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AT THIS HOUR

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) Discusses House Vote Appointing Impeachment Mangers, House Releasing New Documents on Ukraine, Democratic Debate & Foreign Policy; A Look at How the Senate Impeachment Trial Could Play Out; Trump Speaks Ahead of Signing Phase One China Trade Deal. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 15, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:47]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're waiting for two big moments in Washington. First, after two years of negotiations, on the left side of your screen, President Trump any moment will be signing the so-called phase one, which is intended to be the first step to ending the trade war with China.

Treasury secretary this morning is calling is a big win, but the details of this phase one are being closely held.

What we do know is this step means that want U.S. will relax some of the tariffs that Trump has imposed on Chinese goods. And also includes a promise from China to massively increase the amount of U.S. goods it will purchase over the next two years.

What's not known, exactly what products they're talking about and what this means for the much thornier issues left for negotiations of phase two. Stand by for much more on that.

On Capitol Hill, the other major moment. The House is about to hold another historic vote, formally appointing the Democratic House impeachment managers.

Joining me right now for much more on all of this, Democratic Congressman from Ohio, former 2020 candidate for president, Tim Ryan.

Congressman, thanks for coming.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Let's start with impeachment. What is your reaction to the team that Pelosi has announced to make the impeachment case before the Senate?

RYAN: Phenomenal, super talented. I think there's a lot of experience there, a lot of trial experience, a lot of judicial experience. And so I think it also reflects the diversity of our caucus. And so I think the American people are going to see a very clear

presentation of the evidence that, to me, looks overwhelming. If we can get a fair trial in the Senate, I think the president should be convicted.

BOLDUAN: So at the same time -- you talk about the evidence you've already seen. At the same time, you have new documents that have been released --

RYAN: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- coming from the associates of President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

If this new evidence is not included for some reason in the Senate trial, we don't know, do you want the House to do something with it, something about it?

RYAN: Well, you know, to be determined. I think something definitely needs to be done.

And look, this is not a trial that you would have at a local county courthouse. This is in the United States Senate. And so it's, in many ways, a political trial.

And so if the Senate does not take this new evidence that the American people are going to hear about, then that's going to be on them. And it's going to be on Cory Gardner over in Colorado. It's going to be in the Senate races in Kentucky, and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.

They are going to have to defend not taking very clear evidence to have an honest trial.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you --

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: And if they don't, they're going to have to pay the political consequences for that.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about that, because you said that the evidence is overwhelming in what you have seen.

Mitch McConnell made the case yesterday that if the evidence is overwhelming, then why do you think that new evidence needs to be introduced? Why do you think -- why are you calling for witnesses to be included in the Senate trial that did not testify before the House?

Can you have both of those things?

RYAN: That's a joke. You know, for the majority leader of the Senate to say, why do we need more evidence, when this is -- like I said, this isn't some trial at a county courthouse. This is about the president of the United States asking a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent back at home.

[11:35:09]

And the majority leader of the Senate doesn't want all of the evidence to come forward? Are you kidding me? What is he talking about? It is so clear that they are trying to protect Donald Trump. They are trying to continue a cover-up.

This is an ongoing crime as we see Russia is still trying to hack into the company in the Ukraine to continue to try to find some dirt on a political opponent. We now have notes and more evidence coming. Why wouldn't the majority leader want it?

Look, if I was on trial, and I thought I was innocent, I would say, bring all of the evidence you got, let's have a trial, put this behind us, and let's all move on with our lives, which is what we want to do. But the president doesn't want that and Mitch McConnell is protecting him.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for the self-censorship. I really appreciate it on this program.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Good, quick catch.

Let me ask you about the debate. You have endorsed Joe Biden since you left the race. He was pressed last night about his vote for the Iraq War. He claimed, again last night, that he was opposed to the war from the moment the war began. Let me play what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a mistake to trust that they weren't going to go to war. They said they were not going to go to war. They said they were just going to get inspectors in. The world, in fact, voted to send inspectors in and they still went to war.

From that point on, I was in the position of making the case that it was a big, big mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Look, that's been fact-checked more than once. Joe Biden started calling his vote for the Iraq War a mistake three years later, in 2005, not right when the war began.

Why is Joe Biden trying to rewrite history on this one when he's already apologized for it?

RYAN: Well, I'm not sure, but I think the fact that we have somebody who is doing well and, hopefully, is the Democratic nominee and, hopefully, will be president is willing to say, look, I made a mistake.

You know, a lot of times we admit mistakes personally that we don't necessarily admit publicly. I'm not sure. I've not talked to the vice president about it.

But the realization is that he has a lot of experience and that's what we need.

BOLDUAN: Doesn't it hurt rather than help, though? Would you acknowledge that?

RYAN: What's that?

BOLDUAN: That he's trying to relitigate it, when he's apologized for his vote and he could move on from that.

RYAN: My advice would be to apologize and move on. I think that's what happened. I don't think this is an issue that's really going to continue because, if you want to have a discussion about global leadership and who can take command of the United States immediately, I think clearly Joe Biden, by leaps and bounds, surpasses every other candidate.

So if we want to move into stabilizing the world, healing the country, I think it's Joe Biden by a very clear measure. And so I hope we can move on.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for coming in. It's good to see you.

RYAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: This just in. The Trump administration is lifting its hold on more than $8 billion in disaster relief funding to Puerto Rico. The island suffered devastating losses from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. This is money Congress had allocated for the island in the aftermath. Yes, something like two years ago.

Since then, it's received just $1.5 billion of the roughly $20 billion in congressional authorized disaster funds. The administration had come under a new criticism for slow walking this after the recent earthquakes, which further damaged infrastructure in Puerto Rico. Now news on that, the hold has been lifted.

[11:38:40]

Still ahead for us, after today's vote in the House, the Senate impeachment trial seems on track to begin Tuesday. Now that this is real and this is immediate, how will it play out? One of the few people who know, the man who guided the Senate through the Clinton impeachment trial, joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:43:46]

BOLDUAN: You can see, right there, live pictures of the White House. We're waiting for President Trump who will be coming into the room to sign what is called phase one of the China trade negotiations. What exactly that means for U.S. consumers and businesses? We'll all find out together. We'll bring you that when the president begins. We're also watching news on impeachment, of course. We now know which

Democratic House members will be presenting the impeachment case against President Trump at his Senate trial. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the House managers just last hour.

That's just one of many important steps happening today. At about noon eastern, the House is set to debate and formally vote on the impeachment managers.

Then at about 5:00, a ceremonial and important symbolic moment. That is when the managers will physically walk across the capitol, which is not really that far, to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Then tomorrow, the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, will be sworn in to preside over the Senate trial. All 100 Senators are expected to be sworn in as jurors as well.

What does the formality and the process tell us?

Let me bring in someone who knows. Alan Frumin is a former Senate parliamentarian. He's a CNN contributor. He's been there for five judicial impeachment trials as well as the impeachment trial of President Clinton.

Alan, thanks for being here.

[11:45:01]

ALAN FRUMIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's my pleasure, Kate.

(CROSSTALK)

FRUMIN: Go ahead.

BOLDUAN: No, please.

FRUMIN: It's quite a spectacle when the House delivers to the Senate articles of impeachment against the president of the United States. It's only happened -- this will be the third time in history.

The Senate does have a certain set of procedures that it intends to follow, but with the Senate, actually, anything can happen.

BOLDUAN: That is what I wanted to ask you about. You've got the ritual, the formality, the rules that kind of guide what we have seen before. What are the wild cards that you would be watching out for?

FRUMIN: Well, once the Senate receives the articles of impeachment, it's in trial and the Senate then operates on majority rule, as opposed to virtually every other aspect of Senate procedure where the minority has some leverage and some ability to slow things down. In trial, everything is decided by majority vote.

And so there are certain guided steps. The Senate's rules say that the secretary of the Senate shall immediately notify the House that the Senate is ready to receive the articles of impeachment, to have them exhibited, which means to have them read on the floor of the Senate. But it doesn't say at what time. And so the majority, if it wanted to, could play with that.

BOLDUAN: That's only one of many. I can only imagine all the wild cards when majority rules.

The chief justice overseeing the proceedings, that is going to be an extraordinary thing to say. It's the legislative, judicial and executive branches kind of all colliding in this moment.

FRUMIN: It's an absolutely amazing spectacle. And it's a fascinating experience for anybody who has worked a presidential impeachment trial.

Chief Justice Rehnquist, in the Clinton trial, has said that he had very little to do but he did it quite well. I believe he was being too modest.

He had lots of evidentiary decisions to make. He was involved -- he did not insert himself unnecessarily, but he was there, he listened, and he gave very thoughtful answers, and I think lent a very proper, serious, somber tone to the proceedings.

I don't know Chief Justice Roberts, but from everything I've heard about him, he is in that mold as well.

BOLDUAN: Somber. I think that's an important note of what this really does signify when you see the chief justice, who will be presiding over all of this. And everyone who will be working behind the scenes, like the person you have mentored, the current Senate parliamentarian, who will be right by his side the entire time.

Alan, thanks so much. Great to have you on. We'll have many more questions for you in the days ahead. I appreciate it.

FRUMIN: It's my pleasure. I'm happy to help you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Also keeping an eye on the other side of our screen. Any moment, President Trump is going to be signing on to phase one of the China trade deal. What does phase one mean? What is the substance? Or is it more symbolic? What did China agree to? And what did -- what does it mean for phase two?

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:31]

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Please.

We greatly appreciate your joining us at this White House event. This is a very important and remarkable occasion. Today, we take a momentous step, one that has never been taken before with China, toward a future affair and reciprocal trade as we sign phase one of the historic trade deal between the United States and China.

Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families.

I want to thank President Xi, who is watching as we speak. And I'll be going over to China in the not too distant future to reciprocate. But I want to thank President Xi, very good friend of mine.

We're representing different countries. He's representing China. I'm representing the U.S. We've developed an incredible relationship.

I want to thank him for his cooperation and partnership throughout this complex process. Our negotiations were tough, honest, open and respectful, leading us to this really incredible breakthrough.

Most people thought this could never happen. It should have happened 25 years ago, by the way, but that's OK.

A man who also has become a good friend of mine and somebody that is very, very talented and very capable, we're delighted to be joined by Vice Premiere Leoha (ph), Ambassador Szway (ph), and many other representatives from the People's Republic of China.

We are especially proud of the efforts of Vice President Mike Pence, who is with us.

Mike, I'd like to have you say a few words, please.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President.

It's an honor to be here with you, with Vice Premiere Leoha (ph), with our treasury secretary and Ambassador Lighthizer and so many distinguished guest, members of Congress, governors from around the country.

This is a good day for America, China and the world, and it's an honor to be with you.

Mr. President, we gather here today, thanks to your leadership, at a time the American economy is booming. With the strong support of members of Congress who are gathered here, we are now experiencing an economy that's created more than seven million jobs. The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. The average American household income has risen by more than $5,000.

That's all of your result of your commitment to cut taxes, roll back regulation, unleash American energy. But it also reflects your commitment to free, fair and reciprocal trade.

Early in this administration, you made it clear that the era of economic surrender was over. You took a strong stand for American jobs and American workers.

You said to our friends in China that things had to change. And thanks to your leadership, today, the change begins.

(APPLAUSE)

PENCE: Thanks to your efforts, Mr. President, we announce great progress on intellectual property, on preventing force technology transfer and currency manipulation.

[11:55:04]

And I know it means so much to you the greatest impact may well be on American agricultural, some $40 billion to $50 billion in purchases secured in this deal that will result in greater prosperity for farmers all across the land.

Mr. President, your commitment to a growing and prosperous America has been the centerpiece of your leadership. Today, with the signing of phase one, it's one more example of your commitment to put American jobs and American workers first.

We recognize, as do you, Mr. President, that differences will remain between our two nations. But today is a start of a new chapter in trade relations between the two largest economies in the world.

I can assure the American people that this president will continue to stand firm and put America first, even as we forge a more productive relationship with China and with the world.

Mr. President, you know, there's an ancient Chinese proverb that says, "Men see only the present but Heaven sees the future." So let today be the beginning of a brighter future, more prosperous for the American people, the Chinese people, and the world.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

Thank you, Mike. An incredible job, incredible guy.

I also want to give special thanks to our U.S. trade representative who's been kept very busy. He's doing a lot of deals. We'll have another big one next week that should get approved shortly, and that will be tremendous, between Canada and Mexico. But we'll talk about that next week.

Robert Lighthizer, are we keeping you busy enough? Hugh?

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Poor guy can't sleep. He tosses and turns. What happened to him? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.

TRUMP: Oh, OK.

TRUMP: Thanks. Mike.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: You are all purpose.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: But Bob Lighthizer is really an outstanding guy, gets along with people. He's smart and he's sharp. And he understands trade better than anybody. When I first took this, I said, I have to get the best guy. All signs pointed to Robert Lighthizer.

Thank you very much, Bob. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I have one question. Was this an easier job or tougher job than you thought?

ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Tougher than I thought.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I had a feeling you might say that.

Also, our great treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has worked with Bob hand-in-hand.

Thank you very much, Steve. Great job.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: This really is a landmark agreement.

Along with them, we had the exceptional efforts of Jared Kushner.

Where is Jared? Where is Jared?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP; Great job, Jared.

He worked hard. He left a beautiful nice, very prosperous real estate business and came here.

I can tell you, that was harder.

This is harder than real estate in New York, right, Jared?

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: A lot harder.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: But you've done a faster job. You don't get people like that.

So thank you very much.

And, Ivanka, nice to have you here. Thank you, Honey.

Also somebody that I've heard for 35 years, a voice, a great gentleman, a friend of mine but a great gentleman. We brought him in and he has been outstanding. The only problem is he doesn't like going on television very much. He's a little bit shy about that. Larry Kudlow.

Where's Larry?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Where is Larry?

We had a day where the market went down $1 trillion. Think of that. In other words, it was one of those few days because we've had 141 days where we hit all-time highs. We just broke -- as you know, we just broke the 29,000 mark on the Dow just now as we're walking in. The markets up substantially today.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: With all these business leaders, I'm sure they don't care.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But Larry Kudlow went out into the beautiful lawns of the White House. Actually, he was standing in the middle of the Rose Garden. He had a beautiful scarf waving in the wind. He was everything perfect. Right out of Greenwich, Connecticut.

(LAUGHTER)

[11:59:55]

TRUMP: He started talking, and by the time he finished, I said, you just made a trillion, a trillion, because the market went up like 250 points. I said, Larry, what the hell did you say?

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: And it didn't matter, we were even. Went from being down a trillion to even. It was pretty good.