that's been the big question is why do we keep seeing these different reasons from different administration officials ranging from the Pentagon to the State Department to the West Wing over what it was that led the President to carry out this strike.

And while so far the President's top National Security aides have been reluctant to really reveal any information about this, you're seeing the President slowly do it himself by being the first person to say he believed they're plotting to blow up the embassy. Then saying it was multiple. And then today being as specific as saying it was four embassies.

Though, we should note the White House is declining to say what those other embassies are or whether they were warned that they were part of some plot that the President says they were planning.

Now, the other big question that lawmakers have had and has been a big chief criticism is just how imminent this threat was going to be. And those questions only intensified after Pompeo said last night, they didn't know exactly when that attack was going to happen, which would lead the question as how do you know exactly that it's imminent if you don't know when it's going to happen.

And today, when I asked the Secretary of State what is his definition of the word imminent, he paused for a moment and then he answered like this, Erin.


COLLINS: Secretary Pompeo, what is your definition of imminent?

POMPEO: This was going to happen and American lives were at risk. And we would have been culpably negligent as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said we would have been culpably negligent and we now recommended the President that he take this action with Qasem Soleimani.



COLLINS: Now, several lawmakers who were in those briefings with people like Pompeo and the Defense Secretary say that they were not told about a plot on four embassies or any embassies of the United States. And that is why another question being raised tonight, if this was so imminent, why were these lawmakers not told about this during these intelligence briefings on Capitol Hill this week?

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. Obviously, some crucial questions here. I want to go out front now to Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee. Senator, I appreciate your time.

Were you aware that four embassies were being targeted by Iran and General Soleimani?

SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D-NH): Look, I was in the classified briefing and I'm just going to start by one; thanking you for having me on, two, reiterating that General Soleimani was an enemy of the United States, had American blood on his hands. I'm glad he's no longer on this earth to orchestrate attacks against Americans.

That being said, the briefing and now the lack of consistency from the administration just has been begging more questions than it is answering. We need to have additional briefings from the National Security team so that we can drill down on the intelligence. As you know, the briefing was interrupted well before we all got a chance to ask the questions that would have helped us ...

BURNETT: Yes, I do.

HASSAN: ... understand the full picture. And we need a strategy from this administration.

BURNETT: So did they tell you that there's four embassies or three embassies or two embassies or one embassy or anything about the plot? I mean, did you have any of this information or did you learn it from Fox News?

HASSAN: I have been very concerned. I'm not going to discuss details of what I heard in the classified briefing. But I am going to say that there has been this evolving contradictory set of stories which again speaks to not only the needs for us to have a full briefing, but it speaks to the importance of having a full-fledged discussion and debate about the War Powers Act.

BURNETT: And I'm sorry to keep pushing on this, but I'm sure it's really trying to understand.


BURNETT: I know you can't share it, it was in a classified briefing, Senator. But you keep using the word contradictory.

HASSAN: Right.

BURNETT: So at least you're letting us know that there's something in here about what he's saying and what you heard that is inconsistent, just to make sure we understand.

HASSAN: That is, in fact, true. Yes. BURNETT: OK. All right. So with this being said, so he briefs - yes,

go ahead.

HASSAN: Yes. We were pushing for details that would have allowed us to assess whether we thought the threat was imminent, for instance. There is no question that Iran is a malevolent force that it has and its proxies have attacked and sponsored attacks on U.S. troops, and our allies, and Americans and our interests. And all of those things are true.

But when you are looking at whether the President was acting within his Article Two powers to go after an imminent threat to prevent our troops or whether this was rightly something that he needed to come to Congress about, so that we could be clear not only as members of Congress, but so that the American people can understand what the threat is and what the mission should be and whether we're going to have a sustained conflict, and what the strategy now is for preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, deescalating.

BURNETT: OK. So in terms of - yes.

HASSAN: Yes, go ahead.

BURNETT: The nature, in terms of the nature of the threat itself, there's contradictory information from what you're saying and what he's now saying. There's also this issue which you just raised, Senator, about imminent and the reason this word matters for people who wonder why there's such an obsession about it is exactly what you say.

If something is imminent, the President has the authority to act without the approval of Congress in a potential act of war.

HASSAN: Right.

BURNETT: So that's why the word matters. Senator Chris Murphy tweeted today in part, "Either Fox News gets higher level briefings than Congress or, wait for it, there was no such imminent threat." Referring, of course, to the interview which I just played a portion of with Laura Ingraham where the President talked about the attack on four embassies. Do you feel confident that you've been given any information that proves imminence?

HASSAN: That would be what I would want to be able to go back to a second briefing about. There is no doubt that we can talk about Iran being a threat to the United States. It has been for years. It continues to be.

BURNETT: Right. But that's different than a specific attack with the imminent ...

HASSAN: But we need to understand what - that is exactly right and that is why this whole conversation is so important. And that is why it is so important for us to have a discussion in both chambers of Congress to make sure that we understand what the threat is that the administration sees, what its strategy is going forward. We all agree Iran is a malevolent actor, but we need to make sure we

have a strategy working with our allies to keep it from getting a nuclear bomb, to protect our U.S. troops, and our U.S. interest in the Middle East but all around the globe, and that's what we are not hearing from this administration and that concerns me greatly.


So The Wall Street Journal reports tonight, Senator, "Mr. Trump, after the strike," I'm reading from the paper, "told associates that he was under pressure to deal with General Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters of his in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said."

Are you comfortable at this point saying that his decision to do this strike had something to do with impeachment or do you think that is a bridge too far?

HASSAN: I am concerned about what The Wall Street Journal reported, but I think that report and the question that is suggested in that report is precisely why the National Security team of this administration needs to come to Congress first to brief us with specificity on the intelligence that gave rise to their assessment that they told us that it wasn't imminent threat.

Although as you have pointed out, we are hearing contradictory accounts about that very issue. But it also speaks to why it is so important to fully include the American people in a discussion about a sustained conflict and a war against a foreign power. Our founders understood that if we were going to have a sustained war against a foreign power, that the American people needed to understand because it is their blood and treasure on the line there, and they need to be fully participating so they know what the mission is, and that would alleviate some of the concerns raised by The Wall Street Journal.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator Hassan. I appreciate your time on this Friday.

HASSAN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, disturbing new video that we have this hour of the final moments of that Ukrainian jet that U.S. authorities believe was shot down by an Iranian missile.

Plus, Nancy Pelosi says she's handing impeachment articles next week. Why still waiting?

And a new CNN poll shows the top 2020 candidates locked in an extremely tight race at the top in the crucial state of Iowa, the first state to vote as Jill Biden speaks to CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she said that Democrats can be too big of a tent. Is she right?

JILL BIDEN, FORMER SECOND LADY: No, she's not right.




BURNETT: Breaking news, U.S. official sharing intelligence with Ukraine which points to an Iranian missile bringing down the jetliner which crashed after takeoff from Tehran's airport. This as Ukraine says it's also looking into whether a bomb was planted on that commercial flight that crashed in Iran, killing 176 innocent people onboard.

We are now getting new video showing the moment the plane crashed. I want to warn you, this video is extremely disturbing. Clarissa Ward is out front from Kiev.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A new video has emerged showing the moment the Ukrainian airliner comes crashing to the ground. There's a wall of fire as flaming debris litters in Iranian field.


WARD: Your security services have also posted on their website that they're considering the possibility of terrorism.

VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We're checking the internals of the plane as well trying to understand where the bomb was plant in the plane itself.


WARD(voice over): Tonight, Ukrainian officials say they are reviewing data given to them by international partners, including the United States but are not yet willing to say their commercial jet was shot down by an Iranian missile. The Ukrainians, at this point, are keeping all considerations on the table.


POMPEO: We do believe that it's likely that that plane was shot down by an Iranian missile. We're going to let the investigation play out before we make a final determination. It's important that we get to the bottom of it.


WARD(voice over): Sweden, the U.K. and Canada also pointing the finger at Iran. But the regime is doubling down. Iran denying they played any role in the plane's demise and demanding the U.S. substantiate claims of a missile strike.


ALI ABEDZADEH, IRAN'S CIVIL AVIATION CHIEF (through interpreter): The thing that is clear to us and that we can say with certainty is that this plane was not hit by a missile.


WARD(voice over): The Iranian civil authority announcing Friday information from the black boxes recovered at the scene could take months to properly extract. Ukrainian investigators on the ground in Tehran are now reconstructing the plane in an isolated hangar looking for evidence of chemical residue and other remnants of a missile attack.

But with Iranians in control of the crash site, there is no telling what wreckage may have already been removed.


PRYSTAIKO: We aren't happy of what we're seeing, especially when we saw that the locals are roaming around and picking things and then touching the things and getting something from the ground. That's what we had immediately to stop.


WARD (voice over): A growing chorus in the international community demanding a complete and transparent investigation.


POMPEO: We'll learn more about what happened to that aircraft and when we get the results of that investigation, I am confident we and the world will take appropriate actions in response.



WARD: Part of the reason, Erin, that the Ukrainians are still being circumspect about coming out and categorically saying they believe their airliner was shot down by an Iranian missile is because they rely heavily at the moment on the cooperation of the Iranians. They have 50 Ukrainian investigators in Tehran and they need that access. They need that relationship to be a good relationship.

But when we push the Foreign Minister on this issue of whether it could be a technical failure, he said, he did point out that the Ukrainian investigators have listened to the cockpit conversations that went on between the pilot and Iranian air traffic control. Apparently, the last words the pilot was heard to say were that things were peaceful and everything was OK.

Obviously, Erin, if it had been a technical failure, those are not the kinds of last words you would expect to hear from the pilot to air traffic control, Erin. BURNETT: No, they aren't. Obviously, eerie to hear. Thank you very

much, Clarissa.

And OUTFRONT now, former CIA Operative Bob Baer and Colonel Cedric Leighton, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bob, let me start with you, of course, they're sharing with us are the last words of the pilot to air traffic control. Everything is OK, peaceful night, which would take away what Iran is continuing to insist, which is that this was some sort of a mechanical issue.


BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, absolutely. I mean I think no doubt this is a missile. We had platforms all over the Gulf, the Air Force were watching Iran and they could spot a missile launch. I think it's fairly clear. If that's what the Pentagon says, that's what happened. And I can see that Iranians denying it. It was a horrible, tragic mistake and Iran is not a country to admit mistakes ever.

BURNETT: So Colonel Leighton, when Ukraine is now saying, "Oh, it could have been a bomb." You heard Clarissa putting some context around that, which is perhaps they are doing that because Iran is obviously at this point, categorically, denying any sort of a missile issue and Ukraine needs Iran to allow them to continue to be part of this investigation.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely, Erin. And I think it's very important to look at the diplomatic side of this. But from a technical aspect, Bob is absolutely right. We've got this area painted like you wouldn't believe when it comes to finding electronic signatures. And it's pretty clear to me as someone who's looked at these kinds of things for a long time that a missile struck the aircraft.

But if I were in the Ukrainian Foreign Minister's shoes, I would be saying the same thing that he said. We look at everything and that includes the possibility of a terrorist act or a bomb being put on onboard the aircraft.

BURNETT: Right. And to what both of you are saying I should be clear we've reported that the U.S. has said that they have proof Iranian radar locked onto that plane just before it fell out of the sky. And Bob, to that point of this horrific video, it's a surveillance video from a nearby building, the video that the plane crashed into the ground, you see it come down and then you see that massive explosion as that airplane hits the ground.

How quickly do you think it went from all is peaceful then the missile strikes to when that plane actually did hit the ground?

BAER: Very quick. These people didn't know what happened. That plane wing breaks off, explosion in one of the engines. If that's where the missile hit. People wouldn't even know it. It all happens very quickly. The plane was, I don't know, 9,000 feet off the ground, something like that. It was barely had taken off. I don't think they'd known. Pan Am 103 went down that way and people didn't realize what was happening.

BURNETT: Well, I mean, thank god, that's the one thing I think everyone can be grateful that hopefully these people knew nothing.

Colonel, we have learned on the same night that President Trump chose to strike General Soleimani. The United States also targeted another senior military official. The Washington Post is reporting this was sort of like the guy in charge of all of the money. Key commander of the elite Quds Force. Obviously worked with General Soleimani, but the person in charge of all the money he was in Yemen on that night and they had planned both of these attacks extensively. This one failed.

But this does seem to show this was a much bigger operation and this was not opportunistic. You have two people targeted in the same night in different countries.

LEIGHTON: That's right, Erin. And what you're looking at here is perhaps a semi strategy to decapitate the Quds Force. So if that's the case, that's clearly an escalation in the way in which we're going after this particular Iranian entity and going after the money guy is a very important thing to do. Because if the President is right in his assertions that embassies were part of the pattern of attack that the Quds Force was planning, then they need money to do that and to go after the money guy helps keep those operations from actually coming to fruition.

BURNETT: So Bob now officials time The Washington Post, an American official that they may go ahead and target this the same guy, Abdul Reza Shahlai is his name. The guy in charge of the money for the Revolutionary Guard. I mean what does that say to you, Bob? I mean how does Iran react to this that the United States is basically saying, OK, well, we're still going after your guy.

BAER: Well, we're going to wait and see. So far they've been restrained but as Colonel Leighton was saying, the Quds Force is an organization, it's got hundreds and hundreds of people all across the Middle East. That organization has killed a lot of Americans. It killed two of my bosses in Lebanon and you have to take it down if that's your intent is to go after Iran.

Now, will the Iranians react one day? We just simply don't know. But right now they have shown considerable restraint that they didn't respond like I thought they would to Soleimani's assassination.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. Obviously, I think the emphasis for that is we just don't know where we are in this, what's over or not over. Thank you both.

And next, will a small group of key Republicans break with Mitch McConnell when it comes to calling witnesses including John Bolton?


And Bernie Sanders comes face-to-face with the other Bernie Sanders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So who do you want as president? One of these

Washington insiders or a guy who has one pair of clean underwear that he dries on a radiator?




BURNETT: New tonight, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine revealing she is working with a fairly small group, her words, of GOP senators to reach a deal that would let both parties call witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial such as John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney. Now that's both party so that obviously could open up a whole another can of worms for Democrats.

But in principle, this is something other Republicans including the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have completely dismissed out of hand. And it comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is preparing to send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT. He's on Capitol Hill. So Manu, she sends those articles over as she's indicating she plans to do next week. What is the timeline you're hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it can move pretty quickly. As soon as next week we assume the articles will be sent by the middle of this next week.


And the White House and the Republicans want the president to be acquitted by the time the State of the Union occurs on February 4th. I'm told they want the president to use the address to boast about him being acquitted by the U.S. Senate.

And it's possible that that time frame could essentially work out, but it ultimately depends on whether or not witnesses are called before the Senate. Right now, it would require four Republicans to break ranks, joined with 47 Democrats to call those witnesses to come forward while people at Susan Collins have suggested they would be open to it.

It's unclear whether there will be a coalition to get behind that. We'll see how that develops as the trial progresses. But the way it's going to look is this. Starting on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi will meet with her House Democratic Caucus, will discuss the matter going forward. We do expect a vote probably at this point on Wednesday to actually appoint those impeachment managers. Those are the people that are going to prosecute the case.

Those managers then will go to the Senate chamber, read aloud those two articles of impeachment that had been approved by the House, allegations the president abused his office and also he obstructed Congress. After those impeachment managers are named, that's when senators will get sworn in. And then the following week at the moment we're expecting that's when the opening arguments will begin. Each side will make the case. Democratic impeachment managers will make their case. The president's defense team will make its case.

At that point, the questions will be how do they progress do. Do they push to bring forward those witnesses? Do they subpoena witnesses? Or do the Republicans move to dismiss the case or acquit the president?

And that's where the White House and Mitch McConnell are hoping for as an acquittal to happen soon after those arguments are concluded -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Manu. Thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, also the chief deputy whip.

I appreciate your time as always.

Speaker Pelosi says she's ready to send those articles over next week to the Senate. Just to remind everyone, it has now been over three weeks since Trump was formally impeached in the House.

So, what do -- what is causing her to wait until next week? Do you know if there's something specific that she is still trying to accomplish?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): No, I think we're going to have a meeting of the leadership on Monday evening, as we typically do on the first day. And we'll get I think a little bit into the detail.

There is one aspect of it that has to be done and that is the appointment of impeachment managers. And I know that work is underway. So, there is some formality to transmitting the articles over to the Senate.

Obviously, our hope is that those senators who are thinking about their legacy and thinking about their obligation under the Constitution will take their job seriously and realize that in order to make a decision based on the facts, the facts have to be presented to the Senate. And that can only come in the form of those very relevant witnesses.

BURNETT: So, you know, you just heard the reporting that Susan Collins says she's working with a small group of Republican senators to support witnesses. Now, obviously, if that is true, it would be extremely significant. But the caveat there was from both sides. Is that a deal Democrats should do?

You know, they get Mick Mulvaney, they get John Bolton, but they also get Hunter Biden.

KILDEE: Yes. I mean, let's hope they don't turn it into a side show. The question is on the president's behavior. The question is on whether the president sacrificed American national security in the interest of his own political gain. And the witnesses that can bring factual evidence to answer that

question, this is a trial, an impeachment trial for the president. This is not an opportunity for people to go after Joe Biden. But do you know what? It's unpredictable. I think though in the long run, if the information that, say, Mr. Bolton has or Mr. Mulvaney has or Mr. Pompeo or even Mr. Duffey from the Office of Management and Budget, if that information is presented and if it reveals what many of us suspect it will, I don't think anything else is going to matter that much.

BURNETT: Well --

KILDEE: Whether the Senate will be convicted, he will be convicted in the court of public opinion.

BURNETT: So, if the House sends the articles next week, and Speaker Pelosi moves forward with that as she's indicated, you know when you just do the look at what happened with Clinton, right, where you have a few days for one side, a few days for the other, you have the vote on whether there's witnesses, you have closing arguments, maybe even have witnesses inserted in the middle of that, the bottom line is the map would be President Trump could be acquitted the day before or the day of his State of the Union if he gets the votes from Republicans, right, which would allow him to come out triumphant.

I mean, are you OK with that risk?

KILDEE: Well, I'm not OK with a whole lot of things that the president does. And if he uses the State of the Union to talk about the state of Donald Trump, you know, that's going to be on him.

But it's a risk that we take. We can't control everything, obviously. We just want to do our job. And, you know, if the Senate does its job and the facts are revealed as a part of that trial, no matter what the Senate votes, the facts are going to be out there.


And I think the president's going to have a hard time taking what he would consider a victory lap based on information that I think will indict him even further.

But, obviously, we can't control everything. That's a -- that's a reality we have to face.


So, when you and I last spoke, you suggested -- you know, you were just saying the way things Manu was laying out, that the articles get handed over. And then there needs to be a vote on who the House managers are going to be. So for -- in English, those are the people who are going to be making the case, the lawyers making the case to senators that you all have.

You had suggested that the intel chairman Adam Schiff or Judiciary Committee Jamie Raskin could be House impeachment managers depending how this played out. For a Republican who supports impeachment broke with his party, possibly sacrificed his political future to do so, Justin Amash was on the show last night and I asked him about whether he would be an impeachment manager. Of course, he's a lawyer. Here he is.


REP. JUSTIN AMASH (I-MI): It's something that I told my Democratic colleagues who have asked me that I'd be happy to talk to the speaker about. But I didn't have that discussion. If the speaker wants to have that discussion, of course, I'd be honored to have that conversation.


BURNETT: Do you think that she should talk to Congressman Amash?

KILDEE: Well, I mean, obviously every member of Congress has a stake in this and I consider Congressman Amash a friend even though he and I disagree on a lot of issues. But I think it's more important that we put managers that can best bring the case, not so much that represent an ideology or a particular perspective. But the people with the training and the knowledge and expertise to best present our case. And if it turns out that's Justin Amash and that that's the speaker's judgment, then I'm with her.

But I suspect we have members who are members of our caucus who have been a part of the deliberations, who have been a part of the process of coming to this conclusion that can advance our case. But it ought to be the members who can best present both the constitutional basis and a factual basis for impeachment.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time, Congressman Kildee. Thank you.

KILDEE: Thank you. You bet.

BURNETT: And, look, as impeachment is going to roll right into Iowa, meaning there's three senators who aren't going to be in Iowa who are running for president. We have a brand new CNN poll showing an incredibly tight race in the first state to vote. What happens when half the contenders are literally off the trial sitting in Washington, in the Senate trial?

Plus, Joe Biden's wife hitting the trail and talking on President Trump.


JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: We knew Donald Trump was going to be a difficult opponent that he was never going to play fair.



[19:41:51] BURNETT: New tonight, impeachment and Iowa collide. A brand-new CNN poll just out tonight shows a tight four-way race in Iowa. Sanders at 20, Warren at 17, Buttigieg at 16, Biden at 15, and the margin of error is four, so you get the point. It is just a big pile.

Half of the top contenders, though, are in the Senate which means they will be in Washington, not Iowa. And they'll be Washington as soon as next week. And then they will be there for the perpetuity until the trial is over. They are jurors in the impeachment trial.

OUTFRONT now, Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House press secretary, and Patrick Healy, politics editor at "The New York Times" and a political analyst for us.

Joe, this is -- this is pretty incredible, OK? We were just sitting here in the commercial break laying out the timeline. From what Manu is laying out and what we're understanding, you've got to have Pelosi hand over the articles and the managers chosen and the senators sworn in. And then you have the Martin Luther King holiday and then you have a trial formally start.

You literally could end with this trial ending on caucus day.


BURNETT: And it's six days a week. That means if they want to do a round trip to Iowa on the one day they have off, that's it for --


BURNETT: -- for Sanders and Warren and Klobuchar.

LOCKHART: Yes. And even if they go out to Iowa that one day, they're limited by there can't be a fiery, crazy partisan Democrat and then Monday morning come in say, I'm a juror.

BURNETT: And sits silently as a juror.

LOCKHART: Yes. So, it's -- you know, it's fascinating because it couldn't come at a worse time for the four senators. And because there's no clear front runner, say Bernie Sanders was ten points ahead in Iowa. This would be great for him to freeze this thing for. But he's not.

So, on paper, this is a disaster scenario for those four. The crazy thing about politics though is sometimes it gets turned upside down.

BURNETT: And you just don't know.

LOCKHART: And something happens and you just don't know. And something happens in Washington that turns it rather than in the field.

BURNETT: So, I want to make the points for everyone thinking they're going to get their big moments in Washington. They have to be silent. Even if they have questions, they have to write them down and hand them over and written. So, people should understand, you're not going to get the big moments like in the House. You know, these big moments for soliloquy and, you know, Cicero-like behavior, whatever it might be.

Patrick, of the senators in the race, of the three that are front runners here, who is hurt the most by this?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's toughest for Warren right now because Warren is in a position where she is very much competing against Bernie Sanders for the very strong liberal vote in Iowa. She doesn't -- she's not flush with cash in terms of being able to spend heavily on --

BURNETT: And he is, right? He can flood it with money.

HEALY: He is quite flush. And the reality that she's still more in the persuasion business than I think Sanders is.

Here's where I differ with Joe a little bit. I think that the Senate trial isn't good for any of the senators, yes. But for Sanders, he has this durable floor of support that he is able to -- he's going to be able to back up with surrogates, with advertising, with a certain amount of momentum.

Now, is he going to win the Iowa caucuses? We don't know that.


But for Warren at least, I think she was -- I think she would really benefit from having those last two weeks of being able to go out, be persuading, not talking about Medicare for All, but trying to broaden.

BURNETT: So, Joe, you have -- you know, Pete Buttigieg dropped nine points in this poll from November. Now, some might look and say, oh, he peaked too early. OK, but yet, maybe that's right. Maybe that's not right. The truth is he and Joe Biden, you know, they're going to be, they're going to be out there.


BURNETT: Ad they're going to have the state to themselves. And that could be very significant. What do you make of that when you juxtapose it with a nine point drop and everybody else is in the range?

LOCKHART: Yes, those are two separate things. I think you've seen a pattern of candidates, Elizabeth Warren -- first, Kamala Harris if you want to go way back to the summer. And Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, and Biden in there too where they took the frontrunner status, they kind of took pounding that it takes and only Biden has been able to sustain a relative --

BURNETT: I mean he stays at 15 percent.

LOCKHART: He stays there. He doesn't -- everyone else has moved. So, this is predictable. As Patrick and I were talking about on the way in, the one candidate that doesn't seem susceptible to this is Bernie Sanders. And I think it's because as Patrick said, he's got this base that are going to do -- they're going to be out there no matter what happens, no matter what Bernie says.

BURNETT: And he's not going to bleed to Biden --


BURNETT: They're two very different propositions.

HEALY: Yes, right. I mean, right now, the story in Iowa right now is how undecided and nervous so many voters are, not sort of certain that -- you ask a lot of voters and they're not sure where they're going to be. You ask a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters and they're very much committed with him.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both. And don't miss the next Democratic debate. It will be on CNN Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

And OUTFRONT next, CNN sits down with Joe Biden's wife Jill to find out how she is taking on her husband's critics, because she is unabashedly.

Plus, Bernie Sanders's surprise run-in with the other guy that can get a red face and white hair.


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

LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: It'll be great for the country, terrible for me.




BURNETT: Tonight, Joe Biden's top surrogate making the case that he is the most electable Democrat running and taking on his critics as she says so.

Arlette Saenz is OUTFRONT.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My name is Joe Biden and I am Jill Biden's husband.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Jill Biden is married to a 2020 front-runner.

She's quickly becoming a campaign headliner of her own.

JILL BIDEN: If the election were held today, who would you want to step in to clean up this mess? SAENZ: Former second lady crisscrossing the early states. Here in New

Hampshire this week with young voters, meeting with volunteers and making her pitch at intimate house parties.

(on camera): How do you see your role in this campaign?

JILL BIDEN: I see it as a partner. This is a critical time for me to support him, because, you know, I want change. I mean, I want a new president.

SAENZ (voice-over): Like her husband, Biden is frustrated with the current occupant of the White House. Biden's watched as her husband and son, Hunter, have become targets of President Trump.

JILL BIDEN: We knew Donald Trump was going to be a difficult opponent and that he was never going to play fair. I think we were ready for whatever was going to come our way, but I think it's important that you move forward in a positive way.

SAENZ: Joe Biden has faced criticism from his Democratic rivals. Bernie Sanders saying he has too much baggage and can't excite voters to beat Trump.

JILL BIDEN: I say that's ridiculous. I don't like it that Democrats attack other Democrats. We're in this race against Donald Trump.

SAENZ (on camera): Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that Democrats can be too big of a tent. Is she right?

JILL BIDEN: No, she's not right. Democrats can't win without independent support. A lot of people come up to me, Arlette, and a lot of people say, you know, I voted for Trump last time but I'm sorry I did it. And they said, I want to vote for someone who is pragmatic, who's a moderate, who's reasonable, who can achieve things. And that's my husband.

SAENZ (voice-over): Off the campaign trail, Biden has devoted her life to teaching, even working at a community college as second lady. But this semester, she's taking a break from the classroom, to help her husband win the nomination.

JILL BIDEN: I just took a leave of absence, but if we get to the White House, I mean I think there would be no better message for teachers to say, hey, look who we are.

SAENZ: As she jumps from stop to stop, Biden says she draws energy from life on the trail.

JILL BIDEN: You know, it's invigorating. Look at those women I just met. I mean, they were so much fun. I meet really interesting people all over the country and hear their stories.

SAENZ: Arlette Saenz, CNN, Concord, New Hampshire.


BURNETT: And next the candidate and the comedian coming face to face.



BURNETT: Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What happens when Bernie Sanders and Larry David happen to be separately booked on the same "Today" show? Much enthusiasm is shown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here with "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David -- no, wait. Oh, "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David.

MOOS: It's not like they haven't met.

DAVID: Huge?


MOOS: Larry has been playing Bernie for years.

DAVID: So who do you want as president? One of these Washington insiders or a guy who has one pair of clean underwear that he dries on a radiator?

MOOS: Larry and Bernie radiate similarities.

SANDERS: Am I really Larry David?

MOOS: Distantly he is.

DAVID: We're second or third cousins. I feel a familial connection with him.

MOOS: Established through DNA on the show "Finding Your Roots."

DAVID: What the hell?

SANDERS: You're kidding!

MOOS: They have been kidding ever since.

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



DAVID: It'll be great for the country and terrible for me.

SANDER: I'm getting you a good job for four years and you're complaining. MOOS: Larry got an Emmy nomination for impersonating Bernie.

SANDERS: He does a better Bernie Sanders than I do.

MOOS: But here's the secret.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think you're acting when you do Bernie Sanders.

DAVID: Yes, there's much to it. There's not much to it.

MOOS: She didn't even have to beat it out of him.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: And thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.