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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Iran Admits It Shot Down Passenger Plane By Mistake; Trump Claims Iranian General Planned To Blow Up U.S. Embassies; Trump: I'd Invoke Executive Privilege To Block Bolton Testimony; Sen. Michael Bennet Campaign Unveils Sweeping $6 Trillion "Real Deal" Plan; CNN Reporting Exclusively From Airbase Targeted By Iran; John Bolton Says He Is Willing To Testify In Impeachment Trial; Puerto Rico Hit By 6.0 Quake As Aftershock Rattle Island; Jury Selection Begins In Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial> Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 11, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


PAYMAN PARSEYAN, FORMER PRESIDENT IRANIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY EDMONTON: He was always laughing, such a friendly guy.

The other three that I knew, the mother, she was an obstetrician gynecologist. Very, very well-known in our community. Always willing to help wherever she could. Her two university aged daughters, extremely bright futures. I think one was pursuing a medical degree and the other clinical psychology. So these are the kind of people that we had in our city. Bright, bright minds.

[08:00:00]

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And the people killed were all over the world - Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany and the U.K. And straight ahead a CNN exclusive, CNN is getting access to the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. The facility that Iran targeted with more than a dozen missiles following the U.S. drone strike that killed its military commander Major General Qasem Soleimani.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Arwa Damon is the first western journalist to get access to the base. Stay with us for her report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iranian leaders now admit the Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed on Wednesday was targeted and shot down unintentionally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're putting their hand up and saying yes it was them and they're putting their hand up and saying that yes they made a giant and fatal error.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really hits close to home when it's such a tight knit community. There are no words. I think most of the community is still in shock and disbelief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the terms of Bolton, President Trump has just made it clear he wants him nowhere near the witness stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to invoke executive privilege?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think, you have to for the sake of the office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's more likely that what's driving this is that John Bolton has something to say that's going to be harmful to Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, this is part of the President's ongoing desire to stonewall the - first the impeachment inquiry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

PAUL: Always glad to have you with us. And we're following breaking news on the passenger jet that Iran now admits to accidentally shooting down. In the past hour we've learned, an Iranian commander requested all commercial flights in Iran be grounded until tensions with the U.S. had cooled off.

BLACKWELL: But Iran's military says the aviation authority never followed through on that request. Our reporters are covering this story from around the globe. We're going to start with CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Tehran. Now, tell us about the blaming that we're hearing now where you are.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I mean, there's a lot of information that's coming out now, Victor, from various Iranian authorities. The first and foremost from the Revolutionary Guard Corps which, of course, operates the air defense systems here in this country.

There was a press conference earlier by the Head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps where he not only said that he had requested for the airspace to not be closed, but for all flights to be grounded. That means no flights are being allowed to take off from civilian airports here in this country. But he said that the people who were authorized to actually make that request never followed through on that, and that's why the airspace was still open.

They also gave more information as to what happened that morning when that plane was shot down. They said that they were expecting some sort of counterattack from the U.S. after, obviously, hitting that base that Arwa was just at, with ballistic missiles.

They said that they were seeing things on their radar that led them to get to the highest form of alert that they have here in this country. So basically all of the air defenses were on a war footing, as they put it.

But then this Ukrainian Airlines plane took off. Apparently came near one of the IRGC Revolutionary Guard facilities and was there mistaken for a cruise missile and then shot down - mistakenly shot down, obviously. And they said that the commander of that air defense battery tried to ask his superiors whether or not they would give the go ahead. He couldn't reach them.

They say that he had 10 seconds to make that decision. Ultimately, mistakenly made the decision to shoot that plane down. They then said that they - by Wednesday told the authorities that they had fired surface to air missiles. However, the military then started an internal investigation.

So the civilian people who were looking into that air crash didn't know about the fact that the military had shot the plane down. Now, this information is coming out. As you can imagine, Iranian politicians have issued apologies. Iranian politicians say they are taken aback by this.

The President Hassan Rouhani called this an unjustifiable mistake. So there is some criticism coming from many places here in Iran right now as this country is trying to get to grips with it and at the same time issuing apologies internationally as well guys.

PAUL: So much going on, Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much for walking us through it.

BLACKWELL: Scott McLean is in Kiev. Scott you were there for this news conference last hour. What are you hearing from the Ukrainians?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Victor. This airline Ukraine International Airlines has said precious little over the past couple of days. They held a press conference initially and have gone radio silence since until today.

[08:05:00]

They came prepared to answer that fundamental question of why this aircraft decided to take off in the first place. And they went through pains to explain that this was just the wrong place at the wrong time, and this could have been any aircraft. They even gave a slideshow to explain that the plane had followed its planned flight path. It was at the proper altitude and there was nothing improper done.

The only thing that deviated from the plan was the fact that it was delayed a little bit to take some bags off to reduce the weight. The airline is calling on Iran to accept full responsibility without reservation, saying that they should have closed the airport. And you mentioned earlier, even the commander of the Iranian aerospace is saying that this flight did everything right. And that he had asked the Iranian aviation authorities to close the airspace given the tensions and they had declined.

My question to them was why given the failures of Iranian authorities to warn any commercial aircrafts of potential dangers or Ukrainian authorities to do the same, why they should continue to trust the authorities in the first place and not do their own research? Anyone paying attention at that time would have known that just a few hours earlier there were Iranian missile strikes at U.S. targets into Iraq and, clearly, tensions had reached their peak.

They said, look, they trust the international system and they're going to continue to do. What they no longer trust is the Iranian system and that's why they're not going to fly there for the time being.

One other point to make, Victor, and that's about compensation. This was asked several times by a lot of the local reporters, especially here in Ukraine. They said that they are working out - the Ukrainian government is working with Iran on some kind of a compensation scheme and that the airline would support that. But they would not work on doling out any type of compensation on their own.

BLACKWELL: All right. Some of this takes some time. Scott McLean for us there in Kiev. Thanks so much.

PAUL: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been very vocal about this all week. That's where we find Paula Newton in Toronto right now. How are Canadian officials, Paula, responding to this latest news this morning.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as soon as he saw the apology from Iran, now the Prime Minister here Justin Trudeau put out a statement saying that, look, he expects a full transparent investigation. That that's what the victims deserve, that's what their families deserve.

Christi I'm here in front of a memorial in Toronto. There are memorials like this right across the country. And from here in the last couple days, I've heard a lot of anger from Iranian Canadians. They believe that had Canada and other countries not pushed so hard for this kind of evidence - and the fact that Trudeau actually went on the front foot on Thursday to actually put the evidence in front of the world, they hear that Iran would have never admitted to this.

And there is a lot of anger here that right away when they saw the facts on the ground that they did not say, look, we're investigating. We're going to see if this is a possibility. And it is those denials that so angers this community right now, at the same time that they are trying to mourn.

We know from Canadian officials, Christi that they are trying to get over to Iran. That has not been easy. They haven't had a lot of visas granted. These are loved ones here in Canada who are trying to repatriate the remains, trying to bury their loved ones and even that is proving to be very difficult. As this investigation goes forward, certainly, the country here will be moving forward with their own investigators to really try and have a good look at those black boxes.

Again, as Scott was saying, they were talking about the airspace in Tehran. The Ukrainian Airlines has a lot of questions. And yet here those are the kinds of details that they want to come to the fore so that perhaps this won't happen again. But, again, the Prime Minister here underscoring that, look, this is a national tragedy and Canada wants in on this investigation, especially now that Iran has admitted that it's responsible.

BLACKWELL: All right. Paula Newton for us there in Toronto. Thank you Paula.

PAUL: Paula, thank you. So in a new interview President Trump is defending the U.S. drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani. CNN's Kristen Holmes is following the latest. And Kristen I know the President is revealing what he believes the Iranian general was targeting. Is that right?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Christi. And just to take a step back here. These remarks are coming at a time where the administration is facing an enormous amount of pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to release whatever evidence they have, whatever evidence the administration had, to essentially take out the number two person in power in Iran.

All about the justification. What was the legal, constitutional justification here that led them to these U.S. airstrikes, which of course, we know have had a trickledown effect because of that. Now, we've heard so many conflicting stories. We've heard National Security adviser say that the threat was imminent. That it was immediate.

Then we've also heard them say that it was not a matter of days or weeks or it was an unclarified timeline here, so lots of confusion. And President Trump has really added to that with the question of what exactly was the threat.

On Thursday President Trump said that the threat was that Soleimani was going to blow up the embassy in Baghdad. Then later on Thursday the President elaborated saying it wasn't just attacks on Baghdad and that embassy, but it was also other embassies. And then he said this last night.

[08:10:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

TRUMP: 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 we reveal that to the American people? Wouldn't that help your case?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: So four other embassies there, that's the first time we're hearing that number. And here's why a lot of lawmakers are now scratching their heads. We know that some of President Trump's top advisers were up on Capitol Hill earlier in the week, essentially giving a briefing as to why these strikes were necessary.

Now those lawmakers say that they never heard anything about these embassy attacks. These four a possible plots to take out these U.S. embassies. So a lot of questions now as to where exactly this came from. And if this is true why they weren't briefed from these top administration officials.

PAUL: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks for keeping us updated. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: President Trump says that he would move to block former National Security Adviser John Bolton from testifying during the Senate impeachment trial. We're speaking with Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bennet, of course, earlier this morning about the President's threat and the pending trial.

PAUL: And I don't know if you have opened the door yet to go for your morning run.

BLACKWELL: No.

PAUL: Maybe let the dog out, but there is a triple storm threat out there today. We're talking about conditions that could lead to power outages - already seeing some of those and major damage for a good chunk of the country. We'll give you the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:00]

BLACKWELL: President Trump is offering new details on the decision making that led to the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Joining us now is Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also a 2020 candidate for President. Senator welcome back.

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Victor, it's good to hear you - your voice.

BLACKWELL: Let's start here. The President says that he believes that Soleimani was targeting four embassies. Were you told anything matching that specificity in the briefing that happened this week.

BENNET: I have been told nothing matching that specificity in the briefings - not remotely. I mean, I would have thought that if that were the truth, we would have heard that in the very first briefing that we had. And not only did we not hear it then, we have to wait till the President goes on Fox News three or four days later for his latest justification.

So, I doubt very much there's any intelligence that supports what the President is now saying. But if there, is its intelligence that only he has seen and no one else in the federal government has seen.

BLACKWELL: Do you believe him?

BENNET: I don't believe him.

BLACKWELL: So you believe the President is lying in his justification to support the strike? BENNET: Yes, which is not unusual for him. I mean, he lies when it would be easier to tell the truth and this is - I hope this isn't one of those cases. But based on the intelligence that I've seen there's absolutely nothing in it to justify what the President is now using three or four days after the attack to justify the attack.

And why this matters is not that Soleimani was a good or terrible person. He was a terrible person. But - and he did terrible damage to the United States. The question is, are the American people safer today by the actions of this impetuous non-strategic, and I would say, weak President? And I would say that Americans are not safer in the Middle East or in the United States.

BLACKWELL: Let me get your reaction to something that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted out. He tweeted this in reference to the plane being shot down and now Iran accepting responsibility. In part he writes, "Human error at a time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster." What's your thought on that that the U.S. bears some responsibility?

BENNET: Well, I don't think the U.S. bears any responsibility for that. The Iranians should not have shot down that airplane accidentally or not. I'm glad they are - they seem to be taking responsibility for it. They shouldn't be trying to push it off on the United States. And I hope that the families who have lost loved ones will receive some compensation for what happened to them.

BLACKWELL: So this week former National Security Adviser John Bolton said that if subpoenaed he would testify in the Senate impeachment trial. We heard from President Trump that he will likely invoke executive privilege. What should Democrats do to try to still get the testimony from John Bolton?

BENNET: Well, we've got to keep fighting for it, and I hope we'll succeed. I mean, Bolton has said that he'll testify. I think, there'll be 51 votes in the Senate to have Bolton testify. That, obviously, will require more than just Democrats, some Republicans as well.

And it's just an amazing thing. The inconsistency of this President, I think, two weeks ago he was saying he didn't care whether Bolton testified because he said Bolton didn't know anything about what was going on. And now he's saying that he--

BLACKWELL: I apologize for jumping in. We've got a bit of a delay here. So you're hearing me after and I'm hearing you probably a little later. But are you saying you're confident that you have 51 votes to get Bolton to testify and if the President invokes executive privilege, should Democrats fight this out in court as we saw House Democrats were not willing to do.

BENNET: Well, first of all, I'm not confident of anything. I mean, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I hope there will be 51 votes to get Bolton to testify. And if he won't testify I think we should fight it out in court.

[08:20:00] You know, the president has made this ridiculous claim of executive privilege that's kept people who are obligated, in my view, under the Constitution to testify in congressional oversight hearings. He is thumbing his nose not just to Congress, but at the American people who want to know the facts of what happened here.

And that's why over 70 percent of the American people say they want witnesses. They say they want documents in this trial. I do not think Donald Trump is going to be able to stonewall the Democrats in the Senate or the American people here.

BLACKWELL: Senator let's turn to 2020 now. Since your last conversation here on "NEW DAY SATURDAY," you had launched your "Real Deal Agenda," a long list of mostly domestic programs. $6 trillion price tag over a decade. One of the ways in which you say that you are going to pay for it is by enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

You were a member of the 2013 Gang of Eight - the eight bipartisan Senators who got at least the legislation through the Senate. And your estimate is that that will save $400 billion. Now let me ask you about that number. When Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to pay for Medicare-for-all back in November, you said that it wasn't going to happen.

She said that she was going to pay for that in part with the $400 billion from savings from comprehensive immigration reform. This is what other members of the Gang of Eight from 2013 said about her use of $400 billion from immigration reform.

This from, Dick Durbin, a Democrat. "There was a lot of money involved, but we had it directed toward a certain purpose." From another Democrat Senator Bob Menendez, "Getting that done and getting the savings are two different things." So the question is, if it's unreliable and her numbers didn't work, why would the $400 billion work in your plan?

BENNET: I actually don't think it's unreliable. We used $46 billion to pay for border security, which by the way everybody, including Donald Trump in particular, has forgotten. But the CBO said that it would save - it saved about the amount of money - the Congressional Budget Office said it would save about the amount of money that I claimed in the plan that I proposed over a 10-year period.

BLACKWELL: But the fellow Senators - the fellow members of the Gang of Eight say that those numbers aren't working. Republicans were less generous with their criticisms. But you hear from Senator Menendez getting the savings and getting it done are two different things. You think that $400 billion is going to work in your plan when they didn't think it would work in hers?

BENNET: Yes. No, I actually think it's real. The big difference between Elizabeth Warren's plans and my plans is that my plan adds up to $6 trillion. Her plan adds up to $41 trillion, which is almost all the money we're going to spend over the next 10 years anyway. And that's the whole point of the "Real Deal." It's to show that we can have a progressive set of policies that add up to about $6 trillion. That we can pay for those policies and that their policies that can we can run on in purple states and actually win the presidency and win the Senate majority, which I think is what we need to be doing, instead of making a bunch of empty promises that I think is just going to breed more cynicism among the American people. I stand by the numbers that I've put forth. Yes, go ahead, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Finally, Senator, and I'm running out of time here. You've been in the race for about eight months now. Iowa is a little more than three weeks away. New Hampshire is exactly one month away. Campaign adviser told CNN "For him the do or die moment is Iowa. That is where we're putting everything."

We've got a new CNN poll out just in the last few hours where you're facing less than a 0.5 choosing you as their first choice. Second choice you're at 1 percent of respondents. 6 percent are actively considering you. That's the lowest number since you entered the race.

You've held more events in New Hampshire than anyone - any other candidate according to local reporting and the latest New Hampshire Monmouth poll has you at 2 percent. What do you need to do differently in these final weeks to get into contention to win either the caucuses or the primary?

BENNET: Yes, I appreciate that. I mean, we're making progress in the polling in New Hampshire and I think we need to keep doing what we're doing. I'm engaged in doing 50 town halls - one right after the next, just like my friend John McCain used to do and some others have done. And there's a history of people catching on in the last couple of weeks. That's what I need to do.

I didn't get in this race is one of the better known candidates. But I do think I've got a better set of plans. And I think is the only candidate in the race who's won two national elections swing state. I know how to take on Donald Trump in a way the other candidates just don't.

So it's not - you know, this is not a lay down, Victor, for sure. But the reason I've stayed in is that I think we can't afford to lose to this person again - Donald Trump. We never should have lost in the last time.

And if we lose to him again, it's going to be shame on us. But more important than that, it's going to be a misery for the next generation of Americans and the people that are coming after that. So, I think, we all have to do our part, and that's what I'm trying to do.

[08:25:00]

BLACKWELL: Senator Michael Bennet, always good to have you on "NEW DAY."

BENNET: Thanks, Victor. Good to have you - good to be here. Thanks. BLACKWELL: All right. CNN is the place to be for the next Democratic presidential debate. The debate is in partnership with the Des Moines Register. It's on Tuesday 9 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

PAUL: Listen, we have a CNN exclusive for you inside the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq and that was the base that was hit by more than a dozen ballistic missiles. Our Arwa Damon is there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: 29 minutes past the hour. We have some breaking developments to talk to you this morning about Iran. A commander there says he requested all commercial flights in Iran be grounded until tensions with the U.S. had cooled off. But Iran military says the Aviation Authority never follow through on that request, hence that plane went down.

[08:30:00]

BLACKWELL: Yes. The plane was shot down Wednesday. All 176 people on board were killed. The crash happened as Iran launched the military strikes - the missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. Now, the military says it was expecting a counterattack and mistook the commercial jet for a hostile target.

PAUL: And the future of U.S. troops in Iraq is in question this morning after the Iraqi Prime Minister asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to start that process of withdrawal.

BLACKWELL: The State Department dismissed the request saying, "Troops are crucial for the fight against ISIS." U.S. troops are stationed at the Al Asad Airbase that was hit with more than a dozen ballistic missiles. And the missiles hit areas of the base that were not occupied by troops.

However, CNN Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon was the first journalist to gain access to the base. She joins us now from there with more of her exclusive reporting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This used to be living quarters. This is where the troops would sleep - at least one of the areas. There is almost nothing left, nothing that was salvageable, we were told.

The crater itself impacted over here. And it was one of 10 impacts that happened. Being here, it's truly extraordinary how anyone managed to survive, that there were no casualties when you look at the destruction.

And then hearing all of the stories of the close calls of the heroics, what we are now learning is that there was advanced warning to a certain degree. They knew something was going to happen. They just didn't know what. And about 11 p.m. at night, those that were able to go to the bunkers went to the bunkers. But there were still troops that were out manning posts that because of the secret situation they had to stay at.

So people were beginning to take shelter at around 11 p.m. and then at 1:34 that's when the first impact happened. A lot of those who we are talking to are saying that it was unlike anything they had ever imagined. Of course, on the one hand, the training does kick in. But at the end of the day, this is a terrifying experience, a terrifying situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Thanks to Arwa Damon for that exclusive report from the Al Asad base.

So, President Trump, his senate impeachment trial could start this week.

PAUL: Will any witnesses be called to the stand? That is the big question everyone wants to know. We'll talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:35:00]

BLACKWELL: President Trump says that he will likely invoke executive privilege to stop former National Security Advisor John Bolton from testifying in the Senate impeachment trial.

PAUL: The President preemptively defended his decision on Fox News last night saying, that he'd be doing it to protect future presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You can't be in the White House as president - future, I'm talking about future, many future presidents - and have a security adviser, anybody having to do with security, and legal and other things.

INGRAHAM: You're going to invoke executive privilege?

TRUMP: Especially - well, I think you have to for the sake of the office

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Now, remember, Monday, Bolton said he'd testify if he is subpoenaed. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore with us now. Our Political Analyst in Margaret Talev, politics and White House Editor for Axios also as well. Good morning to both of you.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Good morning.

PAUL: Margaret, what is your reaction to the President saying for the sake of the office, this is why I would do this.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, when President Trump talks about the sake of continuity in office and how things have always been done and how they always should be done, there are times the President says he will make his own rules. Just a couple of days ago, the president suggested he would not stop the Senate. That that would be a decision - that would be up to Mitch McConnell.

So it looks like he's getting some advice from his lawyers here. He's been a little bit inconsistent and how he would approach this. I also would just say that everybody has kind of some different irons in the fire here.

There's been a lot of legal disagreement about whether John Bolton's intention in doing this was to testify, or to prevent himself from testifying by instigating the predictable result from the White House, which is the invocation of privilege

Also remember, John Bolton has a book coming out, doesn't want to be accused of pulling back during the impeachment process and then putting it all in the book. Democrats have argued for and against certain witnesses. Republicans have played these different ways.

So there you can read lot of tea leaves and have completely divergent views about what everyone's motivations are. But the question still remains, are there going to be witness testimony? And Mitch McConnell has not answered that question.

PAUL: But we don't know - and Margaret, I'm going to stay with you for a minute. We don't know what the intentions are of Bolton. But we also don't know what he's going to say. Some people think he's going to get up there and say something really disastrous for the President. At the same time, he's seen as somebody who was very loyal. He could get up there and support President. Yes?

TALEV: That's absolutely true. It's sort of - well, this is completely hypothetical. I think, to some extent, it depends on what he's asked. But the real question is, even if John Bolton thought that the Ukraine process was a drug deal, as we learned from other people that he said at the time, it doesn't mean that he believes it's an impeachable offense for the President.

[08:40:00]

And, ultimately, that's the ultimate political question here that is on trial in the political context. My guess is that we'll never find out. But, if I'm wrong, we will cover it with rapt attention.

PAUL: Absolutely. So, Michael, I think a lot of people wonder about the necessity of executive privilege. A lot of people think isn't that reserved for times where national security can be at risk? Is that applicable here?

MOORE: The executive privilege is an important thing, because it allows for some protection of the deliberative process when you have a President talking to his or her advisors. And so, it is a necessary thing. I think it's a little bit of a farce.

And this might be the first time that the President, during his term, has been worried about sort of protecting the office of the presidency, because - essentially, it exists for a reason. He has used it though as a cloak to try to sort of shield some of his conduct and his obstructive behavior by blocking witnesses and then claiming they should come out. By blocking documents, by telling agencies not to respond to congressional subpoenas.

And essentially thumbing his nose at the coequal branches of government, he's used it for that, and that's not what it's meant for. It's meant so we can have discussion about risk, so we can have a discussion about the realities of the situation on the ground, and those things are protected as we make decisions moving forward.

PAUL: I know the expectation is that the Senate is going to begin an impeachment trial next week, certainly because these articles are going to be transferred there. But Nancy Pelosi - Speaker Pelosi has said she believes there has been a benefit to holding on to these Articles of Impeachment, which is something she's been criticized for as well. Do you see any place where this holding of the articles has favored the Democrats?

MOORE: I think so. I mean - and I think it's really favored the American people more than anything else, because it's allowed new information to come out. We saw since the passage of the initial articles that there was new information coming out of new e-mails, sort of detailing the withholding of aid from Ukraine and the timing of that sequence of when that occurred, that that's important.

It's also given the chance for people like Susan Collins and Romney and Murkowski to maybe come together, maybe some other Senators that we don't know about, to make decisions or whether or not they will ultimately be in favor of witnesses, and maybe to hear from people at home on whether or not that their constituents want to hear from witnesses, that's important.

PAUL: Margaret, your thoughts on that as well, because, he just mentioned Romney and Murkowski and Susan Collins. And even though they have questioned some of the processes here, they all say, let's move on with this. I mean, how solid is Mitch McConnell moving into this phase?

TALEV: Yes, well, there's two questions, and one is, was Nancy Pelosi able to get the outcomes that she said she wanted by delaying the Articles of Impeachment going over the Senate. And the other question is, was she able to extract a political benefit or changed the discussion or the way American voters perceive this?

And I think the answer to the first question appears to be no. It looks like the articles will go over there without you having that leverage where Republican Senator suddenly got on board with Democrats and forced John Bolton to testify.

But to the second question - and impeachment is ultimately a political tool. The question is, do Nancy Pelosi get anything out of this process? And the answer is yes, we're still talking about impeachment, three weeks later, and the President has not yet been able to take that victory lap saying he's been completely exonerated. So Democrats and Nancy Pelosi feel they did get something out of this, but now it looks like the process will move forward next week.

PAUL: Yes, we'll see what happens. Margaret Talev, Michael Moore, so grateful for both of you. Thank you.

MOORE: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Still had breaking news, another aftershock in Puerto Rico. We will speak with reporter there. People running out of homes, are running out of the hotels as well. We'll get you the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:00]

BLACKWELL: Breaking news. The U.S. Geological Survey reports a preliminary 6.0 aftershock this morning off the Coast of Puerto Rico.

PAUL: And this latest aftershock is happening as the islands been rattled by a series of them, leaving a lot of people without power. They're sleeping outdoors just because they are afraid to sleep inside and wondering if a building is going to collapse on them.

CNN Espanol's Maria Santana is on the phone with us now from Ponce, Puerto Rico. Maria, thank you so much. We're glad you're OK. I understand you felt this quake this morning. Help us understand what that was like.

MARIA SANTANA, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR (via telephone): Yes, it was a pretty strong aftershock. Probably the strongest we have felt since we've been here this week. It was a 6.0 and that if you remember the one that caused all that severe damage that toppled homes and damaged structures was a 6.4. So there's a lot of worry here.

I was at the hotel at the time. Our crew was there, starting our day. And the floor started shaking, the windows and the doors of the hotel were rattling, swaying in and out, back and forth. So at that moment, people just started running out of the hotel. We're talking about tourist and also the workers that were there at the time. There was a little bit of a panic. It lasted, I would say about 10 to 15 seconds, but it was definitely the strongest aftershock that we have felt since we've been here.

I'm telling you - just to tell you, this has been a constant for the people of Puerto Rico since about December 28th. Constant aftershocks of - that is at varying degrees of magnitude, but they have been felt throughout the islands. And that is why the anxiety and the fear and just the emotional state of people here are so affected, because it's something that they have been dealing with now for week.

[08:50:00]

BLACKWELL: All right, Maria Santana for us there in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Let's bring in now Allison Chinchar. Allison, kind of map it out for us. And draw the bigger picture that we've scenes since December 28th. ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, again, it's called the swarm. When you get a series of a lot of those small earthquakes, it's called a swarm. And that's what we've had that began on December 28th. And pretty much since that date, it's been almost nonstop shaking of the ground.

Now, Puerto Rico sits between two different tectonic plates. That's the trigger mechanism for these particular quakes. And notice, they're all clustered right here along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

Now, all of those dots that you see there, the yellow ones, the orange ones, and the red one indicate each individual quake that we've had. Now, the red one, that's the one that we just had this morning - the 6.0 at a depth of about 10 kilometers, which is about six miles. That is very shallow in geological terms, OK?

That may not sound like it, but it is. And that the closer surrenders to the surface, the more violent the shaking can be felt. And that's it sounds like, at least in that particular region, that that was the case. People were feeling that as they were getting up and starting their days there.

BLACKWELL: All right, Allison Chinchar, thanks so much for jumping in on this breaking news out of Puerto Rico.

Still to come, new sex crime charges filed against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The new charges in his trial in New York, as it begins to wild week ahead.

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[08:55:00]

BLACKWELL: Jury selection in the Harvey Weinstein trial began this week.

PAUL: He's on trial for allegedly raping a woman in 2013, sexually assaulting another woman in 2006. He's pleaded not guilty to all counts. And now he's facing new sex crime charges in LA.

Well, civil rights activist and creator of the #MeToo campaign is watching this very closely, Tarana Burke, and she is with us now. Tarana, thank you so much for being back with us.

TARANA BURKE, CREATOR #METOO CAMPAIGN: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: When you watch this, I want to put - I want to put up a tweet that you had tweeted out earlier this this week. I believe, that it was actually a retweet that you wrote at least one - or you tweeted.

"At least 100 silencebreakers who bravely came forward to report Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct risked everything to see him brought to justice. Today, as his criminal trial begins, we're in the awe of their bravery and full of gratitude." How imperative do you think this case is to some lasting change to the power of women's voices? BURKE: I really don't want people to conflate this case with the

movement. People keep calling it an indictment of how the movement moves forward. We have to remember this is the singular case and it's actually a miracle to see somebody like Harvey Weinstein have to see the inside of a courtroom.

So, it's important for him to be accountable and for the survivors to see that they're speaking up meant something. But whether he comes out of this a free man or goes to jail, we still have a movement and we still have thousands and millions of survivors to support. So it's important that he's held accountable, but it does not - the outcome of this trial is not the outcome of the movement.

PAUL: Yes, that's a good point. Weinstein's lead lawyer is a woman, Donna Rotunno, and she specializes in sex crimes cases. This is something that she said about the case. She said, "My biggest issue is this notion that, because women make a claim, it must be true. This notion that cross examination is victim shaming is obscene. Any claim has a right under our system of justice to be questioned and cross examined. That doesn't mean we're horrible people, but I have a right to do my job."

This is so hard because it's so difficult - it's so difficult to come forward that some people don't even do so. How do you balance supporting a claim with waiting for the legal process to come full circle? Because she's right that, you have to have that process move through without blindly believing someone, yes or no?

BURKE: I think that people mistake when we say believe survivors as blindly believing somebody. So many people who come forward around sexual violence are not believed at all. And so when we say believe survivors, it means investigate the claim, take it seriously, treat it with the respect that it's due.

And we want to see people - these things investigated. We want to see the criminal process, you know, happen if that's the choice of the survivor. It's not saying just anybody who comes forward and says this happened, it absolutely is true. But don't shut a person down and dismiss it before you investigate.

So I think people conflate that and they make these claims out to be like we're saying any woman that says this, you have to believe her and throw the person in jail, and that's not what anybody is saying.

PAUL: We just need to - we need to hear them. We need to investigate it. They need to be heard, right.

BURKE: People need to be heard. Exactly. That's the most respectful thing to do.

PAUL: Tarana Burke, we so appreciate your voice. Thank you for being here.

BURKE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, we've got more news straight ahead. Of course, the breaking news that Iran has now accepted responsibility for shooting down the Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752, killing 176 people on board. We're hearing from the Ukrainians. We're hearing also from the Canadians, as they call for full and complete investigations. Our reporters are stretched across the world getting the latest information.

PAUL: And we're also watching Puerto Rico with this aftershock. And we just heard, of course, from our reporter who's on the ground there, you're going to hear more from her about what they're experiencing, as she talked about it being terrifying. "SMERCONISH" is with you next.