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Speaker Pelosi Names Seven Impeachment Manages; House to Vote on Sending Articles to Senate; House Democrats Release New Documents on Ukraine on Eve of Impeachment Trial; Warren/Biden Feud Takes Center Stage at Debate. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 15, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.
Today marks a major milestone in the impeachment of President Donald Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing just moments ago which House lawmakers will serve as impeachment managers to prosecute the case against the president in the Senate. You can see those seven lawmakers on your screen right now.
Listen to what the speaker said about why she chose them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom. The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Next hour, the House will be voting on transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, setting in motion only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.
CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is on the Hill.
Manu, walk folks through what will happen today.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of the ceremonial and procedural aspects of this trial will begin today that will set the stage for those opening arguments to begin next week.
What we're going to expect probably in the next hour is for the vote to begin to actually name those impeachment managers. You saw Pelosi name them herself but the House will formally approve those managers in a resolution that will be adopted in the House likely by a majority vote early afternoon. After that, Nancy Pelosi will then have a ceremony where she will sign
the records that will actually be transmitted ultimately to the Senate. She will sign the records and then later the House clerk will sign the records.
And then after that, the House managers, the seven of them, will essentially march from the House side to the Senate side of the capitol, walking across through the capitol rotunda all the way to the Senate floor. They're going to actually come in and they'll deliver the two articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Now, that's essentially the end of today's activities. Tomorrow, the managers are expected to come back. They're going to read from the articles themselves before all the Senators.
Also the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, will preside over this trial, will get sworn in. Same with the Senators themselves, they'll get sworn in. And essentially, the rest of the week is essentially that.
Behind the scenes, there will be some efforts by both sides to draft their briefs and the arguments they'll make next week. So we'll see the process begin this week, but the actual substance will occur next week.
The question is, of course, Kate, how long does this go on. Could it be two weeks, three weeks, four weeks? Will any Republicans break ranks and support witnesses? Those are decisions that will ultimately be made in the days ahead -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Manu, also this, what are you hearing about the press access, which also means what additional information the American people can learn in terms of covering this historic moment?
RAJU: Well, press access is going to be severely restricted, from what we have been told. Our galleries, who represent the media that covers Congress, have been in constant communication with the Senate sergeant at arms office as well as Senate Mitch McConnell's office and the Senate Rules Committee.
Those offices of authority essentially made it very clear that the access will be significantly restricted compared to the way Congress is usually covered by the press corps, who is up here day in and day out, which essentially allows to essentially free -- roam freely in the hallways, interview members of Congress, try to get their reaction and impressions about what exactly is happening.
Among the restrictions being placed is there's a major corridor called the Ohio Corridor right outside the Senate floor. Reporters will actually have to be penned in and not be able to walk freely and interview Senators.
That is very significant because that will prevent us from learning about how the Senators are viewing the evidence, how they may vote, and how the public understands how the Senators are receiving what they are hearing. So a very significant effort by the majority leader's office, by the
Rules Committee, by the Senate sergeant at arms to curtail the access of the press. And the galleries of the press corps are pushing very hard for those authorities to reverse that decision -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: For a lot of folks who have been up there, including yourself, for a very long time, this is being viewed as more restrictive than State of the Union addresses with press access.
RAJU: And more restrictive than the Clinton impeachment, too -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Exactly right. There is historical precedented and this goes -- this is unprecedented in terms of what is being considered at least at this moment. Let's see.
Manu, thank you so much.
RAJU: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Just as the impeachment trial is about to begin, House Democrats are revealing new evidence, documents that appear to connect President Trump and those around him more closely to the pressure campaign on Ukraine.
CNN's senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt, has that part of the story.
Alex, lay it out. What do these new documents show?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it's nothing short of a trove of new evidence that has now been handed over. All kinds of evidence, dozens of pages of notes, text messages, letters, that reveal a lot more about Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine on the president's behalf.
All of this coming from Giuliani's guy on the ground, so to speak. His name is Lev Parnas, who is under federal indictment.
As we remember, at the core of the impeachment proceedings of the president is, of course, that accusation that he was withholding $400 million in military aid for Ukraine unless they investigated the Bidens.
The first piece of evidence we've seen, this is a handwritten note on that stationery that you find by the side of a bed in a hotel. This is from Lev Parnas. He says, "Get Zelensky" -- that's President Zelensky of Ukraine - "to announce that the Biden case will be investigated."
Then there's new evidence of direct outreach from Rudy Giuliani to the newly elected President Zelensky in what's been referred to as an informal or rogue channel, because Giuliani isn't a diplomat. He isn't part of the administration. But here we have a letter in which he writes to Zelensky saying, "In
my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump, and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you on this upcoming Monday, May 13th, or Tuesday, May 14th."
Kate, all of these documents have also revealed a new dark character in all of this Ukraine saga. His name is Robert Hyde and he's a Republican who's running for Congress in Connecticut. And he appears to have been physically watching, surveilling Marie Yovanovitch, who, at the time, was the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine.
He texted Lev Parnas on March 23rd saying, "She under heavy protection outside Kiev." Parnas responds, "I know, crazy stuff." "My guys," Hyde says, "thinks maybe FSB." That's the Russian security services.
Then two days later, March 25th, there's another text message saying, "They're moving her tomorrow. The guys over there asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them."
He then says to Parnas, "Wake up, Yankees man, she's talked to three people. Her phone is off, computer is off. She's next to the embassy, not in the embassy. Private security been there since Thursday."
That gives you a sense, Kate, to what extent Marie Yovanovitch is alleged to have been watched by Hyde and associates of his.
Now Parnas has denied working with Hyde, watching Yovanovitch or wanting to harm Yovanovitch. His lawyer is saying, we believe Mr. Hyde's -- sorry -- "We believe that his -- the actions of Mr. Hyde reflects his dubious mental state."
Other messages do reveal that Parnas and Giuliani were given an early heads up that Trump had recalled Ambassador Yovanovitch back to the U.S. That took place in May. Something that she later called a concerted campaign against her by Rudy Giuliani and his team. Which, Kate, as we now know, clearly worked.
BOLDUAN: Alex, thank you for laying it out. Appreciate it.
Joining me right now for much more CNN political analyst, national political correspondent for "Time," Molly Ball. Michael Gerhardt, a CNN legal analyst, expert on impeachment, who was called to testify before the House investigative committee last month. And Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst, who was a senior advisor to President Obama's national security adviser.
I want to get to the new documents Alex was laying out that were just released in just a second.
But on the moment at hand, Molly, with the process of the impeachment trial, what do you think of the House managers announced by Speaker Pelosi? What message is she sending with this group?
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as she said, she talked about the emphasis being on litigators who are at home in the courtroom, and that is largely what we see. To the people who have been following this whole saga closely, some of
these will be quite familiar characters right now.
Obviously, Chairman Schiff, Chairman Nadler, who played such a large role in the hearings in the House. They know the story very intimately. They also are both lawyers.
And Schiff with his prosecutorial experience, he was viewed as -- by the Democrats and by the speaker as doing a very good job and as being a very strong chairman in the way that he ran those hearings.
And so the hope is that they will be able to present this evidence in a robust way, be familiar with the law. And sort of, I think, since so much of this is public relations, cut a figure with the American public that reminds you of those prosecutors you've seen on TV, because so much of this is about trying to send the message to the public that there was serious wrongdoing here.
BOLDUAN: Michael, what do you think about the -- what this says about the Democrats' strategy heading into the Senate? Additionally, I've been wondering, since we saw the announcement, is the White House adjusting its moves, who is part of its team in seeing the House managers that Speaker Pelosi announced?
MICHAEL GERHARDT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that they -- the choice of the managers reflects two things. One is the speaker has chosen people because of their experience with the laws, as has been pointed out.
In other words, it's not political. It's about the Constitution. It's about the law. And she's looking for people that can make strong cases that the president committed the misconduct laid out in the two articles of impeachment.
So it's not going to be a partisan circus for these managers. It's going to be serious business.
The second thing I think it shows is that she expects that the president's lawyers will perhaps be less concerned with the law. They're going to be more concerned with blowing smoke. But experienced lawyers and prosecutors know how to cut through that and make their case.
So I think this is also an assertive -- they'll be more assertive and aggressive in trying to defend their case in support of the articles.
BOLDUAN: Sam, let's now talk about the new evidence just released, as Alex was laying out, the documents released from the House.
Two general main points. Despite what the president has said, documents show that Rudy Giuliani was over in Ukraine seeking meetings with the president, to the new president of Ukraine, saying at the behest and direction of President Trump.
Additionally, then these dark messages laying out something of a surveillance operation against the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
What do you see as the most important factor here, thing here?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The new evidence certainly bolsters the underlying case against the president, which is that he abused power. As you mentioned, there's a direct link between Giuliani and the president.
It also destroys some of the president's core defense that Rudy was running rogue or that was actually about actual anti-corruption work.
It also lays a predicate for a new investigation, Kate. A U.S. ambassador has been threatened by the president and all of his men to date. Now we have new evidence that an associate of the president, someone that's been seen with the president, was potentially surveilling a U.S. ambassador.
All diplomats are afforded protection. Under the Vienna Convention, we have a Bureau of Diplomatic Security. It is unclear -- we don't know if there has already been an investigation into threats against Marie Yovanovitch.
What's entirely unclear is, if an investigation hasn't started yet, it certainly needs to start now. We've already seen Representative Engel call for documents from the Diplomatic Security Bureau for that very reason.
Based upon all of that, it raises a real issue, which is that the president himself has been a direct threat to our personnel serving overseas.
Just days ago, Kate, it's not lost on me, he made up threats to U.S. embassies overseas to be the predicate for his strike against Soleimani, when we're now finding out again that his associates posed a risk to Marie Yovanovitch because, frankly, he wanted her out of the way.
BOLDUAN: Made up threats, we don't know. That's the key.
BOLDUAN: We don't know what the evidence was --
VINOGRAD: That's true.
BOLDUAN: -- that predicated the strike.
VINOGRAD: But the Pentagon has not been able to provide.
BOLDUAN: And they definitely said they haven't seen that evidence. That has come out for sure.
I want to ask you about the State Department in just a second.
But, Molly, what do you think in the immediate, what the Parnas documents, let's call them, mean for the Senate trial?
BALL: Well, it contributes to this constant drip of new revelations. And this isn't the first one. This is the only one that I think the House has been responsible for.
But prior to this, over the interim between the House impeachment vote nearly a month ago and today, you had the John Bolton development. You had the unredacted e-mails.
So part of, perhaps, an unintended consequence of the fact that the House investigation was, they would say, necessarily incomplete, is that there's a lot more evidence out there, some of which is coming to light.
I think the fact that there have been so many of these developments tells us there could very well be more.
And so the idea is to continue putting pressure on Republican Senators, to continue to make the case to the public that if the Senate dismisses this quickly or doesn't evaluate more of the evidence, that the Senators aren't doing their jobs. That's what the Democrats are trying to convey.
BOLDUAN: So looking ahead, I do want to ask you, real quick, Sam, Yovanovitch, not an ambassador anymore. She is still working for the State Department right now.
VINOGRAD: She is a State Department employee, yes.
BOLDUAN: Secretary of State Pompeo has been silent about her treatment to this point. If he continues to remain silent, what message does that send?
VINOGRAD: It sends that he is not actively supporting all U.S. diplomats. He's only actively supporting the security of U.S. diplomats that have the president's favor.
I think that his silence, in light of this new evidence is likely sending a chilling effect within the State Department because Marie Yovanovitch is now under renewed threat. His silence, frankly, is deafening both in light of this new evidence and all of the threats against her to date.
BOLDUAN: She is a current State Department employee and this comes out.
Thank you so much, Sam. Really appreciate it.
Michael, thank you so much.
Molly, great to see you. Thank you.
Coming up for us, if the post-debate awkwardness between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is any indication, last night's debate did not settle their ongoing dispute. We'll bring you the latest on that and the other key moments from the big showdown in Iowa.
Plus, just minutes from now, President Trump will be signing what he calls phase one of a new trade agreement with China. Why are the details being kept so secret, so under wraps to this point? We'll take you there live when it starts.
Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: A tense ending to a tense presidential debate last night. Cameras rolling still, of course, caught Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in what can clearly be described as an animated conversation and definitely not a thankful handshake after the debate. What was discussed we do not know.
What we do know is that neither side is backing down on their open feud about what really happened in a private conversation between the two Senators back in 2018.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Anybody knows me, knows that it's incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States. Go to YouTube today. There's some video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised and it's time for us to attack it head on.
And I think the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people's winning record. So, can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections.
WARREN: The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they have been in are the women, Amy and me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, CNN's Ryan Nobles in Des Moines and Laura Barron-Lopez, a CNN political analyst, national political reporter for "Politico."
It's great to see you guys.
Ryan, what are you hearing today from the Sanders campaign? RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, it's a
little surreal that after the debate where we hoped to get clarity about a private conversation that we're having another conversation about a subsequent private conversation --
NOBLES: -- and trying to figure out exactly what took place here.
We're not getting a ton of insight from either campaign. I was trying to talk to Sanders campaign aides all day and they do not want to engage on this topic.
What they did tell us, they confirmed essentially a one-line quote from campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, to the "Washington Post" this morning, where he essentially said that Warren came over to Senator Sanders after the event to raise an issue of concern and that Senator Sanders said that they would talk about it later.
Now, what that issue of concern was, exactly what she was trying to talk to Bernie Sanders about, we don't know. But we know that, at that point, Bernie Sanders did not want to engage in this topic.
Kate, you can tell, even though there's a lot of tension between these campaigns, this is not a place that they necessarily feel comfortable to be in. They would much rather be talking about Medicare For All, ending college debt, free college tuition, things along those lines.
The fact that this is the focus of our conversation now, it's very frustrating to them. They want to move on to the bigger issues of the day.
BOLDUAN: They're also the ones that started it.
BOLDUAN: Laura, it appears, other than foreign policy, the moment of the night was this moment we just played, which was -- what she turned to -- is becoming her electability argument there.
Do you see this as -- or are you hearing that this is Warren's kind of closing argument heading into Iowa? And why is that important in Iowa?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, "Politico" reported about this recently actually, some of my colleagues who follow Warren, in that she is trying to make this case that across voters, she is pretty much the second choice in a variety of states.
This also bears out on the trail. When I've been in Nevada and in Iowa, I hear a number of voters who say, yes, their number one might be Biden or Buttigieg but Warren is a close second. So she's trying to make this argument in the closing days that that is evidence that she can bring together a bigger coalition than the rest of her rivals.
Also, it potentially could be clever. It could also potentially hurt her that her campaign decided to raise this issue of gender and highlight that she is a woman and can bring a lot of female voters and energize a base there.
So it remains to be seen whether or not these last 72 hours with this back-and-forth with Bernie has helped or hurt either of them.
BOLDUAN: Ryan, a big question going in was, were the candidates across the board looking to fight it out on this last debate before the Iowa caucuses, draw contrasts, or were they going to choose another path. It does appear, despite the awkwardness and tension across the board, they all were trying to choose door number two here.
In the final debate before the Iowa caucuses, why is that the strategy, do you think, that the campaigns landed on?
NOBLES: Yes, you're right, Kate. And we wondered maybe, this being the last big stage that these candidates would be on before the Iowa caucus, that they would take the opportunity to draw distinctions. It just didn't happen.
I have to imagine that's, in part, because of the way the Iowa caucus structure is set up. Not only do you need to bring in voters to your side of the aisle and make them your first choice, but you also need to be the second choice as well. That weighs heavily in this process.
There may be ways to claim victory here in Iowa without necessarily getting the most votes.
So you could tell the way that these candidates handled themselves last night, they clearly wanted to make the point that I am the best candidate in the race but they didn't want to say they didn't like another candidate.
Because if you're someone who supports Elizabeth Warren, you've got to pick other people down the ballot. And you don't want to alienate those potential supporters because that could end up having a big impact as to who wins and loses here in a couple of weeks.
BOLDUAN: To Laura's point, it sounds strange, but being folks' sending choice is an important thing when it comes to the caucus states.
Laura, this was the first debate where foreign policy was front and center and the first question out of the gate. Who made the most of that opportunity last night? What are you hearing?
BARRON-LOPEZ: I think Joe Biden did. He is the one that has the most extensive experience. This is something that he has been trying to highlight all the way through.
He was able to really shine a bit last night, even though there wasn't any testy exchanges between him or any of the other candidates. There was a bit back and forth between him and Sanders, again, about his Iraq War vote.
But it was noticeable the difference between the other Democrats and Biden. You could tell that some of them were a bit uncomfortable diving into the various issues of foreign policy.
BOLDUAN: Ryan, Laura, it's good to see you guys. Thank you.
So moments from now, President Trump will be signing phase one of the China trade deal. You can see right there, they're preparing for the ceremony at the White House right now. What do American consumers and businesses get out of phase one? And what are all of the various thorny issues that are then still left to work out in, let's call it, phase two? That we'll bring to you.
Plus, the House right now gearing up to move the impeachment process forward. A vote next hour. A Democratic House member joins me next.