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Iran Government States Military Accidentally Shot Down Ukrainian Passenger Jet; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi To Send Articles Of Impeachment To Senate; John Bolton May Testify In Senate Impeachment Trial; Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) Reacts To Pelosi's Defense Of Impeachment Delay. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

NAVAZ EBRAHIM, SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED IN IRAN PLANE SHOOTDOWN: I feel that at least we have some closure now. We know what happened. And we can move on with at least starting to think how to accept this tragedy and grieving our loved ones.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And I don't know if it helps, but the chief commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard said we did make a mistake, in all my lifetime I haven't been as sorry as much as now. Never. Has that helped you?

EBRAHIM: I'm still not sure how sincere that apology was. I hope it was. If it was, I think that's a starting gesture, but it's not enough. I hope as an outcome there will be some preventive measure put in place so this tragedy will never, ever happen to another family ever again.

CAMEROTA: Yes, understood. Navaz Ebrahim, thank you. We hear your grief. We're so sorry that you and your family are going through this. Thank you again for sharing those beautiful pictures of your sister and her groom.

EBRAHIM: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you CNN Newsroom is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. There are violent clashes breaking out once again overnight in Iran. Thousands of people taking to the streets after the Iranian government admitted that it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane last week. Watch some of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: He said he believed that they probably, that they could have been targeting embassies in the region.

The president didn't say there was a -- he didn't cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably, he believed --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying there wasn't one?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: We're going to show you what's happening on the Iranian streets in a moment, but Iranian police appear to be using live ammunition and teargas to disperse the crowds from videos that have been posted on social media by the Center for Human Rights in Iran. Here it is, protesters chanting "Death to the dictator" and calling for the Supreme Leader to step down as a result of all of this.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile Trump administration officials have not produced evidence, and in some cases have seemed to actually contradict claims from the president, that the Iranian general killed in a U.S. drone strike was planning to attack four U.S. embassies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: He said he believed that they probably, that they could have been targeting embassies in the region.

The president didn't say there was a -- he didn't cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably, he believed --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying there wasn't one?

ESPER: I didn't see one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I didn't see one, says the secretary of defense. On top of this, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to deliver the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate as soon as this week, which means the Senate trial could begin as soon as this week.

Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst, David Gregory, CNN Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash, and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Dana, quickly, I want to deal with the Iran situation, because, let me play that video once again of the demonstrations on the streets. These are people inside Iran protesting the Iranian regime for the lies told by the Iranian regime about the fact that they shot down a Ukrainian jetliner. So that is what is happening this morning.

As this is happening, you have the secretary of defense seeming to contradict the president of the United States on whether four U.S. embassies were specifically targeted. Now, people might say, why does that matter? David, why does it matter if the secretary of defense and president have different stories about what caused this attack?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For a couple of reasons. One, was there a false pretext to assassinate a key figure in the architecture of Iran's government, a top military top commander? You had the president saying that he was heading off an imminent attack. The question was why the attack occurred, why taking out Soleimani

occurred when it did and whether it was wise. And the results of all this are still playing out between the United States and Iran. The president said there was an imminent attack. Hid Defense Secretary says he didn't see specific information.

What's more likely the case is that there was intelligence suggesting that there were going to attacks against U.S. embassies. The president probably wanted to head off another Benghazi-style situation, if that was a potential. And probably, we've seen reporting this morning indicating for months wanted to take out Soleimani based on Iran's provocations.

[08:05:00] So the political impact of this will have to be gauged. The policy is what is continuing to be play out. And what's important about the demonstrations on the streets, you've heard the president say that he wants to keep pressure on Iran, economic pressure, pressure from the bottom up in Iran to try to get the Iranian regime to change its behavior. This kind of demonstration could be another indication that that may well happen.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, they have not been able to present any evidence to the public, and certainly not to members of Congress that we've spoken to that there was an imminent attack or an attack planned on four embassies, as the president claimed. And all of this, of course, is unsettling to the public, the idea that we were on the brink of something, and now polls show that.

So the latest polls show the approval of President Trump's handling of the current situation with Iran, only 43 percent approve, 56 disapprove. And then the U.S. air strike that killed General Soleimani has made the U.S. less safe, 52 percent believe, 25 percent believe more safe. So as David said, who knows what the political price ultimately will be, but it just does reflect that Americans don't necessarily feel as though they are in good hands.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And there's history here, too. And it has very little to do with Donald Trump. We had a war in Iraq which is related to this story -- it's not exactly the same story -- in 2003 where government officials came forward and said there are weapons of mass destruction, stories that turned out to be completely false. So the idea of going to war in this region with information that is either incorrect or outright lies has a rich and unfortunate history here.

And you can't take Donald Trump's history out of this. He has lied so much about so many things, he comes to this story with a few strikes against him. And now his own administration is contradicting him. So all of that I think is in the stew of the problem.

BERMAN: I think he does contribute to the unsettling of the American population over this. Even if they think the operation is a success, they are unsettled by it.

Dana, can I shift to impeachment here, because there's some interesting new strands of reporting on this. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who was on a short time ago, thinks the Senate trial told us he thinks it will start this week. Nancy Pelosi will deliver the Articles of Impeachment. Rachael Bade told us she thinks the Senate wants to have the trial done, Mitch McConnell wants to have it done by the State of the Union.

And then you've got some really interesting reporting that I heard that Nancy Pelosi is going to focus on the words "fair trial," the Democrats think they have a compelling argument here to talk about the Senate trial in terms of is this actually fair.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And we've already heard it leading up to and including her interview yesterday. She doesn't do Sunday shows very much. She did yesterday, and she was using very careful language. "Fair trial" was one of them.

"Cover-up" was another, which is almost kind of Trumpian that she is trying to take his approach and language. And when I say cover-up, she was saying if there isn't a real trial -- she was referring to a potential dismissal -- there would be a cover-up.

But what the Democrats are trying to do is focus, first and foremost obviously, on any Republican who is susceptible to pressure from their home state to vote yes when they get to this point on a potential witness. Obviously, they are hoping that that is a Republican witness -- a Democratic witness, rather, to talk about the president like John Bolton.

But even bigger picture, they understand that -- the Democratic leaders on both sides understand that this is not necessarily, impeachment, the greatest thing for their so-called front-liners. And so they are trying to continue to influence public opinion. So there are two goals for trying to articulate what they want to get out there to the public, the trial and then ultimately public opinion when it comes to November's vote.

CAMEROTA: And before we get back to David with the politics of all this, legally speaking, Jeffrey, if John Bolton agrees to testify, if they subpoena him, if he shows up, if the president exerts executive privilege, what does any of that mean?

TOOBIN: I don't think anyone knows exactly for sure. We are in an unprecedented area. There has not been fights over witnesses in impeachment trials ever in American history. I think what would happen is it would go to court. And the very act of going to court, regardless of what the result is, would delay for so long that Bolton would probably be kept off the stand for the duration of the trial. So I think there are ways of keeping Bolton off the stand, even if legally the position is incorrect.

BERMAN: It's a little bit unknown, though, right, because if John Bolton says he wants to testify, if four Republican senators vote that he should testify, what's to keep him from answering questions? There's no executive privilege police.

[08:10:09] TOOBIN: There is -- you could go to court. What looks like what would happen is the president's lawyers were go to court and say we want an injunction to prevent Bolton from testifying.

BERMAN: What legal precedent is there for the courts to issue an injunction over a Senate impeachment trial when impeachment is the sole province of the Senate? It's a real constitutional conundrum.

TOOBIN: It is a constitutional conundrum, but if you believe that executive privilege is something that the courts have an obligation to protect, there is a tension there.

BERMAN: You know what's in the Constitution? An impeachment trial. You know what's not in the Constitution? Executive privilege.

TOOBIN: All right, counselor.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I'm just saying.

CAMEROTA: That is rowing down --

TOOBIN: That is an argument you will certainly hear from the Congress if it goes to court, but the president's lawyers will say that executive privilege has been recognized by the Supreme Court going back to 1974 in the U.S. v. Nixon case. So I am wary about predicting about how it will all come out.

BASH: I agree with that. I just want to throw one other thing into this conversation, which is the Supreme Court will be there. The chief justice of the United States will be in the chair. Every indication is that he wants to -- hands up, I don't want to do anything that's going to put my thumb on the scale either way for this trial. But if, if it gets to that point, he could.

TOOBIN: Totally fascinating possibility that Roberts would play some substantive role. I covered the impeachment trial of Clinton where William Rehnquist was the chief justice in the chair who did, as he was the first person to acknowledge, absolutely nothing substantive in that trial. Roberts, it could be different. This is a much more contentious environment. David, I'm sorry.

CAMEROTA: David, big picture as you see all this?

GREGORY: This is what's fascinating, and I think there may be an inclination even for the White House to try to get witnesses. I think Mitch McConnell wants to avoid all of this by moving as quickly as possible. I don't think the outcome is in doubt. We should remember Democrats have imperative.

They believe they are doing the right thing and they have a huge political pressure point on them to not just impeach him, which they have done, but to argue there has been some kind of cover-up, to get that in the public domain. And they would certainly love to get John Bolton's testimony in the public domain as well. BERMAN: You know what's overarching all of this? Publishing, books

sales. It may be that John Bolton's primary interest in all of this --

BASH: Let's hear it. "Amanda Wakes Up." Come on.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: It will not outsell this.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: Did I really have to prompt you, John Berman?

BERMAN: It will not be as juicy as "Amanda Wakes Up," now available in paperback. Alisyn Camerota, will you?

CAMEROTA: Anywhere, really, anywhere. Thank you all very much.

So who will be the impeachment managers for the Senate trial? As House Democrats prepare, we hear, to send Impeachment Articles to the Senate, when is that happening? A member of the Democratic leadership is going to join us to answer all those questions next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:41]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We feel that it was a very -- has reached a very positive result in terms of additional e-mails and unredacted information that has come forward, that Bolton has said that he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right, that was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defending the nearly month-long pause after President Trump was impeached. She is reportedly preparing to send the two Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.

Joining us now is Congressman Dan Kildee. He is Chief Deputy Whip, and a member of the House Democratic leadership. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Good morning. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you. Has the Speaker signaled to you that she will be sending those two Articles of Impeachment over tomorrow?

KILDEE: Well, she did send a message to the entire caucus on Friday afternoon. We have a leadership meeting tonight and a full caucus meeting in the morning, where I'm sure she will lay out what her strategy is.

But the expectation is that the Articles will be sent over along with who we designate or who she designates as the managers and, you know, there's a lot of questions, I've heard some of the conversation about whether this delay produced any result. I think it clearly did and --

CAMEROTA: And what was that result?

KILDEE: Well, I think for the most part, it was exposing the extent to which Mitch McConnell seems to be willing to protect this President, all the facts notwithstanding.

And I think, created greater pressure on those senators who want to be careful about what their legacy will be, to make sure that no matter the outcome that the trial has to be fair.

So we've seen some of the pressure, particularly on Republican senators. We've had one witness Mr. Bolton come forward and say he would be willing to testify.

So the way this looks now as compared to the day we voted on the Impeachment Articles is significantly different. I think the pressure is really on the Senate.

CAMEROTA: So you're convinced now that the trial will be fair?

KILDEE: No, I'm not. But I'm certainly convinced that the public has a much greater understanding of what that means. The fact that witnesses ought to be called, that this kind of a judgment made by the U.S. Senate only for the third time in the history of the United States shouldn't be something that is done in a slapdash fashion.

It ought to be done with a full airing of whatever facts are available, including some of the new information that has come to light as a result, frankly, of really good reporting.

That information ought to be examined, and it's the Senate now that has the ball, they ought to be willing to take a look at that information and include it in their deliberation.

CAMEROTA: Well, as you know, the President's supporters, as well as just Republicans think that all of that should have been done in the house. They think that the slap-dashery, if you will, happened in the House, that that's where it was rushed.

And that it is the House's job to call -- to get all of that new information that you're talking about.

KILDEE: Well, a couple of responses to that. One, most of the criticism of the House for the month that led up to the vote was that we were taking too long, and that why don't we get on with it?

Remember that the House Republicans were particularly critical that we hadn't voted to initiate an Impeachment Inquiry. They went on for weeks and weeks and weeks on that.

So they want to invent an argument that somehow we rushed the case.

[08:20:00] KILDEE: The other problem with their argument is that the fact that

some of those key witnesses didn't come forward was a direct result of the fact that the President himself ordered them not to, and we understood that it would take months and months potentially to get through the court process.

But when we had adequate information to take that step, to take the step of impeaching the President essentially indicting him, based on the facts that we had, we did so.

But that doesn't forgive the Senate the obligation to carefully examine the information we sent them and any additional information, including hearing testimony from key witnesses, at least, one of whom is now willing to come forward and then examine the new facts that have been revealed as a result of good reporting, as I said, that's important information.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that key witness that has come forward during this pause. John Bolton. If Mitch McConnell won't call witnesses, will the House subpoena John Bolton?

KILDEE: Well, I don't think we should get ahead of ourselves on that. I think we ought to wait and see what the Senate does. But the fact that Mr. Bolton has relevant information, I mean, he described what was taking place as a drug deal. That ought to be a signal that we ought to ask him a few questions.

But I think it really -- right now, it rests with the Senate. The ball is in their court. The decision on impeachment and on removal from office is something that they will have to determine, and the idea that they would not want Mr. Bolton to come forward and answer whatever questions remain, I think is not respectful of the process.

But either way, Mr. Bolton's story has to be told and not just through a book deal, but through our oversight responsibility. We have to hear from him because that's our job.

CAMEROTA: What if President Trump exerts executive privilege over John Bolton talking, then what?

KILDEE: Well, I think that sets up a very interesting question and as the previous conversation pointed out, it will be Chief Justice John Roberts sitting in the chair at this trial.

We don't know what role he will play, but it does strike me that he may have something to say about whether or not the constitutional responsibility for impeachment and all the responsibility that we have to make sure that that process has integrity might be in if you don't mind, the term might trump the President's interpretation of executive privilege, which seems to be so broad as to allow him to simply tell everybody involved that they can't testify no matter what the circumstance is.

I don't think that will stand. The question is whether Chief Justice Roberts will insert himself into that question or simply allow the courts to determine that over months of delay. I hope that's not the case.

CAMEROTA: A couple more questions. What's the latest thinking on who the House Managers will be?

KILDEE: Well, we have a talented group and this is a decision that the Speaker obviously is going to weigh in on me. Obviously, with Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler playing a key role, one would expect they might be involved.

I think Zoe Lofgren would be a great choice. This is only my thinking, certainly not reflective of what the President or I'm sorry, what the Speaker might choose. You know, this would be for Zoe, the third time she has been involved in an impeachment trial, but there are others.

Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar. Hakeem Jeffries is a talented individual on our team. So who knows? The Speaker is going to make those decisions, but there's a deep bench. There's a lot of talent in our caucus, and I'm sure a lot of interest.

CAMEROTA: As you may know, President Trump thinks that this should be dismissed outright. He tweeted this, "Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, no pressure impeachment hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat witch hunt credibility that otherwise does not have. I agree. Exclamation point." Is that possible that Mitch McConnell would do that?

KILDEE: I hope not and I sure hope Mitch McConnell isn't taking advice on the operation of the Constitution from President Trump who seems to have sort of a coloring book understanding of that document.

He ought to think carefully about the oath that he swore, and let the President tweet away. But he should do his job independent of what the President's obviously biased position might be.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you very much, very busy week in Washington. We appreciate you being here.

KILDEE: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: John?

BERMAN: One day before the key Democratic debate in Iowa and new attacks in that race. What the Bernie Sanders campaign is saying that has Senator Elizabeth Warren crying foul. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:28:23]

BERMAN: Tomorrow night, right here on CNN, the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses. So yes, it's a big deal.

Also a big deal, this new CNN poll, which shows a four-way race for the top in Iowa. Joining us now from Iowa CNN Correspondent, Ryan Nobles and Politics

Editor for the "Des Moines Register," Rachel Stassen Berger. The "Register" is cohosting this debate along with CNN tomorrow night.

The candidates have started to go after each other, specifically, the Sanders campaign is as "The Washington Post" reports, all of a sudden, attacking its rivals.

Let me explain. POLITICO is reporting that the Sanders campaign is sending out a call script to its supporters. It says, "The script instructs Sanders volunteers to tell voters leaning toward the Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, that the people who support her are highly educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what, and that she is bringing no new basis into the Democratic Party."

Well, once this report came out, Elizabeth Warren, not at all happy about it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me. He knows who I am, where I come from, what I have worked on and fought for.

I hope, Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Ryan, you cover the Sanders campaign. Why did it deem it necessary to send out this call script?

[08:30:09]